Posted by: Amanda | September 1, 2010

On the Vocation of Parents, and the Stay-at-Home-Mother in Particular

I do not plan to work outside of the home during our children’s formative years.

Although the following fact does not apply to every individual, our society as a whole does not understand the value of marriage, children, or family properly. This fact was addressed by John Paul II in his Letter to Families, in which the Church recognizes the adverse cultural, social, and economic influences that threaten the family and even stand in the way of its formation. This lack of understanding has led to an under-appreciation of parenthood, with the “job” of stay-at-home-mothers falling into unpopularity or even scorn. In reality, there is no greater way for mothers to contribute to society than by raising moral children who are good Christians that fulfill their own vocations as adults properly. In Familiaris Consortio, John Paul II taught that the family is the first and fundamental school of social living as it teaches love, which is self-giving. Christ taught us self-giving love; it is the basis of Christianity and society as a whole. We have cooperated in God’s plan for our marriage, and God has chosen to bless J.R. and me with the gift of our unique children. In His infinite wisdom, God has equipped us to nurture and educate our children, through the graces of our sacramental marriage, best; in a way that even the best baby sitter or most loving extended family member could never match. Furthermore, God has given us our children, so it is our duty to raise them to know, love, and serve Him to the best of our ability. This does not include me working outside of the home.

The Church recognizes that “women have the same right as men to perform various public functions,” though “society must be structured in such a way that wives and mothers are not in practice compelled to work outside the home. Furthermore, the mentality which honors women more for their work outside the home than for their work within the family must be overcome. This requires that men should truly esteem and love women with total respect for their personal dignity and that society should create and develop conditions favoring work in the home.” (Familiaris Consortio, 23).  This seems a tall order, but it is attainable through the application of Christian principles in the world. Gaudium et Spes taught that the well-being of the individual person and of both human and Christian society is closely bound with the state of healthy marriage and family life. As the family is the basis of society, “everyone…should devote himself effectively to the welfare of marriage and the family.” (Gaudium et Spes, 52). Therefore, it is every one’s, including civil authority’s sacred duty to protect, foster the family, and promote domestic prosperity. In Rerum Novarum, Leo XIII taught that since the family existed before the state, it is the obligation of the state to be at the service of the family; without the family, the state would not exist.

Though I do not work outside of the home, I manage my family with wisdom and thrift. By planning meals, shopping sales, and couponing, I can feed my family for well under the estimated cost of the USDA’s thrifty meal plan for our family size. The USDA estimates that a family of two adults and two young children will spend at least $500 per month on food. Using cloth diapers saves us a large amount of money as well. A mere $45 will cover the cost of detergent for cloth diapering for at least six months, saving us approximately $500 in comparison to families that use disposable diapers; many of whom cite their reason for not using cloth diapers to be because it is too inconvenient with both parents working outside of the home. I employ other money-saving home management techniques in addition to those mentioned here.  As you can see, although I do not technically provide my family with income at this time, I am a vital component in its economic management. I continue to search actively for other manners in which I may contribute to my family’s economic state, while fulfilling my foremost duty to God, my family, and society: raising my children.

In the Apostolic Letter, Mulieris Dignatatum, John Paul II wrote that it is every woman’s vocation to be a mother, just as it is every man’s vocation to be a father; whether it be spiritual or actual motherhood. When a woman embraces her motherhood as God intends, she actualizes her purpose in life and finds the true peace that can be found only by living according to God’s will. This fact has been ignored by our culture and society over the last century, deeply wounding women and motherhood. There is no doubt in my heart or mind that I am fulfilling my vocation as God wills in choosing to be home with my children, even if the world may say otherwise.

Works Cited:

Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio. John Paul II. 22 November 1981. (See especially paragraphs 23, 34)

Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignatatum
. John Paul II. 15 August 1988.

Cost of Food at Home at Four Levels, April 2010. United States Department of Agriculture. 2010.

Encyclical Rerum Novarum. Leo XIII. 15 May 1891.

Gratissimam Sane
(better known as Letter to Families). John Paul II. 2 February 1994.  (See especially paragraph 3)

Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes. Paul VI. 7 December 1965.  (See especially paragraphs 47, 52)

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