I Didn't Raise My Daughter to Be a Wife and Mother!

This sad, anti-Christian refrain is repeated over and over by Christian parents of Christian college students, attending Christian churches with Christian grandparents firmly nodding their heads in agreement. Of course, rarely is it worded so clearly. But the truth will out, as God has promised, and sometimes in desperation, these parents come right out and say what they mean. 

So let me ask a question. What exactly did you raise her to be? A beach ball. A dog. A frog. A log. A poodle. A noodle. A doodle. (Bob, would you please leave?)

Right. I remember now. You wanted her to be an accomplished musician, ophthamologist, orthopaedic surgeon, dental hygienist, submarine commander, savior of the continent of Africa, or high-caliber corporate executive. Ah yes. Here she is. Your dream daughter.

Look at her. So free of dependence on any man. So free of anything remotely associated with the home. So free of any of your potential grandchildren. Yes, she has learned the lesson. She's not even pursuing excellence anymore. She has become excellence. Nothing can stop her. Nothing can prevent her from fulfilling your dreams. 

But what will you do at the end of it all, if she falls in love and she wants to get married and have children? Granted, the chances are slim, if for no other reason than that the family next to you in the pew didn't raise their son to be a husband and father.

Well, my prayer is that she will learn to be godly in spite of all your work to the contrary. My prayer is that God would be merciful to her and that the older women of the church would do what God has commanded, even though you have refused to do it as her mother and father. I pray that they will "encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored" (Titus 2:4-5)




false dichotomy

I've never heard a Christian say anything like this, and I've lived in college and university communities for thirty years. Bayly is presenting a false dichotomy and is being ridiculously snarky to boot.

Dear Lynn, The title of the

Dear Lynn,

The title of the post is a quote from a Christian family here in Indianapolis.


Lynn, You may not hear


You may not hear Christian parents say this out loud too often, but that's because they're not being honest with themselves or you. As the wife of a college pastor, I talk to different young women (and men) every year whose loves bubble over with this mentality. Of course their parents expect their daughters to settle down and give them grandchildren...someday. But when their little girls tell them they don't plan to pursue a PhD, or even a masters, so that they won't burden their husband with (even more) debt outrage ensues. I haven't even mentioned the thought of not putting off children and staying home with them!

If you aren't seeing this you should consider finding pastors, elders, and Titus 2 women who are faithful in calling out this sin ravaging the church today.

Why make this all-or-nothing?

(1) It is my opinion that women have seasons in their lives. Time to pursue a full-time career outside the home before they marry and before they and their husbands start a family. The woman's education can be at the associate, bachelor's, master', Ph.D., or one of the professions. PTH (putting hubby through) for his advanced degree is still alive and kicking, too.

Then be a 100% stay-at-home mom for a season (until all their children are in elementary, middle or high school all day) or choose a part-time position with flexible hours (the employer they left may consider a part-time telecommuting position, for example), or a run a home-based business.

Truthfully, I've yet to see a woman my age or younger (I'm smack in the middle of the baby-boom generation) to march off to college and/or advanced degrees and find some way to be a stay-at-home mom or work part-time (sometimes very part-time) if that's she really wanted. Here is one example. My family practice doctor is a practicing Christian. She is in her mid-30s and shares a full-time position with another family practice doctor who also has young children. My doctor's parents are semiretired and care for her children on the days she works at her medical practice.

(2) In fact, one of the best practical advice I've ever heard in a wedding sermon was when a minister told the bride and groom to try to (1) stay free of the temptations to keep up with the Joneses to have the nicest cars, condos/homes, furniture, vacations, etc. and (2) save as much of the wife's salary as possible. Doing these things and waiting to have children for a few years could make the difference whether the young family could live comfortably on one income when the children started coming along.

Dear Sue McKeown, Two things

Dear Sue McKeown,

Two things to start with. First, many women your age and younger have gone to college and found ways to live on one outside-the-home income so that they can have children. It is certainly less common today, but it still happens. Second, this article never made the case that women shouldn't earn money, including outside the home. The point is that we as Christians are often willing to disobey the commands of God for the sake of our careers. This is wicked. It is love of money, pure and simple. And when Christian parents pressure their daughters to change their priorities from what God says is important to what our culture thinks is important, you've got to realize that we are in a sad state of affairs.

Indeed, as you say, there is a season for everything. And what my generation is learning is that the twenties are the season for birth control, and the thirties are the season for fertility medication. Did God get it all wrong when he made women's bodies? Did he forget which part of their life came first? Or is it us that is ignoring his direct commands as well as his helpful pointers that he built into nature (the way women's bodies work)? Did He just get it backwards when He said that the *young* women were to be taught to love their husbands and children? Was he actually meaning that middle-aged women are to be taught these things, and only after they have saved up enough money?

And I would be remiss if I didn't point out that this advocacy for later children (and marriage) has a terrible side-effect. I'll let my sister explain:

"One more thing: we may be waiting longer to marry, but we're engaging in sex at earlier ages. What happens in between? I'll tell you: abortion. Whether or not you acknowledge that abortion is evil, you must recognize that the problem here is not lack of education. My generation knows what causes pregnancy, and they know how to prevent it. But they continue to get pregnant and to have abortions at devastating rates—Christians, too. A study conducted in 1998 revealed that in 1987-1988, 10.8% of women having abortions reported their babies were unwanted because they would disrupt her education or career." (From here: http://clearnotefellowship.org/Resources/LadiesBlog/2010/04/21/Do-Women-...)

Of course, we haven't even addressed the issue of fornication. (Remember, according to God, fornicators will not inherit His kingdom. 1 Cor 6:9-10) And the truly sad thing is that I've also heard of Christian parents hinting to their daughters that it's better to be impure with their boyfriend than to get married early. Why? For the sake of their career. When we are willing to sacrifice obedience for the sake of our career in one area, it's no wonder we are willing to sacrifice obedience in other areas as well.

For a very sad look at the consequences women of my generation are facing after following your advice, read this: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/11/all-the-single-ladie...

I would also encourage you to read my sermon on the purposes of marriage. You can find it here: http://clearnotechurch.com/blog/2011/sep/01/why-marriage

In Christ,

In response to Joseph...

Dear Joseph,

You have given me much food for thought in your post and its links. I think I may have come across as though I have the answer for every individual woman, which is ridiculous -- only God knows that! And while you may disagree, I believe the verses you cited are Biblical principles that each woman must ask God to tell her how to apply to her own situation. For example, even if a woman works outside the home to one degree or another or is a SAHM and hires a part-time housekeeper she is still a "keeper of the home". And a woman doesn't need to be a SAHM or SAHW to love her husband or even be married to be pure. Shouldn't these things be God's will for every "young" woman?

And I realize that you were correct that in pointing out that I didn't differentiate between having a career and excessive careerism -- something that affects both women and men -- even though you didn't exactly put it that way. I also agree with your sister -- a 4-year college education isn't necessary for every woman, but it's not always necessary for every man either, although both women and men must be well-educated and you can gain that education outside a traditional brick-and-mortar 4-year college or university.

The Atlantic Monthly article did break my heart. Most of the young women of this current generation I know personally or indirectly (I know their parents but just have a nodding acquaintance with them at best) who were/are marriage-minded knew this pretty early on. This didn't always mean that they didn't pursue the education and careers the wanted, but it did mean that they might have to go out of their way to meet marriage-minded men, such as changing churches to one with a vibrant single adult group or becoming involved in activities that they enjoyed where they might be able to meet more single men. But some did make career or job choices that would give them more less demanding workloads, less travel, or less post-bachelor's education, or community college degrees, like radiology technician. One example: one friend's daughter originally considered medical school (and probably had the qualifications to get in) but chose pharmacy school instead -- less post-B.S. education, less debt, regular hours, great job demand so easy to get PT job if she wanted to after becoming a mother.

This doesn't mean that they wanted to marry at 22-23, but I think most were/are shooting for the average age for marriage for U.S. women, around 26-27 or so, and some have or are planning to do so, like one of my nieces (and goddaughter) who recently married at age 26. Maybe this is a reaction to what they see in the women in their late 30's/early 40's; I can't say. I certainly hope they were/are not engaging in pre-marital sex; I doubt there was promiscuity. Either way, they are adults and mostly raised in Christian homes and they will answer to God about their sex lives. Children are also in their future, and AFAIK, they are savvy enough to not put off trying to have children until their mid-30's.

Something that I think you haven't addressed is that some women (and men) do not marry in their early/mid 20s isn't that because they don't want to; it's just that God hasn't brought the right person into their lives right yet. I am not talking about someone who is so fixated on finding Mr. or Ms. Right that they don't see a suitable potential spouse right around the corner; rather, I mean people who don't have opportunity to meet other marriageable single adults or need a few more years than most to be suitable spouses themselves. Personally, my husband and I married when he was 30 and I was 32 fir the former reason above.

I lived in a medium-sized city (~200,000) after I finished college. I met single people in their late 20's who lived in small towns up to 40 mi. away who were practically the only single young adult in their communities -- a carpenter, a teacher, an attorney, a nurse practitioner -- who came to social events in the city in the hope of meeting other single adults.

More than enough said; I learned something from your post and its links. I hope I've given you some things to think about, too.

Possibly your loyal opposition but your sister in Christ,


//Something that I think you

//Something that I think you haven't addressed is that some women (and men) do not marry in their early/mid 20s isn't that because they don't want to; it's just that God hasn't brought the right person into their lives right yet. I am not talking about someone who is so fixated on finding Mr. or Ms. Right that they don't see a suitable potential spouse right around the corner; rather, I mean people who don't have opportunity to meet other marriageable single adults or need a few more years than most to be suitable spouses themselves. Personally, my husband and I married when he was 30 and I was 32 for the former reason above.//

Concur. The other issue which might (or might not) be bearing on people's decisions, is the oversupply of single women to single men in the Christian community. However it arises, you end up with more (and at older ages, many more) single women than single men. The women are generally quite capable; the men are (mostly) not up to the grade, otherwise they would be married.

My take on the women concerned, is that a good marriage & family would trump a career, any day, but a good career would trump a bad marriage. Does this view need challenging as well?

Dear Sue, Much that I agree

Dear Sue,

Much that I agree with in what you wrote. Realize that my purpose in this post was not to argue that everybody needs to get married and early. I am opposing "Christian" parents who are trying to prevent their children from doing so.

In Christ,

Also, if we should raise our

Also, if we should raise our daughters to be "wives and mothers", then we *also* need to raise our sons to be "husbands and fathers". The SBC's Russell Moore suggested this on his blog some time ago, and it is absolutely logical that we do so, indeed it is necessary. It seems to me that we can't have one without the other.

In response to anonymous...

You wrote:

//My take on the women concerned, is that a good marriage & family would trump a career, any day, but a good career would trump a bad marriage. Does this view need challenging as well?//

That would be my opinion, but why are they mutually exclusive? Who says a woman can't work part-time or start a part-time business when she has young children if they need the money and/or she enjoys it (like a friend of mine with a kindergartner and a 4th grader who works two 4-hr shifts/wk as a dental hygienist to keep her skills sharp and enjoy adult company). Or maybe a woman puts her profession/trade/job on hold until her children are older? OTOH, I think it's great for a woman to be a 100% SAHM if that's what she and her husband want and they can swing it financially.

BTW, the friend I mentioned was able to increase her hours temporarily to about 50% time after her husband lost his job, but both she and her husband were thrilled when he found another job and they could go back to their normal routine.

Hi Sue - The context of my

Hi Sue - The context of my original remarks was considering single Christian women who are choosing to remain single rather than end up in a bad marriage, even if it is to a Christian. Otherwise I don't disagree with you, at all :-)

The Bible is clear that a

The Bible is clear that a good wife is beneficial financially, and this can happen in various ways. Do not imagine that I claim a godly marriage is defined by the wife not making money or ever working outside the home. Far from it.

But it is time for us to admit that there are many careers that militate against being able to get married and have children, at least any time soon. Too many girls have been taught to pursue their "potential" and have never been taught that their highest potential is in bearing children. They get out of 8 years of school with 100k of debt, and many men who could have married them and provided for them no longer can. They've been set on a path, and nobody warned them what the long term outcome was going to require them to give up.

Now they have to marry only a doctor or lawyer, or be willing to work for 5-10 more years, just to pay off their loans. Add children to the mix and either they have to switch part time or pay for childcare, both of which will extend the amount of time required to pay off the debt.

Is anybody cautioning these girls to remember that they very well may not be called to singleness, and therefore need to be careful what they commit themselves to?

Sorry, anonymous...

Anonymous, sorry I misunderstood the context of your post. Being happily married for 25-1/2 years, I couldn't being imagine in a bad marriage for as long as I've been married. Also, having being an single adult for quite a while before marrying, IMHO single would be much better.

Re: The Bible is clear that a...

The Bible says to count the cost (although I don't remember chapter and verse), as well as plain old common sense, and I agree that should be true for women when they choose a career, but it should be true for men, too.

Maybe a woman who counted the cost who initially decided to be a physician may change her career choice to a physician assistant. She would have some of the same responsibilities as a physician, the # of years to prepare for her career would be greatly reduced, and she would still earn a high salary (I'm looking for a job in an allied health care profession &/or health IT now and I see job postings in hospitals for PAs with salary ranges from $75-$110K/annually for a FT position).

Or decide to become a paralegal rather than an attorney and consider part-time law school while being a SAHM, putting off law school until her children are older, or deciding that being a paralegal is a rewarding profession in itself that she'll return to it when her children are older. Perhaps her employer may even give her a PT job she can do from home.

But even if a woman (or a man) decides to pursue a career that requires professional school, a master's degree (many health care professions do this now), or a Ph.D., there are many ways to keep costs down, although unless your parents are wealthy you probably won't get out debt-free.

1) Obviously, whether or not you know what career you want, start working summers or other times as soon as you can and vow to put 75% away (10% for tithe, 15% for yourself). It can add up.

2) Your parents have to do this, but if your state has a good pre-paid tuition plan and they invest in it when you are young, this can pay a lot of your undergrad tuition.

3) Go to a community college and/or university branch campus and live at home. Community colleges are dirt cheap, usually offer online classes, and make it easy to transfer to our 4-year universities (at least they do in Ohio, where I live). Once you transfer to a four-year school your B.S./B.A. degree will be from there and that's what really matters in terms of a job and/or further education. If possible, major in something that will transfer to a 4-year university and give you a better opportunity to earn in $ during your last 2 years of college than a "would you like fries that with job". For example, if you know you want to go to med school, become a medical laboratory technician, where jobs usually start around $15/hr.

4) If your parents are able, they may pay for much of finishing your 4-year degree, especially since your community college education was so inexpensive, preventing you from much debt on your 4-year degree.

5) If you've earned an associate's degree that gave you a marketable skill in community college, consider working for a year or so before furthering your education after your B.A./B.S., living at home if possible, or with several roomies, saving up as much as possible.

6) If possible (and I'm still using the med school example), try to get accepted into a med school in a public university in your own state, provided it's high quality. I'd guess that the tuition is lower than an out-of-state school or a private one (obviously this won't work out for everyone).

7) Work between the summer of your 1st and 2nd year of med school and 2nd and 3rd year until your start clinical rotations in July.

None of these solutions will work for everyone and many people will have thought of them anyway, but these are ways to minimize debt in medical school. There are no doubt creative ways to do this for other advanced degrees as well.

Finally, I apologize if all I've done is repeat what most everyone knows already.

Re: The Bible is clear that a...an apology & an addendum


I believe what I said yesterday is valid and I did mention that young women and men must count the cost of any career before undertaking the education necessary for it.

But I think I misunderstood the thrust of your last post...that you think it's not wise for a young woman to select a career choice that requires many years of post-HS education over a 2-year community college degree, a 4-year B.A./B.S., or some alternative study to prepare her for the workforce before she marries. Sometimes I just can't see the forest for the trees. I apologize.

Just two more points...

(1) What if a woman genuinely feels a call to be say, a missionary physician -- whether abroad, in the U.S. in a health clinic for the poor that large churches (or groups of churches) have started, or in a federally/state/city funded community health center? Would she be wrong to go against God's call, assuming that she was willing to check the call out with her parents (assuming they would listen before giving a knee-jerk response one way or the other and then give pros and cons of her choice before providing their opinion), her pastor/priest and mature Christians who won't just be yes-men/yes-woman without challenging her to see if her call is genuine. If she works as an overseas missionary, of course she'd have to earn her own support, but who's to say that God doesn't have a husband lined up for her in med school or while attending med school (such as a potential missionary doctor, pastor/(Anglican)priest/seminary student/seminary professor) called to the mission field? Might happen, might not. Only God knows; we sure don't. If she works in a community health center or part of the country that is considered "undeserved" as far as health care, I think any physician can get pro-rated loan forgiveness depending on how long he/she practices in these areas.

(2) If a woman's highest calling is to bear children, what about women who have a difficult time carrying a pregnancy to term or are unable to bear children even if they marry at age 21 or so? There are more physical health conditions that make it impossible or very difficult to bear children than I can mention here. Some of these health conditions may continue to wreak havoc on a women's health throughout her lifetime. And if they are serious enough, they prevent she and her husband from being able to adopt or even be foster parents. Have they missed they missed their highest calling?

And what about the women who remain single by choice because they never meet a suitable mate, or bring an elderly parent into her apartment/condo/home? What about women are widowed before they have children (not common, but it does happen) and never remarry? Have they missed their highest calling? Some may try to adopt but the waiting lists are so long for married couples, a single woman or a widow would be fortunate to even get on the list.

Hi Sue, I think we're finally

Hi Sue,

I think we're finally on the same page now. :)

I will try to answer briefly, since we could talk for hours about each of these questions you raise.

1. I never claimed that no women should go to medical school, for example. My concern is with girls whose parents and churches have never bothered to instill in them a desire to marry and have children, because they view marriage and raising children as a waste of that girl's tremendous gifts and potential. "Think about what she could have done as a missionary to Russia! Or how many more children she could have helped if she had been a pediatrician! Or how many babies she could have saved if she had gotten a good career as a doctor and given money to stop AIDS in Africa!" Those are all potentially good things for a woman to do. My sister thought she was called to be a missionary in Russia as a high-schooler. How do you help her evaluate that call? Well, for starters, you help her to see that if she gets married, her first calling will be as a wife, and Lord-willing, a mother, and subordinate to the calling of her husband. In other words, if she marries a financial planner living Nashville, her "calling" to be a missionary doesn't trump his to be a financial planner. (If she doesn't get married, it's worth pointing out that she's often going to be a lot better able to fulfill these callings you described if she doesn't have a huge amount of debt, but that's not the point.)

2. You are describing my wife and I. Heidi worked full-time outside the home for quite a few years while we waited for the Lord to give us children. Eventually we adopted from Ethiopia. Today, 8 years after we got married, she is pregnant yet again, and we are hopeful that this baby will live. The lack of children in our marriage was a source of sadness for years, just as it was to Sarah, Hannah, Rachel and Elizabeth in the Bible. It was God's will, and so we trusted Him with it, but that doesn't mean that it isn't sad. Death and sickness, in all their incarnations, are the effect of the fall. This doesn't make my wife, or others who can never have children at all, less godly or holy, less of a woman, or necessarily outside of God's will for their life. But we ought not to try to convince ourselves (or them) that there is nothing missing in their life.

The same goes for your last question. God has called some men and women to singleness. But women are not to be put on the list of permanently single (and devoted to God rather than marriage) until they are old, in case they are able to get married. In fact, they are to seek to do so, according to 1 Timothy 5:14 and numerous other places. If God's plan for a particular woman is that she should *not* get married and/or have children, that doesn't mean that we should stop talking to women (both young and old) about the normative plan that God has for women to do so. This will obviously require comforting those who begin to grow in this desire but aren't able for one reason or another.

My father is fond of saying that we are not to sacrifice the normal on the alter to the abnormal. Everybody needs to be taught these things, and the majority of people will be called/able to do them. It's the same with any number of things. Think about people in any kind of special circumstance, and you'll realize that we don't just decide not to teach them certain things, because we're afraid they will be hurt or feel left out. For example, prisoners need to be taught of the requirement to serve the body of Christ, even though they are unable to do much from prison. They might be there because of their sin, or they might be there because of obedience to Christ. The end-game is the same--they can't serve the church body the way normal people would. So they can either sit there and feel sorry for themselves when they hear about that command, or they can realize that they are limited by their situation, whether sin or obedience put them in that situation. I hope this helps make sense of why these things still need to be taught.

I'll also add as a last comment for the record that it's not good, in my opinion, for single men or women to adopt. Actually, this is another great example! Children need a mother and a father. This is normative. Many children don't get that benefit, because of sin or death. That doesn't mean we should start pretending that it doesn't matter whether a father is around.

Now, there are arguments to be made for why it might make sense for singles to adopt orphans, but what really needs to be taught on is that children are a blessing from the Lord, and that we are to care for the orphan as Christians. Then married couples will become convicted and act. Too often, single women adopt because they are *not* willing to accept God's plan for their life as one of singleness. In other words, it's possible to fall off both sides of this fence, if you get my meaning.

In Christ,