He Said-She Said: The Career or Child-Rearing Choice
- Cliff Young & Laura MacCorkle Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer & Senior Editor
- 2008 5 Mar
EDITOR'S NOTE: He Said-She Said is written by two longtime friends and fellow singles. Each column features a question from a Crosswalk.com reader with responses from a male and female point of view. If you’ve got a question about anything related to singleness, please click here to submit (selected questions will be posted anonymously).
QUESTION: I really want to start a family and not have “child care” rear my children. A lot of women I know are working professionals, and I've always thought that they love their careers and wouldn't want to put them on pause to start families. Because of this, my guy friends and I never ask them out. There's just no appropriate way to ask someone before getting involved with her what her thoughts on this subject are. One female friend recently told me that, contrary to my thinking, many professional single women would love to trade in their careers for a family. Is this true?
HE SAID: I, too, would like to marry a woman who wants to (jointly) raise our children at home and not send them to child care. I used to think of “working professionals” as having the priority of “work first, family second.” As a result, there were times that I did not pursue a person based upon that notion.
What I now realize is that I missed out on getting to know a lot of godly professional women who do want to take an active parenting role as mothers someday, as well as those who want to stay in the work force. The women who want to be “stay-at-home moms” have just chosen to pursue a career over waiting at their parent’s home for “Mr. Right” to show up.
For me, my choices were an attempt to not put myself (or someone else) in a position to be hurt or disappointed emotionally. I took the “safe” route when it came to meeting new people whom I didn’t “perceive” to have the same desires as myself.
I acted as if I had a “gift of observation,” the ability to look at someone and know who they were, what they liked, what they thought, and what they had planned. However, the “gift” was probably just a blend of pride, a lack of confidence, some ignorance and a little naivety. Who was I to think that I could know what a woman thought?
Many of my single female friends, who are working professionals, have confided in me that they would like to have children someday and raise them at home. And they don’t understand why guys won’t ask them out. (I addressed some related issues in a previous article, “what men really think about successful, independent women.")
It’s natural to want to know the probable outcome before entering into a situation. We want to be on the winning side of a sporting event, profitable in a financial decision, and successful in a relationship. Yet, a relationship is not a one-sided proposition. It involves two people who share their hopes, dreams, desires, and then come together as one.
King Lemuel shares what a wife of noble character should be like in proverbs 31:
- She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the day’s work (v 15).
- She goes out to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard (v 16).
- She is energetic and strong, a hard worker (v 17).
- She watches for bargains; her lights burn late into the night (v 18).
- Her hands are busy spinning thread, her fingers twisting fiber (v 19).
- She extends a helping hand to the poor and opens her arms to the needy (v 20).
- She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs with no fear of the future (v 25).
- When she speaks, her words are wise, and kindness is the rule when she gives instructions (v 26).
- She carefully watches all that goes on in her household and does not have to bear the consequences of laziness (v 27).
These are all traits that a person is not just born with; they are developed. It takes time to learn and grow into a person of this kind of character. These characteristics can be gained by being a working professional.
So what is an “appropriate way to ask someone (about working or staying at home) before getting involved”? Try asking a string of questions about her siblings:
- Do you have brothers or sisters?
- What do they do for work?
- Do they have children?
- Do you have the opportunity to spend time with your nieces or nephews?
- Do they attend public or private school? Are they home-schooled?
- How do you feel about working and raising children?
To decide that a working professional would not be a woman who would want to curtail her career in order to raise a family is making a decision that is based upon appearance.
“Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment" (John 7:24).
There have been many situations in my life that have turned out to be very different from what I had originally perceived them to be. To make a conclusion about a person by observation alone may keep you from spending time with the very someone God has chosen for you.
SHE SAID: There’s so much to say in response to this most excellent question. So it’s a good thing I’m feeling a little verbose today.
Your female friend is right. Many single female working professionals (SFWP) would give it all up in a heartbeat to be wives and mothers. But since she hasn’t entered this realm yet, a single woman throws herself into the one thing she does have: a career. The Lord has placed her in this SFWP season of her life, and she is (hopefully) doing her work as unto the Lord (colossians 3:23).
Christian speakers and authors frequently point to Ruth as a role model for single women, perhaps more so in regard to dating or courtship. But I think we can also learn from her example as a SFWP. In between the death of her first husband Mahlon (Ruth 1) and her subsequent marriage to Boaz (Ruth 4), Ruth made the most of this single season and did what she needed to do to provide for herself and her mother-in-law Naomi.
In ruth 2, we read how Boaz took his time observing her and then inquired about her. He was gathering information and didn’t let her SFWP status deter him. Meanwhile back in the fields, Ruth was minding her own business and gathering some grain.
I’m sure Boaz noticed what a diligent worker Ruth was, but the Bible didn’t say that this stood in his way (nor did the fact that she came from Moab where idolatry ruled, nor the fact that she had been married before, etc.). I believe that Boaz was prepared by God shaping his heart to be ready for Ruth. He was given eyes to see her in the way God wanted him to see her. Plus, Boaz did his part and got the information he needed before moving forward to an exclusive relationship.
Another great, biblical example of a female working professional is Lydia. We meet up with this successful businesswoman in acts 16, as Paul and his companions (Silas, Timothy, Luke) were on a second missionary journey .
Lydia lived in Philippi in eastern Macedonia. Now, we don’t know for sure if Lydia was single; she could have been a widow. But we do know that she was prominent and successful in her career, that she had a household, that her heart was open and that she had the gift of hospitality.
For my purposes here, I am going to classify her as a SFWP. Because of her “means,” she was able to open her home and accommodate Paul and his companions while they were there to spread the Good News.
In twelve extraordinary women: how god shaped women of the bible and what he wants to do with you, John MacArthur says this of Lydia:
“It would have been no easy task, even today, to host so many strangers. Since they had no plans for where to go next (they were there, after all, to plant a church), she was offering to keep them indefinitely. … Her wonderful act of hospitality nevertheless opened the way for the church to penetrate Europe.”
Aha! A bigger plan—God’s plan in action. A woman’s career enabled her to play an important role in the spread of the gospel. An extraordinary woman indeed!
In both Ruth’s and Lydia’s cases, I think we can take away a good lesson: Don’t write off someone because she may not look like the kind of woman you think is right for you and your plans for your life.
Your view of a SFWP’s career as an “obstacle” may not be in line with God’s plan. He may have plans that are completely outside of your realm of thinking that may or may not involve a woman’s career. Yes, he might want a woman to put her career on the back burner for a while. Or he may have her cease working outside of the home altogether … forever. But maybe he will have her continue a successful career out of the home while also raising your children. Or perhaps he will involve her career with yours so that you can serve the Lord together in an even bigger capacity than you could have ever imagined … and still raise your children at home.
What may seem impossible and like it could never work to you right now, just may be part of a bigger plan. With God, all things are possible!
Plus, until you get to know someone, your assumptions about her desires or plans for how to raise a family will be just that: assumptions. There could be many wonderful, quality women sitting right under your and your friends’ collective nose. Don’t let their SFWP status be what blocks your interest or pursuit.
I encourage you not to miss out on getting to know these wonderful sisters in Christ. The more time you spend with them, the more you will hear from their hearts. And the information you are seeking related to career vs. child-rearing? It will be revealed at the proper time—in God’s time.
DISCLAIMER: We are not trained psychologists or licensed professionals. We’re just singles like you who understand what it’s like to live the solo life in the 21st century. We believe that the Bible is our go-to guide for answers to all of life’s questions, and it’s where we’ll go for guidance when responding to your questions.
GOT A QUESTION? If you’ve got a question about anything related to singleness, please click here to submit (selected questions will be posted anonymously). While we are unable to answer every inquiry, we do hope that He Said-She Said will be an encouragement to you.
HE is … Cliff Young, a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and a veteran single of many decades. He has traveled the world in search of fresh experiences, serving opportunities, and the perfect woman (for him) and has found that his investments in God, career and youth ministry have paid off in priceless dividends.
SHE is … laura maccorkle, Crosswalk.com’s Senior Entertainment Editor. While she’s still holding out for Mr. Right, Laura has recently downsized her “perfect” wedding day ideal from high-budget, blow-out extravaganza to inexpensive, beachfront ceremony or informal, backyard barbecue.
**This column first published on March 5, 2008.