May 27, 2012
I thought pastors were the depressed, isolated, financially insecure ones. http://network.crcna.org/content/pastors/hi-i-am-pastor, http://www.worldwideprayer.com/pastorsstatistics.html
I suppose the double victims would be the stay at home moms married to pastors. :)
If we're compiling a list of contributing factors, let's not just focus on questions of access to all of the normal routes expected by the North American vision of "the good live" of self-fulfillment expressive individualism.
Top of the list that I see are The mommy idolatries (not unrelated to the super-pastor idolatries). Somehow this creature that first endangers your life, then won't let you sleep for the first six months after you've endured the life threatening medical crisis, then is the most self-centered demanding creature the human race produces drives a truck through the young, fragile marriage, etc. etc. This somehow is supposed to be fulfilling, glorious, rapturous because you're imagining untold visions of validation and affirmation.
Parenthood is substitutionary sacrifice, it is kingdom relational polarity: child's well being at the parent's expense.
In North America we pile on the assumption that it shouldn't interfere with our expected self-expressive track towards personal fulfilment but rather enhance it. I've seen illegal immigrant Haitian mothers in the Dominican Republic, they're expectations don't quite look the same.
Mothers need all the support the community and the church can afford them, no question about it. The mommy idolatries, however, lead to long term frustration, anger, messed up kids, and the crushing burden of unrealistic expectations uncritiqued by the "super mommy" ideals.
Good parenthood is cruciform. This should shape our expectations and retard our idolatries. pvk
You make an excellent point about the economic anxiety for many stay-at-home parents (I think at-home dads are subject to this as well).
As many of the at-home parents act as primary financial planners and shoppers, there can be a keen awareness of pending financial needs like aging appliances or auto repairs.
There is a constant need to balance an entire household's needs with what is often a limited income.
One thing I have seen locally that helps a lot of families are church-based consignment sales. The church offers the location, the equipment and the management. Community members prepare and tag their items for sale. Volunteers (church & community) set up, work, and tear down the sale in exchange for early shopping. Sellers are able to pick up or donate remaining items.
I often sell in these sales- and for a few night's worth of work preparing and tagging items, I can get hundreds of dollars in return- even though I'm selling items at yard sale/thrift store prices.
More people shop the consignment sale than would a yard sale. Sellers don't need to commit an entire day or afternoon to actually selling the items. It's safer than Craig's List and works better for low value items (who wants to write a decent description of a $1 item?).
I think there are a lot of direct-marketing companies that prey on this economic anxiety. There is a reason that so many at-home moms get into businesses that rely on commission-based selling to friends and family.
This is a great question, and I think the churches that can answer it will win a lot of hearts and minds.
I would guess a little respect for what stay-at-home moms do would go a long way.
If you want to boil it down to financial worth of the work CNN estimates the financial value of the various roles fulfilled by most stay-at-home moms to be about $13800. Salary.com has a calculator where individual stay-at-home parents can enter hours spent on each task and zip code to get a more personalized estimate.
For all my child-rearing years I've worked at a school and stayed home with the kids during the summer. I worked way harder at home.
After almost 6 years of being a stay at home mom, I found myself in a severe depression with bad anxiety attacks. For quite some time I had no idea that I even had a problem, but I felt resentment and anger toward friends, and especially my husband. After finally coming through and pulling out of it, I realized what had happened. Since then, I have joined the gym, started online schooling full time, and have started enjoying life much more. I am much happier and easier to live with, and have not seen a trace of depression since. It's a matter of brain activity for me, and having a goal that I can attempt to achieve. (Since then I have also started leading worship in the church I attend). All these things add up to a happier mama!
Yes, yes a little mental work and income would go a long way. Plus I have found those Mommy Ministries never challenged my mind enough. We don't have to dumb down spirituality, just because mommies are nursing and wiping 24/7. I recall just wishing someone would ask me my opinion on something. I came out of a high powered job so it was a shocker to instantly be "a nobody" in the church, with former colleagues, everywhere. I know, unhealthy perspective but that's where I was then. Looking back, (I don't think) I wouldn't trade those experiences (even the major depression I had) for what I have learned about myself, about Jesus. But it felt like a huge sacrifice at the time.
So well said. Indeed, we need to start using our minds and our hearts and gifts. I, too, am a consumer of the egg casserole, drop your kids off for two-hours programs but ultimately what gets my soul back into the game is when I'm invited to contribute either socially or financially to an endeavor. I applaud the churches who see the value of helping moms contribute rather than just consume. Oh . . . and by way of shameless self-promotion, I happen to chat a bit about this in my new book ;) . . . . . http://www.amazon.com/Mom-Connection-Creating-Relationships-Motherhood/dp/0800721152
I like your article but I'm not sure I understand why it's the responsibility of the church to find a mom free lance work. With the global economy at our fingertips via a keyboard/social media it should excite any mom the opportunities that abound. Having the mind of Christ allows us to use our creativity for the body of Christ. I don't believe the Church needs another ministry when we Moms are more than capable of developing our calling.
Add your comment to join the discussion!