Mothers’ Employment outside the Home

Building An Eternal Marriage Teacher Manual, (2003), 58–61


Doctrinal Overview

“By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and the protection of their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102; or student manual, 83).

“And again, verily I say unto you, that every man who is obliged to provide for his own family, let him provide, and he shall in nowise lose his crown” (D&C 75:28).

Principle

Marriage and family life improve when couples follow the counsel of prophets on supporting their family.

Student Manual Readings

Selected Teachings from “Mothers’ Employment outside the Home” (237–40)

Selected Teachings from “Education” (77–78)

“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (83–84)

Suggestions for How to Teach

Group work. Divide the class into five groups. Assign each group to read one of the passages from the student manual below. When students finish, invite them to summarize their passages. Responses might include:

Group 1. President Gordon B. Hinckley (student manual, 238–39) and “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” (student manual, 239–40).

  • Nurturing and bringing up children is more than a part-time job.

  • Mothers who work should be sure that it is to provide for necessities.

  • The Lord will bless mothers whose circumstances force them to work.

  • Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.

  • Some circumstances require individual adaptation.

  • Extended families should lend support.

Group 2. Elder Howard W. Hunter (student manual, 240) and President Howard W. Hunter (“Provide Temporal Support,” student manual, 208).

  • Wives carry a heavy load of work within the home.

  • Women should get all the education and vocational training they can.

  • Women have claim on their husbands for support.

  • Husbands who for selfish reasons encourage their wives to work outside the home hamper their own spiritual progress.

  • Men who abandon their families and fail to support them are not eligible for a temple recommend.

Group 3. President Ezra Taft Benson (student manual, 237–38).

  • Mothers should be at the crossroads for their children, whether their children are six or sixteen.

  • A family suffers when the mother is absent.

  • Recent societal trends have fostered discontent in women who have chosen the role of wife and mother.

  • It is propaganda that some women are more suited for work than for family.

  • Women should not sacrifice their preparation for marriage just to prepare to make money.

  • Children need more of mother than money.

Group 4. President Spencer W. Kimball (student manual, 237).

  • Only in an emergency should women seek outside employment.

  • Many divorces can be traced to the day the wife left home for the workforce.

  • Two incomes raise the standard of living beyond the norm.

  • No career approaches the importance of wife, homemaker, and mother.

  • Some people afford luxuries but say they cannot afford children.

  • Only a mother can fulfill the role of mother.

Group 5. Elders Boyd K. Packer and Richard G. Scott (student manual, 240).

  • Do not entrust your children to others so you can do non-motherly work.

  • It is a sin to fail to teach children.

  • Mothers who work out of necessity are entitled to extra inspiration and strength from the Lord. Those who work for lesser reasons are not.

Turn with students to Elder Henry B. Eyring’s statement in the preface of the student manual (p. viii), and review the first paragraph together.

Suggestions for How to Teach

Discussion. Read the following statements. President Gordon B. Hinckley taught: “I recognize … that there are some women (it has become very many, in fact) who have to work to provide for the needs of their families. To you I say, do the very best you can. I hope that if you are employed full-time you are doing it to ensure that basic needs are met and not simply to indulge a taste for an elaborate home, fancy cars, and other luxuries” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 93; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 69; student manual, 239, 359).

Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said: “You in these unusual circumstances qualify for additional inspiration and strength from the Lord. Those who leave the home for lesser reasons will not” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1993, 42; or Ensign, May 1993, 34; student manual, 240).

Read the following statement by Elder Boyd K. Packer, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, concerning exceptions to counsel from prophets: “I once learned a valuable lesson from a mission Relief Society president. In a conference, she announced some tightening up of procedures. A sister stood up and defiantly said, ‘Those rules can’t apply to us! You don’t understand us! We are an exception.’

“That wonderful Relief Society president replied, ‘Dear sister, we’d like not to take care of the exception first. We will establish the rule first, and then we’ll see to the exception.’ Many times I have borrowed from her wisdom, grateful for what she taught me” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1994, 25; or Ensign, May 1994, 20).

What additional insights on mothers’ employment did you gain from these statements?

Suggestions for How to Teach

Discussion. Discuss ways to support a family on a father’s income. Point out that this can require faith, eternal priorities, planning, determination, discipline, and sacrifice.

  • Faith and eternal priorities. Have students read 1 Nephi 3:7, and ask: How can the principle in this scripture apply to having the mother remain in the home?

  • Planning. Refer to Selected Teachings from “Education” (student manual, 77–78) and briefly review the importance of career planning and education in preparing for the future.

  • Determination. Review the importance of not losing sight of the reasons for wanting to have the mother in the home. Remind students that unless we are determined to live this principle we can easily be persuaded to abandon it as a goal.

  • Discipline and sacrifice. Remind students of the importance of distinguish between needs and wants. How can we determine the difference?

Story. Read the following article, “They Lied to Me about Life—Life Is What You Are.” Ask students to identify the article’s message.

“Right after my first novel was published I was interviewed by a large East Coast newspaper for a feature article. The reporters came to my home in Connecticut on a Saturday morning. They were two attractive and sophisticated New York women who had graduated from a prestigious Ivy League school. Both had achieved considerable success in journalism.

“The lead reporter was about 30, had been an editor of Seventeen magazine, had worked for several major publications, and was now a sought-after feature writer. She was dressed in the latest fashion and seemed the ultimately successful career woman.

“I must confess that I was a little chagrined as the morning progressed. I was trying so hard to give the appearance of a professional writer, but every few minutes one of my children would pop into the living room with a problem or a question. My boys were playing a noisy game in the family room, the stereo was on in the basement play room, and the phone would not stop ringing. Neighborhood friends ran in and out the doors, and finally, my 5-year-old (who had had enough of having to ‘stay out of the living room’) came bouncing in with a smile and plunked herself down on my lap.

“We finished the interview, which had taken about two hours, and the reporters got up to leave. The younger one asked if she could use my phone. As she left, the cool and sophisticated senior reporter walked over and sat down on the couch next to me.

“‘There’s something I want to tell you,’ she said intensely.

“I looked at her in surprise. Very slowly, she said, ‘I just want you to know that we were sold a lie.’

“‘What do you mean?’ I asked, totally puzzled.

“‘I mean, when I went to [university] they lied to us,’ she replied. ‘They told us we were brilliant, and that we had the obligation to seek success. We were told not to throw our lives away on husbands and children, but to go out into the world and to succeed. We were told that only through a professional career could we “find ourselves” or live a worthwhile life.

“‘I just want you to know that this morning I have realized it was all a lie. I have come to know that a career is not a life—it is only something you do until you find a life. Life is what you are.

“‘I would like to tell you I would trade all my so-called worldly success for one day of living your life.’

“These and other incidents in my life have developed in me a strong, practical conviction that, whenever possible, it is of critical importance that a mother stays at home with her children” (Jaroldeen Edwards, in “Following Christ in Service to Others,” Church News, 10 Mar. 1990, 8, 10).

Conclusion

President Gordon B. Hinckley counseled, “In terms of your happiness, in terms of the matters that make you proud or sad, nothing—I repeat, nothing—will have so profound an effect on you as the way your children turn out” (in Conference Report, Oct. 2000, 67; or Ensign, Nov. 2000, 50). Couples who follow the counsel of the prophets concerning the importance of mothers staying home with their children when possible will be blessed. Repeat Elder Scott’s statement that mothers who are in unusual circumstances and have no choice but to work outside the home will also be blessed.