Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Family Roles

Human needs fall into 4 major categories: temporal, spiritual, emotional, and social. The traditional family is the most efficent vehicle for meeting these needs. There isn't a social organization that can outperform the family in terms of effectiveness, or efficency with regard to taking care of people. Unfortunately, the family us under seige and people are suffering the effects of unmet need: drug addiction, overeating, promescuity, consumer debt. The destruction of the traditional family is the #1 contributer to poverty and crime in this country.

When it comes to traditional men and women's roles the LDS church teaches that families do better when fathers (generally speaking) focus on their family's temporal and spiritual needs while the mother focus on the emotional and social needs. When I say better, I mean the family as a whole does better. If our roles were reversed, my wife could likely earn more money and establish a more spiritual family environment than I do. But she can't outperform what both of us can do together with me focusing on some needs and her focusing on others. Fortunately, the most skilled parent (my wife) is assigned to the more critical task of nurturing the children.

I have a friend who studied to become a CPA and wanted a simple 9-5 job so he could stay home more with his family and do more of the fun social and emotional stuff. Well, turned out that as a CPA he could only get a job that earned 24-36,000 a year and the financial stress almost tore his marriage and family appart. Finally, he recognized that an extra sacrifice needed to made and that it was his primary role to "bring home the bacon." So, instead of asking his wife to get a job, he started working longer hours, traveling, and getting more training. Now, he brings home $80,000 and his marriage and family is doing great. He still spends plenty of time with his wife and kids. But when an extra sacrifice needed to be made, he knew he was the one who needed to make it.

Did the kids miss their Dad? Sure. But, all that time they had a stay-at-home mom who was their to do care for their social and emotional needs. Consequently, they are all very intelligent, motivated, straight-A, straight-arrow kids (and they have had serious issues they've needed to work through). If mom had decided to work instead of Dad working harder, things likely wouldn't have worked out as well. Having 2 people doing the same job is too inefficient. Division of labor is the most efficent way to get things done.

Sociologist have loads of evidence to support my argument. If mom wanted to work also, consider how much it cost to pay for her wardrob, transportation, and childcare expenses. Salary.com determined that a stay-at-home mother might be paid as much as $134,121 for her contributions as a housekeeper, cook, day care center teacher, janitor and CEO, among other functions. So, unless mom is bringing home that kind of cash, she is more valuable at home. But then that still leaves the kids without emotional support for which you would have to factor the cost of the drug rehab or other counciling everyone will need because noone was there for them emotionally when they needed it.
The reason why God makes generalized commandments is because he is looking out for the good of the many. Most rules work this way. Generally speaking, families do better if the most skilled parent is home doing the nurturing (usually the mother). There are exceptions to this. But, God makes rules like this because he understands that majority of people will have successful families if they stick to the rule. And even if you were the exception, God would still likely expect you to obey the rule because the rules are easier to keep if they become generally socially acceptable and traditional. But there are always exceptions and if both parents must work or the wife works and the husband stays at home, it's not the ideal, but then you do the best you can.


lulubelle said...

No guarantees at all! My soon-to-be husband's ex-wife stayed home with the kids while he worked and also spent a lot of time with the kids coaching and traveling with them, etc. As it turns out, the 17 year old is in re-hab for marijuana and cocaine dependency and is in danger of not graduating from high school; the 14 year old has an eating disorder, is severely overweight, has enetitlement issues, and is a nightmare and demanding kid to be around that no one likes so much. Then take a good friend of mine. Her and her husband both worked full time in demanding careers. Three sons... none with a serious problem. One graduated high school at 15, bachelor's at 17, medical school at 22. The other graduated at 15 and was a lawyer at 20. The other son could've graduated early but chose not to and entered Harvard at 18 on scholarship. Parents need to work together, to provide a happy and stable home (which can only be done if both parents are doing what they want to do-- and not all women are happy staying home raising kids or even have that option), expose their kids to many positive experiences, surround themselves with good people and peers as much as possible, set proper boundaries and have appropriate awards and consequences, listen to their kids when they speak, and then hope and pray that they make right choices. Sorry, I'm not buying your argument. It sounds nice and tidy but it doesn't necessarily translate into bliss at home (or outside the home). I strongly believe that kids need a positive father figure in their life just as much as they need their mom.

BRoz said...

I am sure there is more to the story with family #1. And yeah, I know lots of families where both parents work and the kids turn out great. But overall the data suggests that having both parents work is a negative.

Also, when I talk about gender roles and division of labor I am not talking about who washes the dishes or makes dinner. I a big supporter of husbands helping out with chores around the house. I could do more myself.

In fact, I am going to do some dishes right now.

BRoz said...

Also, It is critical that fathers are emotionally available and involved with their kids.

BRoz said...

Don't confuse the issue. All I am saying is that is very ineffencent for both spouses to work and the data is saying that overall it has a negative effect on the family.

This has nothing to do with dad washing dishes, clearning bathrooms, doing laundry, changing diapers, or putting the kids to bed. All of which he should help out with.