I have a 15-year-old exchange student whose English skills and knowledge about the Christian religion are meager, at best. This Sunday she was gifted a binder they give to all YW that is mostly about motherhood.
The binder is filled with talks and quotes about motherhood. Keep in mind while I have unexplained infertility, I have one IVF daughter and currently am a stay-at-home-mother. I love my children, cherish my motherhood, and freely chose my stay-at-home status; and yet I don’t believe my divine purpose is to be a mom. I believe that it is *one* of *my* divine purposes. And for many single and infertile women that is *not* their divine purpose. I believe the most important thing for you to do on this earth is what God gives for you to do; for some women that largely is motherhood, for other women it’s not. I believe that the highest and holiest calling for all humans is to be a disciple of Christ, I’m concerned our YW (and YM) are being trained to not value the variety of christian discipleship that faithful, valiant Mormon women contribute to our Church.
Included was the quote below which baffles me. “True Power” is found in a worthy nurturer at mealtimes?? I get that many people bond over food, obsess over food, and have deep emotional connections over food. I am not one of them. To me food is utility that keeps us all alive. I hate cooking, baking, meal planning, etc. I’m not that touched when my family thanks me for a meal because it’s something that we could have paid any schmuck to provide. Personally I’d like to be valued in my family for the unique gifts and talents I have. I am not this kind of woman this quote is about, full stop.
There were also places to save handouts they get from church, which is a great idea, but many of the parts were for stereotypical skills for girls that the boys aren’t taught. Knowing about cleaning, laundry, and teaching/nurturing children are just as vital skills for YM, aren’t they? One activity day my daughter came home to teach me how to iron men’s shirts. I was shocked, but wouldn’t have had a problem if they taught boys the same skills.
My response to the binder was . . . not good. I want my daughter to desire and love motherhood. I want her to know that her desire to be ambitious and graduate and be a nurse in no way will devalue the quality of her motherhood. I want her to know it is not motherhood or something else; I want her to know life is motherhood AND something else. I want her to know if she never marries or has children that she is just as necessary to building Zion as anyone else in the body of Christ. Do I trust that she will receive these messages at church? No.
To combat messages that I think may be damaging I take a page out of Rebecca Hains’ book The Princess Problem: I train my daughters to think critically about the messages they receive. Even if you are surrounded by an idea you don’t agree with you can process where it comes from and why it’s being presented the way it is and that it’s okay to agree to disagree with what is being taught without causing problems wherever you are at.
I try to make sure she knows it’s okay to disagree with me and she has learned that lesson. When I told her I had wanted to keep her away from the “Activity Days Modesty Fashion Show” where they dressed the girls up in prom dresses and talked about waiting for your prince to take you to the temple; she told me, “Mom, that offensive that you think I would just believe anything anyone told me. You don’t trust me to figure things out on my own? I just don’t agree with everything people say, you know.” Aye, touché. I stood corrected.
If there is anyone out there so concerned that the benevolent patriarchy we live in is so damaging that you think about leaving the Church, would you think about homeschooling just to avoid patriarchy? Because yesterday I say that a Texas Elementary school sent this handout home with the kids. Boys get college, career, and the real world. Girls get “girl talk” on confidence and friends.
The whole world (save some scandanavian countries) is still patriarchal. We can’t just avoid it, we have to teach our children how to ignore damaging messages and stereotypes from all sources. You can be confident when your kids watch movies, go to school, attend church, or spend time on the internet that they can overcome negative messaging if they know what to look out for and freely disagree with.
Update: I did comment below that I did approach and try to kindly address my concerns with a YW leader. I don’t think she really understood, as a believer in separate but equal gender roles, and I think my concerns were dismissed.