Random Rantings

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

I don’t want to be labeled a Dominionist!

In preparing to become parents (no congratulations yet please, still firmly in the “trying” category) – my husband and I have been discussing childcare arrangements. For example, can we find good affordable childcare in our area, or would it be better for one of us to stay home with the baby and be a full-time parent?

Of course, as a woman, this decision comes fraught with all sorts of gender baggage… If we can’t afford childcare, because my husband makes significantly more money than I do – obviously I’d be the stay-at-home parent. Does this make it ridiculous that I have a college degree? Am I somehow damaging women’s rights by deciding to stay at home rather than forcing my corner the world to accommodate my motherhood? Will I be looked down upon as a woman because of my decision? Will people think I’m not intelligent or successful?

Putting aside this whole debate – I’m nowadays even more worried about people thinking that I’m “pro-traditional family”!

If my husband and I decide that it is in the best interest of our child for me to stay home to care for the little bundle of joy – it will be primarily a financial decision. Hubby makes 20K more than I am currently, so as much as he is willing to stay home (and probably would enjoy it too), we would better survive on his salary than mine.

The problem is – these days with dominionist thinking on the rise, I am truly concerned that someone is going to assume that I’m “submissive” to my husband, or a “traditional woman” because I’m at home raising the baby.

I’m also an educator by nature, and I have often thought about homeschooling my children, at least for the early primary years. The school systems are fair to poor in my area, and most families that can afford it, send their children to private school. Since, as you can see, finances are of concern to me, I was thinking that I could do a decent job teaching the kids in their early years, while we save up the cash to send them to private school when they are a little older…

So – I’ve got this whole “We’re going to look like a dominionist family” complex going – simply because I’ll probably end up as a stay-at-home mom, and might homeschool the kids…

And have you ever stopped to look at the resources available to stay-at-home moms and homeschooling families??

Unless you’re including all the internet sites and books that list ways to “make lots of money while staying home with the kids!” - the majority are very Conservative Christian, if not outright dominionist. There are very little neutral or “liberal” (put in quotes because to the dominionists, anything that isn’t the extreme right, is liberal, even if it’s neutral or centrist in nature) resources out there. And much of what you find that is more mainstream really makes assumptions that your choice to stay-at-home or homeschool was made because of “values”, as compared to financial needs or convenience.

So, on top of the fears of putting women’s rights back a few decades because I personally am choosing to be a full-time mom, I have to worry about my inadvertent support for dominionist culture because of my choice. Because that’s what I’m afraid will happen. I will stay home and raise my children, and homeschool them, and someone will look at our family and just assume that we are something we’re not.

I wonder sometimes if this is how some dominionist organizations get their high numbers of supporters… that in fact there are a whole bunch of liberal families that happen to be in the same position as my family, and because they look “traditional” from the superficial demographic information, that these orgs assume that these families are supportive of “traditional values”.

4 Comments:

Anonymous songbh said...

Found your blog via your link at T2A ... I find your conundrum to be a familiar one. I'm a liberal, perhaps even radical, feminist, highly-educated, socially-concerned woman who has also for a few years been a mostly stay-at-home mom.

I guess, to keep it brief, I just want to assure you that staying home to raise a child, if you make that decision, is about so much more than any label anyone else might affix to you. It really is sad, IMHO, that the only visible model we have nowadays for the vocation of mothering is tainted by dominionist Christian sects with their rigid gender rules and scary political vision. But if you look for groups like La Leche League (which offers mother-to-mother breastfeeding support) or Attachment Parenting International (which promotes an approach that respects and responds to a baby's expressed needs, instead of the usual sleep/food scheduling and cry-it-out techniques), I promise you will find many, many families who are making the choices you are making for many of the same reasons.

1:38 AM, December 21, 2005

 
Anonymous arkylib said...

Emily,

I think you should stop worrying about what you will look like. What's more important? Your baby's needs or what you look like to society?

I don't want to come across as lecturing you or disparaging in any way. Trust me, I understand what you are feeling, because I am living in the midst of dominionists who are trying and have managed to get their ideas into my local public school. Which makes me want to pull my kids out and start homeschooling them.

Follow your heart. That's the best advice I have for you.

arkylib

8:41 AM, December 21, 2005

 
Blogger Emily Wynn Strauss said...

Arkylib,

Thanks for the post... Yes, I know, ultimately it is my and my family's decision, and that I need to do what's right for us...

However, I can't help but have pause over it...

I am thinking about it this way... the car that someone drives says something about their values... perhaps that they need an SUV because of their work/hobby or a large family... or they have chosen a fuel-efficient or hybrid vehicle because they care about the environment... the neighborhood someone chooses to live in says something - they may choose a diverse neighborhood because they value diversity... and vice versa...
So - wouldn't your choices of parenting and education say something about your values as well? And I'd rather that the choice that I am making not signal to others that I may be a dominionist...

The thought is not really going to convince me _not_ to be a stay-at-home mom if that's what is best for my family... but I'd rather not have someone make assumptions about my lifestyle and beliefs because of it...

Also, my point being that if the statement "being a stay-at-home mom indicates that you are a 'traditional family' with dominionist values" becomes the assumption of popular culture, I fear what might happen... what policies and laws might be proposed and passed because lawmakers are told that X% of their consituency is made up of "traditional families" simply because in the census X% of moms are full-time parents?

-Emily

11:03 AM, December 21, 2005

 
Anonymous arkylib said...

Happy Chanukah, Emily!

I know you are on vacation right now and I do hope you are enjoying yourself. I've been thinking about this subject for the last few days and felt I had more to say (of course!)

I didn't want to leave you with the impression that I'm a traditionalist or that I was being judgemental. I think I should tell you that both of my children were born while I was in the USAF. I couldn't get out, so at the age of 6 weeks, they went to the Child Development Center. I really don't believe they were harmed by the experience, tho someone like Dr Laura would say differently. Anyway, even when my enlistment was up, I got another job and the kids continued to go to daycare. Still not harmed that I can see. Both are well-adjusted, intelligent,normal everyday kids.

What was my point....? Oh yeah. If I could have stayed home with them that first year, I think I would have done it. But then I would have had to go back to work. I think what I am trying to say to you is...it's your decision. And I think you should make the decision based on what is good for you, your family, and your child. If that means going back to work to save your sanity, then by all means do it. I firmly believe that not all of us are cut out to be SAHMs and our families are better off if we have outside interests. Yeah, I know, the dominionists would have a field day with this kind of attittude and I have had confrontations a time or two.

I just think it's sad today that SAHMs and moms who work outside the home have to butt heads about this topic. I just wish we could come together and just say "you know what...you should do what you feel is best and everyone should just mind their own business". Unfortunately, we can't seem to come together on this issue and then we have the dominionists who see this conflict and add fuel to it.

Anyways, goodluck on your decision. Can't wait to hear baby news. :)

3:19 PM, December 24, 2005

 

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