Tag Archives: Career

Young women: one of the best things you can do with your life is care for kids

Does government provide incentives for people to get married?
Should women postpone marriage and raising children for other things?

Super-mom Lindsay sent me this article about by a former feminist who was once opposed to children, then had 4 of them in 5 years.

Introduction:

Up until my mid-20’s I was firm in my belief that I never wanted to have kids. A combination of events made me reconsider the issue, and by the time we got married I was open to the idea of having some pre-set, small number of kids and had begun thinking about the precise timetables on which I would have them.

[…]It would have been inconceivable to me to imagine that constantly having my plans derailed by pregnancies and not even having any idea when I’d be done changing diapers would be an improvement over my fully controlled, well-ordered life, but it has been.

[…]Lately I’ve been imagining what I would say to 2003 Jen if I could go back in time and give her a crystal ball to show her what her future would be like. I’ve been trying to imagine how I would talk her down from the balcony ledge after the crystal ball got to the “four kids in five years — and doing NFP!” part, how I could possibly convince her that this life is not only not a recipe for misery, but the true fulfillment of everything she thought she wanted.

I would love to tell you that I’d simply be able to explain that each child is such a joy and a blessing, but that would not have resonated with Old Jen; I might have agreed, but ultimately I would have said that those joys and blessing are just too much hard work. “I just don’t see how that kind of life could be anything but miserable for someone like me,” I would have said.

So how do you convince a woman that “hard work”, i.e. – self-denial, self-control, self-discipline, self-sacrifice – while caring for children could actually lead to a fulfilling life? And most importantly, that it should not be postponed in pursuit of something that appears more fun, more thrilling or more important (according to a feminist measure of fun, thrills and importance).

She makes 5 points in her post.

Here’s one:

3. “It’s not what you do, it’s whom you serve.”

A product of secular society, I’d fallen into the common notion that the way to find true happiness is to focus on yourself more and other people less. It makes perfect sense, after all: doing pleasurable things for me is fun, sacrifice and hard work are not fun; ergo, the secret to happiness must be to live for myself as much as possible. Right?

How shocked I was to discover that I was wrong — dead wrong. Part of fully understanding the concept of vocation was understanding that a vocation is not to be thought of as “what you do” as much as it is “whom you serve.” It was nothing short of revolutionary to hear the concept that God has called every one of us to serve others, that living for yourself is not a valid option; that the key to deep fulfillment, to finding your very purpose in life, is as simple as finding out the specific way in which you’re called to serve. Do that, and you will find peace.

It sounded not only too simple to be true, but too difficult. As a spoiled only child the idea of living to serve sounded terrible. But once I actually took a leap of faith and tried it, I had no doubt that this was truth.

Next,I want to talk about one of the young Christians I mentor, and then about the woman I supported for President in the 2012 election.

I spent Friday night playing with one of the young women I mentor. This is the one who did the BS in computer science, and is now doing the MS in computer science. After playing a few rounds of “Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes”, she mentioned the salary from her internship this summer. She asked me “what am I going to do with so much money? I think I had better stop thinking so much about myself and find some people out there to help”. And I was so pleased. Because this woman, more than any of the other young people I mentor, is my replacement.

J. Warner Wallace likes to talk about training your replacement, and I have several replacements, but none better than her. I remember when she was younger, she was a bit more selfish than now. She still organized events, like bringing Frank Turek, Tim McGrew, etc. to speak on her campus. But she never showed much interest in one-on-one care for others. It was my hope that just like me, she would react to computer science salary with a sense of obligation to others, and so she has. And that’s how I think women ought to be. They should be educated, they should be successful – but they should be open to the needs of others.

Michele Bachmann

The woman I admire the most in the world is former GOP Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who was my first choice for President in 2012. I had been following her for many years before that, when she was just a state senator. I liked her because of her interest in apologetics, as well as her focus on her family.

Marcus and Michele Bachmann and family
Marcus and Michele Bachmann and family

The  radically leftist New York Times did a profile of her.

It says:

Nearly two decades ago, a stay-at-home mother and onetime federal tax lawyer named Michele Bachmann felt a spiritual calling to open her clapboard home here to troubled teenage girls.

“We had our five biological children that God gave to us, and then he called us to take foster children into our home,” Mrs. Bachmann told a Christian audience in 2006. “We thought we were going to take unwed mothers in,” she continued, adding, “We took 23 foster children into our home, and raised them, and launched them off into the world.”

Today Mrs. Bachmann is Representative Bachmann, a Minnesota Republican, first elected to the House in 2006, and now a candidate for her party’s nomination for president. In Washington, she has grabbed the spotlight as a staunch fiscal conservative and brash Tea Party leader. But a look at her life here shows that it was her role as a mother, both to her biological children and to her adolescent foster daughters, that spurred her to seek public office.

[…]Mrs. Bachmann’s political awakening began with her deep disenchantment with the public school system.

[…]By the late 1990s, with her own children enrolled in private Christian schools, Mrs. Bachman was upset by the education her foster children were getting in public school. Teachers gave them “little special attention,” and many were “placed in lower-level classes, as if they were not expected to succeed,” she told a House subcommittee in 2007.

One brought home “an 11th-grade math assignment that involved coloring a poster,” she testified. Another “spent an entire week watching movies.” A third “remarked to me once that she was in ‘stupid people math.’ ”

So Mrs. Bachmann immersed herself in the minutiae of Minnesota’s graduation requirements. She worked with a conservative researcher and began giving talks in church basements.

[…]The Rev. Marcus Birkholz, the pastor at Salem Lutheran Church, which Mrs. Bachmann attended for years, calls her “a lady with energy and a heart” whose uncompromising “support for the unborn” extends beyond fighting abortion. “She sees the whole picture,” Pastor Birkholz said. “It’s not just bringing a child into the world; that child has to be nurtured and educated.”

[…]Mrs. Bachmann, whose biological children now range in age from 17 to 29, worked until her fourth child was born. (Her youngest, Sophia, is headed to college this fall, while the eldest, Lucas, is a medical resident at the University of Connecticut, pursuing a specialty in psychiatry.) Friends remember her planning neighborhood picnics and organizing bicycle parades.

“I had all these balls in the air that I was juggling,” she said in an interview with Minnesota Monthly last year. In choosing to leave work, she said, “I finally realized my dream, which was to be mom of a big, happy family.”

What does it mean? It means that women ought not be horrified by husband needs or children needs. They should not be opposed to responsibilities, expectations and obligations in relationships. Sometimes, the path to greatness means taking a few years off from work to homeschool your kids. After all, isn’t it better for God to have FIVE Christian kids who will surpass you in influence?  Michele didn’t get involved in politics by thinking of herself. She got involved in politics by thinking of her children, and her 23 foster children.

Here’s my advice to young women: 1) Study something hard that pays. 2) Work a few years and get debt free. 3) Marry a good provider in your mid-to-late 20s. 4) Have as many children as your husband can support. 5) Be actively involved in the education of your kids (with apologetics, too). 6) Open your home to kids who don’t have a mom or a dad. 7) Teach your kids the importance of caring for others. 8) Run for President (as a Republican).

Pre-marriage counseling is good, and pre-engagement counseling is even better

 

Painting: "Courtship", by Edmund Blair Leighton (1888)
Painting: “Courtship”, by Edmund Blair Leighton (1888)

OK, I was chatting with my friend McKenzie who recently got married to an amazing Christian man. She and I are both big believers in asking questions during the courtship. She sent me this article from Verily magazine that has a nice story, and lots of questions.

The article starts like this:

When you know, you know. And with Zach, I knew. Just eleven months into dating, I knew this was the man I wanted to marry. Zach felt the same about me. But instead of putting a ring on it then and there, we decided to seek out a pastor for pre-engagement counseling. You read it right, pre-engagement.

It might sound intense or premature at first, but I am here to tell you that it has been an awesome experience. Sure, the deal isn’t sealed until you say “I do,” but engagement is a huge decision, too. I don’t want to get engaged and then deal with our baggage. When Zach proposes marriage to me, I want my “Yes!” to be with eyes wide open, and pre-engagement counseling has really helped us move in that direction.

What has been so great about pre-marriage preparation? It’s a structured way for us to explore the most important ideas that will be the foundation of our marriage. We have a session once every two weeks for about an hour and a half, during which we’re working through the book Preparing for Marriage by Dennis Rainey with our pastor through homework assignments and discussing together. Of course, pre-marriage counseling can take many forms, but no matter where you might go to get pre-marriage counseling, there are certain things I think any couple should consider before truly committing. Whether you work through them pre-marriage or pre-engagement, like us, is up to you.

She has 4 sections and here they are:

  1. PERSONAL HISTORY
  2. FAMILY
  3. EXPECTATIONS
  4. MONEY MATTERS

The whole essay is very practical, but let me just quote the one that stood out to me:

Few people enjoy talking about money, and Zach certainly did not look forward to this conversation. But money, how we think about it and what we do with it, plays a big part in marital happiness. In our pre-engagement sessions we were posed with great questions when talking about finances. Here are a few of the important questions to cover in a conversation about money:

  • Who will be the primary financial provider in the family?
  • How will you decide on major purchases?
  • Who will pay the bills, balance the checkbook, and keep track of expenses?
  • What is your philosophy of giving (charitable donations to your church or other organizations), and how will you make decisions about giving?
  • What is your conviction about debt and the use of credit cards?

These were just a handful of the financial questions we were asked to think about. We also discussed how we want to handle our finances as a couple and individually (joint or separate bank accounts). It’s a lot to think about, but the goal was to get on the same page.

What I am seeing a lot of these days – I am literally seeing this everywhere – is when older women prefer to date and marry younger men who do not have jobs and who either never did some sort of post-high-school job training or are still students into their mid-20s. And I know why they do that. Younger men who are not serious about providing are very, very easy for older women to manipulate. She can throw out pretty much any crazy plan she wants – and maybe say “God told me” – and he will have no authority from his own life experiences to second guess her. Because he is not responsible or disciplined himself. Young women not only struggle enormously with respecting men, they also prefer men who they do not have to respect, so they can run the relationship based on their own feelings and intuitions.

I have also encountered a very strange attitude among young women where they think that hard work in an area that doesn’t pay is as “promising” as hard work in an area that does. Actually, this isn’t true. Some people work very hard at things that don’t pay, and some people just choose things that do pay and don’t work as hard at them. What matters is not how hard you work, it’s what is in demand. An engineer working a 40 hour week is probably going to make a lot more than a graduate student working 80 hour weeks. Or an assistant professor working 80 hour weeks. The important thing is not to just be busy and organized. It’s much safer to choose a field where you can earn a good salary without killing yourself. Work stress is a stress on the marriage, especially if both spouses have to work because the male provider isn’t making enough.

There is no substitute for earning and saving money. You can’t run a marriage without money – somebody has to pay the bills. Pre-engagement counseling is useful to find out whether one or both people has a proven record of being able to earn, save, and invest. If both people have never earned, saved, or invested, that’s a pretty bad sign. Especially the way things are going with the economy and the national debt. Marriage poses serious financial challenges, and they cannot be wished away. If your plan for prosperity is to discern God’s mysterious will through your feelings and intuitions, then you should make a new plan.

How to go to college without going into debt for the rest of your life

Choosing the right major
Choosing the right major: study one of these, or learn a trade that pays well

First, watch this this 5-minute video that explains why college is so expensive:

This video clearly makes two points:

  1. College costs more because of government subsidies
  2. Only STEM degrees are worth taking out loans for, because there is a demand for STEM-degree holders

Now, in a previous post, I explained more about what’s in the video, and linked to appropriate sources (the New York Times) for support.

But this time, I want to get some advice from a friend of mine, the famous Lindsay. She has a BS and MS in biology, was admitted to a PhD program in biology, but then decided to become a stay-at-home wife, and the best homeschooling mom in the whole world.

She writes:

It is possible to go to college and get a degree that will prepare you for a job and to do it without drowning yourself in debt. I did it. I graduated with a Master’s degree in Biology, with a 4.0 GPA throughout, with no debt, and got a job right out of college. But I’m the exception. You can’t just do what everyone else is doing and expect things to work out well for you. You have to be smart and informed or you’re likely to end up an unhappy statistic, paying down enormous debt on a degree you never use.

She has 5 pieces of advice for you young people.

Here’s my favorite:

5) Remember that the proper amount of student loans is zero and any non-zero amount must be justified by careful study and number-crunching to make sure it is worth it. Your future is at stake. In my experience, the only time student loans are an acceptable investment is when you’re going into a high paying field (think doctor, lawyer, or engineer), have very high graduation and employment potential (good grades and some work experience), and your realistic (not idealistic) future income will be sufficient to pay for your total student loans in less than 10 years while also allowing you to cover all your living expenses. You have to crunch the numbers and make sure the investment, including the interest you will pay, is worth it in better job prospects and pay than you could achieve without the degree. You can’t rely on the system to check this for you. They are all too happy to mortgage your future for a degree you can’t afford and that won’t get you a job.

Straight talk from the Lindsay.

I guess I should say something about me. It’s hard for me to remember the numbers exactly, but I think I finished my Bachelor of Computer Science with $9,000 in the black, and then graduated with a Masters of Computer Science with $16,000 in the black. As Lindsay advises in her point #4, I worked in the summers and took two semesters off (in my BS) to work full time. I went to a very ordinary school in my home town for both degrees, and chose all programming courses as much as I could. I stayed away from anything theoretical, and even niche courses. (At least until graduate school – then I went crazy and audited 5 theoretical courses in addition to my programming courses and thesis). I do recommend working in some work related to your degree, at least in the summer, even if you don’t get paid. However, if you can’t find paid work in the summer related to your degree, that’s a pretty good sign that you’re not in a program that is going to pay for itself.

I mentor a lot of young Christian men and women about their educations and careers. Of all the other young Christians I mentor, everyone is in a STEM program, except for these two girls in California who just started working on. One got a job on Monday night, and the other one (who is shy) is investigating getting a promotion at her current job, as well as adjusting the courses she is taking now. Parents really need to be on top of the education and career situation of their children. And older Christians like me, well we need to be taking an interest in young Christians… making sure they study apologetics, apply themselves in school, study for jobs that pay – either in vocational training or in a STEM college program. Something where they  can find a job that pays. This is especially important for men, because they are tasked with the role of primary provider.

By the way, college is not for everyone. Previously, I blogged about the specialty welder who has struck it rich. There are many advantages to being in a field like that where you get to work as much or as little as you want, instead of working 40 hours a week regardless of money requirements. If you don’t like welding, here’s a list of blue-collar jobs that pay well.

New study: adopted kids struggle, even with well-educated, wealthy parents

I’ll explain why I am posting this below, but for now, let’s take a look at the study, which is discussed at Family Studies. (H/T Brad Wilcox tweet)

Excerpt:

To expand what we know about adopted students, for this Institute for Family Studies research brief, I carried out a fresh analysis of data from a large longitudinal study of 19,000 kindergarten students that was conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics beginning in 1998.

[…]Kindergarten and first-grade teachers were asked to rate the classroom behavior of children in the ECLS-K sample—how well they got along with other children in a group situation. In both the fall of kindergarten and the spring of first grade, adopted children were more likely than biological ones to be reported to get angry easily and often argue or fight with other students.

Here’s the first chart:

Adopted kids struggle in school
Adopted kids more likely to engage in problem behaviors

And more results:

Children in the ECLS-K were also rated by their teachers on how well they paid attention in class, whether they seemed eager to learn new things, and whether they persisted at challenging learning tasks. Scores on these measures have proven to be predictive of later academic performance and career success beyond elementary school.5 Adopted children were rated less highly with respect to such positive approaches to learning than were children being raised by both birth parents.

Here’s the second chart:

Adopted kids struggle to pay attention in class
Adopted kids struggle to pay attention in class

And even more results:

As the participating children began kindergarten, the ECLS-K assessed their pre-reading skills, such as recognizing letters by name, associating sounds with letters, identifying simple words by sight.

Here’s the third chart:

Adopted kids struggle with reading skills
Adopted kids struggle with reading skills

And now math results:

In the fall of their kindergarten year, the ECLS-K assessed children’s pre-arithmetic skills like counting by rote, recognizing written numerals, and understanding greater, lesser, and equal relationships.

Here’s the fourth chart:

Adopted kids struggle with math skills
Adopted kids struggle with math skills

The article concludes:

Attachment theory holds that a warm, intimate, and continuous relationship with at least one adult, usually the mother, is essential for the mental health of infants and young children. Children who do not develop a stable and secure bond during early childhood, or have the bond disrupted, are subject to both short-term distress reactions and longer-term abnormalities in their feelings and behavior toward other people. Not having a stable maternal bond is apt to produce long-lasting deficits in the child’s social development, deficiencies that are not easily remedied by a new home environment, no matter how favorable.

Some adopted children experienced neglect, abuse, or other stressful events prior to their adoption. According to traumatic stress theory, the likelihood of long-term emotional scars depends on the intensity and duration of the stress. Severe or prolonged early stress can have long-lasting effects on a child’s development, effects that a supportive adoptive family may only partly ameliorate.

So what do I want to say about this? I want to warn young women, especially young Christian women, that children work best when grown-ups plan their lives in such a way that they can provide for what the children need, at the time they need it. And if you miss the window of opportunity to have your own kids and raise them yourself, then you can’t just fix it at the last minute with ad hoc alternatives.

But for some reason, I get a lot of kickback from young women when I tell them what studies say about things like marriage, premarital sex, cohabitation, infertility, day care, and on and on and on. The Christian women in particular dismiss all the facts with stuff like:

God is leading me to choose fun and thrills now. That’s what my feelings say (and all my friends and family tell me that my feelings are God speaking to me). Tingles and peer-approval rationalize my choice to delay marriage and child-bearing. Who cares about stuff evidence? I don’t like to hear about constraints and deadlines. So I’ll just keep up this plan to run up debts, go on missionary trips, and have fun traveling till I’m 90 years old. God always calls people to do what feels good. I’m going on an adventure! And it will be easy to find a good husband and raise happy and effective kids later – whenever I feel like it. Er, I mean when God leads me to feel like it. Yeah.

So even though all of these studies show the need for timings, pre-conditions, best practices, and so on, that can all be dismissed because the feelings are God speaking to her, and God can somehow magically make all the data not apply to her. One of my married friends once wrote to a young, single fun-seeking feminist telling her about the risks of delaying marriage and child-bearing for too long, and the fun-seeker came back to me dismissing the whole letter because “I don’t like the feeling that I am being constrained”. So, the advice of old Christian women (Titus 2:4) can be dismissed because the young adventurous feminist didn’t like the feeling of being confronted by reality by someone who had more wisdom and experience than she did.

What young children need is their mom, and a Dad who can provide for her to stay home during the crucial first 5 years of their lives. That is more important than pursuing fun and thrills, then grabbing for children as if they were handbags at the last second after natural child-bearing becomes impossible. The right thing to do is to use your 20s preparing financially and otherwise to have kids when you are young, and to be financially set up to stay home with them during the critical years. Choosing a man who can provide, and who understands the best practices for having and raising children is vital, if you want your children to be effective and influential for Christ and his kingdom.

I do think that if a couple is intentionally adopting because they want the challenge and want to help a child who really needs it, then it’s praiseworthy to do that. I just don’t want someone who isn’t ready for the challenge thinking that adoption is the same, so they can delay marriage and children.I know that I am lazy, and I always want to do things the easy way. E.g. – I buy new cars, not used cars. I will buy hand-fed birds, not rescue birds. I would buy a new house, not a fixer-upper. I’m just not cut out for doing things that are hard. I have no ability to struggle through when there is resistance. When I face rejection or resistance to trying to grow or lead someone, I just give up. I think what I was saying to young women was – don’t delay marriage and child-bearing, you’ll get better results with less work.

Related posts

Do husbands and wives have specific responsibilities in a marriage?

Does government provide incentives for people to get married?
Marriage advice from someone who knows

I found another awesome post by Lindsay.

The post starts explaining how a woman supports a man in his role as spiritual leader of the home. I always talk about the responsibilities of a husband/father in the home being protecting, providing and leading on moral and spiritual issues. You’d be surprised how many Christian women are not OK with me claiming these roles. In fact, I am always getting criticism for buying too many gifts (providing), for being too concerned about the challenges of policies (protecting), and for being too rough on rebutting spiritual wolves – even after they admit they are wrong! (spiritual/moral leading). It is rare for me to find a Christian woman who accepts those male roles. Usually, I get attacked for all three of them. Women do not like to let me execute these tasks.

Lindsay is fine with men leading in all 3 of those roles, but this is the part of her post that I really liked:

Once children arrive, it becomes pretty much impossible for her to work outside the home and still fulfill her duties at home. The funny thing about children is that they need constant care. One cannot care for children and work outside the home too. The choice once children come along is whether to outsource the care of the children to someone else or to do it yourself. I firmly believe that God entrusts children to a husband and wife because he wants them to be the primary influences in their children’s lives. That doesn’t happen if the children spend a majority of their waking hours in the care of someone else.

Children don’t just need food and shelter provided to them, they need love, teaching, discipline, a sense of security, and examples of how they are to live. All of those things are best done when the child spends time primarily with his or her parents. Daycare workers, school teachers, and even grandparents simply cannot provide them in the same way parents can. No one loves a child like his own parents do. No one has such a vested interest in ensuring that he grows up with the proper spiritual and moral training. Even if others care about the child, the responsibility for the training of a child belongs to his parents. Daycare workers and teachers and grandparents won’t answer to God for the soul of that child. His parents will.

So, given the needs of children, I am convinced that women are called to be with their children, training and caring for them as their primary caregiver. Does that mean a mother can’t have any job outside the home? In theory, no. In practice, yes. A woman’s priority must be her own family. If she can have her children with her or leave them for only a short time each day, she may still be able to provide the necessary training and care they need from their mother and earn some income. But in doing that, she needs to be sure she is not neglecting her husband’s needs either. Theoretically, a woman can have it all – keeping a job and caring for her family too. The problem is that it is a very rare woman who has the energy to keep up with the constant needs of her children for care, training, discipline, and love and those of her husband for companionship, sex, and a partner in life as well as the logistics of running a household and still have something left for even a part-time job.

What usually happens when a woman has an outside job is that her family simply suffers the lack. Either her children spend a lot of time with other caregivers or teachers or her husband does without the companionship and marital intimacy he needs or some of the household chores descend on the husband, taking away some of his time and energy to train his children spiritually and impact the world for Christ. Often it’s a combination of these. A woman simply cannot meet all the needs of her family when she is spread that thin and, as a result, something important gets left undone.

I wish I could find women who had definite ideas about what they wanted to do with their children, but thinking back over previous relationships, what I usually hear is that they want to go on mission trips, do pro-life protests, have careers, etc. No one looks at these little kids with any sort of plan to grow them into anything. I just think it’s depressing that kids are not part of most women’s plans. If there is any plan at all it’s that there should be no plan, and the kids can just do anything they want. How depressing for the man to think about when he has to pay all the bills to raise kids who are aiming at nothing, and will surely hit it. What kind of man is excited about having children when his wife is not on board with making them into anything special? It’s depressing.