Posts tagged " babies "

What does the Bible say about moms working outside the home?

August 14th, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 29 comments

What does Ancient Jewish wisdom aka the Bible say about moms? I am naturally a hard working professional however I am also a relatively new mom.

My husband provides, I stay home with my 1 and 3 year olds. If I did work we could make some upgrades.

This topic wasn’t mentioned in Business Secrets from the Bible. What do you say about it?

Amber T.

Dear Amber,

What does the Bible say? The assumption underlying the Bible’s prescription for life is that if each person fulfills his or her obligations, the society will prosper. The basic component of the society is the family, not the individual (though of course there are provisions for those who are alone). Together, a man and a woman make a unit where each of them and any associated children can physically, emotionally and economically thrive. The unit suffers if both husband and wife do exactly the same things, just as a business partnership where each partner does exactly the same as the other would make no sense.

To this end, in the Torah, women are not obligated with most of the positive, time-bound commandments. What does this mean? Women, like men, may not murder, steal or gossip. These are negative commandments. The Torah  obligates women to observe the Sabbath and eat kosher. But commandments that require one to be somewhere or do things in a time-limited manner, such as appearing at the Temple in Jerusalem (or today in synagogue) or even being forced to testify in a court case, are not incumbent upon women. The idea is that a woman is not asked to do anything that would conflict with her ability to care for her household and children. That is her primary responsibility.

Our culture’s message is quite different. Somehow we have turned work into a woman’s prime responsibility as well as painting it in a rosy glow of self-fulfillment as if we are all highly paid and stimulated CEOs of multi-national corporations. To this end, it is most important that our relationship with our children not be allowed to interfere with our training or career advancement. Our children are secondary to our professional aspirations. Hence the demands that government and business change until that is so. That’s certainly not how we see the world.

Here are some of the questions that we would ask you and your husband to consider. And we reject the idea that a husband should say, “It’s her decision,” about matters that impact the big picture of the family any more than a wife can say, “It’s his decision,” about those same matters.

  • Is this entirely a financial matter?
  • Are you being swayed by social pressure that tells you that being with your children is betraying your level of intelligence and training?
  • Are you feeling unfulfilled at home and if so, why? Do you know other young mothers or do you find yourself sitting in the park with nannies and babysitters?
  • How many hours would you need to work to manage those “upgrades” taking into account paying a baby-sitter as well as associated costs like wardrobe upgrade, more prepared food, travel expenses etc.?
  • How do the “upgrades” compare with being the prime influence in your children’s lives and being able to focus on your marriage?
  • Is there something that you can do that will either bring in some income without upending your home situation or that will provide you with credentials or education for the future?
  • Do you crave being a hard working professional or would you prefer to see yourself as a hard working professional wife and mother who does something else on the side?
  • What provides you with soul-satisfaction? What can you do to get more of that from an avenue other than career?
  • Do both you and your husband value what you are doing as a mother or do either of you take it for granted or disparage it?

The most important thing we think you and your husband should do is to picture your goals and dreams for the future, both for you as a couple and you and your children as a family. What is important to you in terms of who your children become? Whatever you do in the short-term should build towards that long-term vision. In that way, you will remain true to your responsibility where family is your primary concern.

Enjoy all the different stages of your life,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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That Which is Born

February 1st, 2018 Posted by Susan's Musings 27 comments

My husband and I celebrated two joyous events early this week. On Sunday, we were guests at a ninetieth birthday brunch and a day later we welcomed a young lady whose age we are now counting in days rather than years.

Rosie, may she live and be well, and my mother, may she rest in peace, began a friendship when they were five-year-old neighbors. When Rosie’s oldest sister married my mother’s uncle the ties grew stronger. On Sunday, her five children honored her at a birthday brunch where she was lovingly feted by over sixty children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and friends. A day later, our newest granddaughter made her appearance.

The juxtaposition of the events got me to thinking. There is a saying in ancient Jewish wisdom, “Who is wise? He who sees what is born.” Note that it doesn’t say, “He who sees the future.” We aren’t being told that one needs prophecy to be wise; one needs to be able to see that which is likely to happen if we expand our vision beyond the present.

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Here Comes the Promotion; There Goes the Marriage

May 3rd, 2011 Posted by Susan's Musings 1 comment

All right. That wasn’t exactly what the large letters at the top of April 28’s Wall Street Journal declared, enticing one to read the related article in the Personal Journal section. It was actually “Here Come the Baby; There Goes the Marriage.” But wouldn’t my suggested title work as well? How about any of the following:

 Here Comes the Mortgage; There Goes the Marriage

Here Comes the Illness; There Goes the Marriage

Here Comes Real Life; There Goes the Marriage

 Statistics cited in the article claim that, “About two-thirds of couples see the quality of their relationship drop within three years of the birth of a child.”  Counseling services, psychotherapists and classes are stepping up to help married couples keep the lines of communication open during this stressful period. 

I don’t know many people who buy a car based only on how the car performs in good weather and great roadway conditions. We want to know how the car holds up in stop and go traffic, on pot-holed roads and in a collision. When we buy clothing we want assurances that our new dress won’t look good only when it is new but also after repeated laundering. A teacher’s mettle is tested around children who aren’t ideal students and a doctor who handles strep throat flawlessly but who falls apart when a patient has more complex symptoms isn’t a very good doctor. 

Why are we surprised when couples who are happy before their marriages hit the inevitable bumps in the road, struggle once complicated and messy real life kicks in? Until the marriage is tested, whether by negative occurrences such as job loss or the death of a parent, or by joyous occasions like the birth of a child, getting a job promotion or a monetary windfall, the marriage is still in the show room or on the hanger. Taxing events do stress marriages, but they often reveal fault lines which up till then were camouflaged. 

I’m not minimizing the upheaval that arrives with a new baby, particularly the first-born. But I question how out of touch with reality young couples are if they need to spend hundreds of dollars to be taught that keeping lines of communication open and making sure to have non-child-focused time together is important.  Could it be that the base assumption so many bring into their marriages – this marriage is about making me happy – is wrong? 

In college, I took a course on the immigrant experience in America. Our term project included interviewing an immigrant, and I took the opportunity to chat with my grandmother. At that point, she and my grandfather had celebrated close to sixty years of marriage and in my eyes their relationship was as solid as the heavy, wooden armoire in their guest room.  The atmosphere in their home was peaceful and joyful.  With the self-centeredness of youth, I assumed it was naturally that way. 

As my grandmother answered my questions, I remember being dumb-founded as she uncovered memories from years long past. At one point, she recalled how, early in their marriage, her father-in-law arrived from Europe to stay with them. He was a difficult man, and almost as an aside, my grandmother said something which granted me marriage wisdom I never forgot.  She said, “That was a difficult year. I guess if it was today, we would just have gotten divorced. But who knew from that then?” 

While my great-grandfather went back to Europe, the years that followed were full of different challenges.  Intense poverty during the Depression and my mother’s contracting polio were among other trials they faced. My grandparents watched three sons go to war and while they rejoiced in their safe return, the end of the war brought with it the knowledge that their parents, siblings, nieces and nephews in Europe had been murdered by the Nazis. 

I’m sure there were extended periods of time when there wasn’t one ounce of energy to give to the relationship. There certainly wasn’t the 1920’s equivalent of $500 for six sessions of pre and post baby counseling. There was, however, something more than divorce just not being common. There was commitment, a long-term view and an attitude that stressed the marriage rather than self. There was faith in God, belief in family, and gratitude for what one had rather than yearning for what was missing. There was a maturity that understood that some days, months and even years were going to be hard and that asking oneself constantly, “Am I happy?” was a foolish thing to do. Paradoxically, over the course of a long marriage where the basics of commitment and responsibility were sacrosanct no matter what one’s feelings, the joyous times far outweighed the tough ones.

I’m a big believer in actively working on one’s marriage (see my husband and my audio CD, Madam, I’m Adam) and while it would be best to work on it consistently from day one, if a life-changing event spurs effort, that’s great.  Could it be though, that too many marriages fail not because they are fatally flawed, but because constantly taking the temperature of one’s happiness is an exercise that encourages dissatisfaction and short-term thinking? 

I wasn’t surprised when the article noted that, while the decline in marital satisfaction in the five years after a baby’s arrival was lower in those who had pre-baby couples counseling, the divorce rate among those who underwent counseling and those who didn’t was the same.  Counseling that is geared to facilitating a healthy relationship is wonderful, but if it reinforces the unrealistic expectation that you can eliminate the tough periods and  that constant smooth sailing is possible it just might make more problems than it solves.

 

 

 

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