Posts tagged " working mothers "

Should I go back to work?

September 9th, 2020 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 2 comments

Hi Rabbi and Susan,

My husband and I have just finished the audiobook of Business Secrets from the Bible. We are Christians and your teaching has just expanded our minds so much we are so grateful – and my husband who is in management had already seen great “fruit” from applying your biblical teachings in just the past week.

My question surrounds women returning to the workforce after children. I have an honours degree but have been primarily a stay home mother for nearly 8 years. Can I please have your wisdom on what point I should consider returning to work—would you recommend full time /part-time. I have 2 boys 6 and 8 years old. I want to serve my family but I also want to make some money!

I have had my own business in the past but understand it requires much attention. I really don’t want to outsource parenting but want to work. I do understand your teaching around 6 days work (which my husband does – and I do too (within the home) but not for money!

Your wisdom would be greatly appreciated

Kindest regards,

Christie (Australia)

Dear Christie,

We are truly delighted your family has been blessed by Business Secrets from the Bible.  Delighted, but not really surprised, Christie, because whether in Australia or in Chile, whether in 2020 or in 1720, the Manufacturer’s Roadmap to reality always applies and is always effective.  A pat on the back to your husband for effectively following the principles in Business Secrets from the Bible.

A big pat on the back to you too for having been in the forward trenches of the home-front-lines these past 8 years and being able to focus on being a wife and mom.  Though I don’t underestimate the importance of our book in your husband’s success, it takes second place to your being present as his wife.  That usually contributes far more to the husband’s fiscal achievements than most couples realize. Wise and perceptive husbands know, acknowledge, and appreciate their wives’ contribution to their own economic performance.

Which leads naturally to the question you ask and the question we ask you in return.  Looking only at hard dollar numbers, how would you react to this set of equations:  (H -husband, W – wife, F – family)

NOW:    H100 + W0  =  F100

THEN:   H85  + W30  =  F115

Now, in the present,  your husband makes, shall we say $100 while, with you, the wife,  at home, although you contribute greatly to his fiscal effectiveness, you add $0 for a total family income of $100.

Then,  let’s imagine that with you away at work, your husband’s income were to drop to $85 (not uncommon) but you were to earn $30, for a total family income of $115.

What would you say?  For a 15% increase in family revenue, would you still go to work?  This is an important though hypothetical question because how you answer it to yourself will tell you the answer to another question.  Namely, is your motivation primarily monetary or are you looking for other things such as challenge, accomplishment and adult interaction?

We admire you for holding an honours degree, Christie, but you don’t tell us in what subject. Not to be frivolous, but if your degree is in 12th Century Byzantine Frescoes it has zero economic value to you right now, whereas if it is in actuarial science, working even part-time, you’d do rather well.

From your words, “but I also want to make some money!” rather than, “Our family could use some additional money,” we assume that while extra income would be helpful, your family is managing with what your husband earns. That gives you and your husband the luxury of choice, both in whether you return to paid work as well as what you do.

But make it a joint husband/wife decision.  As any Bible enthusiast knows, in this world, for every positive there is a corresponding negative.  Have a sober discussion about the marriage and family costs of a working wife and mom.  The two of you should discuss what would be best and for how long it should be lived before a reevaluation is scheduled.   The discussion will help lead you on the right path.

Is it possible that you are ready to branch out, but that this can occur without joining the paid workforce? We don’t know what your skills are, but you do mention having had your own business. Are you able to think of family and business as one unit rather than as competing entities? There is tremendous value in children growing up with a front-row seat in economics and real life. We assume that they are in school, but they (especially the eight-year-old) are not too young to pack boxes, answer phones professionally, check inventory, sweep up and do myriad other chores that running a small home business involves. Not only does it contribute valuable understanding about the real world of commerce, but it is tremendously valuable for every member of the family to recognize that he is part of a team and a greater enterprise.

On one hand, being an entrepreneur can consume many more hours than having a job, but it does leave you more in control of your time. Freelancing is another option that carries the negative of uncertainty but lets you scale back when needed. Today, with digital technology so prevalent and so accepted, there are hundreds of ways of serving other people from your home. We encourage you to explore these options. As you well know, family life can run smoothly but it can also dash up against rocky shores. Being able to adjust and step up with your sons when needed is terribly important.

Since we haven’t (yet) visited your wonderful country, we can’t speak about schools in Australia, but we do know that parents in the United States are quite wrong when they assume that their own values are being transmitted by the teachers who are spending most of every day with their children. This is, sadly, often true for private and religious schools as well as Government Indoctrination Camps. Technology, social media and other facets of our time also mean that this generation of children is in desperate need of parental attention. While your children don’t physically need you as they did when they were younger, they still greatly need for your husband and you to have a fantastic marriage (still one of the greatest gifts parents can bequeath their children) as well as a firm finger on the pulse of their lives.

We hope this gives both you and your husband some ideas to explore,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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Family and Work or Work and Family?

March 12th, 2019 Posted by Practical Parenting 6 comments

As so often happens in life, I had two starkly different experiences within close proximity of each other. Yesterday, I attended the funeral of a wonderful woman who passed away at 93 years young. I was fortunate to sit near her in synagogue and at a weekly Torah class for the past few years and sharing a greeting and a few comments with her always gave me a lift.

As he eulogized his mother, her son provided some context for those who, like me, knew his mother as a vital, active, loving senior but who hadn’t known her in her younger years. He spoke of his mother going to work as a secretary in order for his parents to afford a private Jewish education for him. When she was directed to post an ad for a regional sales manager, she told her boss that she could do the job. Although in those years a woman sales manager was highly unusual, he gave her the chance to prove herself, which she proceeded to do. Yet, as her son pointed out, while she certainly took satisfaction in her work, the goal of working was to build her family and its future. Family and faith were always the priority. Yesterday, about sixty of her descendants paid loving tribute to that choice. 

Today, wanting to get a feel for what the general culture is offering, I tuned into a podcast aimed at young mothers. The hosts of the show were interviewing a successful writer who has two children, an infant and a toddler. The guest made the point that it is vital to get as much help as one can during the fleeting years that one has small children, so that one can retain focus on one’s career. After all, she said, (and I’m paraphrasing), your career is going to be the entire rest of your life.

Being able to choose to hire childcare so that one can focus on work is, of course, a privileged woman’s option. Mothers who are working so that there will be food on the table and a roof over their family’s head do not have that choice. But, the bottom line is, that while working for money and family may need to co-exist for many mothers, there is a subtle and not-so-subtle difference in how one lives based on which is the priority. Do we take time off from work in order to have children or do we take time away from our children in order to work?

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.

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Preschool angst

August 31st, 2006 Posted by Susan's Musings 5 comments

Let me get this straight. According to this morning’s Wall Street Journal, America’s preschoolers’ emotional health is being threatened by the high turnover of the staff at their schools. In other words, mothers who aren’t willing to sacrifice their own time and ambitions in order to raise their own children are dismayed that employees who are paid an average of $10 an hour won’t make endless sacrifices and totally commit to those same children.

Having decided as a society that it is o.k. for parents to walk out of full time participation in a child’s life through the medium of divorce, having decided as a society that giving birth to a child should in no way pressure a mother to stay home with that child, we are now aghast that low paid babysitters (which is what they are despite our calling them educators in order to assuage our guilt) feel no commitment to their charges even if their leaving leaves a hole in the child’s heart.

The article urges parents to try and spend more time with the child when a beloved teacher leaves so that the child will feel secure. That is of course, if you’re lucky enough to have a teacher stay around long enough to be beloved. Had parents spent more time with the child in the first place they wouldn’t have needed to pretend that a three year old was better off in “school” than in the home. Children are incredibly adaptable. All sorts of people can and do waltz in and out of their lives– grandparents, aunts and uncles, neighbors, babysitters, – as long as their parents are an unmovable constant and present nucleus. Pretending that quality time beats quantity time or that spending a week’s vacation together can replace the hours of loving attention a child needs is a myth. Making believe that the immense amount of knowledge a two year old can absorb is best transmitted in a formal setting by a staff member is a fable. Transferring the core relationship of motherhood to a preschool employee and then feeling betrayed when that person walks away from the job, might suggest that the entire enterprise was founded on a misguided notion. Anyone fooling themselves into believing that a preschool that advertises a “loving environment” can equal the love that should be found in the home should appreciate the dose of reality supplied by the marketplace.

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