Published January 26, 2022
Honor Jones’ recent article in The Atlantic highlights a story of how divorce can free a woman to remake herself into something new upon spending “half the nights childless.” Jones says she chose to cause this upheaval in her family so “[she] could put [her] face in the wind. So [she] could see the sun’s glare.”
I guess that’s what she believes life is about. Sadly, this article perfectly encapsulates the feminist message today for women – that children and husbands are nuisances and inconveniences in the way of achieving your full potential and living your life to its fullest. As Brad Wilcox tweeted, “an author broke up her marriage for no good reason and not a word for the three kids dragged through such a needless, narcissistic divorce.”
With self-expression, self-gratification, and self-fulfillment promoted as the highest goods today, our culture profoundly devalues children and the family, both of which require a good deal of self-sacrifice. It can lead people who know better to understandably despair over the future of our country.
But there’s another danger. We can also subtly fall into adopting the same mindset if we are not careful. To avoid that, we should encourage women to fully lean in to the vocation of motherhood and honor and uphold women who make the choice to stay home with their children.
Don’t Just Talk the Talk, Walk the Walk
Culturally conservative people understand the need to defend the habits and social behaviors that are most conducive for human flourishing. We advocate for pro-family public policies because we recognize the family is the fundamental building block of society. But even more than arguing for it, we need to model it by example, and inspire a movement.
All too often, it seems that women espousing conservative politics make choices that fit feminists’ destructive vision of life. To be clear, I am talking about women who have the practical ability to focus on rearing children but instead choose to prioritize their careers or other ideas of “self-actualization.”
If we truly believe that a culture of selfishness and self-gratification should be replaced with a culture of selflessness, of human bonding, of deep and abiding happiness, and that marriage, children, and family are the heart of such a political system, are we demonstrating it in our own individual lives? Let me be even blunter: mothers, we should not choose to delegate our main responsibility of caring for, training up, and disciplining—in a word, parenting our children to others for most of their waking hours.
This is culturally anathema, even among some who claim to be conservative. It takes not only a clear mind, ordered priorities, and determination to make it happen, but it will also require getting major practical decisions right, like where you might live and what your husband is able to do to provide so that you can be the primary formative nurturer of your young children.
You Can’t Outsource Good Parenting
Let me offer two reasons conservatives ought to strongly honor and commend fully present motherhood and help women to make the choice to spend the majority of their days with their young children. The first is that parenting cannot be delegated.
The left would love nothing more than for parents to delegate the responsibility of raising our children to others. Look no further than Joe Biden’s Build Back Better bill that would require taxpayers to spend hundreds of billions on child care and preschool. Democrats want mothers to put our children in child care outside the home so government systems can be the primary influences in a child’s life, indoctrinating them with leftist tenets at a young age.
Conservatives recognize parents ought to be the primary authority and influence in our children’s lives. To raise up the next generation of happy, resilient, good citizens, we mothers need to be the ones teaching, correcting, and disciplining them on a daily and hourly basis in those early years.
This is not something we can outsource to others. Being pro-natalist is not enough, because the left does everything they can to steal our children’s minds from us once they are born. We need to have a positive vision for how to form virtuous citizens, and that starts with mothers in the home.
Mothers need to teach children to respect and love just authority, and the best way to do that is to provide it to them. We are the ones who need to invest our time in training and forming their consciences and characters. The little years lay the foundation for the rest of their lives. This is time you can’t get back. And no one else will discipline or teach your children in the way you would or with the same consistency.
Yes, it is easy to get caught up in the hustle culture around us, a culture that prioritizes career above all. Our culture prizes influence in the public square rather than in the private sphere of the home. So it can be easy to find ourselves following the life script set forth by leftist elites.
The arc of life is long. Careers are long. But the years with our children are short. We should not delegate away our fundamental responsibility to train and discipline them well.
The Gift of Physical Presence
Why should mothers say “no” to work outside the home for a season? Can’t we just do it all, stay in the working world and raise our children at home?
The reality is that you can’t train and influence your children fully if you are not physically around them all day. It just is not possible. One need only look at the way God designed for infants to be physically attached to their mothers from birth for nutrition and survival. Our children need our physical presence, and not for a few hours each day.
Furthermore, as conservatives we recognize the important differences between the two sexes. Men and women are not interchangeable. Gender is not fluid. Our sex is determinative.
This means women have the God-given role of motherhood. Because of the unique life-giving and sustaining qualities that women possess, it is good for both children and their mothers if the mother is present, physically and mentally, especially during her children’s earliest years.
True fulfillment is found, not in the siren song of self-gratification, but in living according to our God-given nature. If we do this, we will flourish as women, our families will flourish, and our nation will flourish.
Moms, you are most irreplaceable to your children. Your kids can’t get a new mom. But your boss can get another employee.
The Ultimate Career
Some women do not have the option but to work full-time, but for many it is a choice. I am asking people to recognize that there is a real, but often concealed, cost to choosing not to be around one’s children full-time.
The most valuable choice we can make as mothers while our children are young is to invest the majority of our time and energy into raising them at home. In doing so, we can cultivate a new generation of happy, productive, virtuous citizens who will sustain and defend the country for generations.
As C.S. Lewis said so well, “The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only – and that is to support the ultimate career.” Let us mothers prioritize the American family not just in word, but in deed.
Clare Morell is a policy analyst at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where she works on the EPPC’s Big Tech Project. Prior to joining EPPC, she worked in both the White House Counsel’s Office and the Department of Justice, as well as in the private and nonprofit sectors.