Mother in the Kitchen

It's the latest status symbol, announced the Wall Street Journal. No, not designer clothes in the closet. Not even a BMW in the garage. It's Mother in the kitchen. Yes, the article says, in many communities mothers who stay home to raise their children have become fashionable again. Even chic. The way the Journal tells it, having Mom at home has become a new kind of one-upmanship—"a luxury that few families can afford." Well, I for one am glad that mothers who once felt defensive about staying home are now proud of it. But notice the almost disdainful tone reporters adopt when they write articles about the subject: Staying home when your children are young is portrayed as a "luxury" open only to the upwardly mobile—to yuppies who can afford such status symbols. Articles like these may appear to celebrate a growing respect for motherhood, but they're really a subtle put-down. What we're seeing is a reverse snobbery that says, If you can afford to stay home, you must have money to waste—not like us honest working folks. Raising your own children is being treated as a form of conspicuous consumption. The irony is that this picture bears no relationship to the facts. The fact is that most families with one parent at home are not wealthy. The average two-parent, single-income family earns less than $26,000 a year. By comparison, dual-income families average $38,000 a year. Who are the real yuppies? The fact is that most families with a mother in the kitchen are making painful sacrifices to keep her there. Some move to smaller homes to reduce their mortgage payments. Others shop at thrift stores and make their meals from scratch. Many mothers give up careers in favor of part-time and home-based work, for substantially lower pay. These families are willing to sacrifice a second full-time income in order to create a loving and nurturing environment for their children—children who are a trust from God for just a few short years. If these are the facts, why are reporters acting as though home-based mothers were status-hungry yuppies? The answer just might be that it's a new way to discredit traditional families. Radical feminist dogma has taught women to find their true fulfillment in paid employment. But today we're witnessing a gradual reversal. In 1989 about 38 percent of women surveyed said they would quit their jobs to care for their children if they didn't need the money. By 1991 that number had grown to 56 percent. More than ever, Americans are realizing that individual accomplishment can never take the place of close family relationships. This is good news for families, but bad news for radical feminists. The feminist backlash we're seeing is an attempt to discredit home-based mothers by painting them not as the norm but as a small group of the privileged elite. So watch for more articles suggesting that raising your children at home is just a new status symbol—and help expose the hidden agenda. In Christian teaching, both parents are to make their children their top priority. And that's not just a luxury for the rich. It's the norm for all of us.


Chuck Colson


  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary