Tag Archive | mother

Ten Things Every Father, Or Mother Should Teach Their Children

Ten Things Every Father (or Mother): Should Teach Their Children
By Dr. T. R. Follwer

1. Put God first in all things – time, talent, and finance.
2. When you lose the things that money can’t buy (i.e.  love, joy, salvation, peace) you will not enjoy the things that money CAN buy.
3. Nothing is impossible with God.
4. God will forgive you always and every time.
5. God’s more concerned with your character than anything else.
6. Prayer will touch God and will put God’s power into your hands.
7. You can be an individual and still be dependant upon God.
8. Be content with what you have but never be content with what you are. Always strive to be better.
9. You teach some things by what you say, more by what you do, but most by who you ARE.
10. Your potential is unlimited.

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The Woes of the Working Mother

by Randall Hillebrand

“Few would debate the almost mystical significance of the mother-infant bond. Research from many fields, including psychiatry, child psychology, and studies of other animal species, has confirmed our intuitive respect of the mother-infant bond. Studies have indicated that the first two years of a baby’s life are when that bond forms.” (White 27)

Does the mother’s staying home with the child(ren) versus having a full-time job help, hurt or have a neutral effect on the family? This is the question that will be addressed in the following pages. First though, a brief history of why women went into the job force will be discussed as background to this paper.

Why Women Entered The Work Force

During World War II, the men went overseas to fight, and the women were called upon to work in the factories to keep America going. Many mothers left the home to come to the call of their country to serve. These mothers were applauded by our culture and became the symbol of patriotism of the highest order. During this time the government set up child care programs with federal funds and many companies set up stores and hair-cutting salons right in the industrial plants for the women’s convenience. But then the war ended. After the war was over, the government and the private sector banded together in an enormous propaganda campaign to get women to leave the work place and return to the home. The mother-child relationship and the support of the husband and his career were stressed (Levine 65). Up until World War II, few women worked outside of the home, the great majority of those being single. The big boom of women (including married women) joining the labor force was after World War II, starting in 1947. “Between 1947 and 1978, married women’s rate increased from 20 percent to 48 percent.”(Smith 4). (Note: these percentages are of the total amount of women joining the work force).

As previously stated, the initial reason for mothers joining the labor force was due to the war effort, which was very commendable. This was a time in history when people needed to pull together and do their part. But then after the war, for whatever the reason, the government and the private sector had a campaign to bring women, in general, back to the home. The majority of the women rebelled at this as can be seen by the union grievances filed. One study showed that 75 percent of the women wanted to continue working (Levine 66). Why was this the case? Two main reasons are usually given. First is that of economics. As Smith says in his book, The Subtle Revolution, economists feel “that the perceived benefits of being in the labor force have been increasing, the benefits of not participating have been decreasing, or both.”(Smith 3-4). Therefore, “the ‘opportunity cost’ of staying at home all day has become too great for an increasing proportion of women.” So a choice needs to be made, “unpaid” labor in the home versus paid labor outside (Smith 3-4). The second reason given for women going into the labor force is given by Barbara Deckard when she said that women are “trapped in a situation that provides little opportunity for intellectual growth or the satisfactions of achievement.” (Finsterbush/McKenna 127). By this she was saying that a woman cannot find these things if she is a housewife who has to watch after children, so she leaves the home to find that fulfillment. This second reason is probably more of a recent thing (late 60’s, early 70’s till present), but could have its roots in the post World War II era.

World War II was a special time in history that called for the mothers of this nation to give a helping hand, but in the postwar times, the mother was called back to a much more important task, that of raising our nation’s children. But the questions that need to be asked are: (1) are economics really a reason for mothers to work outside of the home, and (2) can a mother not find intellectual growth or satisfaction of achievement by being a homemaker? We will see.


“Working women are stung and enraged by the guilt-provoking suggestion that their careers are more important to them than their children; that if they loved their babies more they’d be willing to put their work aside. And full-time mothers are angered and shaken by the low esteem with which many career women regard them.” (Levine 64)

On the economical side of things, a comparison needs to be made between the homemaker and working-wife families. If the two families have the same amount of income per month, the homemaker’s family total income will be higher than the working-wife’s family income. This is due to the fact that the working-wife spends at least 15 percent of her paycheck, excluding income tax, on her work-related expenses. This 15 percent is mainly spread across such things as transportation, social security and clothing (Smith 161). Not only does this 15 percent not cover income tax, but it also does not cover child care, which can run between $40.00 to $120.00 or more per child per week. If we take it a step further, her income should also be reduced according to the amount of time that is taken away from the domestic duties that the wife no longer has time to do, which are either sent out for someone else to do or are not done at all. It has also been shown that in the homemaker’s family they spend as much as 50 percent less on clothing, transportation, recreation, and retirement over that of the working-wife’s family; and their basic food and shelter expenditures are also slightly lower. So there is at least a 30 percent difference in income between the two families, the homemaker’s family having the higher savings (Smith 161). In many cases, the mother is going back to work so that the family will have more income for specific bills, for future purchases, or usually just for a better standard of living. But is it worth it? We will be looking at that a little later.

The other reason that mothers have left the home is for personal growth and fulfillment. They feel, according to Barbara Deckard, that they have little opportunity for intellectual growth or the satisfaction of achievement as stated earlier. Her view says, “Why should I be tied down to my family? What if I have dreams or plans for doing something more with my life? Don’t you know that childbearing is another link in the chain of men’s oppression over women? If I am with my children too much, I could damage them and scar them for life. Housework is no fun, it’s not creative nor interesting, it’s boring and never-ending, so why should I stay home doing these kinds of things, and those diapers !!?” Well, she has a point, they can be boring and tedious, but Phyllis Schlafly’s rebuttal to this is that “Marriage and motherhood, of course, have their trials and tribulations. But what lifestyle doesn’t? If you look upon your home as a cage, you will find yourself just as imprisoned in an office or a factory. The flight from the home is a flight from yourself, from responsibility, from the nature of woman, in pursuit of false hopes and fading illusions.” (Finsterbush/McKenna 115,120,124,125,127). Why can’t a woman feel fulfilled as a mother? She can! Then why do these other women say that they are not fulfilled unless they are out of the home and in the labor force? Good question. It could be for a number of reasons. Maybe at home the husband or children or both do not appreciate the mother as much as she needs, so she looks elsewhere for it. But if this is the case, she had better beware, because she may end up working somewhere where they don’t treat her any better, maybe even worse. Possibly she has low self-esteem and just does not feel important. If this is the case, as in the first example, she needs to sit down with her family and work it out, instead of trying to find relief somewhere else. Maybe she just wants a change of pace. This too can be accomplished through part-time volunteer work, a home business, etc. What am I trying to say? That if she has unmet needs at home that are driving her to look for a job through which she thinks she will find fulfillment, she is barking up the wrong tree. She needs to get those needs met at home through her husband and children. Phyllis Schlafly makes this point in a more specific example when she says, “If you complain about servitude to a husband, servitude to a boss will be more intolerable.”(Finsterbush/Mckenna 120). She goes on to say that “Everyone in the world has a boss of some kind. It is easier for most women to achieve a harmonious working relationship with a husband than with a foreman, supervisor, or office manager.”(Finsterbush/McKenna 120). If the base problem is not dealt with, the problem will reoccur somewhere else. But can the home provide opportunity for intellectual growth and the satisfaction of achievement? Yes, if you truly desire it. It may take a little work, but it can be achieved. Also, raising a healthy, productive and happy family that adds to society is one of the greatest achievements a woman can obtain.

Then what about the effects of a working mother on the children and family as a whole?


“The past twenty years have brought dramatic changes in the typical American family. During this period the overall female employment rate rose by more than 50 percent (for married women with children living with their spouses, the rate doubled). Birth rates dropped by 40 percent, and divorce rates doubled.” (Kamerman/Hayes 93)

No wonder that we see the divorce rate double in the working-wife families, when there is an approximate increase of 16 percent in women having affairs in this group over the homemaker families (Norris/Miller 254). This not only affects the home of the working mother, but that of the homemaker whose husband participated in the affair with her. It can and usually does have long-reaching negative effects. It’s not a pretty picture!

What about the children of the working mother? If they are not taken care of by relatives of the family, more than likely they go to a day care. Day care centers can have a ratio of adults to infants and toddlers anywhere from one to two in the better places, or as many as ten or more infants to each staff member. The common ratio is about four to one. One of the problems that arise is that the day care industry is not a healthy one. “The work is difficult, and in most cases the pay is very low, and the training of the providers leaves much to be desired.”(White 28). What is most likely, is that the child in the first two or three years will be exposed to numerous primary caretakers. Also infectious diseases, especially those involving hearing ability and middle ear infections are three to four times as prevalent than in the home (White 28). Some would say that it is good for the child to be in an environment like that because an “increased sense of independence, well-being, and greater appreciation for their parents have been found to be the attributes of many of the offspring of two-career marriages.” (Swann-Rogak 6). But I disagree. During these first years a very important process is taking place in the child’s life, that of socialization. For children this is called primary socialization in which the child develops language, individual identity, the learning of self-control and cognitive skills. Also, the child learns the internalization of moral standards, appropriate attitudes, motivations and a basic understanding of social roles (Hagedorn 87). During the most important time in a child’s life, when the foundation of his personality, morals and attitudes are laid that he will build off of for the rest of his life, we cannot just give him to a complete stranger to mold. These are the years that can either make or break the child for the rest of his life. Can we leave this up to someone else, even a relative?

What about the working mother and the family in general. As seen above, adultery and divorces have risen due to women in the work force, but what about other problems. As I page through books for the working mother I see chapter titles like these: “Succeeding with Your Children,” “Getting Organized on the Home Front,” “Feeding the Family,” “New ways to Be Together,” “Having a Baby,” “Keeping Your Marriage Strong” (Norris/Miller v); “How Do You Manage It All,” “I Can’t Keep Up with It All,” “This House Is a Mess,” “Where Has Our Togetherness Gone?,” “What if Something Happens When I’m Not There?,” “I’m Tired All The Time,” “Where Does All My Money Go?,” “I Feel So Guilty” (Skelsey); etc., etc., etc.!! As can be seen from the titles, it is not easy on the family for the mother to go to work. Many adjustments must be made, and even then it cannot be done successfully. The only real superwomen are in the comics, not in real life. This is the feeling of many professional women and can be seenin the book Mothers Who Work by Jeanne Bodin and Bonnie Mitelman onpages 52 through 58. Many trade-offs had to be made. Is it worth it?From all of the negative effects on the children and family that havebeen shown in this paper, it is very easy to see that it is not. Butof course I cannot make that decision for you. You need to decide!!


Bodin, Jeanne and Bonnie Mitelman. Mothers Who Work. New York: Ballantine, 1983.

Finsterbusch, Kurt and George McKenna, eds. Taking Sides. Guilford: The Dushkin Publishing Group, Inc., l984.

Hagedorn, Robert, et al., eds. Sociology. Dubuque: Wm. C. Brown Company Publishers, l983.

Kamerman, Sheila B. and Cheryl D. Hayes, eds. Families That Work: Children in a Changing World. Washington D.C.: National Academy Press, l982.

Levine, Karen. “Mother vs. Mother.” Parents (June, l985): 63-67.

Norris, Gloria and Jo Ann Miller. The Working Mother’s Complete Handbook. New York: Plume, l984.

Skelsey, Alice. The Working Mother’s Guide to Her Home, Her Family and Herself. New York: Random House, l970.

Smith, Ralph E., ed. The Subtle Revolution, Women at Work. Washington, D.C.: The Urban Institute, l979.

Swann-Rogak, Lisa. “Careers.” Baby Talk (April, l985): 6.

White, Burton L. “Should You Stay Home With Your Baby?” American Baby (October, l985): 27-28, 30.

Copyright 1989 by Randy Hillebrand
You are allowed to reproduce this article only in its entirety and without additions or deletions.

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A Teenage Mother Requirements

A Teenage Mother Remembers
by Amy Bemboom

It was the summer of 1980 when I received the news that I was pregnant. I was 16 years old, a pregnant sophomore in high school, unmarried and very scared. My stomach was in knots. How could I tell my mother” How would I tell my boyfriend” Would they hate me? Would they still love me” What would my brothers and sisters think about me? When I finally found the courage to tell my boyfriend the news, he was petrified of becoming a father. He was a full-time college student whose education was being financed by his parents. He feared that if I had the baby, his parents would disown him and no longer help him with his college education. For him, the only logical solution, given our young ages and our both being students without steady jobs, would be an abortion. I could not fathom having an abortion. I felt it would be morally wrong. We argued our beliefs for days until I finally decided to tell my mother.

My father had died the year before and I was uncertain my mother could
handle heating that her teenage daughter was pregnant. When I told her
of my predicament, she said she had suspected it from the way I had been acting. I couldn’t believe she didn’t yet at me or cry or get hysterical. She was very accepting of the news. She felt the wisest decision was to get married and have the baby.

I told my boyfriend what my mother wanted, thinking he would never agree to marriage, however, much to my surprise, he did offer. But I told him I felt we had made one mistake and marriage would only be another one. How could we live? How would we finance a baby and his college education? How would I finish high school? Did we really know what love was at our age? Would our love last a lifetime, as it should in marriage?

During my third month of pregnancy, my boyfriend and I broke off our relationship. He said he had offered to marry me three times and three times I had refused. I’ll never forget how he compared it to baseball-three strikes and you’re out! When I tried to reconcile a few months later, it was out of the question for him, He said I had hurt him too deeply. I had ruined his relationship with his parents by carrying the baby, and I was forcing him to work long hours while going to college in order to finance his education. He basically said that I had destroyed his life and that he could never forgive me. For some reason, this all made sense. It never occurred to me how that all our problems were direct results of the two of us having sex before marriage.

I carried the baby alone. I didn’t want anyone to know how badly I hurt inside or how alone and afraid I felt. Finally on Feb. 7, 1981 1 gave birth to a baby boy.

Four years later I got pregnant again. There I was at 20-years-old in the same shoes I had been in at 16, only this time abortion didn’t seem out of the question. I knew first hand how difficult raising a child could be. My boyfriend refused to marry me and I really believed there was no way I could disappoint my mother again. I opted for an abortion. It was the only way I thought.

Hindsight is 20/20. Abortion was not the answer. I have paid for that decision with depression every autumn since that baby was sucked from my womb. Of all the wrong decisions I have made in my lifetime, this is the one that I regret the most Nobody told me abortion is not something that you do and forget about. It stays with you for the rest of your life.

One year later the same boyfriend who would not marry me, did, Once married I became pregnant a third time but had a miscarriage. In my mind I was convinced this was my punishment from God for trying to play “God” by deciding which of my babies would live and which would die I began to resent my husband deeply for not marrying me the year before. I blamed him for the abortion. I could no longer accept what I had done.

Five years later, we divorced. The saddest part of the divorce is that my 13-year old son, whom my ex-husband had adopted, decided to live with him and not me. The hurt and pain of my son’s decision was incredible- I sometimes have trouble accepting that everything I gave up-my vocational dreams, my personal goals, my pride-was somehow for nothing because in the end I don’t have my son living with me.

Premarital sex is not love. The feelings may seem like love, but they’re not. Hurt, pain, loneliness, shame, guilt-these are all the things that go along with sex before marriage. I gave myself for one moment when I believed I was loved by my boyfriend-one moment in a lifetime of moments.

I have learned that God has given us rules to live by not because, He wants us to be prudish or lead boring lives, but because he knows the consequences that go along with breaking His commandments. He knows how lonely and ashamed we can feel after making bad decisions. I don’t believe God wants that for us. He wants something better.

The teenage years are the years of learning many things, but nobody said it had to be a time to learn everything . I never took the time to really think about my choices. I could have chosen chastity. I never took the time to really think about the lifelong consequences of my choices. Looking back, at the tender age of 16, 1 wish that I had.

(From the Wisconsin District News. This article was originally published in the Jan/ Feb ’96 issue of Family, Digest. Amy Bemboom is from St. Cloud, Minn.)


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Fatigue and the Homemaker


American women are facing a severe crisis of identity, brought on by persistent challenges to everything feminine–everything traditionally “female.” Suddenly, within the past few years, many women have begun to question who they are and where they are going in this rapidly changing world. This tumultuous upheaval of roles has strained members of both sexes and undermined the foundations of the home, producing widespread dissatisfaction with life as it is.

In an attempt to understand the specific causes and treatment for feminine dissatisfaction and unhappiness, I have identified ten “Sources of Depression” which are commonly expressed by women in my Family Life Seminars or in counseling situations. They are: absence of romantic love in marriage, in-law conflict, low self esteem, problems with children, financial difficulties, loneliness, isolation and boredom, sexual problems in marriage, menstrual and physiological problems, fatigue and time pressure, and aging.

The most common source of depression as rated by study groups was low self-esteem. Eighty percent marked this item within the top five, while 50 percent placed it as number one. The following, however, deals with the second most frequently indicated problem: fatigue and time pressure.

Flip Wilson once said, “If I had my entire life to live over, I doubt if I’d have the strength.” There must be many women who agree with him, for fatigue and time pressure ranked as the second most frequent cause for depression among those completing my questionnaire. As I have journeyed across the United States, from the metropolitan centers to the farms of Iowa, I have found extremely busy people running faster and faster down the road to exhaustion. We have become a nation of huffers and puffers, racing through the day and moonlighting into the night. Even our recreation is marked by this breakneck

How frequently does your head whirl and spin with the obligations of an impossible “to do” list? “I simply must get the bills paid this morning and the grocery shopping can’t wait another day. And my children! I’ve had so little time to be with them lately that we hardly seem like a family anymore. Maybe I can read them a story tonight. And I mustn’t neglect my own body; exercise is important and I’ve got to find time for that. Perhaps I could ‘Jump Along with Jack’ on television each morning. My annual physical is overdue, too. And I ought to be reading more. Everyone knows that it’s important to keep your mind active, so l just shouldn’t neglect the printed page. If I could get into bed an hour earlier each night, I could do plenty of reading. And we really should be taking more time to maintain our spiritual lives. That’s one area we cannot afford to neglect. And what about our social obligations? We can’t expect to have friends if we never get together. The Johnson’s have had us over twice now, and I know they’re waiting for us to reciprocate. We’ll just have to set a date and keep it, that’s all. And there are so many things that need fixing and repairing on the house. And the income tax is due next month… I’d better block out some time for that. And I–excuse me, the phone is ringing.”

So we’re too busy; everyone can see that. But what does a hectic pace have to do with depression? Just this: every obligation, which we shirk, is a source of guilt. When there are more commitments than we can possibly handle, then self-esteem is further damaged by each failure. “I’m really a lousy parent. I’m too exhausted to be a good wife. I’m disorganized and confused. I’m out of touch with the world around me and I don’t have any real friends. Even God is displeased with me.” Truly, overextended lives contribute to emotional pathology in numerous ways. It was this source of frustration that the women reflected on my questionnaire.

Vince Lombardi, the late, great football coach for the Green Bay Packers, once gave an inspired speech to his team at the beginning of the fall season. His comments were recorded that day, and have considerable applicability to our theme at this point. Coach Lombardi was discussing the impact of exhaustion on human courage, and he made this brief statement: “Fatigue makes cowards of us all!” How right he was. Physical depletion renders us less able to cope with the noisiness of children, the dishwasher that won’t work, and the thousands of other minor irritations of everyday living. It is also said, When you are tired you are attacked by ideas you thought you had conquered long ago. Perhaps this explains why women (and men) who are grossly overworked become cowards–whining, griping, and biting those whom they love the most.

If fatigue and time pressure produce such a strain, why do we permit ourselves to become so busy? Well, for one thing, everyone apparently thinks his hectic pace is a temporary problem. I have heard all the reasons why “things are kind of tough right now.” Here are the four most common for the young family:

1. Jerry just started this new business, you know, so it’ll take a few years to get it going.

2. Well, Pete is in school for two more years, so I’ve been trying to work to help out with the finances.

3. We have a new baby in our house and you know what that means.

4. We just bought a new house, which we’re fixing up ourselves.

To hear them tell it, there is a slower day coming, as soon as the present obligations are met. But you know it is an illusion. Their “temporary” pressures are usually sandwiched back to back with other temporary pressures, gradually developing into a long-term style of living. My secretary taped a little note to her typewriter, which read “As soon as the rush is over, I’m going to have a nervous breakdown. I’ve earned it, I deserve it, and nobody is going to keep me from having it.” Time proves, however, that the rush is never over. As the Beatles said of women in their song “Lady Madonna,” “See how they run!”

No one “runs” much faster than the mother of multiple preschool children. Not only is she rushed from morning to night, but she experiences an unusual kind of emotional stress as well. Youngsters between 2 and 5 years of age have an uncanny ability to unravel an adult nervous system. Maybe it is listening to the constant diarrhea of words that wears Mom down to utter exhaustion. Hasn’t every mother in the world had the following “conversation” with her child at least a million times?

Johnny: Can I have a cookie, Mom? Huh, Mom? Can 1? Can I have one, Mom? Why can’t I have one? Huh? Huh, Mom? Can 1? Mom? Mom, can 1? Can I have a cookie now?

Mom: No, Johnny, it’s too close to lunch time.

Johnny: Just one, Mom? Can’t I have just one little cookie now? Huh? Can I? I will eat my lunch. OK, Mom? OK? I will eat all my lunch. OK? Can 1? Just one? Spotty would like one, too. Dogs like cookies, too, don’t they, Mom? Don’t they? Don’t dogs like cookies, too?

Mom: Yes, Johnny. I guess dogs like cookies, too.

Johnny: Can Spotty and I have one? Huh? Can we?

Although Mom began her day with a guarded optimism about life, these questions have reduced her to a lump of putty by 4 p.m.

My wife and I observed this process in action while sitting in a restaurant in Hawaii last summer. A young couple and their 4-year-old son were seated near us, and the child was rattling like a machine gun. If he stopped even to breathe, I couldn’t detect it. Nonsensical questions and comments were bubbling forth from his inexhaustible fountain of verbiage. It was easy to see the harassment on his parents’ faces, for they were about to explode from the constant onslaught of noise. Finally, the mother leaned over to her son and without moving her lips she sent this unmistakable message through her clenched teeth. . . one syllable at a time: “Shut! Up! Shut! Up! If-you-say-one-more-word-l-will-scream!” We had to smile, for her frustration was vaguely familiar to us. This young woman told us at the checkstand that her verbose son had talked from morning to night for two years, and her composure teetered on the brink of disintegration. As we left the restaurant and walked in opposite directions, we could hear the child’s fading words: “Who was that Mom? Who were those people? Were they nice people, Mom? Do you know those nice people, Mom?…”

Mothers of children under 3 years of age are particularly in need of loving support from their husbands. It has certainly been true in our home. How well I remember the day my wife put Ryan, then 4 months old, on the dressing table to change his diapers. As soon as she removed the wet garments, he made like a fountain and initialed the wall and a picture of Little Boy Blue. Shirley had no sooner repaired the damage than the telephone rang; while she was gone, Ryan was struck by a sudden attack of projectile diarrhea, and he machine-gunned his crib and the rest of the nursery. By the time my patient wife had bathed her son and scoured the room, she was near exhaustion. She dressed Ryan in clean, sweet-smelling clothes and put him over her shoulder affectionately. At that moment he deposited his breakfast down her neck and into her undergarments. She told me that evening that she was going to re-read her motherhood contract to see if days like that were written in fine print.

No discussion of maternal fatigue would be complete without mentioning the early evening hours–unquestionably the toughest part of the day for the mother of small children. Much has been written lately about the international “energy crisis,” but there is nothing on the globe to parallel the shortage of energy in a young mother between 6 and 9 p.m.! The dinner is over and the dishes are stacked. She is already tired, but now she has to get the troops in bed. She gives them their baths and pins on the diapers and brushes their teeth and puts on the pajamas and reads a story and says the prayers and brings them seven glasses of water. These tasks would not be so difficult if the children wanted to go to bed. They most certainly do not, however, and develop extremely clever techniques for resistance and postponement. It is a pretty dumb kid who can’t extend this 10-minute process into an hour-long tug of war. And when it’s all finished and Mom staggers through the nursery door and leans against the wall, she is then supposed to shift gears and greet her romantic lover in her own bedroom. Fat chance!

Let’s look at the problem of fatigue and time pressure exclusively from the perspective of children. How do they cope with the constant rush and scurry within the family? First, children are often aware of the tension, even when we adults have learned to ignore or deny it. A father recently told me he was putting on his toddler’s shoes, and he didn’t realize that he was rushing to complete the job quickly. His 3year-old quietly looked up at him and said, “Are we in a hurry again, Daddy?” Zap! The arrow struck his heart. “Yes, son, I guess we’re always in a hurry,” he said with a sigh of regret.

The viewpoint of children was beautifully represented by a little 9 year-old girl, who composed her idea of what a grandmother is supposed to be. This piece was submitted by a nurse, Juanita Nelson, and appeared in the employee newspaper at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. I think you will appreciate the incredible insight of this third grade girl.

What’s Grandmother? by a third grader

A grandmother is a lady who has no children of her own. She likes other people’s little girls and boys. A grandfather is a man grandmother. He goes for walks with the boys, and they talk about fishing and stuff like that.

Grandmothers don’t have to do anything except to be there. They’re old so they shouldn’t play hard or run. It is enough if they drive us to the market where the pretend horse is, and have a lot of dimes ready. Or if they take us for walks, they should slow down past things like pretty leaves and caterpillars. They should never say “hurry-up.”

Usually grandmothers are fat, but not too fat to tie your shoes. They wear glasses and funny underwear. They can take their teeth and gums off.

Grandmothers don’t have to be smart, only answer questions like, “Why isn’t God married?” and “How come dogs chase cats?”

Grandmothers don’t talk baby talk like visitors do, because it is hard to understand. When they read to us they don’t skip or mind if it is the same story over again.

Everybody should try to have a grandmother, especially if you don’t have television, because they are the only grownups who have time.

How’s that for sheer wisdom from the pen of a child? This little girl has shown us the important role played by grandparents in the lives of small children . . . especially grandparents who can take their teeth and gums off! (I am reminded of the time my 11-month-old daughter was given a hard cookie by a little boy. His older sister scolded, “She can’t eat that, you dummy! She has rubber teeth! “) Regardless of the condition of their molars, grandmothers and grandfathers can be invaluable to the world of little people. For one thing, “They are the only grown-ups who have time.”

It is interesting that our little authoress made two references to time pressure. How badly children need adults who can go for casual walks and talk about fishing and stuff like that . . . and slow down to look at pretty leaves and caterpillars . . . and answer questions about God and the nature of the world as it is. I dealt with this responsibility in my book Hide or Seek, and feel my message should be repeated here.

Why do dedicated parents have to be reminded to be sensitive to the needs of their children, anyway? Shouldn’t this be the natural expression of their love and concern? Yes, it should, but Mom and Dad have some problems of their own. They are pushed to the limits of their endurance by the pressure of time. Dad is holding down three jobs and he huffs and puffs to keep up with it all. Mom never has a free minute, either. Tomorrow night, for example, she is having eight guests for dinner and she only has this one evening to clean the house, go to the market, arrange the flowers for the centerpiece, and put the hem in the dress she will wear. Her “to do” list is three pages long and she already has a splitting headache from it all. She opens a can of “Spaghetti-Ox” for the kids’ supper and hopes the troops will stay out of her hair. About 7 p.m., little Larry tracks down his perspiring mother and says, “Look what I just drawed, Mom.” She glances downward and says, “Uh huh,” obviously thinking about something else.

Ten minutes later, Larry asks her to get him some juice. She complies but resents his intrusion. She is behind schedule and her tension is mounting. Five minutes later he interrupts again, this time wanting her to reach a toy that sits on the top shelf of the closet. She stands looking down at him for a moment and then hurries down the hall to meet his demand, mumbling as she goes. But as she passes his bedroom door, she notices that he has spread his toys all over the floor and made a mess with the glue. Mom explodes. She screams and threatens and shakes Larry till his teeth rattle.

Does this drama sound familiar? It should, for “routine panic” is becoming an American way of life. There was a time when a man didn’t fret if he missed a stage coach; he’d just catch it next month. Now if a fellow misses a section of a revolving door, he’s thrown into despair. But guess who is the inevitable loser from this breathless life-style? It’s the little guy who is leaning against the wall with his hands in the pockets of his blue jeans. He misses his father during the long day and tags around after him at night, saying, “Play ball, Dad!” But Dad is pooped. Besides, he has a briefcase full of work to be done. Mom had promised to take him to the park this afternoon but she had to go to that Women’s Auxiliary meeting at the last minute. The lad gets the message–his folks are busy again. So he drifts into the family room and watches two hours of pointless cartoons and reruns on television.

Children just don’t fit into a “to do” list very well. It takes time to introduce them to good books–it takes time to listen, once more, to the skinned-knee episode and talk about the bird with the broken wing. These are the building blocks of esteem, held together with the mortar of love. But they seldom materialize amidst busy timetables. Instead, crowded lives produce fatigue–and fatigue produces irritability–and irritability produces indifference–and indifference can be interpreted by the child as a lack of genuine affection and personal esteem.

As the commercial says, “Slow down, America!” What is your rush, anyway? Don’t you know your children will be gone so quickly and you will have nothing but blurred memories of those years when they needed you? I’m not suggesting that we invest our entire adult lives into the next generation, nor must everyone become parents. But once those children are here, they had better fit into our schedule somewhere. This is, however, a lonely message at the present time in our society. Others are telling Mom to go to work–have a career–do her own thing–turn her babies over to employees of the state working in child-care centers. Let someone else discipline, teach, and guide her toddler. While she’s at it, though, she’d better hope that her “someone else” gets across the message of esteem and worth to that pudgy little butterball who waves “good-bye” to his mommy each morning.

Summary and Recommendations. From this discussion of the universal problem–fatigue and time pressure–what related concepts do wives most wish their husbands understood? It is my belief that feminine depression associated with the hustle and bustle of living could be reduced significantly if men comprehended and accepted the three ideas which follow:

1. For some strange reason, human beings (and particularly women) tolerate stress and pressure much more easily if at least one other person knows they are enduring it. This principle is filed under the category of “human understanding,” and it is highly relevant to housewives. The frustrations of raising small children and handling domestic duties would be much more manageable if their husbands acted like they comprehended it all. Even if a man does nothing to change the situation, simply his

awareness that his wife did an admirable job today will make it easier for her to repeat the assignment tomorrow. Instead, the opposite usually occurs. At least eight million husbands will stumble into the same unforgivable question tonight: “What did you do all day, Dear?” The very nature of the question implies that his wife has been sitting on her rear-end watching television and drinking coffee since arising at noon! She could kill him for saying it.

Everyone needs to know that he is respected for the way he meets his responsibilities. Husbands get this emotional nurture through job promotions, raises in pay, annual evaluations, and incidental praise during the work day. Women at home get it from their husbands–if they get it at all. The most unhappy wives and mothers are often those who handle their fatigue and time pressure in solitude, and their men are never very sure why they always act so tired.

2. Most women will agree that the daily tasks of running a household can be managed; it is the accumulating projects that break their backs. Periodically, someone has to clean the stove and refrigerator, and replace the shelf paper, and wax the floors and clean the windows. These kinds of cyclical responsibilities are always waiting in line for the attention of a busy mother, and prevent her from ever feeling “caught up.” It is my belief that most families can afford to hire outside help to handle these projects, and the money would be well spent for such a purpose.

The suggestion of hiring domestic help may seem highly impractical in this inflationary economy where everyone has too much “month” left at the end of the money. However, I am merely recommending that each family reevaluate how it spends its resources. This matter was first discussed in Hide or Seek, and at the risk of redundant, I am again quoting from that volume:

Most Americans maintain a “priority list” of things to purchase when enough money has been saved for that purpose. They plan ahead to reupholster the sofa or carpet the dining-room floor or buy a newer car. However, it is my conviction that domestic help for the mother of small children should appear on that priority list too. Without it, she is sentenced to the same responsibilities day in and day out, seven days a week. For several years, she is unable to escape the unending burden of dirty diapers, runny noses and unwashed dishes. It is my belief that she will do a more efficient job in those tasks and be a better mother if she can share the load with someone else occasionally. More explicitly, I feel she should get out of the house completely for one day a week, doing something for sheer enjoyment. This seems more important to the happiness of the home than buying new drapes or a power saw for Dad.

But how can middle-class families afford house-cleaning and baby-sitting services in these inflationary days? It can best be accomplished by using competent high school students instead of older adults. I would suggest that a call be placed to the counseling office of the nearest senior high school. Tell the counselor that you need a mature, third-year student to do some cleaning. Do not reveal that you’re looking for a regular employee. When the referred girl arrives, try her out for a day and see how she handles responsibility. If she’s very efficient, offer her a weekly job. If she is slow and flighty, thank her for coming and call for another student that following week. There is a remarkable difference in maturity level between high school girls, and you’ll eventually find one who works like an adult.

Incidentally, if your husband is saving for that new power saw, it might be better to eliminate one of your own priority items the first time around. Either way, don’t tell him I sent you!

3. Husbands and wives should constantly guard against the scourge of over-commitment. Even worthwhile and enjoyable activities become damaging when they consume the last ounce of energy or the remaining free moments in the day. Though it is rarely possible for a busy family, everyone needs to waste some time every now and then–to walk along kicking rocks and thinking pleasant thoughts. But as I have described, the whole world seems to conspire against such reconstructive activities. Even our vacations are hectic: “We have to reach St. Louis by sundown or we’ll lose our reservations.”

I can provide a simple prescription for a happier, healthier life, but it must be implemented by the individual family. You must resolve to slow your pace; you must learn to say “no” gracefully; you must resist the temptation to chase after more pleasures, more hobbies, more social engagements; you must “hold the line” with the tenacity of a tackle for a professional football team, blocking out the intruders and defending the home team. In essence, three questions should be asked about every new activity, which presents itself: Is it worthy of our time? What will be eliminated if it is added? What will be its impact on our family life? My suspicion is that most of the items in our busy day would score rather poorly on this three-item test.

You’ll have to excuse me now; I’m late for an appointment.

Questions and Answers

Question: How do you feel about employment for mothers of preschool children? What part does their “outside” work play in the problem of fatigue and time pressure?

Answer: It is reasonable, isn’t it, that one cannot carve 40 choice hours from the week for an investment in a job without imposing “fatigue and time pressure” on the remaining portion. Thus, I am strongly opposed to the mothers of preschool children holding down full-time employment in situations, which do not require it. Yet we are currently witnessing a vast movement of women into the commercial world with numerous consequences for the home and family. As stated before, every disenchanted housewife is being offered the same solution to her low self-esteem: get a job, have a career, and do your own thing. Almost half of the women in this country are currently employed (43,256,000, according to 1982 figures provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) and the totals are rising. My viewpoint on this national trend is not likely to win many admirers within certain circles, but I can’t remain silent on so important a topic. In short, I believe that this abandonment of the home is our gravest and most dangerous mistake as a nation!

Certainly, there are stressful financial situations, which demand that a wife go to work to help support the family. And there are more serious marital disruptions where the husband either cannot work or is removed from the home for one reason or another. These problems obviously require the financial contribution of the women involved. However, to sell the concept across America that every female who isn’t “working” is being cheated and exploited is a lie with enormous consequences.

This falsehood is vigorously supported by two other myths, which are equally foolish. The first is that most mothers of small children can work all day and still come home and meet their family obligations–perhaps even better than they could if they remained at home. Nonsense! There is only so much energy within the human body for expenditure during each 24 hour period and when it is invested in one place it is not available for use in another. It is highly improbable that the average woman can arise early in the morning and get her family fed and located for the day, then work from 9 to 5, drive home from 5:01 to 5:30, and still have the energy to assault her “homework” from 5:31 until midnight. Oh, she may cook dinner and handle the major household chores, but few women alive are equipped with the super strength necessary at the end of a workday to meet the emotional needs of her children, to train and guide and discipline, to build self-esteem, to teach the true values of life, and beyond all that, to maintain a healthy marital relationship as well. Perhaps the task can be accomplished for a week, or a month, or even a season. But for years on end? I simply don’t believe it. To the contrary, I have observed that exhausted wives and mothers become irritable, grouchy and frustrated, setting the stage for conflict within the home.

Incidentally, busy wives must summon every ounce of creativity if they are to meet their many commitments. I know one mother who has developed a unique ” stalling” device for use when she is late with the preparation of dinner. She rushes into the kitchen a few minutes before her husband arrives home from work, and places one sliced onion in the heated oven. When he walks through the door, he is greeted by a pleasant aroma of, perhaps, beef stew or enchilada pie. He is so pleased by the obvious progress in the kitchen that he settles down to read his paper and await the final product. Of course, she occasionally has to explain why tuna fish sandwiches made the house smell like onion-something-or-other.

The second myth standing on wobbly legs is that small children (those under 5 years of age) don’t really need the extensive nurturing and involvement of their mothers, anyway. If this falsehood were accurate, it would conveniently expunge all guilt from the consciences of working women. But it simply won’t square with scientific knowledge. I attended a national conference on child development held recently in Miami, Florida. Virtually every report of research presented during that three-day meeting ended with the same conclusion: the mother-child relationship is absolutely vital to healthy development of children. The final speaker of the conference, a well known authority in this field, explained that the Russian government is currently abandoning its child-care network because they have observed the same inescapable fact: employees of the State simply cannot replace the one-to-one influence of a mother with her own child. The speaker concluded his remarks by saying that feminine responsibilities are so vital to the next generation that the future of our nation actually depends on how we “see” our women. I agree.

Now I ask you who disagree with what I have written; to whom am I going to submit the task of guiding my children’s unfolding process of development? Who will care enough to make the necessary investment if my wife and I are too busy for the job? What baby-sitter will take our place? What group-oriented facility can possibly provide the individual love and guidance, which my children need and deserve? Who will represent my values and beliefs to my son and daughter and be ready to answer their questions during the peak of interest? To whom will I surrender the prime-time experiences of their day? The rest of the world can make its own choice, but as for me and my house, we welcome the opportunity to shape the two little lives which have been loaned to us. And I worry about a nation, which calls that task “unrewarding and unfulfilling and boring.”

I know that kids can frustrate and irritate their parents, as I have described, but the rewards of raising them far outweigh the cost. Besides, nothing worth having ever comes cheap, anyway.

Question: Are you saying, then, that every woman should become a wife and mother, regardless of her other desires?

Answer: Certainly not. A woman should feel free to choose the direction her life will take. In no sense should she be urged to raise a family and abandon her own career or educational objectives, if this is not her desire. Furthermore, I regret the “old maid” image, which frightens young women into marrying the first fleeting opportunity, which presents itself. My strong criticism, then, is not with those who choose non-family lifestyles for themselves. Rather, it is aimed at those who abandon their parental responsibilities after the choice has been made.


Posted in AIS File Library, BSFM - Family and Marriage0 Comments

Motherhood: It Helps If You Smile


Mothers of children under 3 years of age are particularly in need of loving support from their husbands. It has certainly been true in our home. How well I remember the day my wife put Ryan, then 4 months old, on the dressing table to change his diapers. As soon as she removed the wet garments, he made like a fountain and initiated the wall and a picture of Little Boy Blue. Shirley had no sooner repaired the damage than the telephone rang. While she was gone, Ryan was struck by a sudden attack of projectile diarrhea, and he machine-gunned his crib and the rest of the nursery. By the time my patient wife had bathed her son and scoured the room, she was near exhaustion. She dressed Ryan in clean, sweet-smelling clothes and put him over her shoulder affectionately. At that moment he deposited his breakfast down her neck and into her undergarments. She told me that evening that she was going to re-read her motherhood contract to see if days like that were written in fine print. Needless to say, the family went out to dinner that night.

In the absence of parental leadership, some children become extremely obnoxious and defiant, especially in public places. Perhaps the best example was a 10-year-old boy named Robert, who was a patient of my good friend Dr. William Slonecker. Dr. Slonecker said his pediatric staff dreaded the days when Robert was scheduled for an office visit. He literally attacked the clinic, grabbing instruments and files and telephones. His passive mother could do little more than shake her head in bewilderment.

During one physical examination, Dr. Slonecker observed severe cavities in Robert’s teeth and knew the boy must be referred to a local dentist. But who would be given the honor? A referral like Robert could mean the end of a professional friendship. Dr. Slonecker eventually decided to send him to an older dentist who reportedly understood children. The confrontation that followed now stands as one of the classic moments in the history of human conflict.

Robert arrived in the dental office, prepared for battle.

“Get in the chair, young man,” said the doctor.

“No chance!” replied the boy.

“Son, I told you to climb on to the chair, and that’s what I intend for you to do,” said the dentist.

Robert stared at his opponent for a moment and then replied, “If you make me get in that chair, I will take off all my clothes.”

The dentist calmly said, “Son, take ’em off.” I

The boy forthwith removed his shirt, undershirt, shoes and socks, and then looked up in defiance.

“All right, son,” said the dentist. “Now get on the chair.”

“You didn’t hear me,” sputtered Robert. “I said if you make me get on that chair, I will take off all my clothes.”

“Son, take ’em off,” replied the man.

Robert proceeded to remove his pants and shorts, finally standing totally naked before the dentist and his assistant.

“Now, son, get in the chair,” said the doctor.

Robert did as he was told and sat cooperatively through the entire procedure. When the cavities were drilled and filled, he was instructed to step down from the chair.

“Give me my clothes now,” said the boy.

“I’m sorry,” replied the dentist. “Tell your mother that we’re going to keep your clothes tonight. She can pick them up tomorrow.”

Can you comprehend the shock Robert’s mother received when the door to the waiting room opened, and there stood her pink son, as naked as the day he was born? The room was filled with patients, but Robert and his mom walked past them and into the hall. They went down a public elevator and into the parking lot ignoring the snickers of onlookers.

The next day, Robert’s mother returned to retrieve his clothes, and asked to have a word with the dentist. However, she did not come to protest. These were her sentiments: “You don’t know how much I
appreciate what happened here yesterday. You see, Robert has been blackmailing me about his clothes for years. Whenever we are in a public place, such as a grocery store, he makes unreasonable demands of me. If I don’t immediately buy him what he wants, he threatens to take off all his clothes. You are the first person who has called his bluff, doctor, and the impact on Robert has been incredible!”

When my daughter was 2 years of age, she was fascinated the first time she watched me shave in the morning. She stood captivated as I soaped my face and began using the razor. That should have been my first clue that something was up. The following morning, Shirley came into the bathroom to find our dachshund, Siggie, sitting in his favorite spot on the furry lid of our toilet seat. Danae had covered his head with lather and was systematically shaving the hair from his shiny skull! Shirley screamed, “Danae!” which sent Siggie and his barber scurrying for safety. It was a strange sight to see the frightened dog with nothing but ears sticking up on the top of his bald head.

When Ryan was the same age, he had an incredible ability to make messes. He could turn it over or spill it faster than any kid I’ve ever seen, especially at mealtime. (Once while eating a peanut butter sandwich he thrust his hand through the bottom side. When his fingers emerged at the top they were covered with peanut butter, and Ryan didn’t recognize them. The poor lad nearly bit off his index finger.) Because of his destructive inclination, Ryan heard the word “mess” used repeatedly by his parents. It became one of the most important words in his vocabulary. One evening while taking a shower, I left the door ajar and got some water on the floor. And as you might expect, Ryan came thumping around the corner and stepped in it. He looked up at me and said in the gruffest voice he could manage, “Whuss al this mess in hyere?”

My mother had an unusual understanding of good disciplinary procedures. She was very tolerant of my childishness, and I found her reasonable on most issues. If I was late coming home from school, I could just explain what had caused the delay, and that was the end of the matter. If I didn’t get my work done, we could sit down and come to some kind of agreement for future action. But there was one matter on which she was absolutely rigid: She did not tolerate “sassiness.” She knew that back talk and “lip” are the child’s most potent weapons of defiance, and they must be discouraged. I learned very early that if I were going to launch a flippant attack on her, I had better be standing at least 10 or 12 feet away. This distance was necessary to avoid being hit with whatever she could get in her hands. On one occasion she cracked me with a shoe; at other times she used a handy belt.

The day I learned the importance of staying out of reach shines like a neon light in my mind. I made the costly mistake of “sassing” her when I was about four feet away. She wheeled around to grab something with which to hit me, and her hand landed on a girdle. She drew back and swung that abominable garment in my direction, and I can still hear it whistling through the air. The intended blow caught me across the chest, followed by a multitude of straps and buckles, wrapping themselves about my mid-section. She gave me an entire thrashing with one blow! From that day forward, I cautiously retreated a few steps before popping off.

The young mother of a defiant 3-year-old girl approached me in Kansas City recently to thank me for my books and tapes. She told me that a few months earlier her little daughter had become increasingly defiant and had managed to “buffalo” her frustrated mom and dad. They knew they were being manipulated but couldn’t seem to regain control.

Then one day they happened to see a copy of my first book, Dare to Discipline, on sale in a local bookstore. They bought the book and learned therein that it is appropriate to spank a child under certain well-defined circumstances. My recommendations made sense to these harassed parents, who promptly spanked their sassy daughter the next time she gave them reason to do so. But the little girl was just bright enough to figure out where they had picked up that new idea. When the mother awoke the next morning, she found her copy of Dare to Discipline floating in the toilet! That darling little girl had done her best to send my writings to the sewer, where they belonged. I suppose that is the strongest editorial comment I’ve received on any of my literature.

When my daughter was 3 years of age, I began to teach her some pre-reading skills, including the alphabet. By planning the training sessions to occur after dinner each evening, her dessert (bits of chocolate candy) provided the chief source of motivation. Late one afternoon I was sitting on the floor drilling her on several new letters when a tremendous crash shook the neighborhood. The whole family rushed outside immediately to see what had happened, and observed that a teenager had wrecked his car on our quiet residential street. The boy was not badly hurt, but his automobile was a mess. We sprayed the smoldering car with water to keep the dripping gas from igniting, and made the necessary phone call to the police.

It was not until the excitement began to lessen that we realized our daughter had not followed us out of the house. I returned to the den where I found her elbow deep in the two-pound bag of candy I had left behind. She had put at least a pound of chocolate into her mouth, and most of the remainder was distributed around her chin, nose and forehead. When she saw me coming, she managed to jam another handful into her chipmunk cheeks. From this experience, I learned one of the limitations of using material, or at least edible, reinforcement.

The city of Los Angeles was paralyzed with fear in 1969 when Charles Manson and his “family” murdered Sharon Tate and her friends and then butchered Leno and Rosemary La Bianca in cold blood. Residents wondered who would be next. My mother was quite convinced that she was the prime candidate. Sure enough, Mom and Dad heard the intruder as they lay in bed one night. “Thump!” went the sound from the area of the kitchen.

“Did you hear that?” asked my mother.

“Yes, be quiet,” said my father.

They lay staring at the darkened ceiling, breathing shallowly and listening for further clues. A second “thump” brought them to their feet. They felt their way to the bedroom door, which was closed. At this point, we are shown a vast difference between how my mother and my father faced a crisis. Mom’s inclination was to hold the door shut to keep the intruder from entering the bedroom. Thus, she propped her foot against the bottom of the door and threw her weight against the upper section. My father’s approach was to confront the attacker head on. He reached through the darkness and grasped the doorknob, but his pull met the resistance from my mother.

My father assumed someone was holding the door shut from the other side. My terrified mother, on the other hand, could feel the killer trying to force the door open. My parents stood there in the pitch blackness of midnight, struggling against one another and imagining themselves to be in a tug of war with a murderer. Mother then decided to abandon ship. She released the door and ran to the window to scream at the top of her lungs. She took a great breath of air with which to summon the entire city of Pasadena, when she realized a light was on behind her. Turning around, she saw that my dad had gone into the other part of the house in search of their attacker. Obviously, he was able to open the door when she released it. In reality, there was no prowler. The thumps were never identified, and Charles Manson never made his anticipated visit.

The late Bishop Fulton Sheen reported entering a greasy spoon restaurant for breakfast one morning. The waitress, who seemed half asleep, asked what he wanted to eat.

“Bring me some ham and eggs and a few kind words for the day,” he said.

She returned 15 minutes later and set the food before him.

“There,” she said.

“What about the kind words?” he asked.

The waitress looked him over for a moment then replied, “I’d advise you not to eat them eggs!”

To be sure, on some occasions it seems impossible to get a kind word from anyone. Often, the first few events of the morning make it clear that bad news is coming down the pike, and there’s no stopping it. Someone with a great sense of humor described a few of those circumstances that let us know “its gonna be a bad day when . . .”

1. You wake up face down on the pavement.

2. You call Suicide Prevention and they put you on hold.

3. You see a “60 Minutes News Team” waiting in your office.

4. Your birthday cake collapses from the weight of the candles.

5. You turn on the news and they’re displaying emergency routes out of your city.

6. Your twin sister forgets your birthday.

7. You wake up to discover that your water bed broke and then you realize that you don’t have a water bed.

8. You’re following a group of Hell’s Angels down the freeway when suddenly your horn goes off and remains stuck.

A father told me recently about a 5-year-old boy who was sitting on the toilet at the precise instant an earthquake rocked Los Angeles County on February 9, 1971. The jolt was so severe that it knocked this
lad off the potty. But never having been in an earthquake before, he thought the rumble had been caused by his own bathroom activity. “What did I do, Mom?” he asked, with childlike wonder.

I was walking toward my car outside a shopping center a few weeks ago, when I heard a loud and impassioned howl.

“Auggghh!” groaned the masculine voice.

I spotted a man about 50 feet away who was in great distress (and for a very good reason). His fingers were caught in the jamb of a car door, which had obviously been slammed unexpectedly. Then the rest of the story unfolded: Crouching in the front seat was an impish little 3-year-old boy who had apparently decided to “close the door on Dad.”

The father was pointing frantically at his finger with his free hand, and saying, “Oh! Oh! Open the door, Chuckie . . . please . . . open . . OPEN!”

Chuckie finally got the message and unlocked the door, releasing Dad’s blue fingers. The father then hopped and jumped around the aisles of the parking lot, alternately kissing and caressing his battered hand. Chuckie sat unmoved in the front seat of their car, waiting for Pop to settle down.

I know this incident was painful to the man who experienced it, but I must admit that it struck me funny. I suppose his plight symbolized the enormous cost of parenthood.

One summer, I examined a swing set that was on display in a local toy store. It was shiny and well constructed, so I purchased an identical model for my children. When the delivery men arrived, however, they left me with a long box containing 6,324 pipes, 28,487,651 bolts, 28,487,650 screws, and a set of instructions that would make Albert Einstein swear and bite his nails. For the next 48 hours, I sweated to accommodate bent parts, missing parts, and parts from a 1948 Ford thrown in just to confuse me. Finally, the wobbly construction sat upright, though by this time I had mauled the knuckles on my right hand while trying to force a l/2″ screw through a 3/8″ hole. However, the crusher came as I read the final line printed on the back side of the instructions; it said, “Please retighten all bolts on this apparatus every two weeks to ensure its safety and durability.” What better example of materialistic slavery could there be? Along with everything else which I dare not forget, I now have to devote every other Saturday to this tin monster, or else it’ll gobble up my children! That, friends and neighbors, is the price of ownership.

The Dobson household consists of a mother and father, a boy and girl, one hamster, a parakeet, one lonely goldfish and two hopelessly neurotic cats. We all live together in relative harmony with a minimum of conflict and strife. But there is another member of our “family” who is less congenial and cooperative. He is a stubborn 12-pound dachshund named Sigmund Freud (Siggie), who honestly believes he owns the place. All dachshunds tend to be somewhat independent, I’m told, but Siggie is a confirmed revolutionary. He’s not vicious or mean; he just wants to run things–and the two of us have been engaged in a power struggle for the past 12 years.

Siggie is not only stubborn, he doesn’t pull his own weight in the family. He won’t bring in the newspaper on cold mornings; he refuses to “chase a ball” for the children; he doesn’t keep the gophers out of the garden; and he can’t do any of the usual tricks that most cultured dogs perform. Alas, Siggie has refused to participate in any of the self-improvement programs I have initiated on his behalf. He is content just to trot through life, watering and sniffing and stopping to smell the roses.

Furthermore, Sigmund is not even a good watchdog. This suspicion was confirmed the night we were visited by a prowler who had entered our backyard at three o’clock in the morning. I suddenly awoke from a deep sleep, got out of bed, and felt my way through the house without turning on the lights. I knew someone was on the patio and Siggie knew it too, because the coward was crouched behind me! After listening to the thumping of my heart for a few minutes, I reached out to take hold of the rear doorknob. At that moment, the backyard gate quietly opened and closed. Someone had been standing three feet from me, and that “someone” was now tinkering in my garage. Siggie and I held a little conversation in the darkness and decided that he should be the one to investigate the disturbance. I opened the back door and told my dog to “attack!” But Siggie just had one! He stood there throbbing and shaking so badly that I couldn’t even push him out the back door. In the noise and confusion that ensued, the intruder escaped (which pleased both dog and man).

Please don’t misunderstand me; Siggie is a member of our family, and we love him dearly. And despite his anarchistic nature, I have finally taught him to obey a few simple commands. However, we had some classic battles before he reluctantly yielded to my authority. The greatest confrontation occurred a few years ago when I had been in Miami for a three-day conference. I returned to observe that Siggie had become boss of the house while I was gone. But I didn’t realize until later that evening just how strongly he felt about his new position as captain.

At 11 o’clock that night, I told Siggie to go get 12 into his bed, which is a permanent enclosure in the family room. For six years Siggie had obeyed. On that occasion, however, he refused to budge. You see, he was in the bathroom, seated comfortably on the furry lid of the toilet seat. That is his favorite spot in the house, because it allows him to bask in the warmth of a nearby electric heater. Incidentally, Siggie had to learn the hard way that it is extremely important that the lid be down before he leaves the ground. Ill never forget the night he learned that lesson. He came thundering in from the cold, sailed through the air–and nearly drowned before I could get him out.

When I told Sigmund to leave his warm seat and go to bed, he flattened his ears and slowly turned his head toward me. He deliberately braced himself by placing one paw on the edge of the furry lid, then hunched his shoulders, raised his lips to reveal the molars on both sides, and uttered his most threatening growl. That was Siggie’s way of saying, “Get lost!”

I had seen this defiant mood before, and knew there was only one way to deal with it. The only way to make Siggie obey is to threaten him with destruction. Nothing else works. I turned and went to my closet and got a small belt to help me “reason” with Mr. Freud. My wife, who was watching this drama unfold, tells me that as soon as I left the room, Siggie jumped from his perch and looked down the hall to see where I had gone. Then he got behind her and growled.

When I returned, I held up the belt and again told my angry dog to go get into his bed. He stood his ground so I gave him a firm swat across the rear end, and he tried to bite the belt. I hit him again and he tried to bite me. What developed next is impossible to describe. That tiny dog and I had the most vicious fight ever staged between man and beast. I fought him up one wall and down the other, with both of us scratching and clawing and growling and swinging the belt. I am embarrassed by the memory of the entire scene. Inch by inch I moved him toward the family room and his bed. As a final desperate maneuver, Siggie jumped up on the couch and backed into the corner for one last snarling stand. I eventually got him to bed, but only because I outweighed him 200 to 12!

The following night I expected another siege of combat at Siggie’s bedtime. To my surprise, however, he accepted my command without debate or complaint, and simply trotted toward the family room in perfect submission. In fact, that fight occurred more than four years ago, and from that time to this, Siggie has never made another “go for broke” stand.

A mother complained to me recently that her preschooler was like a human jet engine, flying at top velocity during every waking hour. She said trying to get him to hold still was like trying to sew a button on a poached egg. My deepest sympathies are with her. I have seen similar children in my practice who threatened to destroy my office during the course of a brief visit.

One such youngster was a 7-year-old boy named Kurt who was afflicted with Down’s syndrome (a form of mental retardation that was originally called mongolism). This little fellow was frantically active, and literally “attacked” my furniture when he entered the room. He scrambled over the top of my desk, knocking over pictures and files and paper weights. Then this lad grabbed for the telephone and held it in the direction of my ear. I humored him by faking a conversation with a mythical caller, but Kurt had other purposes in mind. He jumped from my desk and scurried into the office of a psychologist next door, insisting that my colleague play the same game. As it happened, our two phones were on the same extension, and this little 7year-old boy had succeeded in outsmarting the two child development “experts.” There we were, talking to each other on the phone without anything relevant to say. It was a humbling experience.

I heard a story the other day of a little boy and girl who had just been introduced. They were trying to decide what games to play, and the little boy said, “I have an idea–let’s play baseball.”

But the little girl said, “Oh, no, I wouldn’t want to do that; baseball is a boy’s game. It’s not feminine to run around on a dusty vacant lot. No, I wouldn’t want to play baseball.”

So the boy replied, “Okay, then, let’s play football.”

She answered, “Oh, no, I wouldn’t play football. That’s even less feminine. I might fall and get dirty. No, that’s not a girl’s game.”

He said, “Okay, I’ve got an idea. Ill race you to the corner.”

She replied, “No, girls play quiet games; we don’t run and get all sweaty. Girls should never race with boys.”

The boy then scratched his head, trying to think of what she might want to do, and finally he said, “Okay, then, let’s play house.”

She said, “Good! Ill be the daddy!”

I was at home alone with Ryan one morning when I suddenly realized that it had been approximately two minutes since my little explorer had made any noise. (When one baby-sits with Ryan, silence is definitely not golden.) I immediately began looking for him, searching each room of the house, but he was not to be found. Finally, I glanced through the kitchen window and saw that Ryan had managed to crawl into the back of a truck that some builders had parked in our driveway.

The bed of the truck was taller than Ryan’s head, and it is still a mystery as to how he climbed so high. When I found him, he was trying desperately to get down. He was hanging off the back of the truck from his waist downward, yet his feet were still suspended 12 to 15 inches above the ground. Seeing that he was going to fall, I slipped up behind him without him hearing me coming and placed my hands outward to catch him when he fell. But as I drew nearer, I heard him talking to himself. He was not crying. He didn’t complain or scream in terror. He was simply probing empty space with one foot and saying softly, “Somebody help the boy! Won’t somebody come help the boy?” His words characterized his way of life, for “helping the boy” has become a full-time job for Ryan’s loving mother and me.

Shortly after the truck-bed experience, little Ryan let me see another side of his sparkling personality. My wife, Shirley, broke her leg while skiing, thereby granting me the chance to do her thing for a few weeks. I learned a great deal during that time about the color of grass on the other side of the fence: It not only wasn’t any greener . . . it wasn’t even edible! The very first morning that I was on the job, Ryan began teaching me the rules to the game called motherhood. He awakened me with a loud cry at 6 a.m. Being jarred from a deep, dreamy sleep, I staggered from my bed and began feeling my way across the house toward Ryan’s room. All this time he was crying at the top of his lungs. (That sound has much the same effect on the nerves as fingernails scratching a chalkboard.) When I reached his door and pushed it open, the crying suddenly stopped and a cheery little voice said, “Is breakfast ready?” I said, “I’m doing the best I can, Ryan!”

So I went into the kitchen to fix the kid something palatable to eat, but was still at least 80 percent asleep. I stood there staring into the cabinets with unfocused eyes, hoping something quick and simple would tumble out. Meanwhile, Ryan had climbed down from his bed and followed me into the kitchen. He tried repeatedly to engage me in conversation-which was the last thing on earth that his sleepy father wanted or needed at that moment.

He was saying, “Are we having bacon?” and “Why isn’t the milk poured?” and “Is it almost ready?”

But I was ignoring his inquiries. He must have asked me a dozen questions, all of which went unanswered. Then I “tuned in” just in time to hear him sigh and say, “I’m getting so tired of you!”

So what’s a mother to do, folks? I don’t know! I went back and re-read my book Dare to Discipline, but it didn’t say anything about handling the pre-sunrise activities of an ambitious toddler. I told my wife if she would just come back to work I would rise up and call her blessed each day, as I sit among the elders in the gates.


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Mother’s Employment: Implications for the Family


America is currently witnessing an unprecedented movement of women into the work force. More than half the X4 million adult females in this country are now formally employed, and the numbers are steadily rising; only seven percent of the families are structured according to the traditional model of supportive father and homemaking mother. Whether or not this trend is healthy or pathological is one of the most volatile issues of our time, and one, which has generated heated debates and considerable conflict. Alas, everyone seems to have an opinion on the subject. You’re about to read mine.

It would be presumptuous for any family specialist, particularly a man, to tell the women of America how to live their lives. The decision to have a career or be a homemaker is an intensely personal choice that can only be made by a woman and her husband. Indeed, the search for employment is often required by the inflationary pressures of today’s economy. And there are marital disruptions where the husband either cannot work or is removed from the home. These and related problems obviously demand the financial contribution of the women involved. Thus, when a Christian wife and mother concludes that she must enter the labor force, the response from her friends and associates should be one of tolerance and understanding.

I must honestly report my observation, however, that working wives and their families often face some special frustrations and problems. Getting a job, especially for the mother of small children, can produce a whole catalog of new challenges, which she may not comprehend in the beginning. In fact, I am concerned about the untruthful messages often given to the mother who can choose whether to work or stay home. Specifically, there are three false concepts being energetically conveyed to her through various forms of feminist propaganda. Let me consider them individually.

1. Every female in America who isn’t “working” is being cheated and exploited by the male dominated society in which she lives. If she has any gumption or intelligence, she’ll seek fulfillment in a career.

Since the beginning of human existence, women in most cultures have identified themselves with child rearing and nest building. It was an honorable occupation that required no apology. How has it happened, then, that homemaking has fallen on such lean times in the Western world? Why do women who remain at home in the company of little children feel such disrespect from the society in which they live? A partial answer to these questions can be found in the incessant bombardment by the media on all traditional Judeo-Christian values. Radio, television, the press and the entertainment industry have literally (and deliberately) changed the way America thinks. Five years have passed since Barbara Walters and Tom Snyder hosted a three-hour television special on the subject of women. It was aired on NBC in prime time, and captured the attention of the country for one full evening. (What fantastic power for social change has been brought by the tube!) I watched Walters and Snyder carefully on that occasion, and in fact, taped the program for future reference. Their stated purpose was to evaluate the world of women at that time, examining the many activities and involvement’s of the feminine gender. What resulted, however, was a powerful propaganda piece for the movement. Not once in the three-hour program was the role of the homemaker mentioned, except to refer indirectly to this outmoded responsibility in vaguely derogatory terms. Perhaps 35 million homemakers live and breathe in this country, yet they were totally excluded from a broadcast dedicated to the world of women. I’m sure they got the message. That is but one illustration of how the media bias against traditional femininity has produced the prejudice women now feel.

It is my opinion, accordingly, that many women have accepted employment as a means of coping with the disrespect that they experienced as full-time mothers. To understand this process, let’s look at a contrived example. Suppose it suddenly became very unpopular to be a dentist. Suppose every magazine carried an article or two about the stupidity of the tooth and gum boys, making them look foolish and gauche. Suppose television commercials and dramas and comedy programs all poked fun at the same battered target. Suppose the humor associated with dentistry then died, leaving contempt and general disrespect in its place. Suppose the men in white were ignored at social gatherings and their wives were excluded from “in” group activities. Suppose dentists had difficulty hiring assistants and associates because no one wanted his friends to know he was working for a “tooth fairy.” What would happen if all social status were suddenly drained from the profession of dentistry? I suspect that it would soon become very difficult to get a cavity drilled and filled.

The illustration is extreme, admittedly, but the analogy to women can hardly be missed. Housewives have been teased and ridiculed and disrespected. They have been the butt of jokes and sordid humor until the subject is no longer funny. As I have spoken to family groups across the country, great frustration has been expressed by women who have been made to feel dumb and foolish for wanting to stay at home. Those who are dedicated to their responsibilities are currently being mocked in women’s magazines as “Super-moms.” They have heard the prevailing opinion: “There must be something wrong with those strange creatures who seem to like domestic duties and responsibilities.” Closely related to the myth that “homemakers are losers” is a similar distortion related to child rearing.

2. Children, even those under five years of age, don’t really need the extensive ‘nurturing and involvement of their mothers, anyway. They will become more independent and assertive if raised in various child-care settings.

If the above statement were accurate, it would conveniently expunge all guilt from the consciences of over committed parents. But it simply won’t square with scientific knowledge. I attended a national conference on child development held in Miami, Florida, a few years ago. Virtually every report of research presented during that three-day meeting ended with the same conclusion: the mother-child relationship is absolutely vital to healthy development of children. The final speaker of the conference was Dr. Urie Bronfenbrenner, the foremost authority on child development today. He concluded his remarks by saying that feminine responsibilities are so vital to the next generation that the future of our nation actually depends on how we “see” our women. I agree. Nevertheless modern women are struggling to convince themselves that state sponsored child -care centers offer a convenient substitute for the traditional family concept. It will not work! It hasn’t succeeded in the countries where it has been tried. As Dr. Bronfenbrenner wrote: “. . . with the withdrawal of the social supports for the family to which I alluded . . . the position of women and mothers has become more and more isolated. With the breakdown of the community, the neighborhood and the extended family, an increasing responsibility for the care and upbringing of children has fallen on the young mother. Under these circumstances, it is not surprising that many young women in America are in revolt. I understand and share their sense of rage, but I fear the consequences of some of the solutions they advocate, which will have the effect of isolating children still further from the kind of care and attention they need.”‘

Children cannot raise themselves properly. This fact was illustrated again in a recent conversation with a research psychologist who visited my office. He had been studying the early childhoods of inmates at a state prison in Arizona. He and his associates were seeking to discover the common characteristics, which the prisoners shared, hoping to unlock the causes for their antisocial behavior. It was initially assumed that poverty would be the common thread, but their findings contradicted this expectation. The inmates came from all socioeconomic levels of society, though most of them attempted to excuse their crimes by professing to have been poor. Instead, the researchers discovered one fundamental characteristic shared by the men: an absence of adult contact in their early home lives. As children, they spent most of their time in the company of their peers . . . or altogether alone. Such was the childhood of Lee Harvey Oswald, Charles Manson, and many other perpetrators of violent crimes later in life. The conclusion is inescapable: there is no substitute for loving parental leadership in the early development of children.

But my intense personal opinions on this matter of “preschool mothering” are not only based on scientific evidence and professional experience. My views have also been greatly influenced within my own home. Let me share a statement I wrote five years ago in my book, What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew About Women. “Our two children are infinitely complex, as are all children, and my wife and I want to guide the formative years ourselves. Danae is nine years old. She will be an adolescent in four more seasons, and 1 am admittedly jealous of anything robbing me of these remaining days of her childhood. Every moment is precious to me. Ryan is now four. Not only is he in constant motion, but he is also in a state of rapid physical and emotional change. At times it is almost frightening to see how dynamic is the development of my little toddler. When I leave home for a four- or five-day speaking trip, Ryan is a noticeably different child upon my return. The building blocks for his future emotional and physical stability are clearly being laid moment by moment, stone upon stone, precept upon precept. Now I ask you who disagree with what I have written; to whom am I going to submit the task of guiding that unfolding process of development? Who will care enough to make the necessary investment if my wife and I are too busy for the job? What babysitter will take our place? What group oriented facility can possibly provide the individual love and guidance, which Ryan needs and deserves? Who will represent my values and beliefs to my son and daughter and be ready to answer their questions during the peak of interest? To whom will I surrender the prime time experiences of their day? The rest of the world can make its own choice, but as for me and my house, we welcome the opportunity to shape the two little lives which have been loaned to us. And I worry about a nation, which calls that task ‘unrewarding and unfulfilling and boring.’ ” This brings us to the third and final myth to be considered.

3. Most mothers of small children can work all day and still have the energy to meet their family obligations . . . perhaps even better than if they remained at home.

There is only so much energy within the human body for expenditure during each twenty-four hours, and when it is invested in one place it is not available for use in another. It is highly improbable that the average woman can arise early in the morning and get her family fed and located for the day, then work from 9:00 to 5:00, drive home from 5:01 to 5:30, and still have the energy to assault her “home-work” from 5:31 until midnight. Oh, she may cook dinner and handle the major household chores, but few women alive are equipped with the super-strength necessary at the end of a workday to meet the emotional needs of their children, to train and guide and discipline, to build self-esteem, to teach the true values of life, and beyond all that, to maintain a healthy marital relationship as well. Perhaps the task can be accomplished for a week or a month, or even a season. But for years on end? I simply don’t believe it. To the contrary, I have observed that exhausted wives and mothers often become irritable, grouchy, and frustrated, setting the stage for conflict within the home. As such, I believe more divorces are caused by mutual over commitment by husbands and wives than all other factors combined. It is the number one marriage killer!


Circumstances may require that wives and mothers seek full-time employment outside the home. In those instances, Christian onlookers should express tolerant understanding of the person’s unspoken needs and obligations. However, the decision for Mom to work has profound implications for her family and especially for her small children. That decision must be made in the full light of reality . . . being unedited by the biases of the women’s movement. And most importantly, we dare not strip the dignity from the most noble occupation in the universe . . . that of molding little lives during their period of greatest vulnerability.

I must in conclusion address an equally important comment to husbands and fathers, for that man who appreciates the willingness of his wife to stand against the tide of public opinion . . . staying at home in her empty neighborhood in the exclusive company of jelly-faced toddlers and strong-willed adolescents . . . it is about time he gave her some help. I’m not merely suggesting that he wash the dishes or sweep the floor. I’m referring to the provision of emotional support . . . of conversation . . . of making her feel like a lady . . . of building her ego . . . of giving her one day of recreation a week . . . of taking her out to dinner . . . of telling her that he loves her. Without these armaments, she is left defenseless against the foes of the family . . . the foes of his family.

Let me conclude by sharing a note written to me recently by a ten-year-old boy. He said:

Dear Dr. Dobson:

I have a working mom and a working dad and I would like to know what us kids can do.


I will permit America’s parents to respond to Brian’s question. They are, after all, the only ones who can provide a satisfactory answer to it.


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Understanding Menopause


In October 1959, my mother suddenly began to deteriorate physically and emotionally. She became extremely nervous and irritable, and experienced unrelenting depression for weeks at a time. Her face was drawn and the area around her eyes was black and hollow. She made an appointment with a physician who examined her and diagnosed her symptoms as emotional in origin. He prescribed a tranquilizer to “calm her nerves,” although the medication had precisely the opposite effect. It made her feel like climbing the walls. She visited a second doctor who made the same diagnosis and prescribed a different tranquilizer. It had the same consequence. She continued to search for an answer to the distressing disorder, which had beset her, but no one seemed to know what to do. Six physicians were consulted, each diagnosing her problem as being psychological in nature, prescribing medications, which only aggravated her difficulties further.

My mother began to lose weight and she found it more difficult to cope with the responsibilities of everyday living. She became preoccupied with her own death, and on one occasion called me on the telephone to tell me the clothes in which she wished to be buried. My father and I knew this was not characteristic of her, and we agreed that she was deteriorating rapidly. The next day I called a physician who had been a friend of our family for several decades. “Paul,” I said with concern, “you are going to have to help me with my mother, because we are rapidly losing her.” He asked me to describe her symptoms, which I did. He listened to the details for a few moments and then interrupted to say, “Send your mother to see me. I can help her.”

The next morning, my mother went to see the physician with whom I had consulted. He determined that she was in a state of extreme estrogen deprival as a consequence of menopause, and he prescribed an immediate injection of this essential hormone. She returned a week later for a second injection, and continued every seven days for years to come. Though her “cure” did not occur instantaneously, the effect of the medication was like turning from darkness to light. Her depression vanished; her dark eyes returned to normal; she became interested in life again and the woman we had known and loved through the years was with us once more.

My mother’s emotional and physical health remained stable for ten years, until she and my father moved 1500 miles away from the physician who had provided the essential estrogen. Once again, the search for an understanding doctor began. The man to whom she turned said he disagreed with the diagnosis, but he would prescribe estrogen simply because she seemed to be doing so well at that time. “Why change a winning combination?” he commented. However, one day when she arrived for her weekly injection, he informed her that she was to receive no more. She began the desperate search for another physician, and finally found one approximately 15 miles from her home.

The treatment continued to be successful for another year, at which time I began to receive the same kind of distressing telephone calls that had characterized her earlier trauma. She lost an incredible 40 pounds in a few weeks and cried for hours at a time. Her heart raced and palpitated, and she was beset by great weakness and trembling. One desperate call to her physician brought the comment “It sounds like nerves to me.” He prescribed tranquilizers, which made her wildly nervous, as before. Another physician spent a half hour explaining the dangers of estrogen. Finally, she was admitted to a hospital where she underwent scores of diagnostic tests. Her physicians put her through the customary upper and lower gastrointestinal series, glucose tolerance tests and many other diagnostic procedures. But no certain disorder could be identified. Other physicians administered different tests, though nothing definitive was found.

It was clear to me that my mother’s primary problem was physical in origin. She and my father had visited our home in California immediately before the onset of these symptoms, and she had been happy and relaxed. Then suddenly, without undue environmental stress, she had begun to decline. I made a long distance call to another physician-friend in Kansas City. I asked him if he felt her problem could again be hormonal, since the symptoms were so similar to the experience 13 years earlier. He denied the possibility. “Frankly,” he said, “I believe estrogen shots are a kind of placebo; they work simply because a woman thinks they’re going to help. I don’t believe they really do very much of anything.”

Still, the calls for help came, sometimes two or three times a week. My mother was often crying when she phoned, saying she had neither slept nor eaten in 24 hours. Finally, I picked up the telephone and called the Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology at USC School of Medicine, where I was also serving on the faculty. I described her recurrence of symptoms to him, and asked if it sounded hormonal, once more. He answered in the affirmative and gave me the name of a knowledgeable gynecologist at the University of Kansas. I immediately relayed the information to my mother.

To make a long story a bit shorter, the mystery was solved two days later. Through the course of 12 years of injections every week, my mother had accumulated scar tissue in the hip where she received the additional estrogen. Though she continued to get a shot every seven days, she was absorbing practically none of the hormone itself. Her physicians had ruled out the need for estrogen because of the weekly injections, but in reality, she was in a state of severe deprival once more. We are indebted to the man who recognized her plight and rectified the problem with a regular dosage of oral estrogen.

At the time of my mother’s initial difficulties in 1959-1960, I was a young graduate student at USC. Though unintentionally, she was giving me a valuable lesson in problems associated with the female climacteric (hormonal readjustment during menopause). I was to need that introduction. Since that time I have kept abreast of the professional literature on this subject and have seen many women who were suffering from the same undetected disorder. They are referred to my office for treatment of emotional distress, yet within minutes the same pattern of hormonal symptoms begins to unfold. Several times I have guessed the disorder correctly even before the woman had said a word, simply by the characteristic look on her face.

I think it would be helpful to list the symptoms, which are often associated with the female climacteric. First, however, I must caution the reader to understand that other physical and emotional problems can occasionally produce the same or similar difficulties. Nor should estrogen therapy be seen as a “miracle drug” for all of the genuine emotional distresses of the middle age years. However, for the reader who has a mother or an aunt with this pattern, or is herself suffering from the symptoms which follow, I would strongly recommend that she consult a gynecologist who is associated with a medical school or one who is on the staff of a major hospital in the area. Approximately 22 specific ailments can be triggered by estrogen deprival, although few women experience them all. (Though this list was accumulated from my own observations and experience, its accuracy is verified in a recording produced for professionals by Ayerst Laboratories, featuring the voice of Dr. Herbert Kupperman, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, New York University. These writings have also been reviewed by Dr. David Hernandez, who before his death served on the faculties of USC School of Medicine and Loma Linda University School of Medicine.)

Emotional Symptoms:

1. Extreme depression, perhaps lasting for months without relief.

2. Extremely low self-esteem, bringing feelings of utter worthlessness and disinterest in living.

3. Extremely low frustration tolerance, giving rise to outbursts of temper and emotional ventilation.

4. Inappropriate emotional responses, producing tears when things are not sad and depression during relatively good time.

5. Low tolerance to noise. Even the sound of a radio or the normal responses of children can be extremely irritating. Ringing in the ears is also common.

6. Great needs for proof of love are demanded, and in their absence, suspicion of a rival may be hurled at the husband.

7. Interference’s with sleep patterns.

8. Inability to concentrate and difficulty in remembering.

Physical Symptoms:

1. Gastrointestinal disorders, interfering with digestion and appetite.

2. “Hot flashes” which burn in various parts of the body for a few seconds.

3. Vertigo (dizziness).

4. Constipation.

5. Trembling.

6. Hands and feet tingle and “go to sleep.”

7. Dryness of the skin, especially in specific patches in various places, and loss of elasticity.

8. Dryness of the mucus membranes, especially in the vagina, making intercourse painful or impossible.

9. Greatly reduced libido (sexual desire).

10. Pain in various joints of the body, shifting from place to place (neuralgias, myalgias, and arthralgias).

11. Tachycardia (accelerated or racing heartbeat) and palpitation.

12. Headaches.

13. Dark, gloomy circles around the eyes. This is the symptom, which I have found most useful in preliminary diagnosis.

14. Loss of weight.

For the besieged woman who staggers into her physician’s office with most of these symptoms, her condition has facetiously been called “The falling hand syndrome.” She points to her left eyebrow and says, “Oh! My head has been splitting, and my ears have this funny ringing, and my breasts hurt and oh! My stomach is killing me; and I’ve got this pain in my lower back, and my buttocks hurt and my knee is quivering.” Truly, her hand trembles inch by inch from the top of her crown to the bottom of her aching feet. A physician told me recently that his nurse was attempting to obtain a medical history from such a woman who answered affirmatively to every possible disorder. Whatever disease or problem she mentioned, the patient professed to have had it. Finally in exasperation, the nurse asked if her teeth itched, just to see what the patient would say. The woman frowned for a moment, then ran her tongue over her front teeth and said, “Come to think of it, they sure do!” A menopausal woman such as this is likely to think everything has gone wrong.

It is my opinion that many members of the medical profession (particularly those outside the specialty of gynecology) are grossly uninformed on the relationship between estrogen levels and emotional stability in women.

Gerald M. Knox, writing in Better Homes and Gardens, quotes numerous medical authorities in his article entitled “When the Blues Really Get You Down.” In this publication he stated, “Doctors formerly contended that women in their 40s were susceptible to a form of depression called ‘involutional melancholia,’ presumably brought on when menopause altered the hormonal flow. Most now doubt its existence. They say the old diagnosis merely represented male bias.”‘ Anyone who has ever dealt with a woman in a state of severe estrogen deprival will instantly recognize the fallacy of Knox’s statement. Male bias, indeed!

Physical dependence on estrogen for some women has far-reaching psychological implications, and failure to recognize this fact can be devastating to a menopausal patient.

1. Gerald M. Knox, “When the Blues Really Get You Down,” Better Homes and Gardens, January 1974, p. 12f. Used by permission.

I was consulted by a 40-year-old woman who came to me in utter desperation. She was haggard and drawn, and wept as she spoke. Several years before she had undergone a thyroidectomy (surgical removal of the thyroid gland) and an oophorectomy (removal of her reproductive organs). These operations deprived her of the important hormones thyroxin and estrogen, yet her surgeon failed to prescribe for their replacement. As could be expected, she began to deteriorate emotionally. She fell into deep depression and cried for hours at a time. Her husband and children were sympathetic but had no idea how to help her. The family felt it was socially unacceptable to seek psychiatric consultation, so she had no choice but to pull into their most remote bedroom and close the door. This unfortunate woman remained behind that door for more than two years, with her family bringing her food and drink during the day. When she finally came to me, I immediately referred her to a physician whom I knew to be knowledgeable in this area. She wrote me an exuberant letter one month later, saying that life had opened up to her for the first time in three years. My experiences with this woman and similar patients has given me an intolerance for physicians who don’t “believe” in hormonal therapy even when it is so obviously needed. I am convinced that there are women confined today in hospitals for the emotionally disturbed who are actually suffering from an easily resolved hormonal deprivation.

Before leaving this issue, let me make one more point, which may be even more controversial. Estrogen levels are typically measured by a physician during a pelvic examination. In other words, the amount of estrogen in a woman’s body is estimated from a vaginal specimen. However, the emotional consequences of estrogen deprival obviously do not occur in the vagina, but somewhere within the brain of a woman. It is entirely possible for a laboratory result to show a “normal” level of estrogen in the vagina of a particular woman, yet she can experience a hormonal deficit in her brain where it is impossible to assess it biochemically. Therefore, many gynecologists now treat the emotional symptoms, whether or not the laboratory tests reveal a deficiency. With the exception of a few relatively rare complications (blood clotting problems, primarily) estrogen does not seem to be toxic and can be administered safely and judiciously to those who appear to need it. Furthermore, I have seen a dozen or more women, who were in a state of hormonal imbalance, although they were receiving oral estrogen. The intestine is not a perfect organ, and it fails to assimilate some of the substances, which pass through it. Therefore, not everything swallowed is guaranteed to reach the blood stream, which has accounted for menopausal agony in some women who were technically under treatment to prevent it. Now, having considered depression associated with estrogen deprivation during menopause, let’s discuss the emotional problems common to younger women during the menstrual cycle itself. First, I would like to stress a fact understood by very few women: self-esteem is directly related to estrogen levels; hence, it fluctuates predictably through the 28-day cycle.


In the normal menstrual cycle, estrogen peaks at midcycle (ovulation). Both estrogen and progesterone circulate during the second half of the cycle, falling off rapidly just prior to menstruation. Moods change with the fluctuating hormone levels: Women feel the greatest self-esteem, and the least anxiety and hostility, at midcycle.

Estrogen levels are at their lowest point during menstruation as is the general “mood.” The production of estrogen increases day by day until it peaks near the time of ovulation at midcycle. That midpoint also happens to be the time of greatest emotional optimism and self-confidence. Then another hormone, progesterone, is produced during the second half of the cycle, bringing with it increasing tension, anxiety and aggressiveness. Finally, the two hormones decrease during the premenstrual period, reducing the mood to its lowest point again.

This regular fluctuation in emotions has been documented repeatedly by various researchers. For example, Alec Coppen and Neil Kessel studied 465 women and found that they were far more depressed and irritable before menstruation than at midcycle. This was true for neurotic, psychotic and normal women alike. Similarly, Natalie Sharness found the premenstrual phase associated with feelings of helplessness, anxiety, hostility and yearning for love. At menstruation, this tension and irritability eased, but depression often accompanied the relief, and lingered until estrogen increased.

The information provided above can be invaluable to a woman who wants to understand her own body and its impact on her emotions. Most important, she should interpret her feelings with caution and skepticism during her premenstrual period. If she can remember that the despair and sense of worthlessness are hormonally induced and have nothing to do with reality, she can withstand the psychological nosedive more easily. She should have a little talk with herself every month, saying: “Even though I feel inadequate and inferior, I refuse to believe it. I know I’ll feel differently in a few days, and it is ridiculous to let this get me down. Though the sky looks dark, I am seeing it through a distorted perception. My real problem is physical, not emotional, and it will soon improve!

Women certainly wish their husbands understood these physiological factors which play such an important role in the female body. Having never had a period, however, it is difficult for a man to comprehend the bloated, sluggish feeling, which motivates his wife’s snappy remarks and irritability during the premenstrual period. It would be extremely helpful if a husband would learn to anticipate his wife’s menstrual period, recognizing the emotional changes, which will probably accompany it. Of particular importance will be a need for affection and tenderness during this time, even though she may be rather unlovable for three or four days. He should also avoid discussions of financial problems or other earthshaking topics until the internal storm has passed, and keep the home atmosphere as tranquil as possible. If his wife seems to be sinking into despair, he should give her the speech described for self-interpretation in the previous paragraph. In summary, the “yearning for love” described by Natalie Sharness can only be satisfied by a sympathetic and knowledgeable husband who cares enough to support his wife during the periodic pressures within.

Authors additional note: Since this article was first published in 1975 (What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew About Women, Tyndale House Publishers), several clinical researchers have observed an apparent link between estrogen therapy and cancer of the uterus. However, this and other potential side effects of hormone replacement therapy remain controversial issues in medical circles and are being debated vigorously from both points of view. Further investigations are currently in progress. It is advised that women with menopausal symptoms seek and accept the counsel of their physicians.


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The 10 Commandments of Great Nutrition


Many people say it’s impossible to eat well in today’s junk-food world. The challenge, though daunting, is not as complicated as you’d think. My “Ten Commandments of Great Nutrition” emphasize what you should eat (rather than what to avoid), when you should eat, and why you should be eating certain foods. Remember, you don’t need to learn how to diet; you need to learn how to eat!

COMMANDMENT 1 – Thou shalt never skip breakfast.

Think of your body as a campfire that dies down during the night. If it isn’t stoked up with wood in the morning, the spark turns to ash. There’s nothing left.

Your body awakens in a slowed-down state. If you don’t eat breakfast to meet the body’s demand for energy and boost the metabolic system, the body turns to its own muscle mass (not fat!) for energy and slows down even more, conserving itself for a potentially long, starved state. Then when the evening gorge begins, most of that food will be stored as fat because the body isn’t burning energy at a fast rate; the fire has gone out. The food you eat then is like dumping an armload of firewood on a dead fire.

COMMANDMENT II – Thou shalt eat every three to four hours and have a healthy snack handy.

Once you’ve begun your day with breakfast, the goal is to keep the system working for you. To prevent your blood-sugar level from dropping and to keep your metabolic rate high, you need food distributed evenly throughout the day. The blood sugar will normally crest and fall every three to four hours. As it begins to fall, so will your energy, along with your mood, your concentration and your ability to handle stress. Going many hours between meals causes the body to slow down metabolically.

That means the next meal (healthy or not) will be perceived as overload; the nutrients will not be used optimally, and the lowered blood sugar will leave you sleepy and craving sweets. When you eat frequent, small meals, your body has a chance to metabolize those calories efficiently, burning them for energy instead of storing them as fat. Several small meals a day deposit less fat than one or two large meals. You must keep your body fed with the right things at the right time to metabolize calories efficiently.

COMMANDMENT III – Thou shalt always eat a carbohydrate with a protein.

Eating evenly throughout the day is not the only important factor in keeping your metabolism burning high and your body working well. Every meal (and snack) should include both carbohydrates and proteins. Carbohydrates – all fruits, fruit juices and non-starchy vegetables – are 100 percent pure energy and fuel for the body to burn.

Proteins (meats and dairy products) are the building blocks for the body; but if no carbohydrates are available, the body will burn proteins. Eat a carbohydrate with a protein to protect it from being wasted as a less efficient fuel source.

You need that protein for vital building functions: boosting the metabolism; building body muscle; keeping body fluids in balance; healing and fighting infection; and making beautiful skin, hair and nails. But protein is so potent that you don’t need much of it.
Around six ounces of chicken provides all the protein you need in an entire day.

COMMANDMENT IV – Thou shalt double thy fiber.

Grandma used to say, “Eat your roughage. “Now we are counseled to double our fiber. This can be done with wholesome foods prepared in a wholesome way – whole-grain breads and cereals, unprocessed oat and wheat bran, legumes, fresh fruits and vegetables.

To increase your fiber intake:

** Use whole grains rather than the white, refined types. When purchasing, look for labels such as 100 percent whole wheat, with the word “whole’ first in the ingredient list.

** Eat vegetables and fruits with well-washed skins. Peel only those that have been waxed – Choose more raw or lightly cooked vegetables in as non-processed a form as possible. As vegetables are ground, mashed, pureed or juiced, the fiber effectiveness decreases.

** Add a variety of legumes to your diet.

** Add unprocessed bran to your foods. Try eating it as a hot cereal, sprinkling it uncooked on your dry cereal, or making homemade bran muffins.

COMMANDMENT V – Thou shalt trim the fat from thy diet.

Fat is a nutrient that the body needs in very limited amounts for lubrication and for transporting fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E andK). But when eaten in excess, fat:

** Increases your cholesterol level and your risk of heart disease and stroke.

** Increases your risk of cancer, particularly of the colon and breast.

** Increases your risk of gall bladder disease – Elevates blood pressure, regardless of weight.

** And makes you fat!

As much as we need to eat carbohydrates and proteins at each meal, we don’t need fat in the quantities we consume. One ounce of fat supplies twice the number of calories as one ounce of carbohydrate or protein, and research shows that fats in food are stored as fat on the body more readily than carbohydrates or proteins. Less fat in your diet means less fat on your body and less cholesterol in your blood.

COMMANDMENT VI – Thou shalt believe thy mother was right: Eat thyvegetables.

Vegetables and fruits are simple carbohydrates that provide a storehouse of vitamins, minerals and other substances to protect a disease. They are also valuable no-fat, no-cholesterol sources of fiber and fluid. Generally the more vivid the fruit or vegetable’s color, the more essential nutrients it holds. That deep orange or red coloring in carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupes, apricots, peaches and strawberries signals their Vitamin A content. Dark green leafy vegetables such as greens, spinach, romaine lettuce, brussels sprouts and broccoli are loaded with Vitamin A as well as folic acid. Vitamin C is found in more than just citrus; it is also power-packed into strawberries, cantaloupes, tomatoes, green peppers and broccoli. If they’re loaded with color, they’re loaded with nutrition!

COMMANDMENT VII – Thou shalt get vitamins and minerals from food, not pills.

Can good nutrition be put into a capsule? No! Do you need to take vitamin-mineral supplements? It depends on your lifestyle choices. Do you skip breakfast? Lunch, too, sometimes? Do you travel a lot? Eat out frequently? Drink alcohol? Have a high-stress career or home life? Drink coffee?

If you answered yes to many of these questions, your nutritional state is at high risk! If you were to continue this course, you would benefit from supplemental vitamins and minerals. However, supplements are not the only answer. You can remedy the situation by subtly rearranging your life to include balanced, wholesome meals and snacks at regular intervals each day. Just learn what to grab and when to grab it!

COMMANDMENT VIII – Thou shalt drink at least eight glasses of water a day.

Increasing one’s water intake to meet the body’s needs can produce miraculous results. However, most people grew up drinking just about anything but water!

Water makes up 92 percent of our blood plasma, 80 percent of our muscle mass, 60 percent of our red blood cells and 50 percent of everything else in our bodies. What an important ingredient to good health!Although often ignored, water is as essential a nutrient as the other five: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. We can survive many days, even months, without food. But we can survive only three to five days without water.

How much water do you need? Eight to 10 glasses each day. As you begin to meet this need by drinking more water, your natural thirst for it will increase. As you learn what water does for your body, your motivations for drinking it will grow. Drinking water is habit-forming; the more you drink, the more you want!

COMMANDMENT IX – Thou shalt consume a minimum of sugar, salt, caffeine and alcohol.

Called by many names-honey, brown sugar, corn syrup, fructose – sugar is sugar! It causes dental cavities, obesity and high tri-glycerides; it wreaks havoc with diabetes and hypoglycemia. Cut back on your daily use of sugar and eat fruit to satisfy your natural craving for a sweet taste. Sugar abuse is not worth robbing yourself of precious energy and stamina.

As for salt, most people consume five to 25 times more than they need, leading to hypertension and kidney disease. Caffeine, a relatively mild stimulant, promotes irritability, anxiety and mood disturbances. As for alcohol, one of the most common and addictive drugs of our time, much medical research is implicating excess alcohol as a factor in many killer diseases.

COMMANDMENT X – Thou shalt never go on a fad diet.

Why is it so easy to gain weight and so hard to lose it? Why is it so hard to keep weight off. The solution begins with an acknowledgement: Weight is not the problem, it is only the symptom. Ones eating patterns and perspectives about food are the problem. We eat, not to meet our bodies’ physical needs for nourishment, but for other reasons, often emotional. Freedom comes only in dealing with the problem, not the symptoms.

I consider the word ‘diet’ to be a nasty four-letter word. It speaks defeat and depression and denotes temporary action! We go on diets only to go off them. Diets don’t work; they modify behavior only temporarily.

Its time to break the diet mentality with a nutrition consciousness that works for life. You can feel better, have abundant energy from morning till night, and look more radiant and healthy. Now that you have a new plan of eating and the knowledge to undergird it, you never need to diet again!

How to determine Your Daily Caloric Needs

If you are female, multiply your ideal weight by 11. If you are moderately active, multiply your ideal weight by 13. If you are very active, multiply your weight by 15. If you are male, multiply your ideal weight by 12. If moderately active, by 15. If very active, by 20.

The total will be the approximate number of calories you need to maintain your weight. To lose one pound a week, you must lower your daily caloric intake by 500 calories. Example – You are a woman weighing 125 pounds and moderately active. Multiplying your weight by 13 gives you a daily caloric need of 1,625. To lose one pound a week, you need to take in 1,125 calories each day.

Pamela M. Smith, R.D., is a nationally known nutritionist, author, and culinary consultant. She has appeared on “The Today Show,” “CNN News,” and “The 700 Club.” This article is adapted from her latest book: “Eat Well – Live Well.” (Creation House).

The above article is from FOCUS ON THE FAMILY magazine, May, 1993. p. 10 – 11.

Christian Information Network

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Homework (For stay-at-home Moms)

(C) Copyrighted Article. Originally published in “Equipping The Saints”. Vol. 5, No. 2 – Spring 1991. Used by permission. Sysops: for information contact Christian BBS Abba II at 619-487-7746.


Through Creative Home-Based Income Opportunity, More And More Mothers Are Contributing To The Family Income While Meeting The Developmental Needs Of Their Children.

B Y N A N C Y R . P E A R C E Y

My friend, a mother of two, wanted to quit her full-time teaching job. Her husband wanted her to continue. So they consulted a financial analyst to calculate how much her teaching actually added to the family income. After deducting from her paycheck all the additional expenses entailed by the second job–maintenance of a second car, work clothes, convenience foods, and child care–the couple was astonished to discover that the wife’s job was clearing only $400 per month.

At the time, I was working from my home only about two hours a day as a writer, with flexible hours, almost no overhead costs, and lots of time to spend with my young son. And I was clearing $500 per month.

The moral is that families need to count the costs, and not just the income, of a second job. When a mother has to contribute to the family income, she might do better–both financially and emotionally–to think creatively of alternatives to the standard 9 to 5 job.


For many women today, working is not an option but a necessity. Nationally, the median income for dual career families is $38,346, while for one-career families it is only $25,803. This means mothers often cannot afford to walk away from paid work outside the home unless they create paid work inside the home.

Working and mothering are not all-or-nothing propositions. As Christine Donovan, publisher of Women’s Workshop, says, “It’s the rare home based mother who doesn’t find some way to contribute to the family income, whether she baby-sits, teaches classes, or makes crafts to sell.”

The challenge for a mother who wants to combine childbearing with income-producing work is that she may have to create ~ slot for herself instead of hoping to find one ready made. She has to ask questions such as: Can I negotiate a part-time position or job-sharing? Would my company consider flexible hours or take home work? Can I free-lance from my home? Do I have skills that I can par lay into a home-based business?


The first women to enter the work force felt that to be accepted they had to adopt the male career pattern–for example, putting job first and not allowing family responsibilities to encroach on it.

But in recent years many women have begun to reject the male model. They want the freedom to enter and leave the work force according to the developmental needs of their children. They want the flexibility of home-based and part-time work that can be coordinated with raising a family.

If they can’t find family-friendly employment, they create their own. Women-owned businesses constitute the fastest-growing segment of the small business population in the United States.

Many people have the impression that mothers are leaving their children in droves to work full time. The media loves to cite Labor Department statistics showing that some 65 percent of mothers are in the labor force. But what that statistic hides is that most of those mothers are working only part time and/or at home.

In its definition of employment, the Labor Department included an extremely wide range of working situations. It counted as working mothers woman who

ù work part time as little as one hour a week;

ù work seasonally as little as one week per year;

ù work alongside their husbands on a family farm;

ù work at home for an employer;

ù run a home-based business;

ù work without pay in a family operated enterprise fifteen or more hoursper week (e.g., keeping the books for a husband’s business);

ù provide child care in their homes for other mothers.

The Labor Department statistics even include women who are not currently working because they are unemployed or on maternity leave, as long as they express plans to work in the future!

When the statistics are broken down, it becomes clear that only a fraction of mothers actually work full time, year round. Most find ways to adapt paid work to their parenting responsibilities.


Creative work arrangements can allow even single and low-income mothers to raise their own children. Brenda Hunter was divorced and working full-time when she began to feel that her children were being negatively affected by their separation from her all day. She used her experience as an English professor to create a home-based business as an editor, which enabled her to be home with her children.

Jeanne Anthony faced a life of dead-end jobs as a low-income single mother until she attended a training session of the Women’s Self-Employment Project (WSEP) in Chicago. There she learned how to turn her love of art into a marketable skill. Now Jeanne makes hand-painted clothing (“wearable art”) at home, which she sells through several Chicago-area stores. Her daughter helps by modeling her products.

Beverly Smith, interim executive director of WSEP, says mothers who work
at home are in a unique position to shape their children’s values. Most
children today never see their parents except during leisure hours. They
have no role model of working adults with whom they can identify.

Children of home-based workers, on the other hand, actually see their parents meet deadlines, manage finances, wrestle with decisions. They have the opportunity to learn from their parents the values and attitudes appropriate to the work world.


Working at home isn’t just for mothers. Bob Hamrin and his wife were both working full time when they decided the stress of balancing work and family was too great. His wife persuaded the State Department, where she worked, to create its first part-time position so she could be home more. Bob began to work from home as an author and consultant. Now he can adjust his schedule to attend a child’s school function or sports event.

“We hear a lot about superwomen, about how hard it is for women to juggle career and family,” says Bob. “Well, we should be talking about supermen, too. Fathers can’t afford to give the time and emotional commitment it takes to climb the career ladder and still hope to be responsible parents.”


Futurist Alvin Toffler, in his book The Third Wave, predicts that the next era of Western culture will be characterized by decentralization of the work place and a proliferation of home-based employment. Mothers (and fathers) who start now to create alternatives to the 9 to 5 work day while their children are young are forerunners of that coming era. They have the opportunity to model an integrated vision of life and labor for our fragmented world.

– Nancy Pearcey is a home-based worker and mother in Washington D.C

Sidebar: Resources For Alternative Ways To Work:

þ Books

Working At Home: The Dream That’s Becoming A Trend by Lindsey O’Connor, Harvest House Publishers, 1990

Best Of Both Worlds: A Guide To Home-Based Careers by Joan Westen Anderson, Betterway Publishing, 1982

All The Way Homeby Mary Pride, Crossway Books/Good News Publishers, 1989

The above books are by Christians. Other books can be found in your public library. Look especially for books by Barbara Brabec, Paul and Sarah Edwards, Marion Behr and Wendy Lazar, Arlene Cardozo.

þ Periodicals

Home Sweet Home, P.O. Box 1254, Milton, WA 98354
A Christian magazine promoting home-based work

þ Organizations:

American Home Business Association, 397 Post Road, Darien, CT 06820 1-800-441-2929. Newsletter: Home Business Line

Association of Part-Time Professionals, Row General Building, 7655 Old
Springhouse Road, McLean, CA 22012. 703-734-7975

Home Business Resource Center, P.O. Box 115023-233, Carrolton, TX 75011. Organization run by Lindsey O’Connor, author of “Working At Home: The Dream That’s Becoming A Trend.” Newsletter: Homework

Home By Choice, Box 103, Vienna, VA 22183. 703-281-6334National Christian organization that founds support groups for mothers and encourages home-based businesses. Bimonthly newsletter

Mother’s Home Business Network, P.O. Box 2208, Merrifield, VA 22116

National Association for the Cottage Industry, P.O. Box 14460, Chicago, IL 60614
For more information, send a self-addressed stamped envelope.  Newsletter: The Cottage Connection

National Association of Home-Based Businesses, P.O. Box 30220,  Baltimore, MD 21270. 301-363-3698

þ This article was originally published in “Equipping The Saints,” the quarterly magazine of Vineyard Ministries International. For a one-year subscription (four issues), send $8.00 to Vineyard Ministries International (VMI), P.O. Box 68025, Anaheim, CA 92817-0825.

þ Note: (C) This textfile is copyrighted. Christian BBS Abba II has obtained permission from the publishers to enter this article into electronic media. This file may be uploaded to, and posted by other Bulletin Boards. However, it’s content, including this notice, may not be edited in any way. For more unique, Christian files, call Abba II at 619-487-7746, or write: Abba II, P.O. Box 927114, San Diego, CA 92192-7114.

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Meanest Mom

Author Unknown

Not too long ago my son looked straight into my eyes and said, “You’re just the meanest mom!” Instead of being overcome by fury as I should have been, the effect was reversed. I smiled within and when he was out of sight and sound, I began to laugh aloud. I had finally reached the height of being a good mother.

Memories of my own childhood were awakened. My mother took me to church when the other neighbor children were having fun playing ball or
jumping rope. It eventually became a habit with me because since growing into adulthood, I still find myself going to church while neighbors tinker with boats or mow their lawns.

She made me give of my money to the church. When I made a pocketful of change it became a habit to pay my tithe to the Lord. Somehow if I did not do that today, I would feel as if I were robbing God.

When I am shopping, I often see things that could easily become mine. Even without paying for them. But you see, my mom put it into my heart that it wasn’t right to steal. Today, it would be easier for me to die than to pick up something that wasn’t mine. My mother just would not let me do that!

There were many places she would not let me go. There was the kids’ hangout during the school lunch hour. The Brown Derby. It was the place to buy your sandwich and even play a game or two of pool with some of the older men who came to drink with their friends during their own lunch break. I was afraid of my mom. She was so mean I knew I’d catch it if she even thought I was at the Brown Derby!

I remember shutting the door to my room many times and telling my mom off under my breath. If she had heard me, I would not have been able to sit down for a long while! She was so mean, I could not talk back or argue. But I had so much to say! As a result, I don’t do that today. I can control the things that are best left unsaid.

Yes, I thought I had the meanest mom too. But looking back at the things she taught me and the things she refused to let me do, I have come to realize that she knew all along what was best for me.

I have never been a nuisance to society. I have never been behind bars. I have never harmed anyone. I have never been mixed up in gangs or crime. I have never been arrested for drunk driving. I have obeyed the laws of the land, and I am striving to obey the law in God’s Word.

It’s alright if my son thinks I am mean. For when he is older, he will view his training from a different perspective. He will see that in the midst of all the corrections and chastisement, there was an element behind it that he could not see as a child. His mother, the meanest mom, was really showing him a heart full of love.


Author Unknown

I had the meanest mother in the world. While other kids had candy for breakfast, I had to eat cereal, eggs and toast.

While other kids had Cokes and candy for lunch, I had a sandwich. As
you can guess, my dinner was different from other kid’s dinners, too.

My mother insisted on knowing where we were at all times. You’d think we were on a chain gang or something.

She had to know who our friends were and what we were doing.

I am ashamed to admit it, but she actually had the nerve to break the child labor law. She made us work. We had to wash dishes, make the beds and learn how to cook.

That woman must have stayed awake nights thinking up things for us kids to do. And she always insisted that we tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

By the time we were teenagers, our life became even more unbearable. None of this tooting the car horn for us to come running; she embarrassed us no end by insisting that the boys come to the door to get us.

I forgot to mention that most of our friends were allowed to date at
the mature ages of 12 and 13, but our old-fashioned mother refused to let us date until we were 15. She really raised a bunch of squares. None of us was ever arrested for shoplifting or busted for dope. And who do we have to thank for this? You’re right, our mean mother.

I am trying to raise my children to stand a little straighter and taller, and I am secretly tickled to pieces when my children call me mean. I thank God for giving me the meanest mother in the world.


Author Unknown

Someone asked a mother whose children had turned out well how she had prepared them for usefulness and Christian living.

“When I bathed my children,” she replied, “I prayed they might be cleansed by the precious blood of Christ.

“When I helped them get dressed for the day, I prayed they might be clothed in the robe of God’s righteousness.

“When I prepared a meal, I prayed they might be fed with the Bread of Life.

“When I saw them off to school, I prayed their faith might grow just as strong as their bodies and minds.

“When I put them to bed at night, I prayed they might be safe in the everlasting arms of our Savior.”

(The above information was published by THE MISSISSIPPI TORCH, May 1993)

Christian Information Network

Posted in AIS File Library, BSFM - Family and Marriage0 Comments

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