The Stay At Home Daughters: A Dream Greater Than Stardom?

Do you remember my post on diminished dreams? I recently came upon a book called Joyfully at Home on the Vision Forum website, and I think the promo has to be the saddest thing I’ve read in a long time:

By age fourteen, Jasmine Baucham’s little-girl dreams of becoming a mommy were supplanted by bigger visions of winning the Pulitzer Prize or an Oscar and appearing on Oprah. She began viewing the calling of home and marriage as second-rate. Then her world was radically challenged by the Scriptures, as she went from craving personal renown to craving to please the Lord through delighting in his design for the joyful home — an even bigger dream, she realized, than stardom.

In Joyfully at Home, Jasmine writes with verve and transparency about her own struggles and triumphs as a young woman, encouraging other girls to embrace a vision for the home as a hub of ministry and discipleship and as a training ground for life ahead. With humor, humility, and heart, Jasmine tackles the tough questions girls face, offering practical counsel on how to overcome false views of marriage, husbands, and singleness.

Jasmine had big dreams – dreams of being a writer or an actor – that is, until her parents told her that the Bible says God’s only plan for her is to be a wife and a mother. Just like many other girls like her, Jasmine’s dreams were diminished by the teachings of Christian Patriarchy – and for that, she is praised and held up as a success story.

There are three constant themes in writings by and about stay at home daughters. First, having dreams of a career naturally mean seeing marriage and a family as second rate. Second, wanting a career is equated with “craving for personal renown” while being a stay at home daughter is equated with “desiring to please the Lord.” Finally, the home is declared to be a bigger dream than having a career or, in this case, “stardom.” But the problem with that is that these things simply aren’t true.

First of all, having a career does not have to mean rejecting marriage or a family. Somehow, men manage to have careers while simultaneously being good husbands and fathers, and there is no reason women can’t do the same. Second, if desiring a career is so selfish, why is it okay for men to desire a career? What about women who want to be missionaries, or feel that God is leading them to serve him and further his kingdom as doctors or social workers? Desiring a career is not synonymous with selfishness, and desiring to please the Lord is not exclusive of having a career.

Third and finally, staying at home is not a bigger dream than having a career. These two dreams – being a full-time homemaker or having a career – are simply different dreams. As I’ve said before, I have no problem with women who choose to be homemakers because that is what works best for them and their families. I do however have a problem with people who say that full time homemaking is the only option or is somehow of more worth than having a career. If you think about it, telling girls that homemaking is so much more glorious than a career is just one more way to convince girls that their role is to take dominion by doing laundry and to ensure that they “keep sweet” as they spend their late teens and early twenties serving daddy and working beside mommy rather than developing themselves as individuals or gaining the skills and abilities they would need to function outside of the world of Christian Patriarchy.

It’s important to note that, for girls like Jasmine, staying at home is the easy path, the familiar path, the well-trodden path. Raising babies, cleaning house, and cooking in bulk is something they’ve been doing since they were ten or so. Going to college and having a career is a whole lot harder than the default of moving from junior homemaker (aka daughter) to senior homemaker (aka wife). I know because I’ve been there. The idea of going to college was big and scary. Staying at home seemed safer, more familiar and less dangerous. The Rebolution has held Do Hard Things conferences across the country over the past year or so, but for girls like Jasmine, staying home is actually the easy thing, the safe thing, not the hard thing.

I want to finish this post with a comment on something that has been puzzling me lately. Ironically, while Jasmine may not have left home she has actually fulfilled her dreams of being a writer. She wrote a book. You know, a book that got published and marketed. This is the thing I don’t get. The Botkins preach the importance of staying at home and learning to be a homemaker even as they condemn college as a cesspit of hedonism. But I have to ask. Do the Botkins ever actually practice homemaking, or are they too busy writing book after book, producing CDs, making documentaries, and making national speaking tours? For girls at the top of this movement – girls like Anna Sophia and Elizabeth Botkins and Jasmine Baucham – being stay at home daughters can actually garner a lot of stardom and provide them with a lot of opportunities outside of homemaking. What of the ordinary daughter, the daughter with neither speaking tours or book deals? What of the girls who won’t be crowned princesses but will rather spend their days changing diapers and making pots full of food as college slips further and further from the horizon?

Is Child Marriage Wrong if the Parents Consent?
How Being an Older Sibling in a Big Duggar-Like Family Is Like Being a Polygamous Sister Wife
Anna Duggar and the Silencing Power of Forgiveness
When Marriage Looks Like the Only Escape
About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.


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