Recently I received an email from a facebook acquaintance who explained why she was unfriending me. She's heavy into patriarchy and it's associated nonsense, and she explained that (a) my questioning of her potty training methods(strapping her sixteen month old son onto a potty chair and letting him watch videos all afternoon, which I suggested is not something that is developmentally appropriate) was unacceptable and (b) while she wants to raise her children for the glory of God, apparently all I want is to raise my children for the glory of myself, and that is also unacceptable. She cited the fact that I work and am so busy in outside activities that I have no time for my husband and son(the latter fact is something I was unaware of, since my husband is rarely home and my son usually accompanies me on things like infant music lessons and swimming, since those are activities for him, not me) as proof that I'm not interested in God.
She also cited my college degrees, my not getting married until I was 27, and only having one child in two years of marriage(what huh?) as further proof of being "out for myself."
Have I mentioned that she is a good six years younger than me, with three children under four, a husband who earns barely minimum wage and can't keep a job, and they just moved into their sixth apartment in a year because they have to keep downgrading due to finances? And she refuses to get a job to help out because she's a woman, even though they are barely subsisting and going deeper and deeper into debt.
I don't bring this up to talk about her. I bring this up to talk about the logical disconnect here. When a family is barely able to put food on the table because neither parent has any education and the belief is that it is always wrong for a wife to work, patriarchy has failed. When a family is living in a one-bedroom apartment and praying the landlord doesn't find out they had a baby a year ago and Mom is pregnant with number four and they can't afford a large enough vehicle for all their kids, the belief system is a failure. It's not about money; it's about being smart enough to realize when something isn't working.
And in this family, getting married at 18, not pursuing higher education, and popping out child after child while crammed into an apartment because their lifestyle choices have limited their earning potential--this is not a success story.
And yet there are people in my husband's former church who hold up this family as the pinnacle of succes. They tell their children--look at that family! Homeschoolers who married young and now have a bunch of children! That is what you want!
While us--married in our late twenties, six college degrees and two professional certifications between us, with an income that is not spectacular but pays the bills and lets us have a little fun, one very loved and welcomed child who gets to have not only his own bedroom but a playroom and a puppy, too--we're the failures?
It's not about money. Someone who makes a better income is not better than someone who doesn't. It's about providing for the family you've chosen to have. It's about making sure you have the skills and/or education you need in order to hold down a job that pays the bills and provides adequate food, shelter, clothing and education for your children.
It's about not blindly continuing to hold onto a belief system that has proven itself to be an absolute failure.
So I have one less facebook friend. But my son, who is not strapped into a potty chair in front of a television, is running around here today with crayons in his little fist. He's well fed. His clothes, though they aren't new, are clean and well fitting. He knows his Mommy and his Daddy love him, and that when they go to work, he gets to go to Grandma's house and play in the sandbox. And he knows that they will come back, and take him to the zoo, or out on the boat, or swimming at the pool, or some other great adventure that he loves. And someday, he will know that while man may tell him that he has to do A, B, and C in order to live the way God wants(or not do A, B, and C, such as the case may be), he will know that those are man's requirements, and not God's. And hopefully, carefully, prayerfully, we will ensure he has the tools to discern when a belief system comes from man, and not from God.