My daughter brought this quote to my attention. It was written in 1913. The writer was college educated and this was during the time that women of the upper middle class had the opportunity. Now women of all stations in life can access a college education. We are another one hundred and three years down the road and the societal trend is to educate children for a 9-5 career, only and not for a whole life. What Ethel said almost a century ago rings truer today.
Then too, work calls women away from their homes. They are so well trained to work outside the home, there are so many congenial occupations and positions they may take, that housework and home-keeping, child bearing and child training, have not been emphasized in their education or prepared for as a probably life work. With all we do for our daughters, we no longer put first the preparation for these important and fundamental duties; but instead, music, china painting, voice-culture, dancing, deportment, and a thousand other accomplishments, well enough in their place. And when the bridal day comes to our girls, as it does come to the majority of them, and they face domestic duties and motherhood, they feel incompetent, and gladly excuse themselves for escaping the responsibility of them.
Childless Americans by Ethel Wadsworth Cartland- The Outlook, 15 November 1913.
When economies are booming it is easy to fall into false security of the idea that there will always be money to hire someone to do what you do not value doing. This can lead to dependency during boom times that cannot be sustained in bust times. I have had women tell me, and with some amount of pride that they could not cook, sew, or economize. They were living high on two incomes. In many ways, they are not the one to blame. Those whose responsibility it was to educate these young ladies, had been shortsighted.
Families in our economy struggle and the cost of goods and services has gone up. Happier are those who have prepared for a whole life!!! They have more skills and knowledge to weather the storms of life and maintain a higher standard of living longer than those who only worked to develop a career. I am not looking down on education for careers. I am saying it is short sighted to educate a child for career only.
Today, many women work to provide the necessities of life. Many of these women might have been able to live better on their husband's pay check and be home to raise their own children, had they been prepared for a whole life. That is if they had been prepared to do so by their mothers. Many women are delaying marriage until after college and career being established. Still others are delaying children or choosing not to have children altogether. Some work because that is all they are prepared to do and where they find their comfort. Some have bought the false narrative that the only education of value is a career education and the only work of value is work for which we recieve income. Sad are those who desired to be home to raise their own children, but were unprepared, felt incompetent or uncomfortable there and escaped challenges and responsibilities to go into the workplace. Sad also are those who were ill prepared and could not make ends meet on one paycheck and had no choice but to leave home to work.
This emphasis on career education only, has destroyed the supportive society that once existed among women and has tended to pit women against each other, in the"mommy wars." It is unfortunate that women have turned to putting each other down to build themselves up. This is reinforced by the messages in school that the goal is a pay check and implies that only those with a money paying job are adding value, those who stay home are not.
We promote the Hope Chest Journey and Lost Arts Circles, as solutions, to the end that mothers and daughters can be prepared for a whole life by learning important skills together, developing their talents, serving together, and building a supportive community where all can blossom in their potential.