Mamas, Teach Your Daughters Well!

Titus 2: 3-5 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. (ESV)

Annie helps her mama wash some dishes.

When I entered marriage some twenty-nine years ago, I deluded myself into thinking I was pretty well prepared for the domestic side of things. After all, I knew how to bake bread and make delectable desserts, garden and can the produce, and sew clothing and quilts. I’d even, in one of the most embarrassing moments of my life, won the “Crisco Award”, a prize given to the top home economics student in my junior high school. I somehow glossed over the fact that I’d hardly ever cooked a complete dinner, almost never did the laundry, and knew next to nothing about cleaning a house. Better prepared for a career in a chemistry lab than a home, I had to play catch-up for the first many years of our marriage. In some ways, I still am.

Women of my generation often had mothers who wanted to make their daughters’ lives easier than theirs had been, so they shouldered all the home duties themselves or had outside help. With a cleaning lady to take care of the routine cleaning and an ironing lady to do that task, the fact that those jobs needed to be done barely crossed my mind, much less the most efficient and effective ways to accomplish them.

I don’t think things have changed all that much in recent years. If anything, young women seem to come to marriage with fewer skills than my peers did back in the ‘80s. As moms, we have all sorts of reasons for neglecting to teach our daughters to be home-keepers. Here are some of the common things we tell ourselves:

  • I want my children to have time to enjoy being children.
  • I didn’t have to work when I was young, so why should my little ones?
  • It takes twice as long when I have my child(ren) working with me.
  • The job is never done well enough when a child cleans the bathroom (OR does the dishes, sweeps the kitchen, etc.)
  • They make so many messes when learning how to cook! (Or break so many dishes doing the dishes!)
  • But I treasure the time each day to cook alone!
  • She’s so busy with schoolwork, music practice, and sports, she doesn’t have time to take on home responsibilities!

So we teach them how to tie their shoes, how to read, how to conjugate Latin verbs, and how to solve simultaneous equations, but we neglect to teach our daughters how to cook and clean a home, how to mend and wash clothes, and how to love and care for children. We should not neglect the former, but certainly also do that latter!

Guess what? This failure to pass on home-making skills isn’t anything new! Read this passage written by Lydia Maria Child nearly 200 years ago!

The fact is, our girls have no home education. When quite young, they are sent to schools where no feminine employments, no domestic habits, can be learned; and there they continue till they 'come out' into the world. After this, few find any time to arrange, and make use of, the mass of elementary knowledge they have acquired; and fewer still have either leisure or taste for the inelegant, every-day duties of life. Thus prepared, they enter upon matrimony. Those early habits, which would have made domestic care a light and easy task, have never been taught, for fear it would interrupt their happiness; and the result is, that when cares come, as come they must, they find them misery. I am convinced that indifference and dislike between husband and wife are more frequently occasioned by this great error in education, than by any other cause.

Mamas, it is plain hard work to teach our children, both sons and daughters, how to work in the home. But as we do so, we will be blessing them by helping them build a strong work ethic and giving them skills they will use throughout life. As they grow in competency, they will become great helps to you as well. Begin early. Let your young ones work alongside you, and then increase their responsibilities gradually as they mature. With our daughters, we need to be helping them develop skills that will allow them to flourish as managers of their future homes. Be intentional about what you teach, and as your daughters reach their teen years, look over each one’s abilities to see which skills need more practice. We’ve found 4-H very helpful for teaching practical skills such as sewing and cooking. But, however you do it, make sure that you are faithfully passing on your domestic knowledge and preparing your daughter to be keepers at home.


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