Rorate Caeli

Mothers working outside the home? Rock solid reasoning from ... a Protestant

Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, housewife
From the most influential papal encyclical in history:

"Women, again, are not suited for certain occupations; a woman is by nature fitted for home-work, and it is that which is best adapted at once to preserve her modesty and to promote the good bringing up of children and the well-being of the family."
Rerum Novarum
May 15, 1891

And now from the Washington Post:

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant (R) said Tuesday that the country's problems with education began when mothers "got in the workplace" in large numbers.

During a Washington Post Live event on children's literacy, Bryant was asked why the country's state of education had become so "mediocre."

"I think both parents started working," Bryant said. "The mom got in the work place."

Why has the Catholic Church fallen behind, if not totally pulled out, of the teaching on the critical importance of having a mother in the home and not in the workforce?


New Catholic said...

And the theme is greatly related to the concerns of Pope Leo XIII in Rerum Novarum - including the need for a decent wage for the worker who can then financially support his whole family.

Long-Skirts said...


If it is right
And wasn't wrong
Our breasts would have been
Five miles long

So working Moms
Who leave their young
Could nurse at work
No baby clung

To Mommy's arms
That now makes bread
Oh not that wheat
The green instead

Where printed, "...God we trust",
With zest -
In everything…
But Mommy’s breast!

I know...I be bad.

Sandra E. said...

When I was young mothers stayed home and took care of their children. Fathers worked. A father could have a blue collar job like driving a city bus, or driving a beer truck and still send a large family of children to Catholic school, own a home, be off on weekends, and have a good life. Of course he was off on weekends because they went to confession on Saturday afternoon, and Mass on Sunday. Something happened after women started to enter the work force in droves. The money didn't go as far as it used to. Now even with two incomes, people couldn't afford Catholic school, and couldn't afford large families either. Then it got to where they needed two incomes just to survive. The inflation that had become rampant was masked by the fact that now there were two incomes. Its only getting worse, and now sometimes even two income families need govt. assistance. The people in power in high places knew what was going on with the money and women bought into their lies that told them they should go to work. Then the women were trapped. And the one who is really the prince of this world in power in high places is gleeful that not only the family's money, but the family itself is being destroyed. I pray that people, especially women will wake up.

Alexander adulescens said...

"Why has the Catholic Church fallen behind, if not totally pulled out, of the teaching on the critical importance of having a mother in the home and not in the workforce?"

Dobra pitanja!

This reversal or denial of gender roles is poison. One of the hardest things I have to do is bite my tongue when visiting my sister - according to the flesh; Protestant - and nieces and nephew.

The house looks like the October Revolution, the children do not know the Commandments or Beatitudes or how to bless themselves or that they have a guardian angel and while they are eager to learn she has decided to pursue secular studies and unnecessary activism in preference to them.

I have already told her that because she is married her responsibilities before God are for her husband and children. Not the neighborhood, not the city, not New South Wales, not Australia - not the world. Certain men take different vows for that.

Matrimony is simple. Men work. Women control the house and are responsible for caring for and for the early education of the children. You keep having children and working until you cannot anymore, and then your children care for you.

- adulescens

Eric said...


Five miles long

Hehe. That's pretty good.

Nama said...

What do you mean Catholic Church falling behind? John Paul II said the same thing on Familiaris Consortio.

But if you're talking about Catholic politician then you got a point.

Supertradmum said...

I was a stay at home, home schooling mum and later, I had to work part-time and home school. People would ask me what I did all day! Catholics have become materialistic, idolizing status, wealth, power instead of poverty and humility.

My mom stayed at home and we were far from rich. Yet, we had a hot breakfast on cold school mornings, a warm welcome when we came home from school, and someone to talk with when we had problems.

She is still my example and she is 85, married for 65 years to my dad who is 90. A real wife and a real mother...

Just another mad Catholic said...

Even though I was raised in a secular household my mom was nearly always there to pick us up from school (she worked evenings 3 days a week)and saw to our educational needs so that by the time we left infant school we could read as well as many of the juniors.

Now schools are mandated to teach poison (and lets face it Catholic ones arn't much better) NO Catholic should send their child to a state school.

Adfero said...

Nama he never spoke as clearly on it as Leo.

Not only has the Church basically stopped talking about this, and about the devastating effects of contraception, but it promotes mothers leaving the home to work, with numerous, if not the majority, of parishes offering "pre-K" and daycare in its facilities.

Daniel Arseneault said...

The idea that two incomes are necessary to support a family is nonsense, at least in the developed West. I would wager that a single-income family is as wealthy today as fifty years ago. But when these families start comparing themselves to dual-income families, they feel poor even though they aren't. Besides, even if they were poor, is that such a bad thing for a Catholic? Isn't it better to be poor and happy, living in conformity with the natural law, than wealthy and dysfunctional?

Athelstane said...

I admire Governor Ryan's courage, since even in Mississippi, this could be radioactive to his political career.

JM said...

It is like gay marriage: to even suggest that women ought not to work is now to be shut up as a reactionary before the discussion even begins. Another example of Once something is proposed it soon becomes tolerated and then assumed.

John Kearney said...

So why were women so enthusiastically welcomed into the workforce? Well as you know the worker is also the consumer. The more money a family has the more it can be sold. At one time a father`s wage could have paid the price of a home, but with two wages there was greater demand, greater prices, bigger mortgages, and larger lkarge profits. So we were trapped into sending the mum out to work. Of course that meant also HP for cars, and other luxuries. The working mum has been a boom to the Captitalist profit making economy. But it is beautifully advertised. "Contribute to the economy of the nation" women are told. Obviously stay at home mums have nothing to give. And look at all those high flying mums who contribute with well paid jobs as managers and MP`s. Of course most women will end up with an exciting career as checker out at Tesco`s or something similar, ju8st ot make ends meet. The great difficulty for our Government at moment is the terrible cose of childcare. Just think if mothers could afford to stay at home and be certain of this, the majority would rather, such problems would not exist.

Tom McKenna said...

The reason why our bishops won't touch the subject is the same reason this governor has some large cajones to even go near this topic: the PC police (not excluding Catholic publications) will now proceed to eviscerate the gov, and he will of course be compelled to apologize and make a public auto da fe for his utter insensitivity and lack of appreciation for the fact that women can do *anything* that men can do, and usually do it better.

Our brave shepherds could not possibly face such virtual martyrdom. How dare you ask them to suffer so. They might never get invited to another dinner party with their favorite politician!

Besides, most of them don't see any problem to begin with.

Ivan said...

"Besides, even if they were poor, is that such a bad thing for a Catholic? Isn't it better to be poor and happy, living in conformity with the natural law, than wealthy and dysfunctional?"

You probably don't even have any idea how it is to be poor. Have you been to the urban slum areas in the global South where people are forced to put up stilt houses beside filthy canals or polluted rivers or in open dump sites, or in rural communities there are no schools, electricity, potable water; where one is considered blessed to even get to eat one meal a day? Most women work not because their own choosing, but because of the severe economic crisis; most women choose to work not because they are materialistic but because they have a children to feed, sick parents that need medication, monthly bills to pay.

Adfero said...

modestinus, that is a problem, but it's certainly not the cause.

Let's not forget it was Karl Marx who, in the Communist Manifesto, said the way to destroy the Church was to destroy the family, and the way to destroy the family was to take the mother out of the home.

To take the mother out of the home, Marx said governments should subsidize day care and make public school mandatory. No kids at home, mother feels unfulfilled, and goes off to work.

Feminist followed this guidance and, now, even "conservatives" never question mom in the workforce, and contracepting to stay in the workforce -- or, having a contraceptive mentality, and misusing NFP.

The reason in large part wages are so low is the millions of mothers in the workforce today who weren't in the workforce 30, 40 years ago (yes, it started in WWII, but the explosion didn't occur until the '70s in the U.S.).

Now that women are half the workforce, what do you think that does to the men's wages? It cuts them in half in most cases. And, when I man who is the sole breadwinner tries to get more, he's told to simply have his wife work. That's a "luxury" the employer shouldn't have to consider.

While there are extreme cases where the mother has to work outside the home, if the father just doesn't have the mental or physical capability to do so, is a drunk, a deadbeat, etc., then this doesn't apply.

However, let's face it: most non-traditional Catholic mothers work to have the nicer car, the second or third car, the nice home, the great vacation -- the lifestyle. They're not doing so, by and large, to simply feed and clothe the children and give them the basics.

Penitent Peasant said...

For a full addressing of the issue see Three Marks of Manhood by the Dr. G.C. Dilsaver (the developer of Thomistic Psychotherapy

Alexander adulescens said...

"Have you been to the urban slum areas in the global South..."

But I do not think he was speaking of extremities - geographical or economic.

"...most non-traditional Catholic mothers work to have the nicer car, the second or third car, the nice home, the great vacation -- the lifestyle."

Nail, hit, on, the, ectera.

Add to that the personal desire of often enough both parents to pursue a career that pleases them and not that pays for what is necessary - and you have the problem in it's entirety.

This is the second ingredient to the poison. First you abolish gender roles and traditional family life. Then you make the primary question of one's existence to be "What do I want to do with my life?" I, my, want.

From year ten on in all Anglo-American secondary schools everything centers on this. What do I want to do? Not what ought I to do.

Men can still provide for a family. It would be long hours and hard. But then, it always was and ever shall be. And by provide I mean necessities. Food, beds, blankets, shoes.

I see it all the time. I am yet to meet a family that could not be fed, clothed and housed by one actual man willing to do what is necessary. That is the situation in suburban Australia and I suspect it to be so in the other English-language countries as well. People in these countries these days simply do not want to do what is difficult and rather want only to do what pleases them.

Instead of taking an apprenticeship to learn a trade that in the near future will provide an income equal to his family while working a second job in the meantime - he will chase his dream to own an olive farm/horse stud while his wife works her way toward a professorate as incompatible with his hopes for himself as hers are unlikely for herself.

- adulescens

Adfero said...

To the last commenter, I not only took advanced statistics, but I worked in public policy, heavily economic, in the government for over a decade and do now in the private sector.

InTerramDiligereEstPati said...

And think of all the extra tax money the government is making off of women's paychecks!
I also know that it is still possible today to raise a family one one income, even with a blue-collar job. It takes sacrifice, skill, and some hunting for a decent job, but it's more than possible.

Adfero said...

And please, to say a woman can only "feel fulfilled" in a career and not home is absurd. There are women who left their law firms, hospitals at doctors, etc. who all feel -- and truly are -- fulfilled raising children.

To say this is impossible is to mock the Blessed Virgin Mary -- the ultimate housewife.

Was she not fulfilled? If you think not, I'd recommend speaking to a traditional Catholic priest for some spiritual guidance.

Alexander adulescens said...

Further to Adfero's last comment, to preempt a ubiquitous objection - that this is hard or unfair on the woman is pure, unadulterated falsehood.

Who would be so undutiful and unfeeling as to claim that to spend the lioness's share of the time with the children is hard or unfair? Whoever has had such a hateful thought can never have seen a little girl's smile. And in those hours and at those ages where they need less attention - she is free to pray or do holy reading. She can sing sad love songs while looking at the sky or read Anna Akhmatova poems by a window.

She is far freer and happier so far as I can tell than the bread-winner. But this again goes back to the fact that today working is not so much about meeting necessity as it is about doing what one wants. If that is what work is, then it would be unfair. But since it is not, or ought not to be - it is not unfair.

- adulescens

Sasha said...

"And please, to say a woman can only "feel fulfilled" in a career and not home is absurd. There are women who left their law firms, hospitals at doctors, etc. who all feel -- and truly are -- fulfilled raising children."

No woman, or man can ever feel fulfilled seeing your kids going hungry, without education, without a decent shelter above their heads. Why do you keep insisting that women who work only do so because they are materialistic when statistics prove otherwise? You said you were involved in government policy making?

Majority of women in the workforce are not doctors, attorneys, etc. Majority of women are factory workers, domestic helpers, hotel and restaurant workers, ie blue collared workers. Do you also condemn them for working just because they want their children to have food to eat, acquire education, have money to pay for rent, etc?

Penitent Peasant said...

Yes, Adfero and Alexander. I love this quote:

"A Woman’s Place is in the home not because she isn’t good enough for the world but because she is too good for it. A woman’s precious gifts are squandered when she gives herself to the making of a dollar rather than a home. The world, its corporations, bureaucracies, and agencies are profane entities that are unworthy of a woman’s devotion and are unable to value the feminine charism. These profane entities coarsen, poison, and suck dry the maternal heart."

Dr. G.C. Dilsaver,
Three Marks of Manhood

Also see For a traditional Catholic woman's perspective also see A Woman's Place page at

Adfero said...

Sasha, you may want to actually read what I write. I said there are extreme circumstances. But that's not the typical case.

Dymphna said...

"Isn't it better to be poor and happy, living in conformity with the natural law, than wealthy and dysfunctional?"

Says the guy who's probably never had to worry about where dinner or the rent money is going to come from.

Long-Skirts said...


I lost my dreams
I held them so long -
While singing my babies
A lullaby song.

I lost my dreams
Each one I did pick -
Perhaps when all night
Up with children so sick.

I lost my dreams
So articulated clear -
Making soups, homemade breads
For my family so dear.

I lost my dreams
That would show off my charms -
Instead spent much time
In my husband's strong arms.

I lost my dreams
To seek fortune and fame -
Probably crushed
When I knelt in His Name.

I lost my dreams
Giving blood tears and love -
But those are the things
That dreams are made of.

Daniel Arseneault said...

@Ivan: Poverty is a relative term, you don't have to live in a slum to be poor, and being poor doesn't always mean you're barely able to survive.

@Modestinus: I think you're the one who's out of touch. With $8 an hour at a Wal-Mart, you're earning what some people in the third world support a family on in a week or even a month. If we are clothed, fed, and sheltered, we may still be poor but we have all we need and there's no reason to send mom off to work and wreck the family.

Daniel Arseneault said...

@Dymphna: Matthew 6:25-34.

New Catholic said...

There is a commentator whose blog seems designed to insult us - even when he agrees with us. His obsession is, in a sense, heartwarming, since we are obviously his very favorite page, but we cannot allow his insults to be accessible from here: let him advertise them elsewhere.


f4e31c78-fafa-11e1-ace4-000bcdcb8a73 said...

Sandra E.

It isn't only inflation. Confiscatory tax rates and run-away government spending are two very large culprits.
Not just federal income tax. How about gasoline tax? And the other regressive taxes (where lower income people pay a higher percentage of their earnings than do more well-off people) (I'm for a flat tax)

Nama said...


Here's JP2 on Familiaris Consortio

While it must be recognized that women have the same right as men to perform various public functions, society must be structured in such a way that wives and mothers are not in practice compelled to work outside the home, and that their families can live and prosper in a dignified way even when they themselves devote their full time to their own family.

Furthermore, the mentality which honors women more for their work outside the home than for their work within the family must be overcome. This requires that men should truly esteem and love women with total respect for their personal dignity, and that society should create and develop conditions favoring work in the home.

Adfero said...

Nama, it's fine, but leaves enough room to drive a truck through. "Not in practice compelled ..." isn't exactly air tight.

Mary F said...

The norm is that girls, unless they are in a solid traditional family, are taught and told that they will have to work someday. They may not marry at all and at the very least they will have to work some after college. With college debt working is a necessity. There are those who want to be home, but cannot because choices were not made earlier on and some things cannot be overcome even with will and prayer.

Adfero said...

Some things can't be overcome even with will and prayer!? I'm sorry, but that is extreme doubt in God's mercy.

My own wife entered law school before we married, piled up a huge amount of debt, then never worked as our first child came before she graduated.

Is it easy to pay $1,000 a month for her debt? No. But we do it, because having her home and homeschooling the children is the most important thing we will ever do.

Eric said...

There is another issue here, as well. For every job that a woman takes is a job that a man can't. I'm severely underemployed and would like to raise a family one day. Are these working women, willing to support the men who's job they're taking AND bear their children?

culbreath said...

Daniel Arseneault wrote": "With $8 an hour at a Wal-Mart, you're earning what some people in the third world support a family on in a week or even a month."

Lemmee guess, you're about 14, right? In California, a family of four living on a full-time wage of $8.00 per hour is living under a bridge. Maybe out of a car if Dad works two jobs.

Although they would rather be home, many traditional Catholic women are working - part-time and even full-time - because it best serves their families. There are many variables at play, but they make the best of their circumstances. Sometimes a working wife makes the difference between children knowing their own father and children whose father is working two or three jobs and never around - a recipe for disaster.

New Catholic said...

Yes, it is often impossible. In no moment was it implied by the post by the post's author, a married father of four, that specific situations are by themselves evil, just what has always been considered ideal by the Church and that the Church hierarchy should speak about it also in our age, not forsaking the entire context of a reasonable social order.

Adfero said...

I've been waiting for someone to bring up the excuse of having dad home. I'm sorry, as awful as it would be for me to have to work do long my kids never saw me, I'd never send my wife off to work, ever. Seeing dad is a luxury compared to having mom home full time.

Also, why is dad married making such a low wage? If he was doing well and then tragedy hit then fine. I understand. But if a man is entering marriage with no ability to provide for his family, as the sole breadwinner, he has no business getting married. Period.

New Catholic said...

I think I will agree to disagree with my friend Adfero: there are many reasons to get married, including the need not be "burnt" (cf. I Cor 7, 9) and lead a chaste life, and that are also many circumstances that are beyond one's control.

Daniel Arseneault said...

@Culbreath: You are the second commentator to question my personal situation, as if that could have any bearing on the truth of what I am saying. I am not 14, but 34 and a father of five children. I am a civil servant, I work two days a week in order to help my wife homeschool our kids. We don't take holidays, eat at the restaurant, buy new clothes, buy presents at Christmas, bicycles for the kids, or much of anything at all except the food that we can't grow in our garden, but we have all we need, we're perfectly happy, and have money left over to give to the Church.

culbreath said...

Adfero wrote: "Seeing dad is a luxury compared to having mom home full time."

This is incredibly wrong-headed. Having mom home full-time is a luxury compared to the necessity of children having a father in their lives.

Fatherlessness is our most urgent social problem today. The spectre of a traditional Catholic man, out of pride, rendering his own children virtually fatherless is beyond comprehension.

I've known boys raised like this over the years. This is a big danger in traditionalist homeschooling circles. Boys become undisciplined and sometimes tragically effeminate due to being raised primarily by their mothers and sisters.

In earlier times, perhaps, the surrounding community and culture could provide substitute masculine influence in the event of fathers being absent. That isn't the case anymore. Dads need to be there.

Adfero said...

One if the first things traditional priests ask the groom to be is whether or not they can provide for their future wife and children. I'm not saying a mother can't work from the home or at night to provide. St Tereze's mother worked from home. But to work so dad doesn't have to take a second job is purely a modern mentality.

culbreath said...

Adfero wrote: "But to work so dad doesn't have to take a second job is purely a modern mentality."

It's not necessarily a modern mentality, but the result of modern circumstances.

You can't send your children to public or even private schools anymore and expect wholesome masculine influences to be present. You can't expect your children to have good Catholic uncles and grandfathers and older cousins active in their lives. You can't expect your stay-at-home wife to have decent adult Catholic female companionship in the neighborhood. In short, due to aberrant modern conditions, the active presence of a Catholic father/husband in the family is absolutely crucial to the happiness and progress of everyone.

margaret oh said...

There was a time when my heart ached for the women behind the Iron Curtain, who had no option but to institutionalise their babies and get back to work. Now, we have been so brainwashed - we believe that women have been liberated! In my opinion, the honour of introducing our babies and children to all that is true and beautiful every day, belongs to mothers. It sure beats sitting in front of a computer all day, or writing up boring old legal contracts, poking around in peoples' mouths, or other body parts, etc etc etc