Sunday, August 17, 2008

Raising Real Men, not "Ra" men

This post was prompted by a friend's. When my comment got too wordy, I decided to put the bulk of it over here on my site.

Usually I would link to an article I'm stirred by (whether positively or negatively) but I don't want to draw a feminist crowd unnecessarily. I believe the bulk of the blog my friend refers to is inspiring, entertaining, and gracious. But every now and then a post of theirs comes across too dogmatic for even an opinionated person like me. To their credit, they all have a great sense of humor and sometimes I believe their simplistic or dogmatic-sounding statements may be a case of humor not transferring well in cyberprint. Furthermore, the daughters who contribute to the blog are young moms, and have very young sons still in training. I have a feeling these women will train their sons in more domestic skills than they think. And I'm trusting that if their sons marry, each one will be equipped with the knowledge of how to cook more than Ramen noodles. (I hope so, anyway. Can you spell hypertension?)

I think the whole gist of the article gets sticky with the word "mission." A mission has a purpose, a plan, and a person or people to execute it successfully. (Sidebar: If you're a single guy living on your own, you are "a person"--i.e. solely responsible for your home or rented room) and you'd better have some domestic skills like how (and how often) to do dishes. "Weekly" is not the right answer). If you fail at that, you better darn well know the difference between Raid and a rifle. 'Cuz I'll tell you what, ain't a man alive that would attract a woman if his roommates were rats or rodents.

I believe it's the woman's primary "mission" to love her home and manage it. An essential part of good management is training the subordinates. Children are the subordinates. Her husband is not one of them. He can support her efforts or sabotage them by his own example. My man excels at the former. He has a gift for rallying the troops to work around here by modeling a good work ethic that doesn't stop when he comes home from his paid job.

Part 2:

My "homemaking" mission includes spending lots of time with my kids. And since 80% of our waking hours are spent in the kitchen, why not capitalize on it? I've always wanted them to be capable of living alone with practical skills, and then if God wills--get married and bless their wives in very practical ways someday, I considered it all part of my "mission". I would have done a great disservice if I'd said, "Now, boys, since you will pursue a different career someday, I won't show you how to vacuum a room, saute' onions, or iron a shirt because I am so positive you'll never have the gift of singleness."

I've taught all my kids to cook, and required they each make a meal twice a week from about the time they hit 6th grade. Once a week with me, once alone. We may have had Ramen noodle soup once in a while, but not for lack of skill. (I stopped the weekly cooking requirement when they went to high school outside the home, but I expect them to cook occasionally.) If I had had ALL boys, this weekly cooking rule still would have implemented.

I consider it part of my "homemaking" mission to train my children to make their own homes someday. That takes a lot of time and energy. I knew I couldn't work outside the home and still fulfill this training mission well with my three older children. I'm whooped by dinnertime, and (too often) grouchy. It's not ideal teaching (or learning) time. Kids don't just learn by watching, they must do. Frankly, I'm more than a bit nervous about working even part-time outside my home this coming school year, giving other people my best and my family the leftovers. It's especially challenging when, deep down, I know I enjoy teaching academics more than I enjoy training anyone in domestic arts.

I'm not saying I've done everything right. Far from it. I often battle a sense of failure as a "home missionary." I'm just saying that, by God's grace in the form of training by both a mom and dad committed to raising adults (not kids), my grown boys can--with equal ease-- handle chain saws and paring knives, motor oil and fabric softener. They are real men, not "Ra"men.


Anonymous said...

Excellent, wise, and graciously written!

Anonymous said...

I think this was wonderful!

Amy said...

You have some wonderful wisdom here. I appreciate the gracious way both you and Sarah are quick to give the benefit of the doubt and assume the best of others' motives! A great example for someone critical like me.

You make some important points about equipping our sons for living alone. How many men move straight from Mom's house to marriage? Some, I am sure, but certainly not all or even a majority. My own dear husband spent five years at college as a bachelor in between--and it sure served him and his health to know how to cook more than ramen. It also served his wife tremendously to get a husband who knew how to pick up after himself and wasn't a complete slob as he tells me his college roommates were!

I do the dishes gladly now because I know it is a great way to serve him--I remember all the times he had to wash his roommates' disgusting, unrinsed, caked-with-a-week's-worth-of-food dishes in college (he'd often use the time for a long phone conversation with me!) and how much he hated it. But he had to learn to do stuff like that if he didn't want to live in squalor...and now he displays great sacrificial love and servanthood when he occasionally chooses to bless me by doing dishes now.

I'd be curious to hear what the authors of the original blog post would think or say in response to these posts and comments...

Anonymous said...

ditto the comments above. (after all I have to keep my succinct reputation intact!) lol You are wise and I do enjoy gleaning wisdom and giggles from you!! :)

Anonymous said...

btw .. love the play on words with Ramen.. my multi para bladder near spilt over with my laughter!! hehehehe tmi??

love you!!!

Bethany said...

Very well put Zoanna. Sheesh people at least teach them mac and cheese over Ramen the MSG in Ramen could kill a person. HA HA. I know you know what I think. My boys and my girls will be cleaning and cooking and both will be getting a good education. Balance. I do think you did a great job in your post on being gracious to them. I do think at times we can post things trying to be funny and not realize how another person might take it. I know I have done the same thing.