I was thinking today about my decision to stay home with my children instead of working while hubby was in grad school. We have some friends who made a different decision, and that decision worked out really well for them financially. I can’t complain because we are doing fine financially as well—and even if we weren’t, I wouldn’t regret my decision. Still, it makes me wonder . . . did they experience any bad effects from that choice? Do I wish that they did?
My musings on this subject led me to another subject, which is really what I want to talk about here. Here it is: I feel reluctant sometimes to discuss my feelings about things like this because I am so conservative and I don’t want to offend people. But it is strange to me that this is so. Has Relief Society become so accepting of differences and so open to exceptions that we no longer feel safe in discussing (or advocating) conservative choices?
I feel so blessed that I grew up in a more liberal church. By “more liberal,” I mean a church that encourages acceptance and even the embracing of differences. A church that has, during my lifetime, switched to encouraging men to put their families first, help out at home once in a while, be sensitive to the physical and emotional needs and limits of their wives. Most of my adult life has been spent in a post-Chieko Okazaki Relief Society, in which we make sure we bend over backwards not to offend the woman sitting next to us who might have chosen, as Okazaki did, to work outside of the home while others cared for her children.
I LIKE this change.
And yet . . . and yet I remain the kind of woman who chose to stay home with my children, even though it was hard, because the prophet suggested I do so. I am glad I did, and I got many blessings by doing so, but the biggest reason I did was because of that. But I don’t feel that I could say that, just that way, in Relief Society, or even on some on-line forums that pride themselves on being “safe places.” The thing is, we’ve made everything so safe for people who are not strict in their following of church guidelines, or people who wonder, or people who don’t fit into the traditional LDS woman types. But have we made these places less safe for people who are strict with themselves and traditional? Do we give as much respect to the “hardliners” for strictness as we do to the women who have made other choices? Do we try as hard to make sure these more conservative women feel like they won’t be attacked or ostracized for sharing their feelings and opinions as we do the others? (I’m not talking here about tolerating intolerance. I’m just talking about making sure people feel safe and respected.)
What do you think? Have there been times when you have hesitated to share a more conservative opinion or feeling because you feel like you won’t be respected or you might be attacked?