Julie Beck Knows

Let me start off by saying that I absolutely loved Sister Beck’s talk. I was almost as excited about it as Laura was about President Eyring in the First Presidency (she cheered out loud at that announcement). I don’t try to push my thoughts on those subjects here but I heard about a RadioWest show discussing the talk and I had to comment.

My basic impression of the show was that it was the typical dithering that we find whenever we try to tackle a spiritual topic from a secular viewpoint. The discussion rings hollow in many places. My favorite comment from the participants came from Julie Smith who pointed out that this talk was pointed specifically at mothers and that despite all the emphasis in the church on being mothers there is very little counsel directed specifically at mothers. On the other hand there was commentary such as the statement by Marie Cornwall (sp?) that the option to stay at home is not an economic reality for most people. She states that in Utah a family must have a minimum household income of $70,000 to purchase a median home. This is blatantly untrue. It is based on some economic assumptions that run counter to the counsel that has been given repeatedly to church members so those who live in that economic reality are undermining their own ability to follow this counsel being given now. The fact is that I purchased a very decent house less than 2 years ago and I could afford this house on just over half of the income that she cited. (To afford my house now with my current debt would require more than that, but I could still afford it at it’s current value on much less than $70K.)

The last caller, Reina (sp?) from Pocatello, expressed the same sentiments that I have and that Laura has as someone who has chosen to stay at home that the talk was right on. She nailed the truth with “if the talk is taken in the spirit that she delivered it there is no way that anyone can be offended mom or not, stay-at-home mom or working mom.”

I not only listened to the show, but I tracked down some of the blogosphere discussion that was referenced in the show (Julie Smith, Kristine, TftCarrie, fMhLisa). I found that most discussion seemed to miss the point of the talk that our focus in parenting (mothering specifically) needs to change. There was plenty of discussion about how the high standards illustrated in the talk make some people feel guilty. I have long been concerned as I looked at the mothers in my neighborhood that even those who are following all the counsel of staying at home to raise their children are doing too much. They engage in so many activities that their children do not get the highest level of mother’s attention that they need. Those who have tried to avoid the pull of a society that tells the lie that you can do everything found this talk very validating because it made it much easier to let go of the pull of the world that wants us to tear ourselves apart having it all.

Sister Beck was telling us to make a choice and quit trying to be everything to everyone all the time. We have to accept that a woman can’t be a great employee, and a great mother, and a great community activist, and everything else which she might want to do well all at the same time. (In the same vein a father can’t be a great father, and a great breadwinner, and a great activist, and a pursue every hobby to which he is inclined at the same time.) I believe that women can “have it all” if they choose, but not all at once nor should they feel pressured into choosing to “have it all.” My mother-in-law is a great example of this. She chose to postpone her education when she started having children. She eventually finished her college degree after three of her children had finished theirs and she now works because she feels the desire to work. I guarantee that she is happier to have raised her children by giving them her undivided attention than she would have been if she had tried to do all of that at once.

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8 Responses to Julie Beck Knows

  1. Reach Upward says:

    I loved Pres. Beck’s talk. My wife suggested that to get the full value of the talk, I needed to read Pres. Beck’s talk from the General Women’s Conference (http://www.lds.org/conference/talk/display/0,5232,49-1-775-40,00.html). I liked this quote from that GWC talk:

    “Knowing and defending the divine roles of women is so important in a world where women are bombarded with false messages about their identity. Popular media figures on the radio and television set themselves up as authorities and spokespersons for women. While these media messages may contain elements of truth, most preach a gospel of individual fulfillment and self-worship, often misleading women regarding their true identity and worth. These voices offer a counterfeit happiness, and as a result, many women are miserable, lonely, and confused.”

    My wife is degreed and used to work outside the home. I was kind of stuck in my career. I have a health condition that made the ideas of going back to school or of me being the sole income earner very scary. But we made it a matter of sincere fasting and prayer for a long time. Little by little, things came together, and I was able to go back to school.

    It was very hard on the family and on the finances. In fact, from my accounting background, it looked like this whole thing could not work out financially. But we felt it was the right thing to do and we moved forward with faith. Little by little, events occurred that changed what the future looked like. I went through a series of job changes that brought increased job satisfaction and pay, but also increased challenges. And, as we had promised the Lord, my wife became a full-time mom. But that was a serious leap of faith.

    That was over a decade ago. Then eventually I finished my master degree and fully shifted career paths. We have added children to the family and have tried to keep focused on the things Pres. Beck talked about. Perhaps her suggestions sound unrealistic and idealistic to some, but we found that with faith, they can become reality.

  2. David says:

    I remember that my wife came home from Womens Conference raving about President Beck’s talk there. When I started reviewing all the conference talks (including Womens Conference) I was very impressed by that talk as well.

    I don’t think that we had the kind of struggle with this that you had, but my wife had her masters degree and was making lots more money than me when we were first married and it would have been easy to justify having her put me through school. We made it through the poor-college-student phase (with two kids before I was through) and we know that we are happier for not putting off the kids and having her stay home once they came than we would have been if we had taken the easier option.

    The thing that really struck me about the talks was that this was not just about “stay home and have kids” it was also applicable to those who have just been pulled in too many directions. In our area we have seen lots of full-time mothers who still can’t give their kids the attention they deserve because there are so many other good things to volunteer for and plenty of friends who are willing to ask them to help with this or that. In the end the strongest part of her message was to remember where our focus should lie when we have children in our homes.

  3. I completely agree with you. I was very surprised over the few days after LDS General Conference when people started complaining about what Sister Beck said. It was a fabulous talk. I’ll have to read her Women’s Conference address…

    We can only do so much and do it well. So we should sincerely look at our priorities and pick those that we can and should do well, and do those.

    Without feeling guilty. If it’s family, great! If it’s community, great! If it’s a career, great! As long as we have been sincere about it.

    P.S. Reach Upward and his wife are my new heroes! That’s the way it’s supposed to work. After a hard struggle we come out with our head above the clouds and look at how much we’ve learned, and we’re glad we had the chance to learn it. Thanks, Scott, for sharing your story.

  4. David says:

    I suspect that the same determination and commitment that got Scott and his wife through that challenge are what drive him to the great insights that he shares so regularly.

    Getting to know such people is one of the things I enjoy most about blogging.

  5. Jeremy Bell says:

    We have to accept that a woman can’t be a great employee, and a great mother, and a great community activist, and everything else which she might want to do well all at the same time. (In the same vein a father can’t be a great father, and a great breadwinner, and a great activist, and a pursue every hobby to which he is inclined at the same time.) I believe that women can “have it all” if they choose, but not all at once nor should they feel pressured into choosing to “have it all.”

    Dude, I don’t know what things are run in your farm but in the real world your words are just stupid and ignorant.

  6. David says:

    I’ll correct that statement if anyone can ever show me a woman who fits that description of being great at all those things at the same time. Ive never met a woman (or man) who tried to do it all and did not have to compromise somewhere.

  7. jeena says:

    I wanted to reply quite awhile ago but have been too busy–Satan would have us be neutered just as he is–he would have us hate our feminine differences as well. Why is it so amazing to support Sister Beck when she is just teaching us exactly what our Creator would have us know to be happy. I think the demise of the family, the increase in “gays”, the increase in abortion, etc…all this is just to take away from us our ability to be different from Satan, as I said, Satan would have us be neutered–JUST AS HE IS. I need to say this better, but I have my family to feed now–GLADLY–they give me joy, even though there is work. I want JOY and I think her words show us the way to JOY. k-bye

  8. David says:

    Jeena,

    I think you make an excellent point about Satan. He wants us to impotent just as he is. It is ironically similar to God who wants us to be righteous just as He is.

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