Friday, May 9, 2014

Childless Women And Homemaking

I was asked to write a post about childless women, so here it comes:

If you do a simple Google search, you'll find out that nearly 1 in 5 couples experience difficulties with conception. That is consistent with historical data which shows that as far back as 1870 20.3 % of women had no children at all (according to this article), though some of them were probably not married.

Childless women (and couples) are often viewed as "God's second best" by too many Christians (the same goes for singles, but it's the topic for another article). Dealing with infertility is difficult on its own, without the remarks and nosy inquiries of others, however well-meant they are. Strange enough, a secular feminist woman may experience less stigma among her peers for being childless and will even be lauded for her contributions to society, while conservative Christians  will often look down upon those struggling with conception.

That makes it all the more difficult for a childless homemaker.  If housewives in general are frowned upon, a childless housewife is often attacked from left and right. It's not for nothing, that the modern word of choice to describe a traditional woman's role is SAHM which presupposes that the woman must have children to stay home, instead of a more neutral term housewife/homemaker.

Of course, historically (and what is more important, biblically) speaking, they have no leg to stand on. As Jesse Powell  points out in his article I linked to above, the traditional role of the wife as being provided for by her husband and being under the authority of her husband was always maintained regardless of whether the woman had any children or whether the children were young or had already grown into adults. The role of the woman under patriarchy is not dependent upon her having children first, it is simply an attribute of her characteristics and role as a woman; motherhood being just one of the many ways a woman could contribute her feminine strengths as a woman to others.

Jesse Powell is an atheist and yet he is closer to the truth that many professing Christians who will attack a childless woman for choosing to stay home and "leech off her husband". As the lady I linked to some time ago, states in her article on the woman as a homemaker:

"A good Old Testament example of a homemaker is found in Genesis 18:9-And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent. Abraham didn’t wonder where his wife was, and he didn’t have to go check. He answered quickly, “Behold in the tent.”Abraham and Sarah had no children as yet at this time, but her place was still “in the tent” a homemaker."

Even feminists seem to agree, that the role of a woman at home is much more that only taking care of children. It's really funny  how they are trying to push the return of a homemaker as  a new form of feminism, which means that the society has gone the full circle now. (H/t to The Retro Homemaker  for the link). 

There are lots of things for a childless homemaker to occupy herself with, and as she has more time, she can use it for community service, practising hospitality and helping her family. If you have no children of your own, you may help raise your nephews and nieces. I remember how I always loved visiting my auntie, who was an empty-nester.  She always had something nice to eat and was very hospitable. Unfortunately, many children nowadays miss this experience growing up.

An old proverb says that if you are given a lemon, try to make lemonade out of it. A childless lady will have more time to develop her talents, learn to play musical instruments, read and practise crafts. I would also like to point out, that luckily, modern medicine has progressed to the point that a lot of couple struggling with infertility can be helped. There are also natural remedies for infertility sufferers, such as acupuncture. Prayer helps a lot, too.

It could also be so that a couple have come to terms with their inability to conceive and have decided to leave the matter in God's hands. It's their decision and should be respected by others. Unfortunately, nowadays Christians are often pushed to adopt. While I'm not against adoption, it's a personal decision, it costs a lot of money, and can cause all sorts of problems in the future. There is no Christian duty for infertile couples to adopt and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Adoption, just as fertility treatments, is the matter between you and your husband, not between you, your husband, the church and the local busybodies.

In conclusion I'd like to recommend this article by a lady who herself struggled with infertility:
Eleven Things To Remember During Infertility


  1. Thank you so much for a thoughtful and informative post.

  2. Thanks for the link!

  3. Very true! Your post about Abraham and Sarah reminds me of our Orthodox wedding ceremony. There are great blessings for the spouses, before the groom is taken the crown from his head the priest says: You shall be blessed like Abraham, you shall be fertile like Jacob and rejoice like Isaac. Then the broom kisses the Gospel and the bride steps forward and before she is taken her crown from the head the priest says: You shall be blessed like Sarah, you shall be fertile like Rachel and rejoice with your husband like Rebecca...I still remember these blessings and I must confess all that happened. We are blessed but are still waiting for children like Abraham and Sarah, I have to wait like Rachel for my first born and I am very happy with my husband. I remember a prayer that the priest said: God, as you have blessed Josef and Assineth, Moses and Sepforah, give them children to be useful and I thought that children are always useful and welcome but God may still have other plans and now I understand everything that was given to us at that point of our lives. In our tradition, marriage is a divine gift and the spouses are treated like royal people with crowns on their heads during the ceremony. I am so fascinated about this and I love participating in weddings. The only thing that brides usually dislike is when the Ephesians letter is being read and the bride hears the words: the wife shall obey her husband. This is a delicate moment and in the end, the priest usually explains these words in order to make clear that the Church is not against women etc. but against disorder and chaos.

  4. Groom, not broom. Sorry, I forgot to correct

  5. You are welcome, Retro Homemaker!

  6. Orthodox wedding ceremony is certainly very beautiful! If more people saw marriage as divine gift, we would probably have less divorce. Also childless couples still have each other and their extended family.