The Reluctant Career Women

In this day and age, it seems like there's a bit of an unfair assumption circulating in Catholic parishes. Despite a seeming lack of eligible, solidly Catholic young men who are actively seeking wives, young women who take jobs are sometimes seen as choosing a career over marriage and having a family. All the "women's libber" arguments are brought up against them: You'll become attached to money; you'll become addicted to climbing the corporate ladder; you'll scare off prospective husbands because you're better educated than they are, etc., etc.


The very simple truth of the matter is that most of these young women (at least the ones in my numerous acquaintance) have very little or no choice. Their parents cannot support them at home forever, especially if there are many children in the family (Catholic school tuition isn't cheap!). They have no suitors knocking on their doors, especially right out of high school (People would accuse them of marrying young if they did). They do not have a religious vocation, or if they do, they require a dowry.

In any case, they need money.

Taking a job that has adequate pay to meet her needs (even, gasp! an interesting, challenging one) does not indicate career frenzy in a young woman. It indicates practicality. In many ways, having a job and living on your own is excellent training for being a wife and mother. It teaches budgeting and financial management. It can teach bargain shopping skills, arouse a stronger interest in cooking, and in many other ways prepares a young woman to be a true helpmeet to her husband - if he ever gets up the nerve to settle down, ask her out, and eventually propose.

After that, regardless of her husband's training and capabilities, the wife is often in charge of day-to-day money matters. She plans menus, does the grocery shopping, pays the bills, clothes the children, does the laundry. The husband, when he gets home from work, is worn out. He often lacks the energy to attend to more than the broad plans of money management. Men by temperment see the big picture. Women fill in the details.

On top of that, if a wife is well-educated, she is often better prepared to homeschool her children, should the need arise.  I'm not saying she has to go to top-notch universities or rack up millions in student loans - a scenario that is far from practical and holds a variety of moral pitfalls.  But a woman who has a practical degree and a wider experience in education often can not only face the prospect of homeschooling without feeling quite as overwhelmed, but also rest a little easier knowing that should some incapacitating injury (or even death) befall her husband unexpectedly, she has a better chance of being able to keep her feet while providing the sole support for her family.

I think that Catholic parents and young men need to take another look at those well-educated career women showing up for church in their stylish-yet-modest dresses and high heels. Chances are, they'll happily quit their jobs to become stay-at-home moms, and good ones, too.


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