Recently, what has really stood out to me in my life as a mother and homemaker is the lack of knowledge and skills we have been passed down by the previous generation or two. I am talking about actual, nitty-gritty practical stuff - everything from how to sew, garden, cook, etc. to how to raise children, organize our time most efficiently, etc. More importantly, I am talking about spiritual wisdom passed down to us by previous generations of godly parents.
I mean, our "foremothers" a hundred years and more ago did not have many of the modern conveniences we enjoy. Think running water and electricity. Air-conditioning. Appliances that only require us to load and start them. In addition to lacking these tools, they had a much greater workload of growing and preserving their own food, tending animals, sewing their own clothes, and generally making many of their own supplies. They did all that while looking feminine. Birth control was largely unavailable, and even against the law. Reading through the "Little House" series was both fascinating and impressive.
Yet in spite of all this, it seems ladies in ages past were at least as able as we are today to take care of all their responsibilities, while also turning out children that were unlike today's next generation. Clearly, they knew something about being efficient, organized, and/or hard-working that we may be lacking.
When and where was all that knowledge lost? Why did ladies sometime in the last century decide that knowledge that had been passed down for many generations was suddenly unnecessary and obsolete?
In Titus 2, the Bible commands "aged women" to "teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed."
It is sad and sobering to look around in my own personal life and mostly find a lack of older ladies that fulfill this command. Feminism may be falling out of fashion nowadays as women are realizing they have been duped and robbed of this world's greatest calling and occupation - but it seems to have greatly affected, even destroyed, the previous generation.
For instance, I don't think I personally know any ladies in the two generations directly before mine that did not use birth control to some extent. In fact, the only people I know that have as many or more children than we do, are our age - they are peers, and while there are many things I can learn from them, they are not the older, more mature mentors that us younger ladies could benefit from so greatly. The ones who once were where we are today, who can give us perspective, encouragement, and support. There is just not much practical advice about how to keep the home running smoothly with lots of little ones that can be gleaned from people who had just one or two kids, which were babysat in school much of their awake time.
Homeschooling is of course another area that it almost impossible to get advice from older ladies on. Then there are practical homemaking skills, such as cooking and sewing, which were discarded, I'm guessing, in favor of teaching young girls how to correctly apply makeup, or other worthless pursuits. Once, I saw a girl who went to high school put a diaper on a baby backward (velcro tabs closing on the back, rather than tummy). She was generally clueless as to how to handle a baby.
Going into marriage and motherhood so ill-prepared is like starting out deep in debt. You work all day and never get ahead, because you started out so far behind. Sure, girls who do not know how to care for an infant will eventually learn, but it will be a tough and frustrating undertaking. It would have been so much easier to adjust to having a baby if young ladies were already used to caring for them. That is just one small area. Now add to that other responsibilities that a young wife might have, such as cooking, homemaking, keeping the finances, etc. and if she is equally clueless in these areas she will have a very rough go of it. A frazzled, frustrated, and overextended young mother might start feeling the repercussions in her marriage, too.
Today's mothers of older children are often made to feel bad about expecting those children to help babysit and care for younger children, help with chores, or otherwise "earn their keep". After all, it might keep them from hanging out with all their friends at the mall! We all know that anyone under 18 is entitled to pursue nothing but fun in life, right? Thankfully, my own mother had no such qualms. She taught me everything from breadbaking to all sorts of crafts, even though she considered being called a "housewife" extremely offensive. In fact, she is not even a Christian, yet her values were oftentimes more traditional than what Christian mothers today embrace. My brothers and I were expected to help clean the house, do yardwork, take care of younger siblings, and on and on. All that while expecting us to get nothing but good grades, having an early and strict curfew, and generally not allowing us to have any fun. Or so it seemed at the time.
Over the years, I have made an effort to pass on knowledge that I have gained to younger ladies who did not learn them growing up. But again and again, I find myself amazed at how a girl ever grew to adulthood unable to even cook an egg. The gap of practical skills and knowledge is so great.
Even greater and more tragic still is the lack of faith exhibited by mothers and fathers who considered having children optional, something to be traded in favor of having more money, or "me time", or whatever else they considered more important. How will they pass on to us the things they were commanded to teach us younger women, when they are lacking the most basic ingredient of Christianity - faith in God?
Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. - Jeremiah 6:16
Let us who care more about the next generation serve them better by asking God for wisdom, and teaching our own children right. There is no substitute for godly parents who assume responsibility for seeking out the best for their children in every area of life. No pastor, teacher, or daycare worker will ever be able to take our place. Nor is it a job that in this world will ever be recognized for its true value, or appreciated for its efforts. But it is the only right thing to do.
And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in. - Isaiah 58:12