Monday, January 21, 2008

Conflicting Thoughts

I meant to post this over the weekend. This is from Friday's edition of Dear Abby. With access to so many of the newspapers at the hotel, I've enjoyed reading the advice and manners columns in the past few months. I read the letters and tried to imagine what my response would be if I had an advice column... thinking through the details, trying to find biblical examples, recalling life experiences... Let's be honest. The majority of the time, I was just shocked at what advice was printed in the newspapers. The columnists were full of statements such as "Do it to them before they can do it to you." "Paybacks are fine." "Look out for yourself." "They're beliefs are wrong." "Get what you can when you can." "Parents, I'd just give up if I were you." "Do whatever makes you happy." And, the train of thought seemed to be all over the place from one letter to the next. It's perplexing to figure out where they've found their belief system, their ethical code, their sense of right and wrong.

Every once in a while, however, I would think one answer was be spot-on. And, I could hardly believe it.

This question and this answer (below) gave me conflicting thoughts. Anybody want to chime in? My answer - as it does with so many of these kinds of questions - would depend on me knowing about circumstances which are not included in the letter.

DEAR ABBY: My daughter, "Felicia," is 33 and still lives at home with her father and me. She's a wonderful person, has a great job and contributes to the house. Her father and I love Felicia and are very proud of her. However, we both feel that she needs her own place.

Every time we bring it up, Felicia says she would like to live here until she marries. Her dad and I have been married for 37 years, but we would like our privacy. What do you think? -- IMPATIENT MOM IN CHICAGO

DEAR IMPATIENT MOM: I think you have been more than patient. The time has come for you and your husband to tell your fledgling she needs a nest of her own. Help her to find one, and do not allow her to stall any longer. You will be doing all three of you a favor.


Kelly Spezzano said...

Good question. In biblical times, the culture was that the daughters stayed at home until marriage. I have a good friend who still lives at home at age 27, and is no where close to marriage. The fact that "Felicia" is helping out financially, shows that she is not just taking advantage. So, I think the advice would be contrary to that of "Dear Abby"- Let her stay.

Elizabeth said...

I have a conflicting response to this too. I kind of want to say that the daughter should be a little more independent and that the mother should be a little more understanding. (Which doesn't really get anyone anywhere, does it?)

jsarber said...

I have thought about this very subject quite a bit. I'm 26 now and a couple of years ago, I moved back in with my parents. Since then I have been the center of many jokes and comments. I don't mind the jokes at all but they do get me thinking occasionally about my situation.

My case is slightly different than this girl's but is still similiar. I'm actually waiting to purchase and move into my grandfather's house next door but it is currently occupied and will be for another year. Nevertheless, since I do hear so many jokes about my age and still living at home, I get to feeling almost foolish for living with my parents. Even so, I do not find anything wrong or shameful in it. I honestly see that as a very worldly way of thinking.

"For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife..."

I do not believe God's people are limited to leave their parents only when they have gotten married, but for this reason alone could I, as a parent, say to my children they have to go.

If the child, regardless of age, is unmarried, working, and contributing then I can find no good to tell them to go.

jsarber said...

I meant "no good reason" in that last sentence.

Kelly Spezzano said...

Amen... Jeremy!

Dani said...

I personally would be helping the kid out the door at that point. I don't suppose there is anything wrong with them continuing to live at home. But there is no guarentee that any of us will get married.

Also on that subject, if you say that a daughter is to stay at home till she's married what about sons? What about if a daughter's husband is killed, do you expect her to move back home?

jsarber said...

I don't believe a son or a daughter has to stay at home. There's nothing wrong with them moving out at all. I just don't believe there's anything wrong with it if they do stay at home. Again, only as long as they are unmarried and contributing to the household. Biblically, the only case parents could really make for kicking the kids out is if they get married.

What do you think?

Dani said...

I think this is one of those things that there is not a set answer for in the Bible. I think the Lord allows us to work out for ourselves the best thing for our household in many areas.

I just find it odd that so many PBs today thing that the women outta stay home till they marry (even if that's 40) but they throw their sons out by 21.

jsarber said...

I think you're right. There's no solid answer. It's the parents' home, therefore, it's their decision ultimately. I've learned over the years that many, many cultures think it to be strange if a child, regardless of age, moves out before he/she is married. It's like anything. We have society standards. I just don't want people, especially PBs, to get too wrapped up in the ways of our Western culture. Just do what you believe is the right and godly thing to do.

strem said...

This is so complicated that I don't know if I can fully capture what I think without sitting down for hours and discussing it with all of you. And, I do have hope that we can all do that sometime. I will, however, respond to a few of the issues that have come up.

To respond to Dani's comment about the inconsistency that she sees: I just think we have to be careful to note there are differences in expectations and roles in men and women. Yes, they're both grown children... but I don't think any of these families are really kicking anyone out. However, from an outsider's point of view, it might be difficult to see a family encouraging a man to purchase a home, develop a trade, make a strong financial foundation before marriage... just as it might be difficult to see a family encouraging a woman to pursue some of the things within a household that she will be called to do when she gets married... like becoming a good steward of money when preparing for meals, handling tasks around the home, and remembering the important (and sometimes controversial) part of submitting to the lead of her father (now) and husband (later). Of course, different families teach this in varying degrees. And, what I once thought was ridiculous has changed drastically in the last 5 years.

I think the world and bible greatly conflict about these types of issues, and I have noticed how much of my views of the past (which have dictated my very own life decisions) have been based solely on the world view.

We run into problems when a child may feel convicted to live under the protection of her father when the father and mother don't share that view. I've seen that happen more and more often in recent years. But, I also know of instances where it is the opposite - where a daughter is waiting for the first chance to break free from the teachings and protection of her parents. Either way, it is heartbreaking.

strem said...

Dani cracks me up because she's asking the very same questions I asked when I started delving into these topics.

In short, when families are teaching their daughters that this is the biblical example and making a covenant with each other, they are also teaching the sons their responsibilities... which is their role in their sisters' lives if something would ever happen to 1) the parents before their sisters' marriages and 2) the husbands after their sisters' marriages.

I know the line of questioning that usually comes, so I'll just answer ahead. When women don't have brothers and something happens to the parents, it is often suggested that the woman seek out a couple in the church - specifically keeping in mind of the male member serving as that "head" for her.

Our world has taught us that women can do and should do just as much as men. That we have the same expectations. That we have the same responsibilities. Certainly, that no woman needs a man to speak for her, protect her, study the bible with her, etc. No matter to what degree I agreed with the world earlier in my life, I strongly disagree with these worldviews now. And, I've learned the hard way through my experiences.

I can't say I agree with every nuance of the practices discussed at the top of this comment and everything that usually goes with it. But, I can see many of the merits that I hope to incorporate in my marriage and in parenting if I am blessed with a husband and children.

Until then, I am still trying to sort out much of this.