Monday, October 23, 2006

Should We Encourage Our Daughters To Go To College?

In light of some of my recent thoughts, I have pondered this idea as well. Should we encourage (and pay for) our daughters to go to college? About 18 months ago, Brian and I discussed this and I was appalled at the injustice that the very idea screamed at me. What possible reason in the world could a parent have for not encouraging a girl to further her education? I railed against the injustice. Not that Brian agreed with that idea...he was just throwing it out there. Preposterous, I said. Utterly ridiculous.

But is it?

The biggest hurdle I have to contentedness and joy as a stay-at-home mom is actually accepting the fact that I am a stay-at-home mom with every intention of homeschooling my children. But why? Didn't you get the memo? I'm supposed to be doing "something" with my life. Yes, I know, answering the call of nurturing my family is my highest calling. Somewhere in the back of my head, there are lots of times that I feel like that is what I have to do because I didn't finish my education. Had I finished, I could be doing something really rewarding. I could be doing something that I really like (like accounting) instead of something that most days just drives me to distraction. I know that if I were in a high rise somewhere counting beans, I would be missing huge, key moments in my daughters' lives and I would be singing the sad song that working mothers sing.

So every day I fight with myself and I guess my point in all of this is...what if I'd been taught from birth on that raising a family was the greatest honor and joy for a woman? Would I still have this struggle inside of me to break free and run screaming to the university to get my accounting degree so that I can "do something" with my life? Brian says I can go to school any time I want...but what's the point? I'm gonna be a homeschooling mom when I grow up.

I just want to protect my girls from some of my struggles and heartaches and longings. If being a wife and a mother is the highest calling, why would I even want them to consider engineering or medicine or accounting? Why wouldn't I prepare them for the highest calling? Maybe it's better not to wake the sleeping giant of achievement in their hearts.


Anonymous said...

No matter what you do, if you didn't do the other, you'd wonder.
Why not raise them to believe that parenting IS the greatest while encouraging them to go to college so they could decide for themselves? They make take a little longer to come to motherhood but, if they push through college from 18-22, they'll still be done early and, if they do become mothers, will have that much more life experience to impart to their children. Just a thought.
Like I said before, I appreciate the perspective, but I don't think limiting their option EITHER way is good for their well being. By that I mean, raising them just to go to college and not be a mother also. They might feel like they were denied the choice and become resentful of you or their children or their husbands depending on which route they decide.
I don't include paying for college in that. As much as I'd like to be in the position to pay for their college, I think saving for my retirement is more important. Loans and grants and military service are easily accesible and I know paying for my schooling certainly made me take it more seriously. That's a case by case issue though, I think.
All I can really offer to this that isn't just personal belief on the matter is this: look into your heart. Do you think you feel the way you do about not having completed your degree because you didn't do it before you became a mother or simply because you had the option? We can do a lot of things in life but choice is not something I think we often resent. Not knowing how good we could have been one way or another is troublesome.
When you look at those precious little girls, I know you want them to be mothers and I think that is beautiful. But what if they wanted to be something else, too?
I guess I am wondering if there is a spiritual conflict in being a mother with a skill or job? Is that why this is a topic of discussion in your household to begin with?
My coworkers daughter is getting married. She is at a Baptist college here in Texas. I think she has a year or so left on her degree.
That brings up another sub-topic to this discussion. A lot of her friends get married in college or shortly thereafter. Do you think that, even if you wanted the girls main focus to be motherhood, their prospects for marrying would be better attending a Christian based college? I know that sounds funny but I think you understand what I mean. If you believe this is their highest calling then God certainly leads their hearts to their husbands, but I am wondering also if God would lead them away from home in pursuit of that calling.
There is a lot to think about with this topic. A lot more than I imagined. :D

Pretty in Pink said...

Georgia, to quote you:

I just want to protect my girls from some of my struggles and heartaches and longings. If being a wife and a mother is the highest calling, why would I even want them to consider engineering or medicine or accounting? Why wouldn't I prepare them for the highest calling? Maybe it's better not to wake the sleeping giant of achievement in their hearts.

Why would you want them to consider those things? Well, I think we first have to let God show us if His purpose for them is medicine or accounting or whatever.

Further, what if your daughters don't find God's man for them until they are 30? Do they have to work at the Mini-Mart until then?

And even moreso...some women God purposes to be single.

I think each situation is different, and God has different plans for different girls. As parents, we have to pray and watch and let God take the lead.

For us, we will always encourage our girls to go to college. Not because we want them to be career women but because we want them to have the joy of a college learning experience. My brain just exploded with excitement and wonder when I went to college and started seeing all the pieces of all the subjects come together like pieces in a puzzle. Also, as an added bonus, we want them to be able to comfortably
support themselves until they do become wives and moms.

We will always teach them the joy of raising a family, but we will also teach them the joy of learning. Most importantly we will teach them the joy of following God's we'll just have to wait and see what He has for them.

Personally, I think Jill is going to be a professional musician and Anna-Grace is going to be an engineer — but just until they find the noble men God has for them and proceed to give me at least six grandchildren. Each.

I know some of that sounded sarcastic, but I didn't think you'd mind. ;)

Pretty in Pink said...

Oh, and I do believe that it is our responsibility as parents — as much as is possible — to fund their college educations.

Kellie makes a good point, too, though, about using that money for retirement.

I read that by the time our kids go to college, it will cost $300K per kid per c. 4 years. I really don't want to send my girls out into the world, post-college, on their own with a $300,000 debt.

That part is definitely a tough that will probably be different for everyone.


Georgia said...

Brian doesn't agree with me and I am the lone voice of "no college" in this house. He thinks that education is its own reward, etc., etc. Most of the way I feel about these issues can be laid strictly at the feet of my parents. I was not taught that education is its own reward. I was taught it's a means to an end and that's how I view it.

However, I have worked at the "Mini-Mart" and the Kroger and a major Houston law firm and although it doesn't rank right up there with medicine in some people's views, it is an honest living. Furthermore, if our girls choose not to go, Brian and I would be happy (and I checked with him before making this statement) to support them while they wait for Mr. Right as long as they were contributing to the household...and that doesn't necessarily mean by paying rent.

I can buy "education is its own reward" but I'm not buying the "supporting themselves" argument. We are perfectly capable of supporting them until they leave and cleave to their husbands. Everything else aside, I want them to discern God's voice in their lives and submit themselves to His direction. If He says Doctors Without Borders, that's alright with me. If He says Mini-Mart and serve Him, that's okay, too.

Anonymous said...

Wow, so many controversial topics! We are still discussing this one. We plan on keeping our daughter under our roof (and dad's protection) until she is married (we are planning on going the courtship route). We are not deadset against her going to college, but if she does she will live at home and will be limited in what courses she can take. We do not feel that God would be calling her to a high powered career (doctor, lawyer etc.) I can understand education being it's own reward. Although, I don't really know that my Master's has made that much of a difference in my life - except to leave me with debt. We will continue to pray and seek God's guidance on this as she gets older. Right now we are focusing on teaching her character, home making skills, parenting skills etc. so that she will be equipped to run her household -- bring on those grandbabies (the scary thing is I won't be that old when she starts having them)!! Cathy

Georgia said...

Cathy! That is exactly it. (Well at least how I feel.) I also don't feel like God calls us to high-powered careers. We call ourselves to those careers. I don't even want those ideas to be a blip on their radar, so to speak. The idea of taking a young girl like your daughter and training her to take care of a household at that age bothered me. It seemed to resonate a very bad chord with me regarding my own childhood. But then I realized that it doesn't have to be the way I was raised and what a blessing to her husband who could just go and earn a living and not have to worry that dinner was going to be a disaster, etc., etc.

What a much better use of time to train them in that way than to spend time and money undoing the feminist idealism that would be drilled into their heads by the college system, who for all intents and purposes, is run by the same body who wants to try and educate our children now.

Does anyone have an issue with that?

Anonymous said...

I know the transition for me from working to staying home was hard! I no longer received an income, slaps on the back for a job well done, interaction with other adults, using the bathroom alone..tehe! I felt worthless, until Aaron started reminding me that me being home was my most important calling. He told me that me being home made it so that he could go to work all day and not worry knowing that his children were at home with mom. Believe me, 5 years ago if someone suggested I "train" my daughter to be a wife/mother.....I would have freaked out. BUT -- I see her knowing how to do laundry, clean the house, take care of a baby and a toddler, learning to sew and cook and I think of how much further ahead she will be than I am when she gets married. She will not feel worthless - we want her to feel like it is an honor to invest in the little lives that God gives her. We are reading books on courtship, modesty, biblical womanhood etc. to plant all those seeds that she is special and to help her look forward to marriage, and homemaking -- something the rest of us had to adjust to. How much better it would be to look forward to it! Cathy

Georgia said...

Cathy, you are absolutely right. That's what I want for my daughters. I don't want them to have to fight what I fight every single day and I think it's up to us stay-at-home moms to make sure that we have a good attitude and are joyful about doing what we do. For our children's sake and our husband's. I know it is especially hard for me when I feel like I'm a hamster on a wheel going through the motions every single day.

Anonymous said...

In defense of education: we have at least 13 years to ingrain our belief system into our children. Our parents' generation, in absence of malice, listened to all the worldly hype that was in vogue in the '70s and the politico-social landscape of the times, which said that it takes a village (ie, the government) to raise a child. We are, on so very many fronts, a transistional generation; we have boundaries of custom to break through on almost every front in order to bring our lives and those of our children back into synch with God's ways. Yes, Jesus spent 30 years in preparation for his ministry on earth (rabbis aren't "prepared" to go out into the world and teach before their late 20's at earliest -- following about half their lives spent in earnest, committed study of Scripture; this is the same now as it was 2000 years ago), and so forth. But I agree with many of Tom's points on his blog (qv). While I also agree with Georgia and Cathy that the girls shouldn't be sent out into the big bad world away from our home, I do think, as my lovely bride said, that education is its own reward. Cathy, to be blunt (but loving), if your master's left you with little but debt, you couldn't afford to get it... and from a biblical standpoint, shouldn't have. VERY little is worth going into debt for (maybe a house, because it will, unlike ANY car EVER, hold its value over time, and most people might take several decades to save up for one), and (sorry, docs) education doesn't make it onto that list. Out-of-state, even out-of-town, doesn't justify borrowing for school. {stepping off my soapbox}

We currently have debt equal to almost my entire base salary (cuz we're stoopud) and when it's gone (as we aggressively attack it), it'll be gone for good (in about a year -- did I mention aggressive? Our daughters' (or sons') educations are no exception. $2000 a year invested in an aggressive growth mutual fund with a good track record pulling 12% or more, over the next few years (say, 6) will nearly pay for it (12% isn't very hard to get, either); and the difference can be covered by many things -- a J-O-B is at the top of my list.

That having been said, college is not a mandate, by any means. Should they choose to work instead of college, that's fine, too.

To the comments about earnings, I think a sheepskin is worth the effort it takes to print it, and little else. How many people do you know that work in any way in the field for which they were educated? Engineers and doctors, okay... but who else? And I know a few more engineers (despite the fact that I work in an office full) who are not working in their degree field. And earnings? I don't have a degree (yet), am only considering pursuing one for my promotion prospects within my company (and I'm not sold on that yet), and I've nearly doubled my salary over the past few years, and will continue to over the next few.

Character, ability, and drive are far more important -- any small business owner can probably back that up. Unless, that is, they're unreasonably tied to the idea of a degree.

I'm way off topic here... apologies. I think Tom made a good point about thinking it over before posting....

Suffice it to say: I want the girls to go to college, but don't require it. They may also work outside the home if they choose to, but they will live with us until married. Call me a Cro-Magnon if you like (not that I expect to hear that from this crowd), but that's the way I see it.


Anonymous said...

Brian, your thoughts about debt are right on! Actually my undergrad degree when I was a single mother is what I had debt from - I smiled and cajoled my way into Aaron paying for grad school (and paying off my undergrad debt as well -- teehee! He is so wonderful!!!). I totally agree with your comments on character and drive. Aaron is a big fan of diligence and self-initiative. In his opinion school pales in comparison to a person who is willing to work hard and has good people skills. This is definitely why we have chosen to drill character traits into their heads before we even worry about academics. Georgia - I loved your hamster on the wheel example. Daily I have to remind myself that changing diapers, cooking, cleaning etc. is worthwhile - even if I just did the same thing 10 minutes ago! Cathy

Anonymous said...

I thought the homeschooling debate was insightful, now we have this.I can't say that I agree with everything or anything that has been said.I believe you are caretakers of your children and it is your command to instill in them your values.If you shelter your daughters from everything including college, Where do you plan on them meeting their mate. That is if you give them that right, or are you going to choose thier mate for them? My child attends public school( some of you will stop reading now) as I and his mother did. God will lead him to his mate.

Anonymous said...

anonymous - hhmmm, choose their mate - that's tempting!! Really though, our children will not date. We are sold on the courtship process. I think you are right when you say God leads people to their mates, however, we feel like dating is very unbiblical and causes pieces of your heart to be given to every dating relationship you have before marriage (therefore, your heart is not whole for the one you do wind up marrying). God decides whether our children will marry or stay single,(we cannot give them/not give them that right) but we feel it is the fathers duty to approve of the marriage. The whole idea of keeping your childrens hearts as they grow up is so that they will seek out and truly want your opinion/approval because they respect you. Just because some kids don't attend college doesn't necessarily mean that they will be sheltered. There are many worthwhile things young ladies of college age can do to minister to those around them, socializing with all age groups. Honestly, I don't know that we will push our boys to attend college either. We would much rather that they go into business for themselves. Our daughters will be under their fathers protection, at home, until married. Hopefully, our sons future wives will be too! Aaron & Cathy

Pretty in Pink said...

Oh Georgia, I feel terrible about the Minit Mart remark now. I'm sorry! I was trying to be silly and put my foot in my mouth. Please forgive me.

I've been off the blogs for a couple of weeks now. Sickness, vacation, being busy, etc. So I'm just now reading all this.

Cathy, The courtship process vs. dating intrigues me. What exactly IS the courtship process?

For those who say their daughters will live with them until they marry (OH JOY!!!!! I HOPE MINE DO), what if they don't want to live with you? I'm not being snarky, I really want to know.

Cathy, I love the idea of training your daughter to be a mommy and a wife and teaching her the joy and reward and blessing of this.

Actually, I would probably SAY that I think it's important to teach character traits and academics at the same time...but honestly, I've always put character first with my children. My thing is: they're three. There's time to learn geometry...right now I need them to know the blessings of obedience, that. So I guess I am with you on that one. For now anyway.

I can't remember everything else that was said...mostly I was prompted to respond because I wanted to apologize about the Minit Mart remark. You're right Georgia, it is an honest living and it was not my intent to belittle in any way. I was just trying to be cute and got mud in my face. What's new, huh? :) YOu know I love you, right?

Henchatter said...

I think we should always encourage our young people to go to College!

First,not only for the expierence, but an education is nice to have on hand for life's up's and downs.

Second, Keeping them close to home,courting,and so on is a Great Idea! I am really considering the courting,only because i want a good relationship with my future daughter in law,like I have with my Mother-in-law. and to keep my boys out of trouble.

Third, we pray that our sons and daughters will meet their husbands,have a stable marriage,and grandchildren. God is always on our side,but you never know what the future holds.
Ex: Your daughter is married,has four children and financially stable,she stays home with the children,so husband makes all the money,and daughter does not have an education. A tragedy happens, and the husband died...There she is,four mouths to feed,and no education to support the family.

In Final, We all want the best for our children, but as much we need to protect them,we need them encouraged to go on to college,even if its only for a year or 2.

Just because some of you plan on your daughters to be a stay at home mom,does not mean that their life will be that way.