Mothers Who Know and What Women Know

I am just a little behind on this issue. In fact I didn’t even know it was an issue until Carol mentioned it the other day. She belongs to a Relief Society email newsgroup where the subject was being discussed. Apparently, a number of sisters took offense at the wonderful recent general conference address by Sister Julie B Beck, General President of the Relief Society.

I had to go back and read it again to see what all the fuss was about. The address is entitled ‘Mothers Who Know.” I suppose the main thing that some women took offense at is they felt excluded because they weren’t mothers. I don’t think Sister Beck intended to exclude women who weren’t mothers from her conference address.

In fact, just the week before she gave an equally wonderful address at the women’s broadcast. The subject there was “What Latter-day Saint Women Do Best: Stand Strong and Immovable.” Nobody complained about that talk with her three-part focus on faith, families and relief. I guess it was just that her General Conference talk focused so much on mothering.

Some sisters felt so strongly about what she said that they have actually written a dissenting document and posted it on the Internet. I won’t link to it. You can find it if you want. It is entitled, “What Women Know.” They apparently took offense to Sister Beck starting her talk with a reference to the 2,000 stripling warriors by pointing out how bad war is.

Update: I am so glad to see that enough sisters feel so strongly about this subject that they created their own website entitled, “Mothers Who Know.” I am happy to link to it here.

If you have found and read the opposing statement you may appreciate that the introduction points out that Sister Beck’s talk “conflicts with their inspiration and experience.” When I read that 2 Ne 9:28 came to my mind. I won’t comment on all the other parts of their dissertation but I will comment on two phrases that speak volumes.

One phrase is that too many of these women fear that they “are just one fully-employed male away from poverty.” Huh? Where did that come from and what does it have to do with Sister Beck’s talk? These women seem to be coming from a fear-based and not a faith-based point of view. The church has never taught that women should not excel in education or employability.

The other phrase I find disturbing is that they claim that many of their men “also struggle within a system that equates leadership with hierarchy and domination.” True, the priesthood organization of the Church is hierarchical, but that is from revealed doctrine. Domination is a different story and has forever been preached against as long as I can remember.

I wonder what my mother would have thought of this talk if she were still alive. My mother raised four daughters and two sons. She was an extremely well-read and educated woman. Would she have taken offense at Sister Beck’s reminder to bring children to church “in clean and ironed dresses with hair brushed to perfection?” I’ll have to ask my sisters.

What did you think of Sister Beck’s talk in General Conference? Was it demeaning or offensive or did you find it uplifting and encouraging?

4 thoughts on “Mothers Who Know and What Women Know”

  1. I loved Sister Beck’s talk. I am a stay at home mom to my 4 young sons and I work in Primary, so I found her talk uplifting and very encouraging. I know a few people who were offended by her talk. But, I think overall, it was beautiful and inspired. Our Church has an amazing view of women that few people (outside of our Church) really understand. I feel empowered by my role as a wife and mother in the latter days. Sister Beck’s talk gave me hope and direction.

  2. Years ago the prophet said point blank that women should stay home and rear their children. I struggled with this statement for a long time. At the time, I did not have any children but I struggled nevertheless. After much prayer I found that this did not fit into what my Heavenly Father planned for me. I continued on the path that I was following. Today, I am a teacher at my children’s school. I have the opportunity to spend more time with them than if I were a stay at home mom. We go together, we come home together, we are extremely close. I know all their friends and am acutely aware of their individual struggles and needs. I am all the things that Sister Beck said and more. (Well we won’t discuss the state of the living room six days a week.) This is what was right for my family. When my children were very small my husband was the primary caretaker while he attended school and I worked full-time. This was also a good choice for our family. The only reason this has worked despite the obvious non-traditional choices is because we put the Lord first in all things. Our first priority was first what is best for our children, not what our friends would say. We all have our own needs and the Lord knows each of us. What those mother’s knew is to trust in the Lord no matter what. Amen Sis. Beck

  3. Traditional mothers are often less valued in today’s society. I really don’t think our nation is as progressive as some people think. I say that because progress should mean each generation is more diligent serving the Lord than the last. This, unfortunately, is not what we find today.

    The next generation often suffers if mothers are distracted by worldly values instead of holding strong Christian values. When I think of the story of the stripling warriors, I remember how those young Lamanites trusted completely in the Lord to ensure their safety if they were valiant in the cause of righteousness … just as their mothers taught them.

    It’s true that today’s culture values Christian child-rearing less than it did at other times, and our society has deteriorated as a result. I’ve seen more than one family suffer from a parent’s seeking for “individual fulfillment” in avenues incompatible with rearing a family.

    That said, you can go the wrong direction even when you think you’re investing your all in the family. You might suffer from excessive busy-ness. LDS mothers can seem endlessly busy, often without good results. The kids, apparently, have to be in every extra-curricular activity in existence, and be hurried about on a hectic schedule that makes the moms little more than taxi drivers.

    I like the advice from the talk that mothers should “allow less media in their homes, less distraction, less activity that draws their children away from their home.” My feeling is that most of these inane activities children engage in should be tossed out while ways of seeking out and becoming closer with the Lord should be put in their places.

    Sorry. I’m not one for thinking a vital part of a child’s upbringing is technology. There need to be fewer iPods and video games and more scripture study, if you ask me.

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