Should Older Women Have Careers?

Should Older Women Have Careers?

Women frequently ask me if it’s okay for them to go back to work when all of their children are raised. I can’t find anywhere scripturally where this is a command for them! In fact, older widows are to be known for doing these things:

“Well reported of for good works; if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work” (1 Timothy 5:10). Nope, the Apostle Paul didn’t command that they go out and get jobs.

Here is a comment I received on my blog from an older woman:

“For several years, I had a strong yearning (urging?) to leave my life as a career woman and be at home. But I never felt I could justify it. My children are grown, so why wouldn’t I work outside the home? I conferred with other Christian women and even our Pastor about being a stay-at-home wife. Not one of them, NOT ONE, ever offered any encouragement. They saw no value in it since we are empty-nesters now, and, in fact, criticized me for wanting to ‘put all the financial burden’ on my husband. In short, I was basically told I’d be a slacker and not pulling my share. I perused many ‘Christian’ websites; the same thing.

“My husband just kept saying the choice was mine. Unable to come up with any solid reason for leaving my job, I continued to work. Then something unthinkable happened. My husband suddenly became very ill, life-threateningly ill. He had several surgeries and lost 70 pounds in four months.

“I took leave of absence during this time to care for him. I cooked three healthy meals a day. I managed all of his doctor appointments and medicines. We had to travel out-of-state to specialists. Miraculously, my husband made a dramatic and full recovery. During this time I came across Lori’s blog and learned so much from her and others about how it is our God-ordained role as women to be keepers of the home. Hallelujah!

“Needless to say, I did not go back to work. My full-time assignment and purpose is to take care of my husband and relieve him of any undue burdens in managing our household. My husband quickly regained 30 pounds and is back at work; where he WANTS to be!

“Thank you, Lori, and the rest of you biblical ladies for helping me find my way toward God’s TRUE gift to us as women!”

Here is a video I made a while ago about being an older woman at home full time!

13 thoughts on “Should Older Women Have Careers?

  1. She should be around to be a grandmother to her grand kids and also care for her husband. My grandmother had to work in her earlier years, but loves the domestic life of a housewife in her retirement! So many women take for granted the honor and privilege of staying in the home these days when so many want to but can’t.

  2. Many of the younger women still raising their children would be so helped if the older women could mentor them, provide some child care assistance now and then, share recipes and housekeeping tips, and otherwise help them while they are neck deep in the troubles of caring for a brood of children.

    In times past, younger women didn’t have to do it all alone. They had a community of other people, and especially other women, to lean on and interact with. With most of those other women now working outside the home, even those women who do stay home feel alone, isolated, and with no help. They can’t get an hour’s break from their children because there is no one else to watch them. They can’t get an adult conversation because all the other adults in their community are at work. If they would like to make their own soap, bake homemade bread, take up knitting, or any other useful homemaking skill, there is no one to teach them. This makes it much harder for the younger women to be keepers at home. We need the older women to teach the younger women these things.

    1. Lindsay..
      Everything you said is so true. There are just no communities to support younger mothers any more.

      I am an older woman and I am going step up my game for the younger women. I am in a Bible study with 2 young moms who have 9 children between them and homeschool! They are doing a really great job but are weary. I offered to help them with the homeschooling and give them a Mothers Day out when they want one.

      We live in a world where people dont want to bother others in asking for help, and people like me hesitate to offer it because we dont want to appear to be getting in their business!

      This will be new for all of us, so pray for a successful partnership!

      Prayers for you and your family as well!

    2. So true! I don’t have all the homemaking skills I’d like to teach my daughter and so I stumble around trying to find inexpensive ways for her to learn. It would be such a blessing to us if we had older women with these skills willing and able to share them with us.

      Older women can be the ones to throw bridal and baby showers. They can organize meals for the sick or new mothers. They can visit women in prison. They can help out single mothers.

      I’d be thrilled just to have an older woman with enough time and patience to hear my kids attempt to put on a piano concert for them and encourage them. A funny example of a typical older working woman happened at my husband’s school. While practicing piano at my husband’s school the kids were treated to an older woman harshly telling us that the kids weren’t allowed to play on the piano until after a certain time. Ironically all the men who passed by were very sweet and complimentary, some even poking their heads in just to give them some encouragement. So many older working women are just very hard around the edges. Not at all welcoming unless it is within their rigid parameters.

    3. Lindsay,
      as a stay at home mom, I have to agree that this problem exists. But it’s even wider.
      More women in the workforce, young and older, means less help or people just for conversation for moms.
      But it also means fewer kids being at home with moms which means there is almost no one with whom homeschooled kids could play or spend time in other ways! Just no people home, on the street, in the neighborhood, having time for a meeting, conversation, etc.
      And it’s the Internet where I learn how to care for plants, my kids’ health, how to prepare and preserve food… It’s good that there is such a resource but it’s sad that there are almost no real people around us to guide. We’re talking here about simple things like food nd helping with kids, not science! We just need people around us who are not busy all the time with their “important” issues.

  3. What if the husband had been put out of work permanently? Would it then be appropriate for a woman to work outside the home? Assuming the husband no longer needed at-home assistance, but just couldn’t work. Just wondering because one lady at my church is in this situation and I’d like to advise her as best I can.

    1. I would encourage her to pray about it and ask the Lord to make a way for her to be home full time. There are many options for women today to be able to make money from home. Read The Tightwad Gazette and learn to live as frugally as possible; for a penny saved is a penny earned!

  4. My mother works full time and will continue to until she retires and then is moving across the country – so I will not have her grandmotherly input in my life anymore. And my MIL works at her family business to make extra money, but is available if need be. You rarely hear of older women staying home. I know many empty nester wives no longer even cook their husband’s meals. So sad! They are truly missing out!

    1. This is another reason I decided to stay home. I dont have any grandchildren yet. But I hope to. My mother was very helpful with my children. And my grandmother was the light of my own life! I want to be an available grandma!

  5. My mother is still a keeper of the home long after my siblings and I became old enough to do things for ourselves. Just because the kids are gone doesn’t mean her duty to her husband is gone, and I agree with previous comments about being there for her grandchildren. It’s so sad to me whenever I talk to someone who doesn’t have a close relationship with their grandmother.

  6. Surely there are two principles to apply here.

    Firstly, for a married woman, her husband, children and home should be here first priority, to the exclusion of any interests outside the family.

    Secondly, in submission to her husband, it is not in anyway acceptable for a married woman to follow any occupation (or any other activity) outside the home, without her husbands agreement.

    So it is only appropriate to work outside the home, if it does not detract from your first duty as a wife and homemaker and with your husbands permission.

  7. “No.”

    A man’s task is to make a career of whatever jobs he has in the moment.
    A woman’s task is to make a family of whichever person she is nurturing in the moment.
    A man is to a career what a woman is to family.

    Man’s commandment is to provide (1 Ti 5:8). Woman’s is to multiply (Ge 1:28). A man cannot provide if he’s at home, and a woman cannot multiply if she’s chasing promotions.

    ‘Job’ is not her domain. She is acting outside her ordained role in creation (Jonah’s example of how that plays out). Age is not a factor in her purpose on Earth. Her calling is- as she progresses with age:
    * Obedient daughter to her father (Co 3:20), her reward is a life of wisdom (Pr 22:6, Pr 9:10)
    * Chaste teen for her future husband (1 Th 4:3), her reward sexual fulfillment in marriage (So 7:10)
    * Faithful wife to whatever her husband commands (Ep 5:22), her reward her husband’s praise (Pr 31:31)
    * Loving mother to her children (Ps 113:9), her reward is be saved from her sin (1 Ti 2:15)
    * Mentoring grandmother of young mothers and granddaughters (Ti 2:4), her reward a large family, the fruit of her womb (Pr 17:6)

    When she is an empty-nester, her task is still not yet complete: her next step in the Earthly role is to train all the younger women around her in doing all the things she has spent her life doing, mentor them, coach them.

    How sad to see so many running the marathon, being satisfied at having completed 26.1 miles, and then decide to leave the race thinking they finished it. You don’t even get a participation trophy if you don’t finish!
    But this isn’t a game nor a race: this life we have been given is on a battlefield in the middle of a spiritual War. So a woman abdicating her task before she is called home is derelict in her duty before the King- the Commander of Heaven’s armies.

    Train the younger women how to submit, to serve under authority to the authority, to be shamefaced, to be gracious before their fathers and husbands, to be quiet and gentle. Finish the race. Fulfill the fullness of the task assigned as a woman in Creation. And then, be welcomed home, be greeted by the Son with open arms: “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

    PS/ nowhere is the concept of ‘retirement’ in the Bible. Men are to work until they are called home. Women are to build their families until they are called home.

  8. I’ve wondered what would have happened if my mom would have stayed at home with my brother and I as kids and as adults. She stayed home up until we were age 12. Our summers off school were fantastic! Then after age 12 summers is where we got into the most trouble as kids. Nothing serious but I look back and wonder if she had been home we would have had so much more fun and purpose and a closer relationship over my teen years.

    I wonder too if she would have stayed home if she would have struggled with the significant stress, anxiety and high blood pressure as she did working 50 hours a week. When she would come home from work she would be too tired to cook supper (freezer meals is what I grew up on) and seclude herself in her room until we went to bed. She was available to us but utterly exhausted.

    Now in my adult years she still struggles with her health, only is able to handle my kids for a few hours and then she’s exhausted.

    I’ve taught myself how to be a home maker. I read blogs, (like yours Lori), read books, listen to podcasts, and pray!!

    I know my mom did her best but I do just WONDER!

    As hard as being a home maker is, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love it and I want to exemplify this to my 2 daughters.

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