Long range guns which can shoot twenty years into the future are now firing on the United States in a war potentially as destructive as that being fought around the world today. No section of the country is out of their range. We refer to the employment of mothers in War Industries and consider the children the victims of this prevalent destructive power. In the comparative quiet Midwest this is no problem, but it is a very real one in many Industrial Centers. This, however, does not necessarily exclude all those not living in such cities because principally this subject includes all mothers engaged in work other than that of the home. It includes all those not found in their homes, be they part or almost full time farmers (such being the case with many in agricultural districts) or be they found busy with some work other than the home. Some mothers seem to have a delight in doing most anything except filling their place in the home.
The war, however, has increased this tremendously, making drastic inroads into millions of American homes. Due to a patriotic spirit (though they be few in number) or financial needs or that almost indomitable desire for more money and higher standards of living many mothers have left their homes and the sacred heritage of their children to work in war industries. A few statistics will suffice to show how great this number has become. In 1943 from 17 to 20 million women were employed in this country of which several million were mothers. As can be expected today this number is even larger. But it is also natural that this change has caused untold alterations in the American homes, including many problems and evils. The foremost question which faces them seems to be that of their children. What must they do with them? Their children, given of the Lord, are no longer an asset but a liability and a burden. Where there are no children the question of the advisability and right of wives being employed doesn’t even seem to arise. Broken homes, one often working on a night shift and the other on a day shift, doesn’t even seem to faze them. But those having children are confronted with a problem. Hence the world has found “reason” to practice birth control and have few or no children.
But this matter of the children of these employed mothers has become such a great problem that even the world sees it and apparently has no real solution. And when the world sees problems of this nature the evil is quite well advanced and the results appalling. The most extreme cases are almost unbelievable. Let me narrate a few. A twelve-year-old child is locked out of the house all day while her parents are at work. A woman on the grave-yard shift drives her car close to the windows of her place of employment and her four children sleep in the automobile. Others are chained to a tree or a trailer camp while the parents are at work. Such cases, our papers say, can be multiplied by the thousands. Some mothers turn them over to day nurseries, others have maids, still others have grandmothers willing to care for them, and in some homes father is home with them one half of the day when he is not employed and mother the other half when she is home. Most of these naturally realize that these means are very inadequate, but the causa of our country must not suffer. They are quite determined and willing to sacrifice all for the latter. Therefore they are making all kinds of attempts to solve this problem.
Many arguments have been given, pro and con. Those defending the employment of mothers forward the following arguments. Mothers are needed in industry, if it is to fulfill its vital part in the war effort. Our country, they say, is facing a crucial shortage of labor, and about the only resources we have are the able and willing mothers. Besides as a practical matter the employment of mothers is entirely feasible. The individual community normally can provide whatever child-care facilities are needed and the economical support obtained by it is very desirable. Such employment will even help to reduce the percentage of juvenile delinquency. Those opposing it advance these arguments: There is no need for a general policy of employing mothers. They say in the first place that we are not fully and efficiently using the services of those already engaged in War Industries as a source of workers. Moreover, we have not yet fully employed women other than mothers. They also advocate that women with children, as a group, make the least dependable source of workers. Finally, such is bound to mean inadequate care for their children, even if adequate care could be provided. The result of such improper care we see before our own eyes in the increased juvenile delinquency.
We could give many more of their arguments, but the above will suffice to show us how the people at large view these things from a purely natural viewpoint. We naturally agree with the latter. This, to my mind, must become evident from the pure utilitarian viewpoint. The resulting evils and deficiencies of the employment of mothers of which we read in almost every paper is most natural. It would be a wonder if there were no increase in juvenile delinquency. The children of teenage need mother’s care just as much as the younger ones. Think of all the sex immorality and corruption found among this group. Take mother out of the home and you undermine the basis of all society, state and government. Nevertheless millions are seeking the solution to their problems in having others care for their children. By trying to suppress one evil across the ocean they cause many more to arise in their own homes.
However, to all this we as Christians must add another objection which really is the most important of all. Mother has only one place and that is in the home. God has placed her there. The covenant mother has received children of the Lord and she with her husband is called upon to instruct them in the way of the Lord and the “aforesaid doctrine.” Even many in the world realize that the home and the parental instruction is of fundamental importance. And they view the child only from the viewpoint of the body and this life. The child must be taught good morals, behavior and conduct and must become a respectable citizen and a worthwhile contribution to society. True as this all may be, they “forget” all about the precious souls of their children. They fail to see the Divine calling in respect to those little image-bearers of God. In connection with this we can also add that many a “Christian” mother fails to see this, or at least fails to live and act accordingly. Many a mother in our own homes is so busy with the physical needs of her children that she fails to provide for the spiritual. She finds time, no, makes time to provide for the body, for clothes and food, but just doesn’t seem to be able to find time to instruct and teach her own dear offspring the precious things of God. But this we do find with a Christian mother. This is her solemn duty. With baptism she with her husband has made that pledge to God. True it is that the father is first of all responsible for these things in respect to his children, but the mother too has a very important calling in respect to this matter. She is with her children most of the time, while father often and usually is absent during the day. What a wholesome influence she can exert by Christian teachings, examples and morals! This a Christian mother does too. Her main interest is her home, her children. She doesn’t want to be in every place and do most everything except the things God has called her to do. If she doesn’t have this desire she isn’t worthy of the name of a Christian mother. Scripture teaches very plainly that father and mother are the first ones called upon to instruct their children and not the church or the school, much less a certain nursery or maid. Neither can anyone replace mother, not even with the best of care. There is no one in the whole world who can replace mother’s care, love and patience. It, moreover, is her God-given duty to be in the home and in no other place. Our children are not little animals, for whom most everybody can provide, but they are precious souls of God given to that particular father and mother. These children they must instruct. Take this important cog out and the evil and detrimental results are inevitable.
Are Christian mothers then unpatriotic when the government needs help? By no means. They are most patriotic when they take their place in the home. Taking the future into consideration, as we always should do, they really do much less for their children both as image-bearers and citizens of their country when in the factory than in the home. The above-mentioned arguments, which can be proven with statistics, also show that there really is no need of mothers being employed in War Industries. And even if that need would be there, mother cannot and may not be taken from her children and home.
In conclusion we can give a few remarks. With the several million mothers employed in factories we see another sign of the times. In the midst of all the abnormalities of our day the home has and is becoming another addition to the list. But let us beware! Now more than ever do we need Christian mothers in the home. Through the means given us of God, namely the Word, they with their husbands are laying the foundation of the future course. With a Christian home we can expect Christian children in a Christian church with a Christian school.