Over the years I have found that I have often been labeled a traditionalist and that the way I live my life because of my traditional values is perceived negatively. I can't understand why. I do not see what is wrong with enjoying a traditional lifestyle. Now, I am speaking strictly culturally, not religiously--that is a whole other topic. My experience did get me thinking about what it is that makes me a traditionalist, so I've listed those thoughts along with some speculation about why a traditional lifestyle offends so many people today.
I homeschool my children.
Most people see homeschooling as alternative education, but home is actually where education started. Mozart, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, the Wright Brothers, and Mark Twain were all home schooled. Grace Llewellyn, author, educator, and unschooling pioneer points out, "One third of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution of the United States had no more than a few months of schooling up their sleeves." Children were not sent to schools but were taught what was needed at home by their parents. Usually, the mother taught both sexes until the boy could go and learn from his father while the mother continued to teach her daughter homemaking and cultural skills. Children went to organized school for more education if they were to become doctors or religious leaders.
I stay at home and my husband works.
I understand that many families choose not to have the mom stay home. We're fortunate to be able to live on one income. I believe that my husband is the provider and I am his helpmate. That does not mean that I sit and watch soaps all day—read above—I homeschool. Nor does being at home mean that my house is immaculate because I clean constantly. I am no June Cleaver, but I do believe that a married woman's primary roles are those of wife and mother. I do work from home, but I work hard to keep my business from overtaking my responsibilities as a wife and mother. Also, I would like to point out that even though I stay at home, that does not mean that I think a woman can not do a "man's job."
My husband handles the finances.
I get lots of flack over this one. My husband is the head of our household and as such, he has the final say on how our money gets spent. I completely trust my husband to make financial decisions for our family. When a decision regarding finances needs to be made, we discuss it and then he decides. When I need something out of the ordinary I discuss it with him and find out if it is within our budget. Everyone who knows me knows that my husband treats me like a princess. I rarely go without, but when things are tight I trust him to decide what to spend on and what not. I may try to persuade him to my way of thinking, but ultimately he makes the call.
I like stability.
I am not a wanderer. I lived in the same home that I grew up in until I got married. For various reasons we moved three times since getting married until we ended up where we are now. We bought the house my husband grew up in from his father and I plan to stay here until I am too old to take care of it myself. I thrive on stability and homey-ness. I know people who are fine with bouncing from one place to another, moving from state to state, living all over. One friend picked up her family and moved to Missouri from New Jersey. Another traveled in an RV for two years. I have a friend who moves from family to family and another who lives full time in a campground. On one hand, I give them lots of credit for being able to live that way and for the freedom it affords. But on the other hand, I need roots. I would wither without them. I want to dig them deep and drink up the community and family living around me. I don't look down on people who move a lot or live in non-traditional settings. That's just not for me.
I love traditions.
This fits with my love of stability. I was raised with many family traditions and find them comforting. Every Christmas Eve there was dinner with my mom's side of the family; every Black Friday we went out and tagged our Christmas tree. Everybody gets a cake for their birthday, no matter how old they get, and so on. I wonder if people keep traditions less nowadays because holding on to them makes one accountable. I mean, if every "whatever" you do something, then you are accountable and responsible for doing it every whatever. It's possible that people don't like being held accountable for keeping family traditions. I thrive on them. I see them as bridges. They keep me connected to the past and help me to build the future. Without some of our traditions, I would never see some members of my family. They link us together; they tie us to each other and make us stronger. My traditions have shaped me and will shape my children. Sadly, in today's world, many traditions are being lost. For lots of families, it is no big deal to skip a year fulfilling a tradition. Promises are made to get back to it, but once interrupted people rarely pick up traditions again.
I believe in family responsibility.
This one is a huge pet peeve of mine. Back in the day, family relied on each other and took responsibility for caring for each other. Not so much today. I wrote a post about this a while ago and must say again: adult children, your parents raised you and sacrificed for you. When they are older it is your turn to sacrifice for them. I see it all the time-- adult children basically forgetting they have parents, too busy living their own lives to be bothered with the needs of aging parents and grandparents. When my grandma had knee surgery, I did not think twice about bringing her to my home and helping her recover. I would take in my parents in a heartbeat if they needed it, and my husband knew that from before we said, "I do." I realize that some relatives need outside care for health reasons, but when I used to volunteer at a nursing home I saw so many patients whose family just forgot about them. As a child I saw my great-grandmom have a stroke after which she could no longer talk and had to stay in a nursing home. I watched as my mom read and sang to her for years, even though my great-grandmom wasn't even on her side of the family. It's sad to see so many people so focused on pursuing their dreams and becoming independent that they forget those who gave them the tools to go out and reach for those dreams. Some people think it strange that I cannot imagine going weeks without seeing my family or living more than a town away from them. I am glad to be strange like that.
I like gender roles.
That's something lots of people think is crazy, let alone traditionalist. I believe in gender roles. It is a fact that men and women are different. They are designed differently and have different strength and weaknesses. I am all for men carrying the heavy stuff. Doesn't mean I can't do it, but it's probably a lot easier for a man to do it. I believe that men should hold open doors and help with women's coats. In our home, my husband is the car, yard, and repairman. I am responsible for the schooling and care of the children, keeping house and maintaining our schedules and appointments. This does not mean that I never do yard work or that my husband doesn't help with household chores. It certainly doesn't mean that he never hangs out with or teaches our boys. In fact, he is an amazing father who spends as much time as he can with them. What having roles to play does mean is that we are ultimately responsible for the tasks that go with those roles. I understand that many women are single and must do a lot of tasks that are traditionally assigned to men, and that is fine. God bless! Even so, I am thrilled to have a man who is strong, who can fix just about anything, and who makes sure my car is in proper working order. At the same time, he is thrilled to have a wife who knows how to cook, care for our children, and remind him when something is scheduled to be done.
I believe that marriage vows should not be broken.
In addition to the religious significance, in a strictly legal way, I spoke vows and signed a contract with my husband that has no expiration date or escape clause. That said, marriage is hard work that today many people do not want to do. They want it easy and when it gets hard, when things aren't rosy, they are hopping off the marriage train. A co-worker once told me she got divorced because her husband refused to put his dirty work boots on the mat at the back door. I asked if she still loved him, if he treated her well and was a good father and provider and she said yes to all of it. She just could not get over the shoes. She just harped on it until he walked out. Seriously, shouldn't she have moved his shoes and kept the relationship? Or should he have put his shoes on the mat and honored the contract he signed to live in harmony with his wife? Couldn't they both have forgiven each other and kept working at it? Compromise, communicate, and realize that your spouse is not perfect and—Surprise!—neither are you! Some marriages fall apart for much more serious reasons and I am so sorry for the hurt people endure and the painful divorces so many go through. For me, divorce is not an option and never will be because I gave my word that I would stick it out. Being married isn't always easy, but its rewards are worth the work, and honoring our commitments means something. Constant gratification should not be the standard we use to decide whether we are going to keep our vows.
So call me a traditional girl. I can be independent yet rely on my husband. I'm strong yet sensitive to my family and its needs. I'm stable, but I'm also fun and adventurous. Sure, living by traditional values in today's world can be difficult, but the benefits far outweigh the stereotypical negatives. The points I mention aren't even the only ones people take issue with; they are just some I have found myself justifying to others most often. You may even be reading this and thinking I'm judgmental because I believe strongly in the principles that govern how I live. I speak with passion about my own life without disrespecting other peoples' right to speak about theirs. I am not judging you. I love my life and I love sharing how I live because I hope that what's worked for me can help somebody else. Traditionalist does not mean old-fashioned, stodgy, set in one's ways, out of date, or prudish. I know some amazing traditional women who feel differently than I do on some of the things I've mentioned, but like me, they have a strong core belief system anchored in the past that helps them ride out the storms of life without getting blown off course.
So, are you a traditionalist? I, for one am proud of my traditional ways! If you are too, chime in with some positive pointers for dealing with people who take issue with your traditional values.
Homeschool information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeschooling