Conflicting Cultures: The Role of LDS Women

I was determined to show everyone that I could be an amazing mother and an unstoppable lawyer, yet I felt like no matter what I did, people would be unhappy.

One of the most controversial discourses about Mormon culture regards the role of women. The world outside of the Church constantly condemns the choice that some Mormon women make to stay home and have children. In contrast, some people in the Church look down on women, particularly mothers, who choose to work.

I’ve found myself caught between these two ways of thinking now that I’m expecting my first child and am also aspiring to be an attorney. On the one hand, by having a child, I’ve at times felt like I’m letting down the women around me who’ve supported me having a career. After all, I’ve heard so many people say that if a woman has children, she will leave her career or not be a good worker. On the other hand, I’ve felt that by having a career, I’ll be letting down those who expect me to stay home. At one point, in my stubborn defiance I determined to show everyone that I could be an amazing mother and an unstoppable lawyer. And yet I still felt like no matter what I did, people would be unhappy with me.

During moments of frustration as I’ve struggled with this conflict, I’ve often forgotten one essential component: God. In all of this conflict, I’ve been basing my feelings on what other people think. But a scripture in Isaiah reminded me of whose opinion really matters. Chapter 51, verse 7 says: “Fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings.” Though I realized that no matter what I did, someone would be upset, when I prayed to Heavenly Father about my decision to both pursue a career and be a mother, I felt total peace. Though I continue to struggle with what everyone will think of my decision, when I take a step back I remember that Heavenly Father’s plan for me is individual. It doesn’t need to match anyone else’s.

One talk that’s really helping me is “The Eternal Perspective of the Gospel,” by Elder Rafael E. Pino. Elder Pino says, “It is extremely important that we do not make decisions of eternal value from the perspective of mortality. For decisions that affect eternity, having a gospel perspective is essential.” For me, keeping the gospel perspective means putting Heavenly Father at the forefront of my life. I often use Elder Pino’s words to remind myself that basing my decisions on what Heavenly Father wants me to do instead of what other people want me to do will ultimately lead to the greatest happiness. That being said, it’s easy to forget, and I often still feel overwhelmed by the pressure to meet other people’s expectations.

I know that Heavenly Father has a personalized plan for me. I firmly believe that if I put Heavenly Father at the forefront of my life, I’ll be able to accomplish everything I desire and everything he desires for me. More than that, I won’t focus on external pressures and I’ll be happier than I could have ever imagined.

Find more insights through reading Elder Rafael E. Pino’s full talk:The Eternal Perspective of the Gospel.”

Source: LDS General Conference

—Miranda Christensen, Mormon Insights

feature image by london scout

Find more insights:

Consider reading this LDS.org blog post about a woman discovering her role in the Church.

To learn what Elder Boyd K. Packer has said about women in the church, read his talk “The Relief Society.”

Discover how women play a vital role in the Church by listening to President Russell M. Nelson’s talk “A Plea to My Sisters.”

Read Sister Ruth Lybbert Renlund’s insights about being a working mother.

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One Comment

  1. I love how you talk about how if you focus on what Heavenly Father would want or think rather than what the world (even including others in the church) thinks, then you’ll be a lot happier. Frankly, it seems like us women can’t really catch a break with what we decide to do with our lives because, like you said, someone will always condemn your choice. But condemning your choice is something that Heavenly Father won’t do, especially in this sort of situation. And I’m sure that you’ll be both a great mother and a great lawyer!

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