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Should you stay at home with the kids or work?

My wife and I had been married less than a year when she became pregnant and we had long discussions as to whether one of us should stay home with the baby full-time or not. Continuing to work would obviously provide more income and make things easier from a financial standpoint – especially since we had just purchased a house. Dawn did, however, feel in her heart that she wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, but still struggled with the question of whether to keep working or not.

If she worked, would we be depriving our children of emotional support? If she didn’t work, would we be depriving ourselves and our children of some material needs?

The Gospel of Matthew 6:25-34 can be extremely helpful in examining the motivations in your work life. Discuss the following with your spouse before making a decision about whether or not to work:

1  How much time do we spend securing our material future, such as working for a “living,” planning for retirement and managing insurance packages, compared to the time we spend with our family and following God?  

2  Would we be willing to sacrifice some income in order to do something that one feels called to do? Are we honestly able to afford it?

3  Do we truly trust that God will take care of our needs if we followed His call?

One of the key questions that should come into play when we are making decisions that revolve around our jobs and our material well-being is: how much do we trust God to take care of us? This verse in Matthew’s Gospel is familiar to all of us, yet I wonder if we really appreciate what it means. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.” (Matthew 6:33) When I put this statement in the context of the preceding verses of the Gospel, it tells me that if I focus primarily on the mission that God has placed before me (my vocation), I need not be concerned about my material well-being. I will receive whatever I need. This concept should challenge us all because it appears to be contrary to what our popular culture teaches us. We are trained to believe that we need to focus first on our own material security such as saving for retirement, saving for college, planning life and health insurance, etc.; then we can focus on helping others. Isn’t this the opposite of what the Gospel teaches?  

Ultimately, through much discussion and prayer, given our circumstances, my wife, Dawn, and I felt at peace with the decision to adjust our spending so that she could stay home with our three children. You and your spouse may decide to differently. Regardless, let God into the discussion.