Guest Post: Patriarchy, Privilege, and a New Baby

by Libby

(On a three-child-induced career sabbatical, Libby spends her time sewing lavish Halloween costumes, reading, and volunteering on the board of her daughter’s cooperative preschool. She lives near Boston.)

My son was born in May, prematurely and with a short but frightening list of complications. A seven-week NICU stay resolved most of them; the rest are navigable. Those NICU Sundays were precious to me; they were days I could justify spending hours upon hours at the hospital, unburdened by normal weekday duties. My husband took our daughters to church while I snuggled my boy, read to him, whispered his name into his hair. I prayed for him to be healthy, to remember to breathe, to keep a regular heartbeat. Even after he came home I kept him away from church for another month; after that I spent weeks and weeks in the foyer, where the noise from the organ and microphone were less likely to jar his ears.

And then it was time to give him a name and a blessing, and I fell apart. My father and father-in-law came into town to stand in the circle. My husband invited his few friends to stand with him – most of whom had never touched the baby before that moment. I sat in the pew and compiled a mental list of women who should have been there instead: my mother and sisters; the Relief Society women who had driven me to the hospital when I was still on painkillers, who had held his tiny body when it weighed less than four pounds; the friends who had taken my daughters for playdates while I struggled through a too-hard pregnancy; the beloved nearly-sisters who lived far away but volunteered meals (“I can still order you a pizza!”) and paid for the special car carrier when he couldn’t sit in a car seat. Who were these men? What authority could they possibly have in the matter of a small baby?

Today I walked into church just in time for the confirmations of a new family. As soon as the missionary who confirmed the father said the words “the patriarch of your family,” I started digging my fingernails into the back of my other hand – now, eight hours later, the marks are still there. I made my escape to the foyer as soon as I could, but the damage was done. Here was a brand-new member of the church, hopeful, believing – and he’d already been infused with Patriarchy.

I thought I had made my peace with patriarchy and the church years ago. I had an inspired, beloved, sainted bishop who steered me toward the thinking side of Mormonism when I was 15 years old, and I figured that if there were men like that in the church then institutional change couldn’t be all that far behind. There were setbacks and flare-ups: the boy in college who suggested that my roommate and I were “prime marriage material” but “too career-oriented” (I started his lecture with the words, “First of all, you don’t refer to another human being as ‘material’”). I served a mission and suffered my fair share of overzealous 19-year-old leaders – even read D&C 121 to one of them (“Elder, I’d like to share a scripture with you”). More recently, I’ve had a bishop dismiss our presidency’s well-prayed-over list of Primary callings and send us people utterly unsuited for the job of guiding children in the gospel. But I could write these experiences off as social gaffes, as the functional stupidity inherent in large organizations, as youth and bravado masquerading as authority. I believed the church was good, and that the goodness would require it to change. I even believed a little bit that it already had changed; that there really was, at some level, a reasonable amount of equality which just hadn’t trickled to my particular corner of the world yet.

Why the frustration and alienation should surface because I have a male child is beyond me. I already have two daughters. They are wonderful, tough, smart, goofy human beings. Maybe because I grew up female I think I know how to navigate girls through Mormon life. If they read Paul in Sunday School and the boys in their class tease them about submitting to their husbands, I can ask them if they’ve ever seen me cower before their father. If their seminary teacher says they should cover their shoulders for modesty’s sake, I can pull out photos of their mother in a polka-dot strapless dress at a Lambda Delta Sigma formal dance (fashion mistake, but I’m trying to make a point here). If they see a circle of men standing to confirm a new member, I can point out with a wry smile that even the youth holding the microphone is wearing a white shirt and tie, and aren’t we taking the priesthood privilege thing a little over the top?

But I don’t know what to tell my son, who will see every week a message more seductive and flattering than the one that I try to tell him. Is there any chance that he will survive a lifetime in this church without internalizing the chromosome-based superiority he sees on Sundays? And when he turns 12, and receives the Aaronic Priesthood, and his sisters realize that in the eyes of the church he will always have more authority and power than they do – and, indeed, more than his mother has – what will I tell them?


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36 Responses

  1. Angie says:

    I wish I had an answer for you. I have 2 girls, and am so grateful I don’t have to raise a son because I don’t think I could do it. My older daughter sees and points out gender inequality to me all the time and won’t stand for it on any level. She’s not terribly enamored with the church because she sees the inequalities and knows they are wrong. She’s still young enough that she is idealistic and hoping for change.

    As a side note…I’m in a genetics course right now, and always kind of assumed that maleness and femaleness were determined by the chromosomes. In most cases, that’s true…but the textbook I was just reading said that there are approximately 1 in 20,000 individuals born every year that are XY females or XX males…This means that it’s not something as fundamental as chromosomes controlling priesthood or no priesthood….All that matters is that you have the ‘right’ external equipment and you get the priesthood. For some reason I can’t quite articulate, that really bothers me.

  2. Jessawhy says:

    Thanks for writing this thoughtful post. I’m glad that your son is home and doing well.
    I have 3 sons (ages 9, 5, and 4) and no daughters. On this site, we’ve blogged several times about how difficult it is (or would be) to raise daughters in the church. MRaynes articulated it well that she chooses to be in the patriarchy but feels bad choosing what may be a painful existence for her daughter.

    Through these conversations I’ve always felt like I dodged a bullet because I had sons. But I see from your perspective that this is not the case. I’ve always known that I’m not off the hook as a feminist or promoter of equality because I’m raising sons, but I hadn’t thought of it like this,

    “But I don’t know what to tell my son, who will see every week a message more seductive and flattering than the one that I try to tell him. Is there any chance that he will survive a lifetime in this church without internalizing the chromosome-based superiority he sees on Sundays?”

    What’s more is that since my husband, who is a very good man, doesn’t see the systemic problem of gender equality in the church, I end up looking like a shrill, power-hungry B-word when I discuss the inequalities that I see.

    It’s difficult to navigate these waters, but I guess right now there seem like so many other things to navigate that this is taking the back-burner. . .

  3. jks says:

    I have two boys and two girls. I find it isn’t all the different to raise them. My oldest is a girl and my second just became a deacon. Each of them seem happy and things feel fair and balanced (I look for gender inequity and do my best to counteract stuff).
    I cannot imagine my son thinking he is more important than me. But someday he will be taller than me and stronger than me. I find it exciting to help raise him to be a man someday, just as I raise my daughter to be a woman. I try to prepare them for the world of their day. I easily address issues of respect or behavior.
    Seriously, it is awesome to have kids. I try to model behavior. I try to discuss issues.
    Do you know how awesome it is to actually practice what I preach? To not just teach my daughters to avoid being rape victims but teach my sons to avoid being rapists? I notice too many people who want to teach their children to not get bullied, but are uninterested in facing the possibility that their own child might someday be the bully, so they don’t teach their children how not to be the bully.

  4. Risa says:

    jks said:

    Do you know how awesome it is to actually practice what I preach? To not just teach my daughters to avoid being rape victims but teach my sons to avoid being rapists?

    I find that interesting since 1 out of 6 boys/men are victims of sexual violence in their lives (and that’s what’s reported), and women can be rapists and perpetrators too.

  5. Risa says:

    Okay, it’s obvious I don’t know HTML.

  6. jks says:

    Risa – the point is that I try to raise all of my children to not be perpetrators.
    I like having both boys and girls, and they are every other child. It makes it easy to see clearly whether I can be evenhanded when I want to be and where I am willing to go more traditional gender stuff when raising my kids. I find it interesting to raise both girls and boys, especially since gender issues are interesting to me, not scary.

    • Risa says:

      And I was pointing out teaching your daughters not to be victims and teaching your sons not to be perpetrators is only doing half the job.

      And I have children of both sexes and I have found that bullying behaviors don’t just happen with one gender.

  7. nat kelly says:

    Libby, this is heartbreaking. Thanks for sharing your insights. It’s interesting that it is the son that has thrown you. I don’t have kids, but it’s when I think about raising a daughter in the church that my panic starts to kick in. I think you are wise to think through things for your son.

  8. mraynes says:

    Oh Libby, I know this heartbreak. Jessawhy mentioned my fear of choosing a patriarchal existence for myself and the consequences of that choice for my daughter. It was and is a painful choice but I know that I can’t protect her from patriarchy anywhere and mostly I feel confident that I counteract much of the harm by my own example. I also have two sons and like you I worry about what early and repeated exposure to patriarchal rhetoric and practices will do to them. I hope that the example of my husband and their grandfathers will show them that they don’t need patriarchy to be good men. I also strive to teach them the qualities I admire most in men: gentleness, strength of character, intelligence, openness. And this past Sunday, after a particularly disastrous talk on male priesthood authority in the family, I have decided to become more of a spiritual leader in my home. Not in the traditionally feminine ways our church promotes but in ways that will show my son I am a spiritual equal to their father. I have to believe that this will be enough and I’m trying to trust that our Heavenly Parents will make up the difference.

    • motiondesmiths says:

      I found out I know your mom! She just moved into our ward and her first SUnday happened to be the Sunday when I had no feminist censor. We like to sit together now and her snarky comments got me through that same awful lesson.

      • mraynes says:

        She told me there was a feminist in her new ward, I’m excited to know it’s you! I will look forward to meeting you IRL next time I visit.

  9. In the pregnancies of my wives resulting in the biths of my five children, as a father there was very little I could do to contribute. I could try to empathize, but I was only an outsider with no experience of what is feels like to be female with even the potential of growing a life inside me. This was most evident in the birthing process itself, where the most a father can do is fetch and hold hands while the woman he loves more than life itself is in pain he can do nothing about.

    Blessing my children was an honor because it was the one thing I, as their father, could give, when their mother had given so much. Yes, there were countless women who helped our family in many ways who could have been included in this honor, but I think that would have lessened the honor for all; making it just another thing to get done.

    • Annie B. says:

      My husband was indispensable at both of my children’s births. We had prepared together for the births, practiced relaxation techniques together and learned in-depth about the labor process. When I gave birth he knew what I needed because he had taken the time to learn, and listen to what I needed. At my youngest child’s birth, my mom and sister (both experienced mothers), and childbirth teacher were there, as well as my younger sister who has no experience with childbirth. My husband was my main supporter though and I depended on him greatly. He knew how I needed to be massaged, where to put pressure on my back during contractions, and had learned and practiced encouraging and soothing things to say.

      He was not always a nurturer. Shortly after we were married I got so sick all I could do was lay in bed. He had no idea how to take care of me and even left me alone for hours at a time to window shop because it was boring at home with me sick. Somewhere along the way he took the initiative and learned how to nurture. I think too many men use their chromosomes as an excuse not to learn that skill, and it is so sad.

      • Indeed, it is sad. I was glad for what support I could be (and still can be now), even though it felt like only minor things that could be done by anyone compared to the massive effort and pain involved in child bearing. I do know, however, that just because it doesn’t feel like much does not mean we should not try.

        To me, learning how to be and being a support to your wife in whatever way she needs (even if she needs you to do less or just stop touching her), whatever the endeavor (not just babies), is part of being a real man and husband.

    • Annie B. says:

      “but I think that would have lessened the honor for all; making it just another thing to get done.”

      I’m curious as to why you think that?

      • Its much the same as when you get more than a dozen family members all trying to squeeze together around a baby because it is assumed “the more the merrier”. Being asked to participate in any Priesthood blessing should be an honour, not an happenstance.

        So this is not part of a rationale for excluding women, just large numbers (since the OP listed a number of women who should be included).

        My main point was that the baby blessing is one thing the father can do to bless their child, since it had already been blessed so greatly by the care and sacrifices of its mother.

    • Alisa says:

      My husband is the stay-at-home parent for our son. I don’t get to have that sacred connection. Since my husband gets the honor of raising our son day in and day out, it would have been nice if I could have been a part of the blessing. Giving birth is miniscule in light of the sacrifices it takes to raise a child each day, which people of either gender can do. Excluding me from ordinances for my son is a double-whammy. I would appreciate the ability to participate alongside my husband during these times, since I am unable to be at home with my child as I would wish.

      • This is why I limited the comparison to the bearing/birthing process and the blessing, not the child raising. Birthing is a female only act. Child raising is not. Also, baby blessing is not an ordinance, and is not necessary for anything, even record keeping.

      • Alisa says:

        I know, but baptism is, right? Confirmation? And Priesthood ordination is another thing I’ll miss out on for my son. There is a whole bunch of father-son bonding I won’t get.

        I am sure that this is your experience, that creating a child with your wife seemed to not involve you very much and involved her so much that you would have felt a great loss of your power if she had been a partner with you in the blessing of your child. I am sorry you feel that way.

  10. Libby says:

    Thanks, everyone.

    Angie, that’s fascinating, and statistically speaking it means there are about 600 people in the church in that situation. Things to think about.

    Jessawhy, this experience has led to some really good conversations with my rather orthodox husband (who also, generally speaking, doesn’t see a problem with gender inequality in the church — his response is, “I don’t see you as a second-class citizen, so why should it matter?”). I’m trying to take more responsibility for drawing his attention to inequalities, and I’m trying very VERY hard not to feel like a bitch for doing so. Pointing out a hurt is necessary for it to heal.

    JKS/Risa, I’m very concerned about my children being neither victims nor victimizers, and I think it goes far beyond physical abuse and what we’d recognize as bullying.

  11. Cynthia V says:

    Teach him to serve. The priesthood isn’t about power over someone. The priesthood is the power to serve. Think about the men in the church who have served and whose examples you respect. Teach that those qualities are important.

    I think for instance of a brand new bishop whose building had been invaded by about 200 hundred Katrina refugees the week after he was called. When the news came that our city had been flooded. He came to talk to us in army fatigues that night. He said that our lives as we knew them were over and we should do everything we could to move on with our lives and get new jobs etc. He was quite strong in what he said. We were all shell shocked from the news of the flooding; although, all we had was a regular tv and no cable. We couldn’t watch CNN unless we went to the laundry. Some people had lost homes, but we didn’t really know exactly where it was flooded. Others lived in neighboring parishes (counties) and were probably fine. Many people were deeply bothered by his talk. The enforced patriarchy of his uniform probably didn’t help. They thought he was trying to kick them out of the chapel. I was kind of bothered by his brusque attitude but thought his advice was excellent. (I don’t think I officially knew yet that our house was flooded, but the spirit had told me it was.)

    He came back to the building at midnight because someone had called him and told him how offended they were. He went around and hugged everyone and apologized and said he did not intend to kick us out that he loved us and wanted the best for us.

    (Side note. We followed his advice. Got new social security cards. (put those in your emergency kits. Hard to get a job without one.). Applied for food stamps. I got a job in the city we evacuated to. My husband came home and lived in the chapel for a month or two until we could buy a new unflooded home. We were blessed by following his advice, which really was correct for those of us who had lost our homes)

    Teach your sons to be like him or whatever other wonderful priesthood holders you know. When he feels their spirit and goodness, he will be drawn to it more than the power idea that some may teach. (Well I hope he will be drawn to it, but the world is a dangerous place and often no matter what we teach, our children choose a different path.)

    I am glad your son is doing well. Cherish the tender moments you have with him now.

  12. SilverRain says:

    I’m going to throw something out there that probably won’t be very popular, but do you think that this might have more to do with loss of control than with patriarchy? Perhaps it is more poignant with a boy, because you already feel like you won’t have control over what he learns.

    I ask this, because all the emotions you describe are very similar to what I have felt as I’ve had to learn to let go of what my ex-husband is doing to my daughters while they are with him. You are going through a time of transition, when your son felt almost yours exclusively, and now you are having to let others take him from you, in a small way.

    The other things you talk about regarding patriarchy are troubling in their own right, but perhaps you are conflating the frustration with your baby already taking part in things that you are little part of with the frustration of male privilege.

    Just a thought.

  13. Corktree says:

    “But I don’t know what to tell my son, who will see every week a message more seductive and flattering than the one that I try to tell him. Is there any chance that he will survive a lifetime in this church without internalizing the chromosome-based superiority he sees on Sundays? And when he turns 12, and receives the Aaronic Priesthood, and his sisters realize that in the eyes of the church he will always have more authority and power than they do – and, indeed, more than his mother has – what will I tell them?”

    What you say here (in fact, the whole post!) resonates with me so strongly. My youngest is my first son as well, and I haven’t been able to get over this. He’s not even in nursery yet and I am nervous about what messages he is going to pick up because deep down I know that I will have less inherent ability to influence him as I do my daughters by example. I’m at the point where I’m not sure it’s worth it. I just don’t see enough value lately in putting myself and all four of my children in the position of me having to constantly monitor what they learn and pick up at church, and I really don’t want to have to be in opposition to the culture they will learn for the next 18 years! If all they were learning were pure gospel principles and how to be like Christ, then I wouldn’t have a problem, but where those lessons end and the rest begins is what I can’t rationalize anymore, and I just don’t see it as an acceptable trade off any longer.

    I’m sorry, but I don’t currently have any answers to this problem other than to walk away and not continue to give power to this harmful system. I’ve gone back and forth between wanting to stay and keep my voice a part of the community in the hopes that it will encourage others and someday help to foster true change, but right now, the sacrifice to those I love doesn’t seem like a risk I want to take anymore.

    • Markie says:

      Walking away for yourself is always an option, but it’s not always within a parent’s control to take their children out of the church – the other parent does (and should) have a say (and knowing Libby and her husband, there’s no way that her kids wouldn’t continue going to church at least most of the time). Staying in the church is a decision that involves so much – testimony, community, family, belief, marriage, history, etc., – but at least one reason to stay may be to maintain credibility about what’s doctrine and what’s cultural crap in the eyes of your children. One of the many reasons I stay is because I want to know what my children are being taught so that I can reinforce, mediate, or counteract it, as the case may be.

  14. CatherineWO says:

    Libby, I am commenting today mainly to validate your feelings. My perception of patriarchy in the Church is simular to yours, and, for me at least, it is reality. (But then, I believe that one’s perception IS one’s reality.) My husband is a kind man and quick to notice when a woman is blatently put down by a man, but he has often had a hard time seeing the inherent sexism in the structure and doctrines of the Church. Being sensitive, however, he has agreed to do some things in recent years that have really helped me, at home anyway. The basis of these things is an understanding between us that there will be no “authority” exercised in our home. [I should point out that it is just the two of us; our children are all married adults, so I don’t know how this would work with children in the home.] I understand that he carries a lot of “authority” at church. He has served in many leadership positions, currently as a counselor in our stake presidency, so he is often the “presiding authority” in church meetings, and people listen to him and defer to him because of that. But when he is home, he is my husband–my companion and my equal, as I am his. Because of my chemical sensitivities, he keeps his clothes in a separate closet in a separate room from mine. When he arrives home from any church meeting, he immediately goes to that room and changes out of his suit, white shirt and tie and into casual, everyday clothing. This is not just for the sake of my physical health. In a very real way, it helps him shed his “authority” and leave it at the door, so to speak. In the process of changing clothes, he also changes his manner, shedding the “authority” voice and stance. When he comes to greet me, sans the “authority” uniform and demeanor, he is a very different person.
    This is a two-way street, of course. I hold no authority over him either. And, on the rare occasion that I need preisthood authority (as in a temple recommend), I go to another church leader for it. I have stopped viewing him as my “priesthood authority.” He is only my husband.
    Maybe this seems silly to some, but I can’t tell you how this paradigm shift has changed our marriage. After 38 years, we are more bonded as a couple that ever before. And I have found that when I feel totally equal at home, it is easier for me to tolerate the inequities at church. Another nice side effect is that my husband is starting to see the inequities at church without my having to point them out.
    Good luck to you Libby. I think you are going to do a fine job of raising this son (and your daughters). You will teach them awareness, and that is the first step to change.

  15. Libby says:

    Frank, I would point out that there are countless other things a father can do to bless and nurture his children, and that if we’re going to invoke the motherhood=priesthood equation I’ll have to respectfully disagree. (And the ordeal of giving birth thing is a nice analogy, but unfortunately it leaves out those of us who have had medically necessary c-sections.)

    Cynthia said, “The priesthood isn’t about power over someone. The priesthood is the power to serve.” I don’t buy that either. I’d argue that most of the tangible service done in my ward is done by women. Therefore, either we’re acting outside of our sphere of influence (to co-opt a 19th-century phrase) or priesthood is something altogether different. In current practice, priesthood=administrative power, and that leaves a lot of loopholes for abuse, or unrighteous dominion, or stupidity, or whatever you’d like to call it.

    SilverRain, you may have something there. I don’t think it’s all of it, but that might explain part of it. And I’m sorry you’re going through that. I’m more a teach-correct-principles-and-let-them-make-their-own-mistakes parent than a helicopter parent, but it’s hard when the principles I teach them get specifically overturned at church.

    And again, thanks. I’m glad to know I’m not the only person going through this. (Catherine, I love the clothing symbolism in your house!)

    • Medically necessary c-sections are just as much of an ordeal as natural childbirth, just with different timing. My children have come by both, and in each case I was pretty much an observer who could only be minor support. That is why I would limit the comparison to childbearing, not raising the children. Even with the baby blessing (which is unecessary) a fathers role pales in comparison to the mothers.

      • Diane says:


        You seem to think that emotional support is a Minor event. I have never given birth, that being said, I grew up in foster care and have had a cleft palate repair and no parent was there. And even in my adult life where major events and health scares (including one that occurred last week) without any familial support. I can tell you unequivocally that emotional support is every much important as the actual doing part. I believe the point that Libby is trying to make though is that as women we are only allowed(at least as it pertains to the church) to be the caretakers of our children. We as female members are not allowed to give them the emotional support that fathers are allowed to because they hold priesthood.
        Don’t get me wrong, I know mothers give a lot of emotional support to our children, but, it almost seems like its secular. We can give the support to our children in our home, but, when it comes to church only the men can take care of it appropriately

        Libby, I glad you baby is doing well I hope he continues to grow stronger every day

    • Annie B. says:

      “In current practice, priesthood=administrative power,”
      I agree, and I find it so odd when anyone denies that. Yes there is service involved, service in the form of being in charge.

      “that leaves a lot of loopholes for abuse, or unrighteous dominion, or stupidity, or whatever you’d like to call it.”
      I suppose though that if a person hasn’t been on the receiving end of unrighteous dominion they probably wouldn’t be as bothered by the system. Like the honor system, it works great until someone takes advantage of it. Can you imagine basing leadership on gender in any other type of modern organization though?

      • Risa says:

        I have to agree with Diane. Emotional support is invaluable. My husband might not have been the pregnant one, but he was the one to rub my feet after a long day, bring me meals when I was hungry (or run to the store to satisfy one of my cravings), take care of the older child/children when I was too tired to move, and let me cry when my hormones were out of control (or when my Mom died during my last pregnancy). He was the one to talk me through the pain of childbirth and the first one to hold each of our children. He’s also just as nurturing a parent as I am. He has been left out of nothing. And yet, I’ve been left out of all the ordinances (whether a baby blessing is an ordinance or not) of all my children except planning the food for the family party afterwards.

    • Cynthia V says:

      You are correct much of the service in our ward is also done by women. And you are right priesthood does involve administrative power and many do abuse it. Priesthood administrative power should be used to serve. I think that is part of what the Savior taught when he healed people and washed the disciples feet. Unfortunately, many forget that. But there are many others who don’t. Maybe I am lucky (or blind) In my life, the ones who aren’t abusing their power out number those who do. I also think that as I have gotten older, I am less angry and more forgiving of some minor stupidity. I still get angry, but if I know the person didn’t mean to be offensive/ stupid/ whatever I am learning to forgive. I think in many ways that was my point.

      Teach your son to look for the good and to forgive some of the stupidity. It sounds to me like you feel much more pain about patriarchy than I do, I am sorry. I’ve felt other pain over similar situations, so I don’t wish to offend you (or anyone else here) or minimize what you feel. In fact I wish I understood better the inequalities many of you see. I am blind to some of it. May you find peace someday.

  16. Caroline says:

    Thank you so much for writing this post. Everything you say resonates deeply with me, though I had a harder time when my second child, a girl was born. It seems like the church can do a lot of good things and offer a lot of good opportunities for men (though that must be seen in conjunction with the very real danger of buying into the idea of chromosome-based superiority that you mention) — but to choose to let my girl be brought into this patriarchal system? That was a whole new level of pain regarding the patriarchy of the church.

    Frank, I do appreciate you voicing your experience here. It’s good for me to hear men articulate why/how it’s important for them to be involved in these male-only rituals. Personally, however, I would find a lot more meaning in the ritual if both parents, who both spent nine months worrying about, thinking about, hoping for the child, etc. had the opportunity to participate in the blessing of it. I love the idea of both parents introducing their new child to their faith community together through a blessing.

  17. Heather says:

    Libby this was beautiful. You ask such good questions. I love that it was your baby boy we sang to at Exponent. We need more sacred rituals where women aren’t on the sidelines.

  18. Skippy says:

    I’m supportive of Frank on this one. While a father can and should support his wife while she is going through pregnancy and labor, there is nowhere near the same level of dedication and committment to the child as the wife. It’s pretty impossible for it to be equal. I don’t necessarily believe giving the baby the blessing makes up for that. But can appreciate that men would want something special to connect them to their child in a way that the woman could not. Not that I necessarily believe this is the way to do it, to the exclusion of mothers. I understand, too, the emotion of not being a part of the baby blessing as a mother watching her husband give the blessing. But he had to experience that as well while I went through labor.

    I try to encourage as many interactions as I can between my husband small son and we are on the road to him being the stay at home dad. In a time before the current progress toward enlightenment, when it truly was men work, women stay home, I can see why the church would want to impose something on fathers to connect them to their children. The more enlightened we become and gender roles become less defined, the less this may be necessary. I would love to see a change in the church that focuses less on the gender of the individual and more about the needs and abilities of the individual and how they can be combined in a way to make the family a team. I like to believe that is one of the reasons for the current enforced paradigm – just playing to stereotypes instead of individual analysis.

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