Young Women Lesson: How do the Roles of Men and Women Complement Each Other in Families?
I have really struggled to prepare an outline for the August lesson. Like Rachel, I decided to challenge myself to prepare an outline on a topic that I felt was difficult or uncomfortable. I am in the Laurels advisor in my ward and I will say that in all likelihood I will avoid using this lesson topic and will gravitate toward something else. However, readers might find it useful to tackle this in order to be mentally prepared to contribute in a joint first Sunday lesson, or perhaps you feel strongly that this is the right topic for your girls. Because I have struggled I ask that commenters offer whatever suggestions they can think of to enrich this lesson and provide alternative approaches. I am particularly hoping for meaningful quotes or scriptures that would help teach true principles.
The topic I chose was “How do the roles of men and women complement each other in families?” The lesson plan on the church website puts heavy emphasis on the Family Proclamation, the eternal nature of gender, and pulls from such resources as Julie B. Beck’s talk “Mothers Who Know.” I wanted to create a forum for discussion in my class about the work that makes a family run and how to decide how to divide that work, without a particular emphasis on gender.
Work that makes families run
Begin the lesson by brainstorming on the board a list of all the things that need to happen to make a home run well. Here are some ideas I came up with, by no means a comprehensive list: cooking, cleaning, driving, shopping, having paid employment, nurturing children, doing the taxes, gardening, caring for the sick, home repairs, plumbing, pet care, planning family outings, organizing a schedule, being good with money, being responsible with bills and other financial obligations, being funny, being able to organize and present spiritual lessons etc.
I would modify some of these to make them so they all potentially could apply to young women, for example the jobs could also be characterized for them as schoolwork, or after school employment.
Which of these jobs do you feel you do well? Which jobs does mom/dad/sister/brother do well?
-Emphasize that we all have some natural aptitudes that grow both from experiences and our personal tastes.
Which of these jobs do you feel you do poorly, or do not enjoy?
-Discuss how some jobs are probably unenjoyable for everyone (cleaning the toilet…)
Why do you still do them?
-Doing work that we don’t necessarily enjoy is part of life and is an important growth opportunity. Everyone in the family should share the burden of the unenjoyable jobs.
Note that few jobs have to be gender specific (basically giving birth is the only one I could think of). How do you think family jobs should get divided up? What system do you think would work to make that decision?
Share Doctrine & Covenants 121:41-42
41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—
How does this verse relate to dividing up home responsibilities? How can these qualities help to make a fair division of labor?
How have your responsibilities in your family changed over time?
Learning new skills
How can you prepare yourself to perform the jobs you cannot currently do? (refer to list on board) Emphasize that you cannot plan on a spouse taking on the roles your father did, not only because you may not marry but also because your spouse may not in fact be good at or enjoy those jobs. What is one job you would be interested in learning how to do better? What can you do this week to practice that skill?
Have special circumstances ever changed your responsibilities within your family? (I would share an experience I had as a teenager when I began to cook dinner more as my mother worked outside the home.) How has taking on unexpected tasks blessed your life?
Church service and family responsibilities
How should church callings fit in with all the work that happens to sustain a family?
Share Doctrine and Covenants 25:9 And thou needest not fear, for thy husband shall support thee in the church…
-Emphasize that support in families goes both ways, and church service is only possible in families because of the sacrifice and work of other family members.
How have you helped your family members to fulfill their callings? Has it ever been hard for you to have a parent give lots of time to the church? How can we cope with those feelings?
Preparing for adulthood and independence
What fears or concerns do you have about having adult responsibilities in your home? What are you excited about?
I would close with a quote from Majorie Pay Hinckley about her relationship with President Gordon B. Hinckley
“I am very grateful for a husband who always lets me do my own thing. . . He never insists that I do anything his way, or any way for that matter. From the very beginning he gave me space and let me fly. What a man!” President Hinckley added “If there’s anyting that irritates me it’s these men who try to run their wives’ lives and tell them everything they ought to do and so on and so on.”
-The foundation of a happy home is mutual respect and a mutual willingness to work and be fair. These are gospel principles and are the way Christ has asked us to treat one another.
How would you teach family roles to the Young Women? What do you think should be added to these lesson suggestions?