I grew up in a very conservative Christian home. My parents encouraged me and my sister to wear skirts. I remember some talk about raising your daughters to be “keepers at home,” and I’m pretty sure they read at least one book on courtship. I’m not sure that they went much further than that with trying to make us proper daughters. I did, though. In high school, I read a number of blogs on things like “Beautiful Womanhood” and daughters of Virtue and whatever else you want to call it.
I’m not going to lie: there were some benefits. I got a lot of encouragement on making a good use of my time, and loving my family, and many other very good things. So far so good. Still, I don’t go in for such reading much anymore.
What’s bothering me?
What happens when your expectation is that adult daughters stay at home until they are married? That depends on the family, but it opens up the possibility of some very bad things happening.
Some people enjoy controlling other people, and when you tell them it is their duty to take charge of their adult daughters, bad things may happen. Even worse if the daughters don’t believe they have any other legitimate options.
Parents don’t just take charge of minor decisions: they may feel free to decide where (and if) their daughter can work, whether she can go to school, and, of course, who she can marry. This is done in the name of protecting daughters. It may work out that way sometimes.
Imagine, though, that your parents decide everything about what you can do and where you can go and your only hope of escape is marriage. If that’s not bad enough, your parents get to decide who you marry.
Sure, maybe for a lot of people all that is is veto-power. Maybe they won’t make you marry someone (although, I won’t say I haven’t heard of it happening. Or at least of a lot of parental pressure being applied to convince the young lady to marry the approved suitor. How true these stories are . . . I can’t be the judge.), but they certainly can tell you who not to marry. This means if you want to get out from under Mommy and Daddy’s control, good luck. Maybe you can find a reasonable guy whom they will approve, but he better mind his p’s and q’s during your courtship and engagement, or it all will be for naught, and you’ll have to put up with Mommy and Daddy for a while longer until you can find a suitable replacement.
Okay. So appeal to someone. Surely somebody else can talk reason into them?
Maybe. But if all of your friends run in the same circles, they won’t be eager to do anything. They’re going to agree in principle about parental authority and therefore probably are not inclined to look at the situation to see if maybe something is not kosher. Expectations are such that the issue could easily be framed as the daughter being rebellious, no matter how unreasonable the parents may actually be. Many defenses of keeping daughters at home and the courtship model have been written already. Mom and Dad can retreat behind those and may never have to argue their own case themselves. The daughter now gets to choose whether she will submit or be labeled a rebel by everyone she knows. Things are not looking good.