Torch, Fall 1984

children later in marriage. Many homemakers are single persons. Additionally, homemakers are increasingly securing jobs outside the home. Extended– family support from relatives and close friends is less because of the constant mobility of typical households . The result of all this is simply excruciating stress. Homemakers with a college education undergo aggressive criticism from those who are wage earners, both male and female. The housewife is made to feel guilty for "wasting her education" at home . She is prodded to "fulfill herself' in a career. Also, in these days of high prices a homemaker increasingly feels pressure to earn her "fair share" of the family income. For the woman who has chosen to take an outside job, stress is also an ever present companion. She feels guilty when she cannot give her career one hundred percent because of the unrelenting weight of family responsibilities. She may feel remorse for leaving her children unattended at home. These "latch key" kids come home to an empty house while others are placed in daycare centers for many hours. In spite of the fact that working mothers are helping old Fred pay off his new car, research indicates that Fred helps very little with the domestic chores. Thus, today's homemaker, often the "totalled woman," is expected to work 40 hours outside the home and another 40 hours inside it. Is it any wonder that stress for the American homemaker results in psychosomatic disorders, depression, unfulfilled marriages, rebellious children , etc .? In comparison to a wife ' s role, the role of our culture's man-of-the-house has not experienced as radical a change. Most men still consider themselves the major wage earner and family leader. However, long work hours, "keeping up with the Joneses," recessions, layoffs, financial difficulties, an unfulfilled spouse, the generation gap, and numerous other difficulties plague his tranquility . So how can the family ship weather the rough seas of stress so prevalent today? An essential beginning is for the husband and wife to understand their position in Christ. Both persons have worth because of the saving grace of Jesus Christ in their lives . God the Father so loved them (John 3: 16) that He paid the highest possible price to purchase (I Cor. 6:20) them off the slave market of sin. When the winds of stress commence to blow, they can be sure that there is a God who loves them dearly and is ready to help (Philippians 1 :6) . Clear conscience is also an essential stress reducer. The Bible states, "Confess your faults one to another, and pray for one another, that ye may be healed ... " (James 5: 16). "He that walketh uprightly walketh surely .. ." (Proverbs 10:9). Open communication is another ingredient of family stress management . If a problem is discussed when it is small, it will never become the size of a mountain years later after it has festered and exploded into all-out family warfare. A common daily stress point for dad is re-entry into the home after a difficult day at work. He expects a well-earned rest but instead receives a non-stop barrage of chatter from his spouse and children. I suggest that thi s potentially tense situation be diffused by "weather reporting ." This is a communication technique that allows for a brief, accurate summary from each regarding the immediate evening's needs . These can then be negotiated so that everyone can experience some fulfillment without unnecessary clashing. Family financial priorities must be establi shed. Wage earners are often pressured to work overtime and to take second jobs to meet family demands for material things. The tremendous pressure to "keep up with the Joneses" is now evident in elementary school with the seeming life necessity to wear designer clothes with the corresponding premium logo and price tag . The empty dream that "happiness is one purchase away" is documented as a futile hope by Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes . Father can greatly reduce household stress as he faithfully models the Christ-like love taught in I Corinthians 13 . Values are caught , not taught . The Christian dad can pass on only what he possesses and practices on a daily basis. The homemaker needs praise for a job well done. Her husband needs to recognize her work and compliment her at home in the presence of the children as well as in public. Stress can be at its greatest for mother when she is exhausted from caring for active and even rebellious children day in and day out. Thus , it is vital that time– out periods with father be scheduled . When the distances between relatives is great, it is especially important for her to develop friendships with others in order to share mutual support. This can be done through attending church activities, taking a class , sponsoring a Bible study group , sharing baby sitting with a friend , or just regularly going out with her acquaintances. The family is a system wherein each member feels the stress experienced by any single member. Therefore , it behooves everyone - dad , mom , and children - to work at reducing the effects of daily pressures. With God ' s help , a Christian home can be a happy , stress-managed home . "Except the Lord build the house , they labor in vain that build it. . ." (Psalm 127: l). The home can be built on the solid foundation of scriptural principles or on the shifting sand of the world ' s value system. But remember, either way , it is being built. Dr. Paul D . Entner is founder and direc– tor of Agape Counseling Center in Cen– terville , Ohio . He is a 1969 graduate of Cedarville College and received his Ph.D. from Rosemead Graduate School of Psychology. 7