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Mormon Women Family, Work, and Faith: Deseret News

I was pleased to have my thoughts included in a recent Deseret News article that focused on a few themes I am very interested in: aspirational shame for Mormon women, the wage gap, motherhood, and partnership. Here are some of the ideas that I shared:

Motherhood Is a Relationship anda Stewardship  

In LDS culture, we often seem to frame motherhood (and parenthood in general) as a role of socially prescribed behaviors. Having children is certainly a responsibility, but it’s more than that: it’s a relationship! By focusing on the connection, we can ease some of the unnecessarily guilt that so many women seem to experience in relation to motherhood. Also, reframing parenthood as a stewardship (rather than a role) helps us recognize that God has entrusted us with children and gives us the opportunity to be creative and flexible in how we manage this responsibility.

Healing Aspirational Shame

Since I was young, I observed two contradictory themes in my life: one was from seeing my father, a professional musician, have wonderful success and creative fulfillment in a career; he showed me that anything was possible. Second was that Mormon women were to get married, have children, and stay home with them. As someone who wanted to have both a family and a creative life, it took me a lot of years and therapy to untangle this cognitive dissonance. In my career as a psychotherapist, I found that I wasn’t alone; many LDS women seemed to experience what I call “aspirational shame,” which is the internalized belief that we’re not worthy or good enough in the sight of God because of our desires to have work or creative fulfillment separate from our family lives. Through a lot of thought and prayer, I’ve come to realize that our interests and desires to use our talents are gifts from God and nothing to be ashamed of.

Embrace Your “And”

Through the past several years, I’ve been very involved in an online support group called “Aspiring Mormon Women” that seeks to encourage, assist, and celebrate LDS women’s professional, academic, and creative pursuits. The theme of this group is to “embrace your and,” which means that women can acknowledge and pursue multiple things: family, career, relationships, education spirituality, and creativity. We do not need to fall into the false dichotomy of having a career or having a family; we can have both! If anyone is interested in navigating these cultural challenges or wanting to learn more, I encourage them to request to join this group.

To view the original Deseret News article, click here.

For further reading on these ideas:

From Roles To Stewardships: Reframing Mormon Gender Roles

How Idealizing Motherhood Hurts Mormon Women

Resolving Aspirational Shame: One Mormon Woman’s Journey

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About Dr. Julie Hanks, LCSW:
Dynamic self & relationship expert Dr. Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW loves to make a difference for women. She owns Wasatch Family Therapy and regularly contributes to KSL TV's Studio 5, and her advice has been featured nationally including Wall Street Journal, Parenting, Fox News, and others. Connect on Facebook & Twitter. Her book The Burnout Cure is available now and The Assertiveness Guide is available now.

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