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"A Ph.D. in Homemaking"


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People have pointed out before that these families that boast about their daughters' wondrous training as helpmeets are not doing anything that special. Let's compare the things we learned, or taught ourselves, as kids growing up in "the world," or if you did grow up in a fundamentalist home that was all about girls being helpmeets, the things you needed to learn but didn't.

I learned in "the world," or taught myself:

*How to cook 3 meals a day from scratch.

*How to choose fresh produce, fresh bread, and meat.

*How to balance a checkbook.

*How to fill out a tax return.

*How to make a budget.

*How to make simple clothing repairs.

*How to clean all types of clothing.

*How to keep a home clean.

*How to kill household pests.

*Basic first aid, plus CPR.

*How to care for a person with a nasty cold.

*How to care for infants, toddlers, and small children.

*How to write attractive ad copy to sell items from home.

*How to prepare and package baked goods that people wanted to buy.

*How to prepare for local natural and industrial disasters.

*How to teach a small class of my own and/or someone else's children.

I'm sure I missed something. Anyway, I didn't need to go to a fundamentalist-approved venue for any of it.

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I learned, and continue to learn, how to be a responsible member of the human race who uses the brain she has to live life. I don't succeed every day and as a human being, I make a lot of mistakes. I have more mistakes than successes under my belt. But, I don't fear them and I don't hide from them in the kitchen, behind a man, in a church or behind a 2,000 year old book. I get to make my own choices and deal with the consequences. I was taught that that is what life is about.

All the rest is just fluff.

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Oooh, this is fun. Let's see, I learned:

-How to do laundry.

-How to cook everything from cookies to Thanksgiving dinner.

-How to get wax out of clothes (helpful when the Christmas Eve candles drip on your fancy dress).

-How to shop for groceries (and other things) with a limited budget.

-How to save money to buy something I can't afford right now.

-How to get myself up and out the door in the morning, on time, without any help from anyone (by the time I was ten, thank you very much).

-What to do when you get in a minor car crash.

-How to prioritize and manage my time.

-How to hem pants that are too long and sew buttons back on.

-How to make a quilt (I did pretty much teach myself this. My mom showed me how the sewing machine worked, but I figured out the rest).

-How to write a novel.

-How to write a research paper in less than 48 hours (I'm sure I will need this skill in the real world someday ;) ).

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I learned, and continue to learn, how to be a responsible member of the human race who uses the brain she has to live life. I don't succeed every day and as a human being, I make a lot of mistakes. I have more mistakes than successes under my belt. But, I don't fear them and I don't hide from them in the kitchen, behind a man, in a church or behind a 2,000 year old book. I get to make my own choices and deal with the consequences. I was taught that that is what life is about.

All the rest is just fluff.


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I know how to do the daily and weekly cleaning of a house (I am considered a neat freak irl, including among fundie homeschoolers), to cook from scratch, to care for children from birth to adult, to discipline in a generally calm and positive way, how to do periodic heavy cleaning. I can budget, I can provide relatively healthy meals at very low prices, I can bargain shop, I can combine coupons and sales to get certain things free or almost free. I can remove almost any stain.

I can sew simple things--tiered skirts, sundresses, pajamas, curtains, throw pillows, etc. I can embroider and do almost any type of needlework. I can crochet and knit. I can strip and refinish furniture. I can darn a sock and perform routine mending (replacing buttons and zippers, etc). I know how to use a variety of household tools, such as a hammer and a screwdriver, a skill-saw, a plunger. I know how to trim girls' hair and cut bangs, how to give a boy a nice haircut with clippers, how to give a basic scissor cut to a toddler boy.

I know how to store items in a small apartment without creating health hazards (Hi Emily!), how to grow food on a very small patio, how to manage hand-me-downs so kids always have the things that fit them in their drawers and the rest is packed away and labelled so it is easy to find. That is easier said than done!

I know how to create an attractive home from cast-offs. I know how to create an attractive outfit from hand-me-downs. I know how to find free entertainment.

I know how to write a term paper, write a lab report, read a scientific article, use most lab equipment, beg for a bump in grade without being obnoxious, balance work and school and family so that everything gets a place and a time. I know how to speak French and Spanish, I can speak some Hebrew, Yiddish, Italian, Russian, and Kazakh.

To the fundies that read here: the Bible is not enough. And a person who has been trained in housekeeping for the better part of a decade should be able to cook without a box or a can.

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Doing laundry

Being able to cook without using cream of crap soup or Velveeta in everything


Basic home repairs

Hemming pants and sewing buttons back on

Refinishing furniture

Shopping for groceries with a limited budget

Basic first aid

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Oh this is fun. Let's see.

- I can't really cook from my own head, but I can follow a recipe just fine.

- I've been doing my own laundry since at least the 7th grade. Maybe earlier, I don't remember.

- I can sew and follow a pattern fairly well. I just replaced a zipper for the first time! I was so proud of myself. Does this count since I took a sewing class in worldly public school?

- I can choose fresh produce AND tell you the produce code for it. Working as a grocery store cashier for three years will do that.

- I can read a map.

- I can figure out public transportation when I need to.

- I can do dishes without a dishwasher.

There are of course some things I need to learn still. I have no idea how to take care of a baby for more than a few hours. I've never even changed a diaper. I'm not the greatest at keeping my room clean. Same goes for saving money and budgeting. But I'm only 19, I have a lot of life left to go. Some things will come easily and some will take work, but I'm confident that being out in the world will help me more than being sheltered.

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I have learned to take care of business. I've learned how to keep a zillion balls in the air and still take care of myself. Being a responsible single mother this entails:

Carving out time for myself -- gym at 5am, home by 6:30 to take care of family

Shopping for healthy whole foods and cooking them from scratch for health reasons

Keeping the house organized and clean including maintaining a yard with fruit trees

Cultivating a vegetable garden in the summer

Working at a 40+ hour a week job

Maintaining a car; soon to be two cars

Paying all of the bills

Doing my own taxes

Being the tutor for my public-schooled college bound son, sometimes giving him as many hours of extra help as many mothers do when homeschooling their children

Transporting son to and paying for calculus tutoring which I cannot provide for him myself

Teaching said child how to drive

Caring for an animal

Looking after the health of my child and my animal

Budgeting a single-income household (paying the bills) while trying to save some for retirement and emergency needs

Being emotionally strong while dealing with a chronic health condition which includes cancer

Being a rock for my family

Setting limits that are fair in order to raise a responsible, confident citizen of the world

Being a landlord and all that entails, as I live in one side of my duplex while renting out the other

All I can say is I am grateful that I was not raised to be a "keeper of the home." I would have had no marketable skills and life would have sucked even worse than it did when my ex-husband's mental health went south. The prognosis for my son would have been quite poor with the both of us having to live with that man and the dangerous situations he created.

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And a person who has been trained in housekeeping for the better part of a decade should be able to cook without a box or a can.


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So far the great big, bad world has taught me:

-How to do my own laundry since age 7.

-How to, at bare minimum, follow a recipe involving no cans or boxes.

-How to fix basic clothing problems (rips, missing buttons, hemming, etc.)

-How to change a tire.

-How to get the most for my grocery dollars, while balancing cost with quality.

-How to clean a house (including cleaning my cabinet fronts, Maxwell-style.)

-How to watch small children.

-How to take care of small household animals.

-How to take charge of my own health care.

-How to navigate a new city.

-How to create a budget that allows me my carefully selected indulgences.

-How to work 60+ hour work weeks without loosing my mind.

-How to perfectly apply liquid eyeliner. This is a very important skill in my world. ;)

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In addition to the many thing that have already been said, I'll add:

-We do cook mainly from scratch

-I do some basic sewing, but found I didn't really like it beyond quilting

-Make and keep a budget in order to buy a car.

-basic maintenance on a car, including changing a tire and oil

-Do my own taxes

-Basic health care for pets, including caring for an abscess on a cat who had very sharp claws and would poke herself when scratching, no matter how often I trimmed her nails.

-Home maintenance, including yard work, changing oil on the lawn mower, helping build a fence and deck, and doing landscaping, although no one would ever mistake me for a professional

-Writing a resume

-Job interviewing

Oh yeah, that brings us to the evils of the world. I consider being able to support myself part of basic "homemaking". I have two degrees and work as a registered nurse. For all those overworked fundie men: When you have The Big One, I'll be there to put in your IV, do your EKG, and do CPR. I'm ACLS certified. If you're lucky, you'll make it to the cath lab. During your recovery while you're trying to figure out how to pay for your hospital stay, I'll make sure I'm in the room when the nutritionist (usually another evil working woman) educates your wife about how to feed you a low fat, low cholesterol, low sodium diet.

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Things I learned in the evil world that I didn't learn at home:

- How to organize and tidy when you don't have the whole day to do so

- How to file university notes

- How to store wine

- How to get wine stains out of the carpet

- How to get wine stains out of my clothes :-p

- How to drive a car!

- How to use itunes and youtube! (Finally the pop culture references are starting to make more sense)

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Op, I thought you wrote how to kill household plants instead of pests. I thought wow, she must have been taught by me.

I was taught how to really clean a house.

How to garden and what goes where in the garden.

How to sort laundry, how to pretreat stains and handle stains. How to do laundry and how to iron all different types of fabrics.

How to cook many different dishes.

How to bake just about everything except bread and pie crusts.

How to make the many different types of candies and when you can make those candies. Weather does matter.

How to read the things around me to tell what the up-coming weather will be like.

How to make beds Navy tight.

How to handle volatile people and defuse high tempers (came in handy working in the public)

How to pay bills

how to shop for food, household items, furniture, cars and get the best bang for your buck and what works best for you.

How to arrange a room so that it flows.

I was taught public speaking.

I was taught how to make and keep a budget.

How to care for infants, children, the sick, the elderly and animals.

How to put on perfume and not kill anyone by being near them.

How to put on makeup to look natural

How to color hair

How to make capes that are quick release

How to change a tire and change the oil and gas the damn thing up

How to knit, crochet and cross stitch and sew on a button

How to write different kinds of letters to different kinds of people

How to respect people different from me or from what I know.

How to fix small household repairs

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Honestly, most of my homemaking skills are useful but not necessary. I am very good at organizing, which helps me with work and school, but that seems more like an in-born thing than something that was taught to me. If my daughter ends up a messy clutterhound who has a fulfilling career and engages in a variety of pro-social, tolerant behavior, I will consider myself a parenting success. One of my stepsons is messy and not the best cook, but he is a wonderful person who cares about others and also runs an active gaming website that makes decent income. Gaming is his passion, and he built the website from scratch with no experience in web programming or design; that is real success to me.

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Do laundry

Sew buttons onto clothes

Cook decent meals (well, ones which are actually healthy unlike one family's I could mention!)

Live alone

Clean the bathroom and kitchen


Wash up


Go food shopping


Honestly, I'm hardly a domestic goddess but I can do the basics! I'm not always fantastic at these things but I have the ability to do them and it didn't come from being suffocated as a SAHD.

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Lets see...

I can cook three meals

Sew a dress,quilt, pants, pillows and skirt

Play three instruments

Knit and crochet

Make lace

Make soap and candles from scratch

Make cheese

Take care of misc farm animals

Milk a Cow

Balance my bank account


Do laundry



and i am only 18. Part of it was being one of seven kids(We were on our own for laundry boys and girls after age 10 among other things) And the rest is just that i prefer to be self reliant.

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I have to admit I am not over burdened with helpmeet skillz. What the world taught me however was how to:

Care for small children. Even when they do NOT want you to.

Write (generally) coherently, write academic papers, and draft policy.

Read a book with ideas in it which I profoundly disagree with, understand why I disagree with the ideas, and formulate a courteous and sensible argument against them.

Be denounced from the stage in front of 300 people, not respond aggressively and take it on the chin.

Generally like and respect people, even if they are really different from you. (This one was a bit of a bastard.)

Sit down and talk to a child about Mummy not being here any more without crying yourself though you really really want to.

Underside the offside rule.

The world is a useful place...

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I have to admit I am not over burdened with helpmeet skillz. What the world taught me however was how to:

Care for small children. Even when they do NOT want you to.

That is an important skill, one that I use every day and perhaps every hour.

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I am not much of a homemaker. My housekeeping skills have significantly atrophied after I moved back home to attend school. I can still cook passably, and most certainly NOT from a can. I clean and can do laundry. The only housekeeping skill I'm sorely lacking in is sewing (does suturing count?). I also don't have kids so that will be new as well. I did do pretty well on my peds rotation so I figure I can take care of a sick child and know when to take them to the hospital. I can take care of all my computer needs. I can budget and live frugally (hello, student!). I'm ok with dealing with my car. I'm not the greatest housewife, but I get by. I figure once I get a real doctor job, I can afford a housekeeper who can come in to do the serious, deep cleaning. Those fundie girls may have spent a decade learning to be a housekeeper, but I spent a decade studying for a profession that will allow me to hire one! ;)

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Oh, here we go:

- How to do laundry, including how to remove most stains

- How to sew, everything from mending small tears to making my and my husband's clothes (Inc. adjusting patterns to fit)

- How to knit, everything from socks to sweaters to lace (I'm actually going for my guild certification next year so I can teach)

- How to cook meals from scratch, including bread, cakes, pies, Thanksgiving dinner and a number of ethnic cuisines (Japanese, Arabic, Italian...)

- How to decorate a house from thrift shop findings

- How to organize and keep a house

- How to manage my time

- How to build furniture, inc. basic woodworking and upholstery

- Basic home remodel and repair

- How to make a quilt in at least three different ways (strip piecing, foundation piecing, English paper piecing)

- Embroidery, inc. cutwork and hardinger

- How to drive a car, change a tire, change the oil

- How to "homeschool" up to 25 children at a time (Most people call that teaching)

- How to plant and maintain a garden

- How to card and spin my own yarn

- How to can and preserve food for the winter

- How to do my own taxes

- How to "nurse" someone through everything from a simple cold to chemotherapy

- How to raise and care for small children

- How to navigate a boat off the west coast of the US

- How to program in Visual Basic, HTML, and I'm working on Java

- How to set up and maintain a computer network with over 400 terminals over a multi-building campus

- How to write a research paper

- How to set up and maintain a chem lab experiment

- How to make wine, both at home and commercially

- How to shop on a budget

- Proper manners for a debutante ball, an embassy dinner, and life on a military base (done all of the above)

- How to properly fire, clean and maintain a shotgun, a handgun and a rifle

- How to navigate in the mountains with a GPS, and a compass and map

- How to manage a 5 unit apartment complex

- How to care for a sick animal, inc. daily IV treatment

- How to manage union contract negotiations

- How to manage an cross-country move

- How to handle living in a major city (San Francisco)

- How to handle living in a rural area

- How to handle living on a military base/being a military wife

- How to write a novel on a deadline

- How to write a resume, survive a job interview, and work a 40+ hour week while maintaining a home and family

- How to apply for and graduate from college, inc. all the organization skills needed to take up to 18 credits/semester

- How to start and operate a small business

- How to invest in the stock market, precious metals, and foreign currency (Thanks, Mom)

- How to teach a Sunday School class

- How to negotiate the Folsom St. Fair

- How to play golf

What I do not know how to do

- Get through pregnancy and labor

They have me on that one. :D

Edited to add: Also learned a number of skills with the "Folsom St." community, inc. how to manage safe sex and...well, this is a family friendly forum, we won't go into the rest.

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I was an extremely stubborn kid, so even though my mom tried to teach me things, I refused to pay attention and she eventually just gave up. But I managed to figure this stuff out anyway! Yeah, I lived in a dirty apartment for years and my place is still messy, but when it comes down to it, I have figured out how to clean things. I learned how to take care of everything, while I was in college full-time and I even owned a cat that I had to care for. I babysat for spending money so I learned how to care for kids through experience and reading.

But here's the important thing: I made some mistakes and then learned from them. That's something fundies would consider a failure. They aren't allowed to learn from experience. I once left a dirty pot out while I went home for a weekend and came back to a kitchen full of little flies. Well, I never did that again. I learned. When I was in high school my parents gave me some freedom. Sometimes I would stay up way too late and then I would be miserable for school the next day. Sometimes I still stay up later than I should, but for the most part I know how to figure out the schedule that is best for me. When I really had to budget my own money, I realized that convenience foods are expensive and I now consider them a treat instead of a staple. I learned how to improvise recipes based on really cheap staples. Sometimes I spent more money than I should have, but I learned from it. This is something that fundies are all missing out on. They don't know how to learn from their mistakes, and they don't know what to do to make up for making a mistake.

I'm no gourmet chef and my apartment will never be spotless, but I managed to budget my money, care for a cat, cook, and clean WHILE going to school full-time, studying, and making sure I got to classes on time. That's more than any SAHD has to do.

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Cause AnnieC 305 reminded me

How to win an argument with management as a union rep.

How to defend a vulnerable member as a union rep.

How to walk a picket line and challenge scabs legally.

How to turn back the Post Office van from your picket line.

How to confront fascists even if it takes you way out of your comfort zone.

How to negotiate contracts and make important decisions.

How to bring the union's case before senior people earning many times what you do and not be cowed.

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Thanks to my usually very mechanically inclined headship, I just learned a new homemaking skill: how to get motor oil out of said headship's hair. Someone had a bit of a mishap changing the oil in the truck. I am so blessed to have these skill enhancing moments :D

FWIW: cornstarch and Dr. bronners liquid soap worked miracles

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I'm not much for housework. I prefer to spend time outdoors with my animals or in my haunted house, but I can:

Cook 3 square meals a day without cans or boxes

Sew buttons back on, fix hems, repair some clothing

Dye clothing

Grow a full garden (but for the past couple of years we've had a major drought with watering restritions which prevented it)

Build livestock safe fencing

Care for large and small farm animals properly

Clean the house (yuk)

Properly rescue/rehab and rehome abused/abandoned animals (pit bulls being my favorites to work with)

Clip a birds wings

Navigate our local rivers in a small craft

Perform CPR and the Heimlich Manuever

Shoot a pistol, rifle and shotgun

I know there's more...

Ahhhh! I can drive a car, truck, motorcycle, back a trailer, operate a big tractor and use it's implements

Raise a boy to adulthood without serious injury or police intervention...

Have regular sex with my husband for like 20 years now without getting knocked up again. We wanted 1 child ONLY!

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