HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Fitting It All Together: For Today’s Christian Woman Fulfilling Many Roles
Authors: Peggy Collins and Linda Olivet
Cover Illustrator: Michael Walker
Publisher: 21st Century Christian, 1990
Related website(s): https://www.21stcc.com/ (publisher)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Older teen girls and adult women
Rating: *** 3 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Collins, Peggy, and Olivet, Linda. Fitting It All Together: For Today’s Christian Woman Fulfilling Many Roles (published in 1990 by 21st Century Christian, 2809 Granny White Pike, Nashville, TN 37204). This book is intended for a ladies’ Bible study. The authors’ reason for writing is evidently revealed in page iv where they note, “It is apparent to us that there are still negative attitudes about women working outside the home when they have children.” The purpose of the book seems to be stated on page 4 where the authors say of the contemporary Christian woman, “She can be an effective Christian, wife, mother, homemaker, career woman, and all the other ‘people’ she may elect to be.” Its theme appears to be found on page 21 where they write about Biblical guidelines, “They do not preclude the career for the Christian [woman], but rather help us keep a Christian perspective on how our energies can be divided among our responsibilities.” There are thirteen chapters or lessons, each with thought questions at the end. I realize that the subject of a wife and mother working outside the home has been controversial through the years, but the emphasis throughout this book is upon the “career woman,” i.e., the working wife and mother. One of the authors is the Director of Instruction at a large city school system, and the other is an instructor of nursing at a major university’s nursing college, while both are also wives and mothers.
They cite a 1986 study by C. Collins about combining employment and motherhood which supposedly “shows that young children from infancy through the preschool years are not detrimentally affected by the mother’s working, as long as the daycare situation is satisfactory and the overall relationship between the mother and child is good.” However, Ph.D. specialist in infant attachment Brenda Hunter in her seminal 1991 book Home By Choice: Facing the Effects of Mother’s Absence–Creating Emotional Security in Children presents the detailed research which demonstrates with overwhelming evidence to the contrary that children fare much better when mothers stay home and take care of them than when they are put in day care so the mothers can go back to work, leading to the conclusion that trying to make “quality time” for children simply cannot make up for the “quantity time” that they need with their mother. Collins and Olivet affirm that “the woman described in Proverbs 31 obviously worked outside the home” and that “her success in her job outside the home was a part of the overall picture of her life as a successful woman.” I would agree that the worthy woman did more than just wash dishes, launder clothes, mop floors etc.. But my reading of the chapter leads me to conclude that other work was more like a “home based business” rather than a job away from home in something like an office or factory.
The authors note, “Guilt is a major issue for working mothers” and give an example of a woman who was overwhelmed with guilt about being a working mother and “imposing” on her husband to leave his work early to watch the children for a period of time. Their solution of how to deal with guilt is to decide whether it is “an unrealistic expectation which you or someone else has set for you,” and if “you handled things to the best of your abilities and made the wisest decision possible,” then “accept the fact that in carrying out all of the roles, everything cannot be perfect.” My only response is to wonder that if a wife and mother feels guilt about leaving her children with someone else to go to work, then maybe there is a good reason for it. For a Bible study class book, Fitting It All Together seems rather heavy on psychology and light on Scripture. In fact, it almost feels as if the Scriptures cited are just thrown in to confirm what the “experts” say. Now, I do not want to leave a totally negative impression about the book. It does offer some good advice about making choices, time management, care of children, and dealing with changes. Also, I do not believe that it is always necessarily sinful for a wife and mother to work outside the home. But I do believe that the Scriptures teach that it is always best for a woman who has chosen marriage and motherhood to make the home the absolute center of her life and work. This book offers precious little for such a woman.