Should the Relief Society provide meals for men?

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So I was talking with mfranti from FMH earlier today, and our conversation turned to compassionate service. In fact, two questions arose from our conversation:

  1. Does the Relief Society provide meals when a husband comes home from the hospital?
  2. Why does the Relief Society bring over meals to a new mother if there is an able husband in the home?

For example, with our youngest, I took a week off from work. While Mary bonded with the new baby, I took care of tending to the two oldest, cleaning the house and making meals. It seemed pointless for the Relief Society to bring over meals.

I anticipate in the next few months, I may have to go to the hospital for surgery. When I get back, I wonder if we will receive meals while I recuperate at home.

Any thoughts?

26 thoughts on “Should the Relief Society provide meals for men?

  1. Well, so I’ll get the ball rolling by stating the obvious…

    It stems from the idea that women do all the cooking – so if the woman is unable to cook, clearly nobody else would be able to, no matter how many husbands are loafing around the house.

    Of course, that’s ridiculous. I’ve never heard of a RS providing meals for a family just because the husband had surgery, but I have heard about meals provided to a family because “the family is having a hard time”, which may be a result of the husband having surgery or a wife having a baby….

    But in this day and age, the idea that meals should be provided only by women, and only when women need help is insufficient and neglects men who need service, and men who could provide service.

    And I would guess that regarding to whom the RS gives meals and under what circumstances is different ward to ward. I’m not sure if the RS is given guidelines on this or not.

  2. men who could provide service

    That would be the cat’s meow: seeing the elders quorum making and delivering meals to their quorum brethren. It’s hard enough getting them to make their chili themselves for the chili cookoff.

  3. I suppose it depends on how your RS views the reasoning behind providing meals. I assume most do it because the woman is usually the one who does the cooking. I know in some houses even if the wife is sick the husband still won’t prepare meals. Not sure if the reason is he’s unable or just unwilling. If there are children in the home then I think the reason doesn’t really matter – the children should be fed.
    However, if the reason to provide a meal is to show that the ward cares and is aware of the circumstances in your house – then I would assume they would.
    I would think, unless you have some really saintly people in your ward, the RS won’t plan to bring meals over.
    Maybe there will be other ways the ward could be of more help. If your wife is spending a lot of time at the hospital perhaps some help watching your children would be more helpful.
    I had a RSP who was a real stickler on providing meals. She didn’t think it was necessary to provide meals when a family could have planned ahead for a situation (even when children are born) I thought that was really stingy – but in this case, I’d have to side with her thinking. :0)

    1. Really? You thought your RSP was stingy? With all the hours of service she put in to a calling that is the busiest calling in the ward next to the bishop. She shouldn’t have to provide meals as an organized effort for every little thing when families are perfectly capable themselves. It is every member in Relief Societies obligation to provide service. You really shouldn’t call your leaders stingy who are giving more hours of their lives than you ever would.

  4. When I delivered my children both my husband and I were grateful for the meals because my husband was going to school, working and trying to help out more at home. Even if the husband is able to take a leave from work a free meal should be seen as a nice gesture and not offensive.

  5. And frankly I enjoy getting the meals :) If I was on the ball with my babies I would have a month’s worth of meals stocked in the freezer. But I never am.

  6. I remember after my grandfather was killed in a car accident, people in our ward (who never even met my grandfather) brought food over to our house. My eldest sister was confused a little by this–she was 14 years old and considered herself more than capable of feeding and caring for the younger siblings. But my mother explained it as a way for people to show they care.

    I would totally make an extra meal and take it to a family where one parent is laid up, for whatever reason. (If I knew about it, I’m sort of in the no-mans-land of Primary) But I don’t think I’ve ever been asked to do so–after births, for funerals, even sicknesses (but only for women, now that I think of it)–but never because the husband was laid up.

  7. We had a family in my ward at one time where the wife was on complete bed rest while pregnant with their fifth. The husband constantly told the Bishop he needed help because his house was just falling apart and he couldn’t keep up with all the demands. When the Bishop dropped by to make an assessment, he found the husband in the middle of a video game marathon with the dirty dishes and laundry stacked all around him. The Bishop simply stated that the husband had obviously found some free time and would not be needing any help. Then he left. He still is my favorite Bishop of all time.

  8. i’ve resisted commenting on this thread because this kind of topic gets my feminist dander up-and i don’t even label myself a feminist (sorry ladies, i barely call myself a mormon)

    and TStevens, your story makes me want to kick some butt.

    its one thing to offer to help out a few nights when both parents are busy at the hospital or making funeral arrangements or whatever the circumstances but it’s another thing to cater to the husband (and by default, the wife) when mom is out of commission because he “doesn’t know how” or because it’s not right to make them eat cereal for dinner. holy hell, how many wives husbands go out of town for the week, leaving mom with 3 littluns under 5?

    where’s the help then?

    if he’s able bodied, he should be picking up the slack. he’ll live and he’ll be a better man/partner/father for it.

    god knows, i did it all for years and i still work full time and do most of it now (thank goodness i don’t have to write checks anymore)and guess what, most women pull off doing more than their fair share every damn day of the week.

    i tell you, if this woman broke her body and mr. mfranti was playing hockey on tuesday nights, because he needs a “break” i’d kick his ass! and if he couldn’t or wouldn’t be willing to learn how to read a recipe, i’d walk him through it if i was able.

    full disclosure: i discussed this with my DH and he agrees, he’d have to give up his hockey games to stay home and he’d have to wash more dishes.

    does anyone see what i am seeing? it feels so one sided to me. it seems like in our honest and righteous desire to serve (and i’m right there in that desire) we are just perpetuating those damn gender roles we’ve been fighting so long against(and acting like men are blithering idiots in the home)

    it’s not fair.

    thats really what this rant is about. i’ll stop now.

    end rant

  9. This is a quandry to me and here’s why. When I was a new RS pres., I called the old pres. as the compassionate service leader. At our first pres. meeting, she gave a run down of who needed help. Several of the names were single men in the ward (we are an anomoly in the church, having a lot of single men on our ward roster). I had not anticipated that and felt at the time it was strange to ask women in the RS to provide meals. I figured, why aren’t the ph quorums handling this? They cook for them selves, why can’t they cook for their brothers in the ward? That brought to mind a ward compassionate service committee. But that starts undermining the whole purpose of the RS. Which brings up the whole roles of women (nurture) vs role of men (administer)…..

    So it’s bigger than the assumption that only women cook. It’s also the assumption that only women provide relief.

    I did, by the way, have several men in the ward, both married and single, who would regularly provide meals when they were needed (for men or women or families).

  10. Since we believe in gender roles, a meal should only be provided when the wife is incapacitated.

    When the husband is incapacitated, the ward should bring over money.

  11. whoa, this one gets my dander up too, though, ashamedly, i never thought about it much as a member.

    first of all, i don’t really understand why people need meals anyway when there is at least one person in the house who can cook. it only takes twenty minutes to throw together a salad with a protein, some rice and bean burritos or pasta. we never had RS help because what’s the point? i was making dinner the day i gave birth because seriously, it’s not that strenuous.

    and yeah, the husband should totally be able to take care of these issues – laundry, vacuuming, feeding the kids, and so on, when the wife has had a baby or is incapacitated in some way. BUT! that assumes the father is getting much time off from work to actually be home. with both births, my husband had to be back at work within three days. he worked 10-12 hour days. i got by during the day and he was still completely competent coming home and doing laundry, washing dishes and making dinner. he wasn’t “helping out” like he was a guest or something. he was DOING HIS JOB, which is serving his family. as he continues to do by cleaning, cooking and caring for the children as much as i do.

    i do wonder why men don’t get the same kind of care from the RS or better yet! the EQ. i honestly never thought about it. that’s pretty sad.

    maybe someone should think about instituting some classes for EQ men with pregnant wives – basic cooking, cleaning and caring for a child full time. it’s pathetic that classes would be necessary, but apparently it is so. maybe the guys wouldn’t be into it but i think the women would push them. i do have several friends who actually spoke of relief when their husbands returned to work because it was more exhausting for them to tell the guys to do this or do that step by step, or watching him sit around and do nothing, than taking care of it themselves or letting (female) friends help out. such men should be ashamed. are you a fully involved parent/partner or not?

  12. I once spent a few days in the hospital. The EQ came over and finished the tear out I was doing to a room in my house, and then transported and paid for it to be dumped. Very appreciated by both me and my wife.

  13. The Relief Society was established specifically for the purpose of helping out those in need. Sister Beck’s talk in the October 2008 conference states that the organization of the relief society gives women specific responsibilities in building up Zion. AND that these responsibilities are different from priesthood responsibilities. The priesthood quorums don’t send around sign up sheets for making meals. No, they serve the ward in other ways

    And the basis of the idea is NOT that the woman does all the cooking and cleaning. It’s that not every husband can take a whole week off of work, and after a long day at work, coming home to help your wife take care of the baby is already enough to be getting on with. Receiving help with the meal should be a welcome treat! Personally, I’d rather have my husband with me sharing the joy of our newborn child than in the kitchen cooking for me!

    Also, in my ward, meals are provided whenever one or both parents is incapacitated (child birth, surgery, etc.), if there is a death in the family, or if one of the children has sustained a serious injury or illness.

    Provided meals can be wonderful if you accept them with humility! Allowing a family member to be free from spending time in the kitchen is an amazing thing. It can help bring your family closer in times of trial, and, in doing so, can help you, as a family, become closer to the Lord.

    1. How long do you seriously expect meals to be brought in? a new baby is going to take all your time for many many months. You expect families who have their own struggles to be put out for that long to take care of you because you’d rather have him enjoying time with you? Wouldn’t we all rather a lot of things? Struggle a little. We all have to do it. Don’t just expect service. Be grateful when it comes, but don’t expect that the Relief Society to provide meals for you just because you had a new baby. There is a little thing called self reliance.

  14. after a long day at work, coming home to help your wife take care of the baby is already enough to be getting on with.

    Don’t mothers have long days at work?

    1. Then if you can’t take care of a new baby, don’t have one. People outside the church do it on their own all the time. It may be nice when people help out, but it isn’t something you should expect.

  15. How many people live so far away from a McDonalds that they can’t pick something up? What are we teaching each other about self-reliance when we have a meal brought in at every excuse? We have to keep in mind that everytime you have a meal brought in, you are taking someone else’s time and money. In our ward the amount of meals taken in is mind-boggling. I was asked to take in a meal when the aunt of one of the elders was in the hospital. He had a wife at home, by the way. Where does it stop?

    1. So true. I have had these experiences as well and it is ridiculous! The church teaches to help those in need. Not those who are perfectly capable of making meals themselves. Some people seem to think that providing a meal is the only way to show compassion and love. That is so false. Meals are not necessary unless the family is truly in need.

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