The Timeless Importance of Motherhood
Thea Frederick Column Writer Set to Appear in the April 2021 Edition
The natural family, as God created it, is very important to the proper development of children as God meant them to be. The father, mother, and siblings all play their own special role in the cultivation of a healthy child. In general, the daughters take after their mother and the sons after their father, but there are certainly things to be learnt the other way around, particularly the sons from their mother. There are many, many men whose lives testify to the incredible impact their mothers made in their journey to sainthood.
The mother is, in a sense, the heart of the home. After Christ, she is the nurturer, healer, helper, lover, guide, and consolation of her family. While the son looks to the father as an example of protection, strength, and provision, he looks to the mother as an example of gentleness, love, and sacrifice. The woman is what he must protect, provide for, and be strong for. His father shows him how to be a man, his mother makes him want to be a man. She gives the child an image of something honorable and beautiful to love and protect. By reflecting goodness, truth, and beauty in her character, she gives him something to honor, and what’s more, and desire to honor. The qualities that a good mother inspires in her son are things such as gentleness, respect, sacrifice, and a desire to protect and defend that which is True, Good, and Beautiful. These qualities are what makes a man out of a boy. These show greatness and virtue in a man. But not greatness in the sense of social superiority like kings or rulers, but rather, the character that is devoid of meanness and littleness, those things which make a man cowardly, selfish, and childish.
The mother is also the parent with the most guidance in the lives of her children. While the husband is out providing for his family, the mother is at home nurturing the children in their faith and duties. This gives the children much opportunity to watch and emulate the mother, which makes her impact so important to the future lives of her children.
Saint Martha, the mother of Saint Symeon, was an ideal example of motherhood. Bereft of a father young, Saint Symeon was raised by his pious and devoted mother. She set an example for him through her dedicated prayer life, her deeds of goodness for the poor, her restraint from speaking any evil, and her godly wisdom. Of course, besides her we have many other examples of true motherhood in the Church, the greatest of which is the Mother of Christ, the Theotokos. The Theotokos is the epitome of womanhood as well as motherhood. Her example is what every Christian woman ought to strive for. A devout and God fearing woman, one who sacrificed much and sought the Lord’s will above all things, she was the strongest, gentlest, and best of women to have been able to bear in her womb and raise our Saviour, Christ himself.
The needed role of the mother in the family has changed very little over the centuries, but the role of mothers as we see it today has changed drastically. While many modern day mothers now seek new uses for their time, other than raising their children, so that they can find what they consider to be “fulfillment” in their lives, children have not changed in their psychological, spiritual, and physical needs when it comes to interaction with their mothers. The mother’s role in the family is crucial to the proper development of her children, but many seek to avoid this truth as they would rather be out pursuing their dream career and leaving the care of their children in the hands of daycares, babysitters, or schools. Children’s needs for their mothers have not lessened over the years, if anything, they have increased. This can be noted in the negative behavior that constantly being away from their parents increases in children, specifically their mothers.
It is beyond important for a mother to be there for her children and to seek to raise them in the faith while working her hardest to be the best example that she can be, because more than all the words a person can say, the example of a virtuous person speaks volumes, particularly for children. Saint Nectarios’ words “Who can deny that it is mothers who produce great and virtuous men?” are more important and true than many people today, especially mothers, realize. Women would do well to ponder his words and examine whether they themselves are exemplifying the virtues they wish to see in their children, and whether they are attributing to themselves the enormous impact they can have on the lives of their children.