Originally published in the Appleton Post Crescent
“Our schedules are so busy. She doesn’t understand me. I try but I get nowhere. We are so different. Where do we even start? I give up.”
The relationship between mother and child can bring the greatest joys and deepest sorrows. One thing we know is this unique relationship is critical to the well being of our children. Mothers need to embrace the important bond that exists only between a mother and her child to build a strong foundation for the next generation.
The role of mothers throughout history has been constant until recent times. How we view that role in America over the past 50 years has changed drastically.
We have come to a sad place in our society where motherhood is mocked and women are prone to apologize for it. You see it on faces and hear it in voices of women all across our country. Have you ever heard a young mom and homemaker respond to the question, “Do you work outside the home?” She almost always replies with a downcast face, “No, I’m just a mom.” We have bought into the lie that motherhood is somehow not enough. This disdain for motherhood is affecting an entire generation of mothers and children.
Mothers are created to be the managers of children. May I use a picture of a lantern to illustrate? A mother’s hand holding a glowing lantern ahead of a child represents the idea that mothers are to lead, shining the light of their own lives and experience into the lives of the next generation. In this way, they guide, mold, teach, and lead their children in the discovery of their own life’s purpose.
Alfred Joyce Kilmer, a poet of great faith and conviction understood the concept of lighting the path for the next generation. He wrote in his poem Love’s Lantern:
“Because the road was steep and long and through a dark and lonely land, God set upon my lips a song and put a lantern in my hand.”
Mothers have the high privilege and honor of being lantern bearers. We don’t have to know where the path ends, or even what lies ahead. We merely have to be courageous enough to grab the light and guide our children’s steps within the area of the lantern’s glow, not looking back, ahead, or to the side, but focusing on the path before us.
We learn by living and then, in turn, hold the lantern ahead of our children, shedding light to help them follow us along the journey. Fear, shame, and past failures cause many women to doubt they are equipped for the job.
You may have had a mother like mine who chose not to embrace her role. As a result, there was no one to shine a lantern for me. I lived a tragic childhood filled with anger, abuse, and violence.
I never realized the desperate life I lived wasn’t normal. I assumed that all mothers and daughters had this type of relationship. I did not have anyone to teach me about normal mother-daughter things. It was not until my teens that I began to meet mothers who embraced their role to love, nurture, and teach their children how to live.
When I became a mother myself, I realized I was not equipped and had to unlearn many destructive patterns. I committed to embrace my role as a mother and make a difference in the lives of my own children.
Statistics reveal more women are waiting until they are over 40 to have children with an 80% increase in the past 10 years. Many cite not being ready as the reason. Many women will never accept the role of guiding their own children or others through life. A study done on custody arrangements recently reported that 40% of mothers in divorce cases now reject custody of their children, which explains the rise of single father homes by 60%.
Many women have relinquished their role as mother, guide, and teacher, for their children. The statistics about the rapid decline of mother-child relationships are staggering and suggest that despair, fear, and doubt, have caused women to give up on their responsibility to train up the next generation. Many women, me included, never witnessed a healthy mother-child relationship and do not know where to begin. We will never be perfect at our calling, but our commitment to our children will keep us going.
Mothers, may I encourage you to be courageous and stand against a culture that tells us we are not enough, our kids don’t need us, and our role as mothers is obsolete and irrelevant. Let’s make a commitment to reestablish our roles as mothers. Developing a deeper understanding of what that means and how we can personally apply it, will help us strengthen the important mother-child bond and build a healthier and stronger foundation for the next generation.