New Visions Commentary
The National Leadership Network of Conservative African-Americans
Motherhood Under Attack
By Rita Thompson
Motherhood can be the most sacred duty of a woman's life. The status of motherhood, however, is under attack on many fronts.
Last year, the United Nations convened the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women to essentially dissolve reference to gender. It issued a proclamation calling for the elimination of Mother's Day. Why does being a mother make you less of a woman? These people think traditional roles for women and traditional family structures undermine women's roles - even discriminate. They forget the fact that many women find tremendous honor and joy in motherhood.
I wish I could say the United Nations' attempts to destroy Mother's Day and the traditional family are so foolish that no one takes it seriously. However, a school in New York City is canceling their Mother's Day activities because its leaders do not want to offend children of homosexuals and single parents. But eliminating a day of celebration is not the point - it is the repeated denigration of the role of motherhood that is harming our society.
Why? Psychologists say a child's psychological and emotional well being depends on a mother's tender loving care. A child grows and develops through a mother's continual close physical and spiritual solicitude, and through her constant attention and loving interaction. A child wants his or her mother to be someone who can be counted on - no matter what the circumstances.
The "institution" of motherhood appears to be weakening in this country because there is a disconnect between mother and child. The time mothers (and fathers) spend away from children harms them. Many children believe their mothers are not available to them and don't care about who they are. They look to their peers for advice that once only a mother could give them.
An intrinsic component of our humanity lies in our social connectedness. The most fundamental expression of this may well be a mother's love for her child. The depreciation of raising a family in America is at the heart of this problem. Some of the fault lies in the relationship between the husband and wife and not in motherhood. If there is a connection between the man as the "head of the house" and the devaluation of women as mothers, the problem is about warped cultural values. Attacking motherhood itself devalues women. Since our society does not place a true value and significance on child raising, mothers don't realistically view it as having worth and value. Consequently, you have almost half of mothers with children under the age of 18 entering the labor force to work full-tim, placing other priorities ahead of their children.
Many women also believe today's mothers aren't doing as good a job as their mothers. Today's moms cite time pressures and disciplinary challenges as the most difficult things about being a mother. No wonder, since time and discipline requires knowing your child and being available for them. How we behave as parents is naturally imitated by our children.
A mother can only be connected to her children by being with them. But most moms find the work hard and the pay awful. Yet, what a tremendous benefit it is for the child to experience a warm and encouraging atmosphere in this nest of love, where the mother gives to the child. A mother's unconditional love, acceptance of a child's uniqueness, her help preparing them to discover their own dreams and to follow their personal path, requires her presence. It is a great sacrifice, but a mother who spends time with her child and participates in her child's life creates an eternal connection that will be passed on to other generations.
I believe motherhood is the greatest of all professions, and I never allowed secular employment to interfere with the nurturing of my two children. Our family considers nurturing as equal to breadwinning. Instead of being a financial sacrifice, my time at home is our most important investment. We understand that our children's future success is a by-product of being raised in a safe haven and a loving environment. I am never a "second-class" citizen, but a proud mom who is willing to make personal sacrifices to see our children grow up with good self-esteem and no doubts that their daddy and mommy love them.
Why not celebrate that one Sunday out of the year? It's a wonderful
thing to stop and remember that a mother gave us life, forgiveness,
courage, taught us right and wrong and loved us without condition
and beyond expectation.
(Rita Thompson is a member of the National Advisory Council
of the African-American leadership network Project 21. She can
be reached at Project21@nationalcenter.org.)
Note: New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21.
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