A Mother’s Honored Role
A MOTHER’S role has often been unappreciated and even belittled. A few decades ago, some people began to demean the role of caring for children. Their view was that it was less important than a career and was even a form of oppression. While most would find that attitude extreme, mothers are commonly made to feel that being a homemaker and caring for children is a second-class occupation. Some even feel that a woman needs a career outside the home in order to realize her full potential.
Yet, many husbands and children have come to appreciate the mother’s role in the family. Carlo, who serves at the branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Philippines, explains: “I am here today because of the training my mother gave me. My father was a disciplinarian and carried out punishment quickly, but Mother helped us by explaining and reasoning things out. I really appreciate her way of teaching.”
Peter, in South Africa, is one of six children who were raised by a mother with a limited education. His father had abandoned the family. Peter reflects: “As a maid and a janitor, Mother did not earn much. It was difficult for her to pay school fees for all of us. Often we went to bed hungry. It was a challenge for her just to keep a roof over our heads. In spite of all these difficulties, Mother never gave up. She taught us never to compare ourselves with others. Were it not for her courageous commitment, we would never have made it through life the way we did.”
A Nigerian husband, Ahmed, expresses how he feels about his wife’s assistance in raising their children: “I appreciate my wife’s role. When I am not at home, I have confidence that the children are well cared for. Instead of feeling challenged by my wife, I thank her and let the children know that they must respect her just as they respect me.”
A Palestinian man readily praises his wife’s success as a mother: “Lina has accomplished a lot with our daughter and contributes much to the spirituality of our family. From what I can see, her success is due to her religious beliefs.” Lina is one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and follows Bible principles in educating her daughter.
What are some of these principles? What can be said about the Bible’s view of mothers? How were mothers in early times accorded a position of dignity and respect as educators of their children?
A Balanced View of Mothers
At creation the woman was assigned an honorable role in the family arrangement. The opening book of the Bible says: “Jehovah God went on to say: ‘It is not good for the man to continue by himself. I am going to make a helper for him, as a complement of him.’” (Genesis 2:18) The first woman, Eve, was thus provided as Adam’s complement, or counterpart. She was fitted just perfectly to be a helper for him. She was to be a part of God’s purpose for them to produce children and care for them as well as to take care of the earth and its animals. She would provide the intellectual stimulus and support of a true companion. How happy Adam was for receiving this beautiful gift from the Creator!—Genesis 1:26-28; 2:23.
Later, God established guidelines as to how women were to be treated. For example, Israelite mothers were to be shown honor and not to be treated with contempt. If a son ‘called down evil upon his father and his mother,’ he would be subject to the death penalty. Christian youths were urged to be “obedient to [their] parents.”—Leviticus 19:3; 20:9; Ephesians 6:1; Deuteronomy 5:16; 27:16; Proverbs 30:17.
Under the husband’s direction, the mother was to be the educator of both daughters and sons. A son was commanded ‘not to forsake the law of his mother.’ (Proverbs 6:20) Also, Proverbs chapter 31 provides “the weighty message that [King Lemuel’s] mother gave to him in correction.” She wisely directed her son to avoid improper use of alcoholic beverages, saying: “It is not for kings to drink wine or for high officials to say: ‘Where is intoxicating liquor?’ that one may not drink and forget what is decreed and pervert the cause of any of the sons of affliction.”—Proverbs 31:1, 4, 5.
Further, every young man contemplating marriage would be wise to consider the description of “a capable wife” that was given by King Lemuel’s mother, who said: “Her value is far more than that of corals.” Then, after describing the important contribution that such a wife makes to a household, the king’s mother said: “Charm may be false, and prettiness may be vain; but the woman that fears Jehovah is the one that procures praise for herself.” (Proverbs 31:10-31) Clearly, our Creator made women to occupy a position of honor and responsibility in the family.
In the Christian congregation, wives and mothers are also honored and appreciated. Ephesians 5:25 says: “Husbands, continue loving your wives.” To the young man Timothy, whose mother and grandmother raised him to respect “the holy writings,” this inspired counsel was given: “Entreat . . . older women as mothers.” (2 Timothy 3:15; 1 Timothy 5:1, 2) Thus, a man should have respect for an older woman as if she were his mother. Truly, God values women and accords them a dignified place.
Express Your Appreciation
A man raised in a culture in which women were viewed as inferior relates: “I received an education centered on the man, and I have observed the mistreatment of and lack of respect for women. So I have had to struggle to view women as the Creator views them—as a complement, or helpmate, in the home and as part of a team in the education of children. Although it is difficult for me to express words of praise to my wife, I recognize that what is good in my children is due to her labor.”
Indeed, mothers who assume their responsibility as educators can feel proud of their role. It is a worthwhile career. They rightfully deserve commendation and heartfelt expressions of appreciation. We learn so much from mothers—habits that stand us in good stead throughout life, good manners so essential for good relationships, and in many cases a moral and spiritual upbringing that keeps youths on course. Have you recently expressed your appreciation to your mother for what she has done for you?
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Peter’s mother taught him not to give up
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Ahmed greatly appreciates his wife’s help in raising their children
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Lina’s husband attributes their daughter’s fine behavior to his wife’s religious beliefs