- L Trevarthen
Motherhood in Crisis
Updated: Oct 20, 2020
We heard two messages at our service this week that focused on mothers and motherhood.
The first message was a personal testimony of mothering in the 21st Century. The second message brought home that motherhood is often not valued in western society. In thinking about this further, I realised it is not valued overly much in any society these days. Our speaker showed that New Zealand society today does not appear to value "family" in the same way that was done in the past. There has been progress towards gender equality, but sometimes it seems that economic constraints gets in the way of parents being able to provide a traditional family upbringing for their children. These days, many parents have to work full time, and reliance on Daycare is increasing. For those in impoverished areas, parenting falls by the wayside, and Daycare is of low quality or non-existent. Yet little seems to be invested in programmes for mothers, to help them grow and develop in parenting skills, or to give them resources to effectively raise their children.
Science, experience, and history, show us how important the formative years are for a child, and how important their home life is. Mothers play a pivotal role in the lives of their children. Sadly, sometimes they play a negative role rather than a positive one. We revel in great leaders, we applaud them. We condemn criminals, and decry them.
Yet, in each of these, the great and the worst, mothers were there. The influence of parents, and in particular mothers was, and is, crucial. Parenting can influence whether a child is a leader, a productive member of society, or at risk of becoming an addict or law-breaker. Both extremes exist, and mothers play an important part in the lifelong outcomes for their children.
No government programme, no social intervention, no community involvement, has the same influence as that of a mother, because in most cases, mothers came first.
New Zealand has approved additional funding for at-risk children - ones that are expected to remain in the "system" for some time - and that funding will sometimes be aimed at undoing the negative experiences children have had in their home lives. Some of them will never get back their innocence. They will never have their faith in humankind restored. Money alone will not undo what has happened, but it is intended to diminish the harm that has already taken place and help them in a new start.
The number of at risk children shows that somehow we are failing our mothers, or failed them in the past. The mothers who are the parents of the at risk children of today. Women are being abused and getting involved in relationships that are harmful not only for themselves but for children they have, or are about to have. We often don't have close families around anymore that can rescue the younger ones from bad situations.
There is a never ending cycle. Our daughters have not been nurtured and protected. Our children have grown up to be abusers. Our families have become fractured and broken. The generation of parents today have reaped the results of the parenting of yesterday, for good, or for ill. We, or our parents, have rejected the stringent restrictions and judgments of yesterday for acceptance and diversity, but in doing so we may have loosened the reins for uninhibited licence. The licence to express our feelings, to have unrestrained emotions - to hit, to yell, to be self-absorbed, to forget the loving long-suffering of motherhood, to forget patience and kindness.
How can we turn this around? Can we turn this around? Will we turn this around?
Every child that suffers, every mother that despairs… leaves heartbreak that spills over into the lives of others.
What can we do to prevent this? What can we do to restore family, trust, and love?
My heart was broken to hear the statistics. To hear that we are planning ahead for such pain and suffering to occur.
Mothers, I challenge you to stand up not only for your children, but to intervene when you see injustice or harm for children around you.
I know there are an abundance of mothers. Not always perfect mothers. Sometimes half in and half out mothers. But mothers nevertheless.