A grandfather related this story: "A few months ago our two youngest granddaughters visited us — one each week. I was at home and answered the door. My wife, Mary, was in another room. In both cases, after a hug, they said almost the same thing. They looked around and then said, “I love to be in Grandma’s house. Where is Grandma?” I didn’t say it to them, but I was thinking, “Isn’t this Grandpa’s house too?” But I realized that when I was a boy, our family went to Grandma’s house. The words of a familiar song came into my mind: “Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go.”
When fathers and mothers are present, indeed, the home belongs to them both and both have equal partnership and importance. Not diminishing the substantive role of fathers and men, this article turns the focus on the influence good women — wives and mothers — can have in families. The grandpa in this story, Quentin Cook, stated, "There are many voices now telling women how to live. They often contradict each other. Of particular concern are philosophies that criticize or diminish respect for women who choose to make the sacrifices necessary to be mothers, teachers, nurturers, or friends to children."
A religious leader, D. Todd Christofferson, echoed the imperative role of mothers:
"A woman’s moral influence is nowhere more powerfully felt or more beneficially employed than in the home. There is no better setting for rearing the rising generation than the traditional family, where a father and a mother work in harmony to provide for, teach and nurture their children. Where this ideal does not exist, people strive to duplicate its benefits as best they can in their particular circumstances.
In all events, a mother can exert an influence unequaled by any other person in any other relationship. By the power of her example and teaching, her sons learn to respect womanhood and to incorporate discipline and high moral standards in their own lives. Her daughters learn to cultivate their own virtue and to stand up for what is right, again and again, however unpopular. A mother’s love and high expectations lead her children to act responsibly without excuses, to be serious about education and personal development, and to make ongoing contributions to the well-being of all around them."
Taking these wise words to heart, we can cultivate an appreciation for and attributes of those who nurture. It comes down to values. Here are a few:
Tune out the world when necessary and the contradictory opinions we often hear. Mothers as well as fathers are given intuition once their baby is born. They will be making life-altering decisions such as where to live, what the family lifestyle will be, who will provide financially, how care giving will be shared and who cherishes the best interest of their baby. Since this is God's child as well, invite his voice to guide you in choosing what is best through frequent and sincere prayer. Listen to your inner voice and value this great gift!
Mothers and fathers are in a unique position when they value parenthood. They possess the integrity in words and actions to model virtuous living. As mentioned, mothers and fathers show their sons how to respect womanhood. Daughters have a daily example of how to live with high moral standards no matter what the crowd prefers. Children see how parents translate ideals into practical living and how they are expected to live accordingly. Education, personal development, social consciousness and other attributes are best taught in homes where a mother is clear and true to her own standards and conscience.
Value the sacrifice
Giving up some things we love for other, better priorities is generally not something the world teaches. We are given to believe that we can have everything — now! But, those with an understanding of the laws of nature know that we cannot rush a harvest and work comes before play. Children enrolled in school frequently look out the window and long for endless summer vacation days, but the sacrifice of giving up fun temporarily for the prize of education teaches us that we give up some things in order to achieve what is of most value.
When they are able, mothers may make sacrifices by putting careers on hold temporarily or permanently to have a larger presence in their children's lives. Others who need to work may make adjustments in the work-life balance or design a more flexible work schedule that benefits their children and the mother's ability to nurture. Whatever that nurturing role looks like, we should respect a mother's decision and not judge since every sacrifice is personal and between a parent and God.
Value the hand that rocks the cradle
In the famous poem by William Ross Wallace, he asserts, "The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world." Our hands are the architects of the next generation. No matter the leader, good or bad, they most likely had their first lessons at their mother's knee. We should take this responsibility with serious concern and always remember the quote by Abraham Lincoln which is true of all good mothers: "All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother."
Quentin Cook not only shared his wisdom as a religious leader, but as a husband, father and elderly grandfather. He has witnessed the disintegration of families and the valuing of those who nurture. This final word of warning from him is also a call to action to each of us: "Now let me say unequivocally that I am thrilled with the educational and other opportunities that are available to women. I treasure the fact that the backbreaking work and domestic drudgery required of women has been reduced in much of the world because of modern conveniences and that women are making such magnificent contributions in every field of endeavor. But if we allow our culture to reduce the special relationship that children have with mothers and grandmothers and others who nurture them, we will come to regret it."
Julie K. Nelson is the author of "Parenting With Spiritual Power" and "Keep It Real and Grab a Plunger: 25 tips for surviving parenthood." She is a mom of 5, a proud grandma, and a speaker and professor at Utah Valley University. Her website is www.aspoonfulofparenting.com where she writes articles on the joys, challenges, and power of parenting.