Creating Family Community
Father's Support Group
Mother's Support Group
Parents as Partners
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Much More Than Just Nurturing
A Mother's Work is
whether they are single, married, full-time, part-time or stay at home
workers have a continual responsibility to protect, nurture, strengthen,
and guide their children. It is our responsibility as mothers to provide
these characteristics to all of our children."
Left: E. Bellinger,
with her two sons.
Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow
today is much different from the past when the traditional role of a mother
was that of nurturer and housekeeper while the father was the breadwinner.
Changes in the times for women and families include not only the the women's
liberation movement and educational advances; but economics (competitive
incomes) and high divorce rates have caused home stability issues where women
can no longer afford to be in the primary role as the "stay at
The single headed household has emerged with the rise in the divorce rate; so
in many cases women have found themselves with no choice but to enter into the
as the median income increased and it became more expensive to live in cities
and towns, married women who once stayed home, found themselves entering into
the work force to help maintain household expenses.
Their salaries contributed to the well-being of the two-parent family.
Today, most women
in the United States who
had put their education on hold to have families or who had limited skills,
have returned to schools to better their education for employment purposes. In
many cases, entering into the work force meant that mom was no longer home to
provide her children with all the nurturing they needed and many children were
being left home to fend for themselves out of necessity. Child care is usually
the focus of the issue because the cost is so high that working class people
often have to decide between heat, food and childcare. To give you an idea of
the scope of the problem: in the state of Massachusetts alone
"latch-key" children make up 30% of all households while the State
Department of Education estimates that from 600,000 to 800,000 children in
California fit into the category we label as "latch key kids." The
term "latch-key" means that these children let themselves in when
they get home from school and typically the TV is their mother/nurturer.
Today, the role of nurturer and provider has become paramount.
Compounding these issues include many circumstances where families with two
incomes can barely make ends meet. There are many two income families who are
barely making it and some thriving just above the federal poverty lines. These
families along with single headed female households are
literally living from paycheck
to paycheck. In 2003, with the cutbacks in federal and state services
such as food stamps and Medicaid, both single parent and working-class
two parent families have had to work longer and harder to provide the basic
necessities for everyday living. This means that children are being left alone
for longer and longer periods of time.
in general have an awesome role, and mothers in particular are still expected
to juggle the complexities of the nurturer, provider, spiritual leader,
teacher, protector, coach, mediator, anticipator of harm, cheer leader, mentor
and as mentioned above the wife or primary breadwinner, etc.
I asked my twelve year old son to tell me what the most important role of a
mother is. He responded by saying, " the most important role of a mother
is to was to protect her children from all the things that could harm
them". That's a profound statement when one ponders the thought. What are
some of the things that can harm children? I came up with my own list
that I feel is worth mentioning such as, drugs, lack of education, abuse,
neglect, self esteem issues, lack of morals and spirituality, lack of
leadership, love, morals, in some cases
the environment, and a lack of
communication skills and so on. In today's world, when you think about all of
the things that have the potential of being harmful, both parents have a job
is more complex than ever and more than 60% of women in the United States make
this journey alone as single parents.
I feel that my job as a mother is
to nurture, strengthen, and provide for my family (children, husband and
relatives) to the best of my ability. That
includes making sure that I raise children who will grow up to be
contributing adults to society. Because
teaching children responsibility and integrity entails so many things, I have
had to become very resourceful, after all, "how does one instill a strong sense of values and
morals?" Since I asked myself that question, I've learned that I
am their teacher, in a way I feel my job and their school teachers jobs are
70/30 - 70% of course being me. If I am doing my best to help educate my children then
they will succeed. It is my job to teach my
children and prepare them for the teacher since teaching my children goes way
beyond the classroom. Teaching, in my perspective involves preparing my
children for our surroundings and community environment. No one should know my
children or their habits better than I do, I should know the areas where they are strong and
weak and be able to articulate and help them in both. I
have earned to speak up on behalf of my children to make sure they are getting the
possible best at all times. I've learned the value of parent participation in
the school and attending parent- teacher conferences and having a presence at
their school. I have become their advocate just as I have learned to express
when they are right and when they are wrong. I have often
expressed to my children that I would plead their case before the supreme
court if I felt that they were right. I have earned that if I have a standard
of values and morals then they too will have that standard. It is also
my place to demonstrate that we will not settle for less or deviate
from that standard. And I have also learned to be totally honest with
my children about everything good and bad that I have encountered in my life.
Sometimes they ask very tough questions that we as would
rather not answer. "Did you ever do drugs mom?
you ever lie?, steal?, cheat?"
Be that as it may, I find that
honesty is the best policy. It is that honesty that opens up communication
that leads to healthy interactions with my kids. Honest interaction allows
my children to want to
talk about these and other things openly. I would rather that they felt secure
in communicating with me than communicating with others who don't have their best interest
at heart - that is not to say that I know it all. There are times when I
cannot be available for them or have an answer for them right away but at least we can
explore whenever it is necessary.
I have learned to trust in God. There's no sense in fooling myself by thinking
that I've got it all under control at all times. God my father knows what's best
for all of his children. One of the reasons is that I truly believe that children are a
gift and motherhood is also a
gift from God; and because he is all knowing, all seeing ,and all powerful
when I am overwhelmed with my responsibilities as a mother I give my concerns
to him and he never fails to do the right thing. Lord I need this, Lord I
need that, Lord help me to be a good mom, Lord open up the door, Lord we need a
scholarship or vacation". He never fails to do what I can't and so much
also learned to set health boundaries that promote family well-being around
the lives of my children. No,
you can not bring home a "D" and think that its acceptable. No, you
can not go out with people I don't' know. No, you do not have a choice in this
particular matter. No, I'm sorry but I am committed. No, you are not allowed. Yes, you will join the Chess Club,
Math league, or Tennis Team. Yes, you will do your homework and get decent
grades. Yes, you may do this as long as you do that. Yes, I will buy you
sneakers but not those.
In addition, I have learned that I must be in control and once I have that control I can then
invite alternatives, and planning with my children which will lead to many happy
events. In doing so, I have learned to set boundaries for myself, for
instance, once I commit my children to a program such as baseball team, it is my responsibility
to get them there, provide for their needs as part of the team and to not let
them quit until the season is over. When they come home and say "mom can I learn to play the flute"
I have a responsibility to provide that flute for the school
year and not to allow them to quit until after their recital.
This I have found prepares them to be responsible and teaches
them the art and experience of commitment.