When June Cleaver was a mom in the 1950s’ TV series “Leave It to Beaver,” her biggest concerns centered around whether her boys washed their hands, and could she get them to stop using slang.
Motherhood today swirls around so many more complicated issues than ‘50s TV moms could even imagine. Even the average mom today deals with cultural issues unheard of in the ‘50s. In addition, other moms battle with even more complexity.
Consider the struggles of these moms:
- Stacey, a single mom with two preschoolers, was sent to prison for shoplifting, and has served a one-year sentence, plus was charged with a large fine. She served her time in a prison far from her children. When she is released, she needs help finding work, a place to live, and assistance in re-establishing a schedule, and childcare for, plus relationship with, her children.
In the fictional Stacey’s case, her children would be two of roughly 1.7 million children in the U.S. whose parents are incarcerated. Often, those children are only cared for by one parent, who is then whisked away to prison. The Department of Justice comments on this:
“Although they have done nothing wrong themselves and may not even understand what has happened, they feel responsible. They are at times anxious or depressed, and the stress of coping with this major disruption in their lives may affect their performance in school or cause them to act out in ways they know they shouldn’t. Dealing with an absent parent is never easy for a child, much less when that parent has been incarcerated for a criminal offense. An innocent young person should not be left to suffer the consequences. Research shows that maintaining contact and healthy relationships in spite of the barriers represented by prison walls is not only possible but beneficial, for both the children and their parents.
- Tammy is a mom of a son with autism, age 14. She and her husband cooperatively manage caring for their son, and their well-bodied son, age 12, but she sometimes longs for support from her church community. She and her husband would love to attend church together, or take an evening out, if someone could come into their family and take the time to understand their routines, to give them relief.
Moms and parents of children with any type of disability require so much more support than average moms. Most of us know that parenting is a difficult task. Adding in a child with a disability can be completely overwhelming at times.
- Sylvia has lived illegally in the U.S. for thirteen years. She now has two daughters, ages 6 and 9. She went back to her home country to try to obtain the paperwork necessary to becoming a legal resident of the U.S., but she has been there six months with no forward progress on getting permission to return to her family. Her husband now is working two jobs to support her while she is away. Her daughters miss her every day, and the family has no way of knowing when she will arrive back in the States.
The volatile immigrant and refugee issues in the U.S. have no easy resolutions and seems to grow more unpredictable each day. In spite of the political rhetoric on this topic, people around us who struggle and are in the throes of this issue need love and support.
- Jennifer, a domestic violence victim, lives in constant fear of being beaten by her husband. Her elementary-age son and daughter were fearful as well, having heard many late-night screams from their mom, when their dad would come home in a drunken fury. She understands the cycle of rage and remorse for a perpetrator of domestic violence but lacks the courage and means to find a safe place for herself and children.
Over 1.3 million women are victims of domestic violence in the U.S. each year. Helping the women in this situation requires much sensitivity and care, plus a knowledge of all the surrounding issues.
So, how can a Women’s Ministries group help a woman in any of the cases above? Showing understanding and care to these groups of women is the first step. Consider that many of the women in the categories above possibly feel “less than” on a typical Mother’s Day. Their struggles are harder, they may be alone, and possibly have fewer resources. What small steps could your church’s ministry to women take to help?
Perhaps you could plan a Mother’s Day event with the sole purpose of encouragement—for all the biological and spiritual moms in your community. As you plan your Mother’s Day event, think in terms of those who are marginalized.
- Do you know of a mom who has been recently released from incarceration? Be sure to invite her to your Mother’s Day event. She needs the encouragement! Ask what your group could do to help her family.
- Do you know of immigrant or refugee families struggling in your area? Could you hold a Mother’s Day family game event for them? Or could you start teaching them a craft that could eventually help bring income to the family?
- In the spirit of Mother’s Day, could the women of your church reach out to a local domestic violence shelter to see what their needs are? They may need donations of product or of time from volunteers. See how you could help.
- Many single moms are probably attending your church. Consider a special event just for them! Could you have a relaxed dinner, where you plan for the kids to create a special gift for their mom? Understand that a single mom has no one to remind her kids to celebrate her on Mother’s Day.
Then consider what your local church could do as an ongoing ministry to these groups of women all year long. As the church steps up to enter the lives of struggling moms, the community around your church will be strengthened. It will truly become a Happy Mother’s Day!