I consider mothers one of God’s greatest creations. It may sound sacrilegious, but God could have done it differently. He could have made mothers more like dads, or in some way made them less influential in our lives – but he didn’t.
In her commencement speech at Wellesley College in 1990, Barbara Bush said, “Your success as a family … our success as a society depends not on what happens in the White House, but on what happens inside your house.” Commenting on Mrs. Bush’s remarks, columnist Cal Thomas said, “Home, not Congress or the White House, is where ultimate power lies.”
I would add that this power in the home lies with the mother. Mothers have the opportunity to shape their families and their communities. In a poem published in 1865, William Ross Wallace summed up the feelings of many of us when he praised motherhood by stating, “For the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.” Few of us may remember Mr. Wallace, but this line from his poem has become a well-known adage.
Mothers set the tone of a home, and if the father is a single parent, he needs to be sure his kids have a woman to act as a surrogate mother. Their grandmother often volunteers, but an aunt, a neighbor, or even a good sitter can fill this position. Furthermore, there is scientific proof that a mother’s mood can determine the mood of her children. According to a 2006 study in New York, children whose mothers were depressed had a two to three times greater risk of being depressed, anxious, or acting out violently than children whose mothers were not depressed. Treatment of the mother with antidepressant medication resulted in resolution of the children’s symptoms within three months.
In the South they say, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Lindsey O’Connor has a book by that name, as do Kris and Brian Gillespie. These books show how mothers can find joy and happiness in ordinary living and thereby provide a family with a positive attitude.
Psychologists tell us that women are usually more emotional than men; that they use their emotions to make decisions while men seem insensitive, calculating, and driven by reason. Because a mother’s emotions are more visible, it stands to reason that her children will pick up on her emotional state as well. We all know families with happy, outgoing mothers whose kids have the same attitude. Likewise, unhappy mothers frequently yield unhappy children. The next time you are at the airport or any other public place, watch the people. You will commonly see sad, frowning women with sad, frowning children by their side and smiling mothers with smiling kids.
Dr. Kyle Pruett is a prominent child psychiatrist at Yale Child Study Center and is considered one of the top experts on fatherhood. He and his child psychologist wife, Dr. Marsha Kline Pruett, have written Partnership Parenting: How Men and Women Parent Differently–Why It Helps Your Kids and Can Strengthen Your Marriage. Just one of their conclusions states: “Knowing that their parents feel and act differently, but that they will support each other on all the big issues and expect certain behavior, helps your child feel prepared for the world out there.”
So instead of feigning disgust with those who acknowledge male and female stereotypes, we should celebrate these differences in the sexes and see how much fun life can be.