With Mothers Day having come and gone for another year, we want to remind ourselves of an essential truth for an age where extended families are miles apart and young families are often without much support outside of their church family. Churches can provide young mothers with much more than a flower once a year. We must do more.
For Sandys mother everyday was a struggle, an unwelcome cloud of doom seemed to hang over her days and invade her nights. Sandy recalls, My mother and father had a difficult and financially burdened marriage. My father didnt know how to be emotionally supportive. He thought holding my mother or trying to understand her feelings were signs of weakness. She grew depressed and isolated and hopeless. She felt trapped and alone and full of doubt. Finally, Sandys mother foundwhat seemed to her to bethe only way out of the pain. One afternoon she kissed three-year-old Sandy goodbye, found a gun, and took her own life.
Sandys father made an already difficult situation into an intolerable one. No one was even allowed to mention his wifes name again. Grief was short-circuited and aborted. Her fathers anger grew more bitter and intense.
Sandy grew up sad. I wanted to have someone love me, she said, like a mother loves a child. I missed my mother. Never would I hear my mother brag about my accomplishments, like making my bed, or baking cookies, or riding a two-wheeler. Mom wouldnt be there to kiss a boo-boo, see me in the school play, be at my graduation from college, or to watch me get married.
After Sandy got married she was, for a while, unwilling to be a mother. It wasnt that her mother wasnt there to teach her to sew, clean house, or cook. It was that my mother wasnt there to teach me how to love and I was afraid to try, Sandy confessed.
But Sandy found help. At just the right time for her a program called Young Mothers Enrichment (YME) was begun at Sandys congregation and it changed her life. Now she leads a similar program for Middle Mothers. In this monthly program she learned what mothering is all aboutthe joy, the frustration, and most of all, the love.
I can now face motherhood without a lot of fear and resentment. I can be a normal mom, Sandy acknowledges, because God is giving me the strength I need to just be me.
Young mothers need support
People love to hear the warm and wonderful stuff about mothers, they delight in children, their boundless energy, their unending fascination with the simple details of daily routines. But, what do real-life mothers do with their cynicism, their guilt, and their urge to throw the dinner plates against the fence posts? Where can you find someone who is willing to talk about that kind of stuff? At Young Mothers Enrichment, or something like it.
One version of YME
The Young Mothers Enrichment Program at the Richland Hills Church of Christ is a monthly support group for mothers of young children. The older women of the church are the leaders and they strive to give spiritual, educational, and emotional support to the young mothers who have their hands full with all the new responsibilities of motherhood.
The group meets in the morning once a month from September through May. Child care is provided free at the church building and they meet in the home of an older woman. They begin each meeting with 30-minutes of coffee and visiting. Then theres a welcome time, a devotional time, and a prayer time.
Next comes the educational time. Some of the past topics discussed by local speakers have been dental care for children, spiritual growth for mothers, child discipline, self-esteem for mother, your childs giftedness, dealing with stress, overcoming sexual boredom in marriage, car safety,etc. Lunch follows the education time.
What do real-life mothers do with their cynicism, their guilt, and their urge to throw the dinner plates against the fence posts?
Start your own version
I am confident that there are young mothers in your congregation, right now, who are in desperate need of a Young Mothers Enrichment Program, or whatever you call it. Just knowing we are not alone, serves to strengthen us, stated another of the young mothers. This type of ministry is not a luxury program for churches in the 90s, its a baseline programan urgent priority.
Training young parents is a must
One concerned young mother put it this way, I think the church has been behind in what I feel is one of its primary responsibilitiesparent training. Why is it that we spent thousands of dollars on Bible school curriculum and pennies on making sure parents are trained and supported, and affirmed?
If you want more information about YME at Richland Hills, write Lyn Rose, 5001 Surrey Ct., Fort Worth TX 76180.