Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Forever Families

Skip Navigation LinksThe-Sacred-Responsibility-of-Mothers

The Sacred Responsibility of Mothers


The Family: A Proclamation to the World, states: "Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live."

Every woman who bears a child thus has a sacred responsibility to provide loving nurturance so that child can develop toward his or her highest potential. While both mothers and fathers are essential to a child's healthy development, this article centers on the contribution and responsibility of mothers. 

Mother as Nurturer

Biologically, mothers have been given the hallowed opportunity to bear children. Because they nurture the developing child in their own bodies, they almost always feel a compelling drive to protect the new, entirely dependent life they've given birth to. Most mothers also feel inherent motivation to comfort and guide their child. So it's natural in the vast majority of cases that a mother becomes her child's primary caregiver, especially during the first few years of life.

Infants and small children are completely dependent on their caregivers to survive. As a child grows, she becomes less physically dependent but continues to need the nurturing care of her mother, including acceptance, love, understanding, and teaching. These many hours of care each day make mothers most often the person closest to their children and the person with greatest influence. Experiences with Mom powerfully shape a child's perspective, attitudes, and sense of self. Without good nurturing in these early stages, a child's development can be seriously harmed. 

A Mother's Contribution

Mothering is among the most complex and demanding work imaginable. Being a mom can require learning the stages of a child's development, preparing nutritionally balanced meals, and helping with algebra. The role is made even more complex by the need for individualized parenting. As a mother spends quantity and quality time with each child, she learns each child's individual needs and the best way to lovingly fill those needs. 

Studies show mothers approach parenting differently than do fathers. While fathers tend to be more physical with their children, wrestling and tickling and playing ball, mothers tend to talk with their children more, explore feelings, and foster social skills. As children share what's going on in their lives in casual conversation, Mom gets the chance to gently guide, teach, and advise. When she does this well, her children come to see her as their number one supporter. 

Motherhood Often Devalued

Motherhood often is seen as a submissive role with few rewards. In a world that values material possessions so highly, the intangible and unpaid work of mothers can seem unimportant. A paycheck may become attractive because it may help Mom feel more valued and allows kids to have a higher standard of living. Women who buy into these ideas might start to think they're not needed at home. Maybe their children can take care of themselves or someone else can care for them just as well as they can. A mother might decide her children need the material advantages of life more than they need her presence.

But children need their mothers. No material possession can replace a mother who is present and available to her children. They thrive when Mom is home when they are, when she's loving and accepting, and when she listens to them and tries to understand. While children might complain if they don't have name-brand clothes or the latest technical gadget, as they mature they come to understand and deeply appreciate the gift of a mother who was present for them.

The Problem of Burnout

Pure fatigue is a universal experience among mothers. Add to that a society that says what you're doing isn't really very valuable and you get a dangerous combination. The risk of burnout for stay-at-home mothers is perhaps greater today than it has ever been. Mothers – and fathers – should be on alert for and guard against this danger.

Burnout rarely occurs because of major crises. Instead, it builds from the small everyday events that happen to every mother. It's more likely to occur in mothers who have unrealistic expectations and mothers who hold themselves personally responsible for things they can't control. Researcher Carol Tannenhauser (1996) offers four ideas to help mothers – and couples -- diminish the frustrations and fatigue of motherhood.

  • Align expectations with reality. What if things don't turn out perfectly? Does it really matter? As mothers sit back and look at what's truly important, it's often easier to see that life's minor follies can't spoil the big picture.
  • Do what works for you and your child. Think through your own ideas about what it means to be a good mother and what parenting style is the best fit between your personality and your child's personality. Get advice when you need it, but stay in the driver's seat. You don't have to follow other people's advice if you don't feel right about it.
  • Time take for your own rejuvenation and development. As valuable as it for you to be available at home, you don't have to be there every minute. You need time to yourself. If you don't set aside reasonable time for your own interests and development, you're more likely to burn out.
  • Maintain a support system. Every mom needs a network of relatives and friends to lean on for socializing, reassurance, and childcare relief. Nurture these relationships and ask for help when you need it. When you're under particular strain, consider supplementing your support system with professional help.

Benefits of Mothering to Mothers

Studies show that women who are mothers believe their lives have greater meaning than women who don't have children. It's difficult to measure the value of unselfishly giving of yourself to a child who depends on you. In the words of lawyer and mother Jennifer C. Braceras, mothers "reap extraordinary rewards that are impossible to quantify" (p. 2). And as researcher Ellen Galinsky (1987) points out:

Taking care of a small, dependent, growing person is transforming, because it . . . exposes our vulnerabilities as well as our nobility. We lose our sense of self, only to find it and have it change again and again. . . . We figure out how we want to interpret the wider worlds, and we learn to interact with all those who affect our children. . . . In the end, we have learned more about ourselves, about the cycles of life, and humanity itself. (p. 317)

Written by Jennifer Crockett, Wendy Woodfield, and Sarah Smith, Research Assistants, edited by Stephen F. Duncan, Professor, and Shirley Klein, Associate Professor, School of Family Life, Brigham Young University.

References

Arendell, T. (2000). Conceiving and investigating motherhood: The decade's scholarship. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62, 1192-1207.

Belenky, M. F., Clinchy, V. M., Glodberger, N. R., & Taurule, J. M. (1986). Women's ways of knowing: The development of self, voice, and mind. New York: Basic Books.

Barnard, K. E., & Martell, L. K. (1995). Mothering. In M. H., Bornstein (Ed.), Handbook of parenting. Status and social conditions of parenting (Vol. 3, pp. 3-26). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Braceras, J. C. (2001). Oh mom, poor mom. The Women's Quarterly. Retrieved from http://www.iwf.org.

Galinsky, E. (1987). The six stages of parenthood. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Hart, C. H. (2000, August). Parents do matter: Combating the myth that parents don't matter.Marriage and Families, 2-8. Retrieved from http://as3.lib.byu.edu/%7Eimaging/marriageandfamilies/pdf/august2000/parents.pdf

Hart, C. H., DeWolf, D. M., Wozniak, P., & Burts, D. C. (1992). Maternal and paternal disciplinary styles: Relations with preschoolers' playground behavioral orientations and peer status. Child Development, 63, 879-892.

Hojat, M. (1999, November 16). Theoretical perspectives and empirical findings on the role of the biological mother in human survival and development. Presentation to World Congress of Families, Geneva, Switzerland. Retrieved from http://www.worldcongress.org/gen99_speakers/gen99_hojat.htm

Knight, K. H., Elfenbein, M. H., Capozzi, L., Eason, H. A., Bernardo, M. F., & Ferus, K. S. (2000). Relationship of connected and separate knowing to parental style and birth order. Sex Roles, 43(3-4), 229-240.

Kraehmer, S. T. (1994). Quantity time: Moving beyond the quality time myth. Minneapolis: Deaconess Press.

Pettit, G. S., Brown, E. G., Mize, J., Lindsey, E. (1998). Mothers' and fathers' socializing behaviors in three contexts: Links with peer competence. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 44, 173-193.

Ross, C. E., & Van Willigen, M. (1996). Gender, parenthood, and anger. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 58, 572-584.

Tannenhauser, C. (1996). Motherhood stress. In K. S. Bahr, A. Hawkins, & S. Klein (Eds.),Readings in Family Science 371 (pp. 116-120). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt.

Vandenberghe, E. (2000). The enduring, happy marriage: Finding and implications from research.Strenthening Our Familes (pp. 17-19). Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft.

Widtsoe, J. A. (1983). Discourses of Brigham Young: Second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book.


​​​​​​​​​​​
​​​

The Sacred Responsibility of Mothers


A Mother's Critical Role

Mothersand fathers have perhaps the most demanding, multi-dimensional, andcomplex of all roles in the human family. The unique contributions ofeach are crucial to healthy child development (Hart, 2000). Thisarticle focuses on the responsibilities of mothers. 

Mother as Primary Caretaker

In every known culture throughout the history of the world, mothers are the primary caregivers to the children they bear. Many people might assist her, including fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, caregivers, and neighbors. But almost always it's mothers who assume the principal responsibility for their children, and for the most part they freely and happily choose that role. God created the female body in a way that women have the honor of bearing and nourishing children, and most want to take on that sacred responsibility if they can.

Mohammadreza Hojat (1999), a research professor at Thomas Jefferson University, recently reported findings that suggest this desire is inborn. Nature has provided biological mothers with an innate inclination to nurture the children they bear, making them in most cases the best possible caregivers for their children. Women in general, in fact, whether they are biological mothers or not, apparently have an inborn desire to nurture children. In addition, most women feel protective and nurturing toward children whether they are biologically theirs or not.

Nurturing: The Work of Mothers

Scholars define mothering many ways, but most include the idea that nurturing children is the central task. Nurturing includes meeting children's physical demands, such as food, clothing, and protection. And it includes loving, cherishing, educating, and training them. 

Because children are so completely dependent when they're first born, this work is "wholly child centered, emotionally involving, and time-consuming" (Arendell, p. 1194). One of the most important objectives of all this work is to raise children to become upstanding, responsible members of their community (Dictionary, 2003; Ruddick, 1989).

It's mainly through experiences with their mothers that children develop their identity and learn their place in society (Arendell, 2000, p. 1192). Sociologist Amitai Etzioni (1996) explains: "Infants are born only with a human potential, one that is not self-realizing. They must be made human" (p. 167).

An article in the Wall Street Journal described the multi-dimensional role of a mother as "the most creative job in the world." To be effective she needs knowledge in many areas, including "taste, fashion, decorating, recreation, education, transportation, psychology, romance, cuisine, designing, literature, medicine, handicraft, art, horticulture, economics, government, community relations, pediatrics, geriatrics, entertainment, maintenance, purchasing, direct mail, law, accounting, religion, energy and management. Anyone who can handle all those has to be somebody special." (As quoted in Hinckley, 1983, ¶ 26).

Society's De-Valuing of Motherhood

As important as mothering is, many women find it increasingly difficult to fulfill that role because society doesn't value it as it once did. Mothering offers few quick rewards, none of them material. In a society where instant gratification and material possessions are all-important, many mothers come to believe that their work is not as important as paid employment. The work of mothers does not offer "promotions, raises or any other tangible and ego-gratifying perks available in other professions" (Tannenhauser, 1996, p. 119).

Though many women have no choice but to be employed, some choose employment, often because they listen to society's message that what really matters are material possessions, power, and position. As a result the number of employed mothers has tripled in the last 30 years for all racial and ethnic groups (Arendell, 2000). Fewer and fewer mothers are spending the majority of their waking hours with their children.

In a recent World Congress on Families, legal scholar Bruce Hafen (1999) commented on this declining attitude toward mothering: "Devaluing motherhood devalues everything else women do. When society devalues the primary work of most women throughout history, we tell women that it is really women who aren't worth serious consideration" (¶ 24).

Economic commentator Ann Crittenden also has spoken against the devaluing of mothers. In her book The Price of Motherhood, Crittenden shows that approximately two-thirds of the Gross Domestic Product in the United States is created by "human capital" - by curious, capable, skilled human beings who can become skilled in these ways only when they are nurtured well as children. Human potential is stimulated or stunted during the earliest years, so mothers and other primary caregivers of children are society's greatest wealth producers. When we devalue them and their work, we impair the ability of future generations to function to their fullest economically.

Another kind of devaluing of motherhood occurs when society blames mothers disproportionately for social problems. Chieko Okazaki (1993), a respected religious leader, offers the following advice to mothers on that topic:

I have had a sense that many mothers are wandering in . . . a wilderness, burdened with guilt that they have accepted but of which they are innocent. It is true that much is expected of . . . women. Mothers bear a great responsibility. But guilt is a burden they need not pick up. They need not make themselves responsible for the deficiencies of society. It is not for them to bear unmerited guilt for divorce, juvenile delinquency, drug abuse, teenage sexuality, theft, and violence. (p. 130)

Individual Development of Children

Every mother has her own personality, tendencies, strengths and weaknesses. So does every child. "Mothers do not nurture, protect, or socialize their children in identical ways or circumstances" (Arendell, 2000, p. 1195). Mothering thus becomes a learning process that evolves over time with each mother-child relationship (Arendell; Barnard & Martell, 1995). Researchers urge mothers to study their child's dispositions and temperaments and adapt their parenting style accordingly (Arendell; Widtsoe, 1983). 

Research shows that mothers influence the development of their children in several important ways:

Play. When mothers play with their children, they tend to center their activity on communication. Fathers tend to be more active and physical when playing with their children. For example, mothers might bring out the "Play Dough" and ask their son or daughter how they feel about one of their friends (Pettit, 1998) while fathers may enjoy playing sports, wrestling, and tickling their children. As mothers focus on verbal expression, they are more influential in helping their children build social skills that will help them succeed in friendships.

Training in social skills. Mothers also have more influence than fathers in teaching children social behavior, especially behavior that affects children's ability to be accepted by peers (Hart, DeWolf, Wozniak, & Burts, 1992). Mothers help their children sort out correct and incorrect behaviors, mostly through talking one-on-one with their child about appropriate behavior. These mother-child talks are especially influential on a daughter's social life. Studies show fathers are much less influential in this area for both daughters and sons (Hart et al., 1992).

Children also develop intimacy, empathy, and a sense of equality with others from their relationship with their mothers. Researchers call this kind of development "connected knowing." Fathers apparently don't have much influence on this type of learning (Belenky, Clinchy, Glodberger, & Taurule, 1986; Knight, Elfenbein, Capozzi, Eason, Bernardo, & Ferus, 2000). Children whose mothers guide them in friendships and give feedback on their ideas and efforts scored much higher on social ratings tests. This was especially true for daughters who have quality discussions with their mothers (Pettit, 1998).

Maternal Burnout

While mothering is a meaningful experience, it can be stressful and frustrating. Children's demands are constant and continue over many years (Hawkins et al., 2000; Kraehmer, 1994). The result for some mothers is maternal burnout. It's not usually caused by a major crisis but instead by the unrelenting demands of everyday life. Researcher S. T. Kraehmer (1994) says burnout "manifests itself as sickness, an overload of stress, a need to participate in a favorite activity, a desire to be with other adults, and particularly as a desire to be away from children" (p. 118).

As mothers sacrifice daily for their children, they can find peace in knowing that their choices are endorsed by God. That doesn't mean motherhood will ever be easy—it is always challenging and often overwhelming. It takes great faith for mothers to continue nurturing when they feel besieged. The following suggestions, adapted from Tannenhauser's article (1996), may help mothers prevent maternal burnout:

  • Align expectations with realty. Many women feel tremendous pressure to do everything perfectly. When they inevitably fall short of these unrealistic expectations they feel frustrated, inadequate, resentful, and guilty. Then the self-destructive cycle of burnout begins. As mothers let go of idealistic images of motherhood they reduce their stress.
  • Do what is right for you and your child. Regardless of what television, child care experts, relatives, and friends say mothers should be doing, do what you feel is right. Take the time to establish your own ideas about parenting. It's fine to reflect on advice from others, but you don't have to accept any advice you're not comfortable with.
  • Rejuvenate yourself. Mothers tend to find hundreds of reasons they can't take an hour to do something that renews them. But if they don't, they risk the serious consequences of burnout. Thus it's vital that mothers to make time daily to do small things they enjoy, such as exercising, reading, meditating, soaking in a bath, etc. (Kraehmer, 1994; Tannenhauser). Bigger replenishing plans are important, too, such as attending workshops that develop your interests or skills, working, or furthering your education. Developing your abilities enables you to reach out and share them with your family and community members. Hawkins, et al. (2000) comments:
    Nurturing responsibilities in the home should not overshadow the need for personal rejuvenation and development. One cannot serve from an empty plate. A mother who takes time for regular rejuvenation does not necessarily subtract from her ability to nurture. . . . Instead, she adds to her reservoir of energy to care for her children. (p. 73)
  • Maintain a support system.Mothers with strong support systems are less likely to burn out. Closerelatives and friends can provide comfort, advice, and child care intimes of need. Dartmouth psychiatry professor Kathleen Kovner-Kline (asquoted in Moore, 2002) says that people tend to "underestimate thelevel of support a mother requires" (p. 1). A healthy marriage is animportant element of support because it supports both the mother andthe mother-child relationship. A healthy, stable environment also helpswith the baby's brain development. If you feel burnout symptoms comingon, don't withdraw yourself from friends or family but share yourconcerns with them and with professionals when needed (Kraehmer, 1994).

The Effects of Mothering on Mothers Themselves

While quality mothering benefits children and society, mothers themselves benefit too. Recent studies found that women with children report greater meaning in their lives than women without children (Arendell, 2000; Ross & Van Willigen, 1996). That meaning likely comes from the abundant opportunities for personal growth that mothering offers.

Taking care of a small, dependent, growing person is transforming, because it. . . exposes our vulnerabilities as well as our nobility. We lose our sense of self, only to find it and have it change again and again. . . . We figure out how we want to interpret the wider worlds, and we learn to interact with all those who affect our children. . . . In the end, we have learned more about ourselves, about the cycles of life, and humanity itself. (Galinsky, 1987, p. 317)

Written by Jennifer Crockett and Wendy Woodfield, Research Assistants, edited by Stephen F. Duncan, Professor, and Shirley Klein, Associate Professor, School of Family Life, Brigham Young University.


References

Arendell, T. (2000). Conceiving and investigating motherhood: The decade's scholarship. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62, 1192-1207.

Belenky, M. F., Clinchy, V.M., Glodberger, N. R., & Taurule, J. M. (1986). Women's ways of knowing: The development of self voice, and mind. New York: Basic Books.

Barnard, K. E., & Martell, L. K. (1995). Mothering. In M. H., Bornstein (Ed.), Handbook of parenting. Status and social conditions of parenting (Vol. 3, pp. 3-26). Maywah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Crittenden, A(2001). The price of motherhood: Why the most important job in the world is still the least valued. New York: Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt.

Dictionary (2003). "Nurture." Retrieved from http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=nurture

Etzioni, A. (1996). The new golden rule: Community and morality in a democratic society. New York: Basic Books.

Furman, E. (1993). Toddlers & their mothers: Abridged version for parents and educators. Madison, CT: International Universities Press.

Galinsky, E. (1987). The six stages of parenthood. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Gutmann, D. (1998, Winter). The paternal imperative. The American Scholar, 118-124.

Hafen, B. C. (1999, November 16). Motherhood and the moral influence of women. Presentation to World Congress of Families, Geneva, Switzerland. Retrieved from http://www.worldcongress.org/gen99_speakers/gen99_hafen.htm

Hart, C. H. (2000, August). Parents do matter: Combating the myth that parents don't matter. Marriage and Families, 2-8. Retrieved from http://as3.lib.byu.edu/%7Eimaging/marriageandfamilies/pdf/august2000/parents.pdf

Hart, C. H., DeWolf, D. M., Wozniak, P., Burts, D. C. (1992). Maternal and paternal disciplinary styles: Relations with preschoolers' playground behavioral orientations and peer status. Child Development, 63, 879-892.

Hawkins, A. J., Spangler, D. L., Hudson, V., Dollahite, D. C., Klein, S. R., Rugh, S. S., et al. (2000). Equal partnership and the sacred responsibilities of mothers and fathers. In D. C. Dollahite (Ed.),Strengthening our families: An in-depth look at the proclamation on the family (pp. 63-82). Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft.

Hinckley, G. B. (1983, November). Live up to your inheritance. Ensign, 81-84.

Holland, J. R. (1997, May). "Because she is mother." Ensign, 35.

Hojat, M. (1999, November 16). Theoretical perspectives and empirical findings on the role of the biological mother in human survival and development. Presentation to World Congress of Families, Geneva, Switzerland. Retrieved from http://www.worldcongress.org/gen99_speakers/gen99_hojat.htm

Knight, K. H., Elfenbein, M. H., Capozzi, L., Eason, H. A., Bernardo, M. F., & Ferus, K. S. (2000). Relationship of connected and separate knowing to parental style and birth order. Sex Roles, 43(3-4), 229-240.

Kraehmer, S. T. (1994). Quantity time: Moving beyond the quality time myth. Minneapolis: Deaconess Press.

Manning, W. D. (1995). Cohabitation, marriage, and entry into motherhood. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 57, 191-200.

Moore, A. (2002). Never hug and kiss your children! Family Times, 14, 1-3.

Okazaki, C. N. (1993). Lighten up! Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book.

Pettit, G. S., Brown, E. G., Mize, J., Lindsey, E. (1998). Mothers' and fathers' socializing behaviors in three contexts: Links with peer competence. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 44, 173-193.

Ross, C. E., & Van Willigen, M. (1996). Gender, parenthood, and anger. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 58, 572-584.

Ruddick, S. (1989). Maternal thinking. Boston: Beacon Press.

Tannenhauser, C. (1996). Motherhood stress. In K. S. Bahr, A. Hawkins, & S. Klein (Eds.), Readings in family science 371 (pp. 116-120). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt.

Widtsoe, J. A. (1983). Discourses of Brigham Young: Second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book.

 ​

The Sacred Responsibility of Mothers


The Responsibility of Mothers

The Family: A Proclamation to the World clearly and simply states the responsibility of mothers: "By divine design. . . mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children" (¶ 7). President Boyd K. Packer (1993) has further said: "The woman, by her very nature, is. . . the primary nurturer of the children. Virtues and attributes upon which perfection and exaltation depend come naturally to a woman and are refined through marriage and motherhood" (¶ 19).

Mothers are blessed as they diligently teach and nurture their children. They learn about the plan of salvation and their potential future as eternal mothers. In 1942 the First Presidency declared, "Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind. It places her who honors its holy calling and service next to the angels" (as quoted in Packer, 1993, ¶ 41).

This sacred work of mothers is crucial because of its powerful influence in children’s lives. Brigham Young University scholars explain mothering this way:

Motherhood is a . . . sacred dedication for carrying out the Lord’s plans, a consecration of devotion to the uprearing and fostering, the nurturing in body, mind, and spirit, of those who kept their first estate and who come to this earth for the second estate "to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them" (Abraham 3:25). To lead them to keep their second estate is the work of motherhood, and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads forever and ever. (Hawkins et al., 2000, p. 70)

The Presence of Mothers

Mothering is highly complex and becomes more so as the world continues to change rapidly. Children are increasingly faced with difficult situations that are more complicated than their young minds can comprehend. More than ever, they need sensible advice from caring mothers and fathers who offer it in a way that doesn’t impose upon their agency but helps them develop their own decision-making skills.

With these difficult times comes an increasing need for mothers to be home with their children, not only in spirit but also in person. When children return from school, work, and social outings they are overflowing with new information and new experiences. Mothers, often the first person a child encounters when arriving home, need to be prepared to listen, support, and teach. By studying their children’s dispositions and responding accordingly, being aware of their challenges, counseling with their husbands, fasting and praying, and then relying on the guidance and inspiration they receive from the Holy Ghost, they can be a great blessing to their children.

Church leaders understand the important role of mothers and have always encouraged mothers to be home whenever possible. H. Burke Peterson, while serving as first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric (1974), said:

Our Father in heaven wants you to be in your home to guide these spirits as no one else can, in spite of material sacrifices that may result. He created you to learn to be a good mother—an eternal mother. It is your first and foremost calling. No baby-sitter, no grandmother, no neighbor, no friend, no Relief Society sister, older brother or sister, or even a loving dad can take your place. (¶ 19)

He continued:

Brothers and sisters, do without if you need to, but don’t do without mother. . . . Satan would have us believe that money or the things money can buy are more important in the home than mother. . . . Far better for a boy or girl to go to school in last year’s shirts or hand-me-down[s]. . . that are clean even though not in the height of fashion and come home to find mother there, than for a boy or girl to go to school in finer and newer clothes and come home to a new TV or a baby-sitter because Mother is away working. (¶ 6, 8, 19)

Ideally, every mother would be home nurturing and rearing her children and most would cherish that opportunity. Many mothers, though, must enter the workforce to help provide the necessities of life. President Hinckley (1996) comments:

I recognize. . . that there are some women (it has become very many in fact) who have to work to provide for the needs of their families. To you I say, do the very best you can. I hope that if you are employed full-time you are doing it to ensure that basic needs are met and not simply to indulge in taste for an elaborate home, fancy cars, and other luxuries. The greatest job that any mother will ever do will be in nurturing, teaching, lifting, encouraging, and rearing her children in righteousness and truth. None other can adequately take her place. (¶ 32)

Blessings to Mothers

As mothers sacrifice daily for their children, they can find peace in knowing that their choices are endorsed by the Lord. That doesn’t mean motherhood will ever be easy – it is always challenging and often overwhelming. It takes great faith for mothers to continue nurturing when they feel besieged. But as mothers turn to the Lord and to their extended family and friends for help, the Lord will provide "a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them" (see 1 Nephi 3:7).

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (1997) offers these comforting words:

Mothers, we acknowledge and esteem your faith in every footstep. Please know that it is worth it then, now, and forever. . . .Yours is the work of salvation, and therefore you will be magnified, compensated, made more than you are and better than you have ever been as you try to make honest effort, however feeble you may sometimes feel that to be. (¶ 20)

President Hinckley (1996) comments, "As the years pass, you will become increasingly grateful for that which you did in molding the lives of your children in the direction of righteousness and goodness, integrity and faith" (¶ 34).

And in all of this, Elder Holland (1997) implores:

Remember, remember, all the days of your motherhood. . . [to] rely on Him. Rely on Him heavily. Rely on Him forever. . . . He is blessing you and He will bless you, even—no, especially—when your days and your nights may be the most challenging. . . . Christ will say to the women who worry and wonder and sometimes weep over their responsibility as mothers, "Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole" (Matthew 9:22). And it will make your children whole as well. (¶ 21-22)

Additional Reading

A Parent’s Guide

Guidebook for Parents and Leaders of Youth

Written by Jennifer Crockett, Research Assistant, edited by Stephen F. Duncan, Professor, School of Family Life, Brigham Young University.


References

The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (1995, November). The family: A proclamation to the world. Ensign, 102. 

Hawkins, A. J., Spangler, D. L., Hudson, V., Dollahite, D. C., Klein, S. R., Rugh, et al. (2000). Equal partnership and the sacred responsibilities of mothers and fathers. In D. C. Dollahite (Ed.),Strengthening our families: An in-depth look at the proclamation on the family (pp. 63-82). Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft.

Hinckley, G. B. (1996, November). Women of the churchEnsign, 67-69. 

Holland, J. R. (1997, May). Because she is a motherEnsign, 35-37. 

Packer, B. K. (1993, November). For time and all eternityEnsign, 21-23. 

Peterson, H. B. (1974, May). Mother, catch the vision of your call. Ensign, 31-32.