A Godly Man’s Guide to Mother’s Day

This past weekend was Mother’s Day in the United States. For me, it is a day with some sadness since my mother passed away in 2017. For others, it’s a complicated and confusing day about how to celebrate mothers. Most of us will honor the mother of our children. Some may give a card to their child’s mother even if they are no longer married. Some will mess the day up completely and not celebrate it saying, “Well, you’re not my mother”. Hopefully, many will also celebrate their mother-in-law. But what do you say if the day is a painful reminder of a miscarriage or infertility? 

Here’s some background on Mother’s Day and a few suggestions for celebrating mothers of all types. Feel free to weigh in via the comments if I’ve gone “off the road” or if you disagree. You can also provide some additional suggestions. 

The Origins of Mother’s Day

According to an article Men Are Right to Be Terrified About Mother’s Day. The original purpose of Mother’s Day, first proposed by Anna Marie Jarvis in 1907, was for children to take the time to express appreciation to their mothers. Ms. Jarvis envisaged a simple tradition in which each child hand-wrote a note to their mother thanking her for all she had done throughout the year. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson declared the day a national holiday here in America. But from that point on, as far as Jarvis was concerned, the day of celebration went downhill.

While the initial sentiment of Mother’s Day remains important, the holiday has a long history shaped by economic profit. In the early 1920s, the holiday became widely commercialized when purchased cards, flowers, and gifts replaced handwritten notes. The aforementioned article says the National Retail Federation reported that Americans spend more than $21 billion for Mother’s Day. That’s an average spending of about $215 for each man and $133 for each woman participating in the holiday. It might seem like a lot, but money is spent on people in entirely different “mothering relationships”.

Different Types of Mothers 

According to the same article, in the U.K. the equivalent holiday to our Mother’s Day is celebrated in March as “Mothering Sunday.” Originating as a religious event on the fourth Sunday in Lent, the tradition is that children express gratitude to all the women who do so much for them. The article says it’s a way to celebrate the different kinds of mothering that so many women do: the mothering of their husbands, the mothering of their brothers, the mothering of their friends, and, even the mothering of their pets. Who knew celebrating mothering was so complicated?!  

So who should you celebrate once you are married and have children? Should you buy your wife a Mother’s Day present? What about your ex-wife who is the mother of your children?  How about if you have children but are not married?

Mother’s Day Recommendations

First a qualifier. I do not profess to be an expert nor am I qualified to speak on anything related to motherhood. But I have experienced a few things that can help as a husband, son, and the “favorite” son-in-law (OK, I’m the only one since my wife has all brothers). It’s from this starting point, that I provide these recommendations. 

  1. Honor Your Mother First – She gave birth to you and will always be your mother. You may have a broken relationship or an unresolved “overly bonded with mother” wound. Celebrate her anyway and remember the good times. If needed, forgive her, even if she is not alive. But always love your mother. 
  2. Recognize Your Children’s Mother – If you are married and have children, thank your wife for the important role she carries out tirelessly 24/7. Ask her how she wants to be recognized. Some will want gifts. Some want you to take the kids away for the day so she can enjoy some time to herself. Others want to go out for brunch. Fortunately, my wife’s love language is not about receiving gifts so I’ve never felt the pressure to be creative for holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, or other “Hallmark holidays.”  If you are not sure about her Five Love Languages (Act of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, or Physical Touch), take The Love Language® Quiz.
  3. Celebrate Your Mother-in-law – Mother’s Day celebrates all mothers so celebrate your wife’s mother. If not for her, your wife would not be your wife! Put aside your ego to honor your mother-in-law, regardless of your fondness (or lack of) for her. 
  4. Show Respect to Your Ex – Things get more complicated after a divorce since two households are now involved. It may seem disingenuous to help your kids plan something for your ex-wife. You may appear disloyal if you are married to someone else. But your children only have one mother and she deserves the best. Always be polite and cordial. Treat her as the important woman she is to you and the kids. Encourage the children to do something special. Your efforts will pay big dividends. You are setting the tone for how they will treat their mother and future spouse as adults.
  5. Have Empathy for the Grieving – Recognize that there are no words you can say to grieving mothers after a miscarriage or death of a child. They have gone from great joy anticipating a child, to great grief. Be empathic, and imagine how they feel, but don’t compare your experience to the loss of their child. A simple “I’m so sorry” is all you need to say if you say anything at all. The same goes for those who have lost their mother and still mourning. Grief is not linear nor is it the same for everyone. 

God placed great importance on family. He created Adam and then Eve to populate His creation. He then gave His people ten commandments to live by, including “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you” (Deuteronomy 5:16). With this the fifth commandment, God told the Israelites to honor their parents so that they may live a long and prosperous life. The same applies to us today.

The concept of honoring our mother and father represents how we honor God. If we dishonor our parents, we dishonor God. Conversely, the more we honor our parents, the more we honor God. Honoring and celebrating our mother and father also shows your children what it looks like to honor their parents and in-laws once they become adults.

The mother’s role is vital to the success of a family and worthy of respect and celebration, not just on Mother’s Day but every day!

Wisdom for Men is based on my opinions on topics that help men become better men. The sources used for these posts are not fact-checked, but support my theory that men are better with deeper, more authentic friendships. Although my GodBuddies concept is based on biblical principles, it applies to all men, regardless of their beliefs. Better friendships among men will help solve the crisis of male friendships and many of today’s problems… because the world needs better men!


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