This past week (May 2023), all of the children's ministry Facebook groups and forums that I'm part of have been full of questions about Mother's Day. Who's teaching what lesson, does anyone have any good craft ideas, please share gift ideas for the church to give moms, and more. I've enjoyed interacting with various people and sharing my thoughts, but I wanted to think a little more deeply about Mother's Day and things we need to be considering in children's ministry.
(1) Mother's and Motherhood are Gifts from GodFirst we need to acknowledge that mother's are gifts from God and celebrating moms is a great thing!
(2) God Used Moms in His Redemptive PlanObviously it's a no brainer that God used moms in His redemptive plan, since everyone had a mom, but think for a moment about some of the moms who hold huge roles in the BIG story of the Bible. - Eve - the mother of all - Sarah - a promised child in old age starting the line of Israel - Ruth - an outsider who became great- grandmother to king David - Mary - a young woman chosen to carry our Lord - Lois & Eunice - Timothy's mother & grandmother who pointed him to Christ - the list could go on, and on, and on
(3) Sin has Marred MotherhoodBecause of sin, motherhood isn't what many expected or hoped for and Mother's Day is a painful day for many, with situations as various as moms/ women in your church. And, you may never know who these women are. It's also important to note that sin has marred all of motherhood. There was never a motherhood without sin and pain.
Mother's Day brings up loss for the woman who has just suffered miscarriage, for the woman whose children are spending the day with their step-mom, for the mom who placed a child for adoption and so many more.
Mother's Day brings up grief for the woman who has lost a mother recently, the woman who has discovered that she is unable to bear children, or the single woman who wants nothing more than to be a mom.
Mother's Day brings up shame for the woman who had a child as a teenager and the woman who has repented of having an abortion, but still bears the weight of it.
This means that the practice of singling out various 'moms' in the church and awarding them prizes is probably best skipped. If gifts are being given to moms, consider giving them to all women in the church, not only those with toddlers in tow or who you know have children.
(4) The Pain of Mother's Day isn't Limited to Women/ MomsThe reality of life in a fallen world means that not every child in our ministry has a picture perfect home situation. Even in the smallest church, there will be children this Sunday who don't know what to do when the craft/ "I Love Mom" coloring sheets are handed out.
Mother's Day brings up trauma for the child who doesn't know his birth mother or for the child who isn't currently living with their mom. Mother's Day leads to confusion for the child who has a mom and a step mom, a mom and a birth mom, or who lives with an aunt or grandma or foster mom or neighbor.
(5) So, What Do We Do?Do we skip Mother's Day? Probably not.
But we need to approach it with care and concern. We need to be careful of our language and watch for trauma triggers in our class. We can acknowledge that it's a holiday that many people are celebrating and that it's about honoring the women who care for us, and acknowledging that for many people that's more than 1 person. We need to be careful not to single out the child whose situation is less than perfect.
This means we teach a Mother's Day lesson, but we keep the focus on God and the Biblical mom in the lesson and not on our moms. This means we acknowledge the pain and loss of motherhood even in the Bible. For example, in the Mother's Day lesson on the site we look at how God used Ruth as a mom in His redemptive plan. But, Ruth's motherhood was born out of loss. She lost her first husband. She left her home. And God used all of that in His plan.
This means we do a Mother's Day craft, but explain to the kids that we're making something special for the woman or women or take care of us - our moms, aunts, grandmas, teachers, friends, foster moms, etc. and let kids know that if they want to make more than one they are more than welcome to do so. If you think one child may feel singled out by this, encourage the whole class to make at least two and let them know that if they don't have someone to share the second one with that you'll take them to a nursing home to women who may be missing their children.
That means we pray now for the children in our classes, their moms (in whatever circumstances they are in) and for our teaching to be God glorifying and focussed on redemption as we consider moms this week.