Motherhood is one of those amazing roles that many women are blessed with. We recognise that having children may not be God’s will for every woman but for those who are blessed in this way, it opens up a whole new aspect of life. As Christian mothers, we have a great duty and responsibility under God to raise our children according to biblical principles. Although the world may look on children as a burden to women’s freedom and a costly weight that inconveniences our lives, the bible teaches that ‘children are an heritage of the LORD’ (Psalm 127:3).
I recently read an article discussing the latest book by Elisabeth Badinter, in which she argues firmly that the real oppression women are are now under is self-imposed by the ideal standard of what it means to be a good mother. She firmly believes that society has created this ideal of what a good mother should be, and that it restricts women’s lives to the extent that motherhood becomes their whole life. In encouraging habits such as continuing to smoke during pregnancy or giving powdered milk instead of breastfeeding, she believes that women can keep a hold of their identity as women and then have a secondary and less prominent role as mothers. I believe that this type of attitude is a product of the sinful fallen nature that we are all born with. It is a very selfish and self-centered approach to life.
Being blessed with children is a privilege and to think that they will come as no inconvenience to our lives as busy modern women, would be naive. But from a biblical perspective, we are taught to invest time and effort into raising our children correctly, ‘train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it’ (Proverbs 22 v 6). As mothers, we should be using every method possible to follow this instruction. As a blessing from the Lord, our children deserve the best start in life, even from birth. I know this is a very frequent ramble of mine, (and is a little off topic) but I wholeheartedly believe that God designed women’s bodies so that they are able to feed their children in the early months, for a very specific reason. I know that for medical reasons many women cannot do this, but for those who can, it forms a wonderful bond with your baby and builds up that relationship between the two of you. It is the Lords provision for your baby, through you! How amazing to be used by God in such a real life-giving way!
As a child gets older their are a lot of choices that have to be made that are not as straightforward as breastfeeding (although I know this in itself creates issues for some women). Schooling is a very important part of a child’s life. We encourage learning and gaining knowledge as it is continually encouraged in scripture. But is Home Education the best way for mothers to teach their children properly and in the most Godly environment possible? For many families the answer is yes, they feel this is the Lord’s leading in their lives. For many families, Christian Education is the prefered option, as parents may feel unqualified to take on such a responsibility but they still want their children to be in a Christian environment and be taught by Christian teachers, with the added benefit of their children having social interaction with other children. For other families, secular education is the prefered method as they feel that putting their children in a secular environment might better prepare them for the world in which they will have to live after school.
I am not going to give an opinion on what I feel is right, because to be honest I’m not sure! My husband and I both went to secular schools, my husband now teaches in a Christian School, and we are also considering Home Education, so a bit of a mixed bag! But I think no matter what the decision, it is the responsibility of the parents and (dare I say it) especially mothers to have a keen interest and good knowledge of the people that are influencing our children’s lives, whether that be teachers, children’s workers or other children. Yes, this may be looked at by the world as a tremendous burden on women, that men may not experience in the same way, but being a Christian isn’t just a Sunday habit, it is a whole life change and newness of heart and so everything we do must be done in accordance with scripture, including taking care of our children.
Very often when speaking about women and their different roles, people refer to Proverbs 31, which I recommend you also read. Although in order to try and meet this ideal, do you think mothers have to be the primary care-giver? And does this include home schooling our children? Please feel free to leave your opinions on any of these issues.