In the early days in China women had scant recognition in the home. They were exhorted to be dependent first on father, then on husband and finally on son. The husband could divorce his wife if she is jealous, talkative, suffering from malignant disease or committing adultery. A wife had no grounds for divorcing her husband. If she gave birth to many girls, she would simply leave her new born baby girl to die.
The most important function of the wife was to bear a son, not a daughter, for only a son could carry on the ancestor worship and the family name in succession. Without a male offspring, a woman’s status in the family was precarious. She was slightly above that of a servant. It had been said that it was “better to raise geese than girls”, “feeding girls is like feeding cowbirds”, and after all, when you raise girls, you’re raising children for strangers”. Women, according to a clan genealogy, were “by nature ignorant, narrow-minded, sly and jealous”, and according to the ancient sage Mencius, “There are three un-filial acts; the greatest of these is the failure to produce sons”.
Until 1971, among most middle and upper class Chinese, a girl had her feet painfully bound from the age of five, a condition which doomed her to a life of inactivity. “Lotus feet” symbolized the position of women in which she played a narrowly prescribed role.
God created women with an important role in the home. Paul wrote to Titus urging him to teach the older women to train the younger women to love not only their husbands but their children as well (Titus 2:3-4). Lois, Timothy’s grandmother was to show Eunice how to love her children. Whether the children are born to the couple or are adopted, they are to be loved with a love that is selfless and sacrificial.
The negative feeling of being a mother is very real especially when children are very young. Life with small children in the home is 24 hours a day duty and 7 days per week. The physical and emotion strain on a mother leads many to cast motherhood aside in preference to working outside the home. According to the poll many would respond, “No” of being a mother.
Working mothers often think it difficult to discipline their children. Disciplining children requires time, patience and love. If they have many rules and regulations, their children will either become legalistic or end up disobeying every rule they make. They must teach them principles rather than give them rules. God told the Israelites that they were to teach their children about Him when they sit down, when they walk together in the streets, when they are about to go to bed and when they get up in the morning (Deut. 6:7). This teaches us that it is important to teach our children spiritual principles at all times and on every occasion.
The mother may give the children the punishment and reasoning but if love is wanting in her handling of discipline, it will be all in vain. Her anger will not persuade her children that she is right and she will soon cease to have their respect. It is dangerous to make your children to be afraid of you. Fear puts an end to communication and worst it leads your children to lie.
In the Asian context many mothers may not feel the need to express love either by word or by deed to their children. They say they love them in their hearts. This situation can result in the children growing up with the impression that outward expression of affection is not needed. Thus, they miss one of the most effective means to express the mother’s love for their children. Gracious, loving words lift the hearts of young and old.
Scientists confirm that babies need to be touched as well as fed to survive. As our children grow, they continue to need our affection. According to a ten-year study conducted by a team of researchers at Harvard University revealed that the mother is the most important person in the child’s environment. Mothers should love their kids, talk to them, treat them with respect, expose them to interesting things, organize their time, discipline them fairly, and raise them in strong and stable families. It is a time-honoured recipe for bringing happy and healthy children.
A mother who shows her love for her son will translate the Bible for him to see and understand. How? I read of four scholars who were arguing over Bible translations. One said he preferred the King James Version because of its beautiful, eloquent old English. Another said he preferred the American Standard Bible for its literal translation, the way it moves the reader from passage to passage with accuracy from the original text. A third man preferred Moffatt because of its ease to understand and be able to capture the attention of the reader. After giving the issue further thought, the fourth scholar admitted, “I have personally preferred my mother’s translation.”
When the other scholars laughed, he responded, “Yes, she translated it. She translated each page of the Bible into life. It is the most convincing translation I ever saw.” There was another man who saw such a translation in his lifetime. He lived in the first century. His name was Timothy. We don’t hear much about Timothy’s mother. We hear a lot about Timothy. When Paul wrote to Timothy, he refreshed his memories about his mother’s love for him (2 Tim. 2:14-15; 2 Tim. 1:5).
What most mothers miss is to encourage their children to walk in the way of the Lord. We see many children growing up warped and twisted in their personalities because of parental abuse, lack of love and communication. A child who has the misfortune of growing up in a home where he is never encouraged is like a plant growing under the shade of a boulder that never gets to see the sunlight. It is easy to heap praises upon a talented child or one who excels in studies or athletics. However, it is the weaker child who needs more reassurance. We must sense the need for such a child who may be hurting inwardly but does not express it.