“What does the Bible say about mothers and their roles? It appears that our culture seems to look down upon mothers a lot. They’re judged very harshly even by one another and are often seen as less than their husbands, especially if they don’t work and stay home to take care of the kids.”
Before I answer this question, I think it’s important to note that we are living in entirely different times and an entirely different culture than that of which the Bible was written. Even the Bible spans a timeline of diverse generations and cultures. With that understanding, we must note that there’s no hard fast rules for motherhood, meaning, motherhood specifics will change. We should also take a minute to consider this truth, for every perspective we view situations from, there’s always multiple perspectives we aren’t viewing them from. Some mothers choose to stay home to rear their children, while others may choose to go to work. Often mothers who go to work feel judged similarly for that choice, as if they’re not good mothers because they chose to hold a job. I myself have experienced judgment from this alternative perspective. We’re typically more sensitive to critique that comes against us personally. Neither choice is right or wrong in and of itself, but must be considered case by case.
The real question in order to get to the bottom of this, is why do we want to be mothers? (And fathers for that matter.) God created man and woman to be able to multiply, to fill the earth and subdue it. He wanted a family to love. We likewise may feel that we are drawn to have a family. That’s good. But notice nowhere in scripture does it say you must have one child or five children or ten children. I believe that’s purposeful. Everyone’s life will look differently. Some will choose to never have any children, others will have many. One thing is true in parenting, regardless of the number of children one decides to have, sacrifice is key. With this, mothers are designed differently than fathers and often feel more of a natural, emotional draw to be with their children. This isn’t wrong. We were designed to want to tenderly care for our children. No one should fault a mother for this. In fact, we know alternatively that something is wrong if the mother doesn’t lean this way.
In each and every situation, the well being of the family must be considered. We have known many families who wanted many children, but they knew they wouldn’t be able to properly care for more than one or two. It was a sacrifice for them to stop having children. For a family where the mother feels called to stay at home, the sacrifice may be material things and financial security that comes along with a two-income home. The sacrifice may be to live with one vehicle, a less expensive home, less vacations, less expensive recreation, etc. Many people refuse to live with less, but won’t do what it takes to have more, often bringing strife into the home. In those cases, one must ask, how is that a better way to raise a child? Again, sacrifice is key. It isn’t always the case that this is a necessary sacrifice but it may be. For others, the sacrifice may be less time with your children in order to supply them with health insurance, food, and a quality place to live. For others, a sacrifice may be less time with your spouse because you work opposite shifts so one parent can always be raising the children. For me, this latter example was my upbringing. Regardless, we must seek more than anything to be as sacrificial for our family as our Heavenly Father has been for His. And as always, agreement within a marriage and home is key. Strife is never a blessing to the children and when it comes to marriage and raising children, two must become as one and make a decision.
The Bible has a lot to say about how children are supposed to be raised. First and foremost, they must be raised in the admonition of the Lord. Proverbs 22:6 says, “train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” As we raise our children, regardless of who’s working, who’s at home, etc., our hearts should be to raise them to know and love the Lord so when they’re adults, they’re His servants and they’ll raise their children in the same manner. Isaiah 54:13 shows us that the level of this kind of teaching will correspond to the level of their wellbeing. Besides this, discipline is an important part of raising children. Proverbs 23:13-14 lets us know that a bit of discipline never kills a child, but instead rescues them from hell. Hebrews 12:11 lets us know that there’s momentary sorrow in discipline and correction, but that afterwards it yields the “peaceful fruit of righteousness”. The Bible leaves the responsibility of training, teaching, leading, and disciplining to both the mother and the father. In Biblical times, this responsibility fell more on the mother, especially with different cultural norms, but it takes two to both make and raise a child.
To sum this up, we must be careful not to worry about the approval of man when we make decisions in this life. Romans 14:22, is so important, “The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.” Seek the Lord, get in agreement with your spouse, and make decisions without regret, when it comes to raising children and all the matters of this life that aren’t specifically spelled out in scripture. We worship the Lord, not man, not anything else.