Politics & Policy

The Good Mom

Some key ingredients.

In celebration of Mother’s Day and motherhood, National Review Online asked a few writers, “What makes a good mom?” Here’s what they said.

Myrna Blyth

What makes a good mom? Besides loving you children, having time for them, and teaching, by example, what you believe and know is important? Well, it’s also necessary, I think, to realize that you and your kids will most likely have many years together after they have grown up. So it’s imperative that, eventually, you be able to relate to each other as adults, to be interested in each other and respectful of each other.

Frankly, I think the relationship between parents and adult children can be more fraught than the child-parent relationship, yet it is rarely discussed. The toughest years for moms today may be the ones just after their kids graduate college. You are so used to being involved in their lives and looking after them; but no longer can you call and complain, as you might have when they were younger, that they don’t like their teacher and you want them put in another class. That just doesn’t work when it’s a boss they don’t like.

I would add…ahem…that a good mother teaches her kids to know our country’s great history and to be proud Americans. At least, most people think it is the parents’ responsibility to teach their children to be patriotic citizens. (And how do I know this? Because Chriss Winston and I just wrote a book called How to Raise an American.)

Myrna Blyth, an NRO contributor, was the long-time editor of Ladies Home Journal and founding editor of More.

Mary Hamm

A good mother:

‐ laughs at herself when she makes mistakes and her kids point it out.

– Mary Suarez Hamm is executive director of Centro Tepeyac Silver Spring Women’s Center and the proud mother of twelve, ages 7-30.

Catherine R. Hardy

We all know a good mother when we see one, but it’s pretty hard to say what makes her so. Some women are mothers who never give birth — Mother Teresa of Calcutta comes to mind. Other women who conceive a child or give birth do not seem to be mothers at all — one thinks of those who destroy their babies in utero in a moment of desperation.

Recall the story in the Book of Kings: Faced with two harlots each claiming to be the mother of a single infant boy, King Solomon identified the true mother by threatening to cut the baby in half. The false mother quickly agrees: “Divide it! It shall be neither mine nor yours.” In beautiful contrast, the true mother is revealed in her protest: “My lord, give her the living child and by no means slay it.”

Being a good mother — apart from simply conceiving or giving birth — entails a willingness to renounce, if necessary, what one desires for oneself, in order to realize what is for the good of one’s children. Abortion, daycare, and divorce are glaring examples of ways in which women willingly allow their children to be divided. Gratefully, however, many more women still follow Mother Teresa’s example — nurturing those in their care at each stage of life with cheerful generosity, loving self-sacrifice, and a willingness to deny their very selves to bring about the best for their children.

C. R. Hardy is a PhD candidate in economics at Harvard University, a consultant for www.familyfacts.org, and the mother of four young children. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband, Michael.

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