Encouraging mothers: Society can do more to support mothers and mothers-to-be Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler   
Thursday, May. 10, 2012 -- 12:00 AM

Editor's View by Mary C. Uhler

We all need mothers. Obviously we wouldn’t be here if our mothers didn’t give us life. Yet, as we look forward to Mother’s Day on this Sunday, May 13, I think we need to examine what our society is doing to encourage and support mothers and mothers-to-be.

The number of women giving birth in our country has been dropping. The most recent statistics I found shows this decline. The provisional count of births in the United States for the 12-month period ending June 2011 was 3,978,000, which was two percent lower than the provisional count of 4,057,000 for the 12-month period ending June 2010. This continues the decline in the number of births from the all-time high of 4,316,233 in 2007.

Why there are fewer births

Some people might point to the poor economy as one reason for fewer births. There are perhaps other reasons, including fewer marriages. In the Catholic Church, for example, the number of marriages being celebrated has dropped nearly 60 percent since 1972, reported an article in Our Sunday Visitor.  This article also noted increases in the number of Catholics who are divorced, separated, or widowed.

Marriage and family life are the basis of a strong, healthy society. Husbands and wives become fathers and mothers, thus continuing to increase the human race.

Encouraging marriage and family life

So what can we do to reverse these trends? There are so many things we could consider. Within our own personal lives, we can encourage family members to develop permanent commitments to relationships within the sacrament of marriage.

This begins early in life through our own example. Many of us can point to the relationships of our own mothers and fathers. My own parents — who married a little later in life than others during their time — nevertheless had a happy married life.

I’ve had examples of my mother and father-in-law and numerous other relatives and friends who have been happily married with children.

Besides encouraging committed relationships and welcoming children, I think businesses could also be more considerate of marriage and family life. Offering family care  and maternity leave are one way to encourage this.

Sometimes businesses also demand work outside of normal business hours. This is even more common today with the 24/7 Internet presence. Yet, I think it’s healthier for everyone — not just those with spouses and children — to spend some time away from work.

With the poor economy, we also have to offer support and encouragement to pregnant women and their families. Crisis pregnancy centers, like the new Women’s Care Center in Madison, are wonderful ways to connect mothers-to-be with community resources. Pregnancy Helpline, Catholic Charities, Care Net, Elizabeth House, St. Vincent de Paul, the Catholic Multicultural Center, and many other church and community organizations can help pregnant women get the help they need. This Mother’s Day, I encourage people to consider giving a gift in the name of their own mother to one or more of these organizations.

In addition, we must work to make sure our governmental safety nets remain in place to help pregnant women, parents, and children who need help. Food stamps and other assistance must be maintained to help mothers and mothers-to-be.

Pray to the Blessed Mother

Finally, during this month dedicated to the Blessed Mother, let us pray that more people realize the importance of marriage and family life. Here is one suggested prayer to Mary on Mother’s Day:

Mary, on this day when we honor all mothers, we turn to you. We thank the Lord whom you serve for the great gift of motherhood. Never has it been known that anyone who sought your intercession was left unaided by grace. Dear Mother, thank you for your “Yes” to the invitation of the angel which brought heaven to earth and changed human history. You opened yourself to God’s word and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.

Dear mother, intercede for all of our mothers. Ask your Divine Son to give them the grace of surrendered love so that they could join with you in giving their own “Fiat.” May they find daily strength to say yes to the call to the sacrificial love- the very heart of the vocation of motherhood. May their love and witness be a source of great inspiration for all of us called to follow your Son.