When searching the Bible for the words “mother” or “motherhood”, we don’t find detailed guidelines on how to be a good mom. But there certainly are some important and timeless lessons in the Bible that every mother should take to heart.
The Bible values motherhood
When the Bible speaks about having children, this is viewed as a blessing. Many stories make clear that becoming pregnant is not self-evident, but a blessing from God. See for example the stories about Sarah (Genesis 18:9-14), Rachel (Genesis 29:31; 30:19-24), and Hannah (1 Samuel 1:1-20). Children are a gift from God! This is also expressed in Psalm 113:5-9:
“Who is like the Lord our God,
who is seated on high,
who looks far down
on the heavens and the earth?
He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes,
with the princes of his people.
He gives the barren woman a home,
making her the joyous mother of children.
Praise the Lord!”
For many people around the world, this view is no longer commonly accepted. Many women consider children a hindrance to their personal or career development, or don’t want to bear the responsibility for a family. Others think it is irresponsible to have children when the earth is overpopulated and plagued by wars and natural disasters. In many countries, birth rates are dropping.
Of course, there can be good reasons for a couple to not have children, or to not have more children. But in general, the Bible considers children “a heritage from the Lord… a reward” (Psalm 127:3).
Motherhood is a calling
Being a parent brings with it much responsibility. Little children are dependent on their parents for their basic needs, and also for the major part of their upbringing. Children need love, comfort and safety, and the Bible takes for granted that mothers offer them these whenever they can. God even uses motherly care as an image for his own care for his people:
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” (Isaiah 49:15).
“As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem” (Isaiah 66:13).
Being a mother and taking care of your family, should not be undervalued by society. This is an important “job”! Titus 2:4-5 states that it is women’s calling “to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled”. In 1 Timothy 5:10, bringing up children is listed as a “good work”, just as much as showing hospitality or caring for the afflicted.
As mothers, we are to teach our children
Children need to be trained and educated. This is first of all a responsibility of the parents. Children are called not to forsake their mother’s teaching (Proverbs 6:20), and the ideal woman is portrayed as a wise and kind teacher (Proverbs 31:26).
The Bible especially focuses on the importance of religious education. When God had given his laws and instructions to the people of Israel, Moses told them:
“These words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). This is not a task for moms only. But mothers may have the privilege of spending much time with their children, and thus have many occasions to teach them in daily life. Both the example we give as role models and the lessons we teach them, have an enormous impact on our children. It is our calling to teach them about God, about his will for their lives, and about the wonders He has done.