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A Mother's Virtues

May 9, 2015

Linda Kavelin-Popov, co-founder of The Virtues Project

Every one of us needs a mother in our lives. Sometimes it is our birth mother who kisses our wounds, guides our souls, and loves us no matter what. Sometimes we don't find the motherly virtues in the one who gave birth to us, but there is always a woman to turn to for that unconditional love.

When I was growing up, and on into my later years, it felt as if I was the mother in the house, the mom to my mom. She leaned on me a lot, especially when depressed. It started when I was four and never really ended. So, I did something that I have advised children who feel unloved or rejected by their parents. If you are thirsty and there is no water in your house, go where the water is. It may come from a compassionate teacher, a grandparent, an aunty, or a friend. We all deserve to be loved, and there is always love to be found. Over the years I have given and received mothering with soul sisters and friends, and been amply nurtured.

What are the virtues of a true mother, a spiritual mother? According to the Baha'i teachings, "To the mothers must be given the divine Teachings and effective counsel, and they must be encouraged and made eager to train their children, for the mother is the first educator of the child."  As the first educator, a mother is the one to guide, encourage, discipline, teach and comfort. This role is so essential that if only one child in a family can be educated,  either a boy or girl, the family should educate the girl, as she is the primary one who will shape the future of her children.

Proverbs 6:20 says "Do not forsake your mother's teaching." My mother prayed and read to me and my brothers at bedtime. Those times of peace without drama or violence were the most special and nurturing moments of my childhood.

A mother is often the one to guide a child to religion. She leads by example. Luke 1:46 - 47 quotes Mary: "And Mary said: 'My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed.'" Because her first responsibility is to be a teacher, a mother must have the virtues of faith and wisdom. Such a mother is always faithful through good times and bad. In the life of Jesus, his mother Mary was the only one to remain faithful through every moment of his young life, along with a few other women followers. Proverbs 31: 10 says: "A woman of noble character…is worth far more than rubies." Noble character is walking a righteous path. To me, that means a mother is a model of virtue, telling the truth, showing the fruits of the spirit. Galatians 5:22 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control."

Honestly speaking, mothers need to practice a lot of gentleness and self-control, because anger and frustration go with the job description. No one can be more frustrating than a disobedient child. Yet we need to call on our love, and all the other virtues to discipline them in a good way, a way that calls them to use their virtues, that doesn't shame them or make them feel worthless, ever! A way that names the virtue they need, whether respect, obedience, or helpfulness. Virtues are not only the qualities of a good mother, they are her tools.

This Mother's Day, do something loving and thoughtful for the mothers in your life, whoever they may be. Bless the ones that have been blessings to you.

Thoughtfulness


Author photo
Linda Kavelin-Popov

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