Standing up for Motherhood – December 1997

During the summer of 1997, Indiana Pacers star Reggie Miller unexpectedly generated nationwide controversy because of his support for motherhood.

Miller, while providing color commentary for the fledgling Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), voiced his concerns about a decision by a player to return to the court just six weeks after giving birth. Miller said that the player should have spent more time at home getting settled with her newborn.

“Basketball is only a game,” Miller said, according to press accounts. “Motherhood is forever.”

Of course, Miller’s comments yielded a firestorm of protest, as well as a tidal wave of support.

Have we forgotten the value of motherhood in our society? Have we become so selfish in our quest for celebrity and material wealth that we have forgotten to honor the bedrock institutions which have kept us alive as a people and thriving for many, many years? Have we forgotten the value of motherhood in our various communities?

Sadly, the answer is yes.

In the black church, there was a time when a group of older women comprised the “Mother’s Board.” These saintly women not only helped in the discipleship process, but they also took their biblical role most seriously. They instructed younger women in the institution of motherhood. They made it their mission to teach younger women how to love their husbands, how to take care of hearth and home and how to carry themselves in society.

The “Mother’s Board” may be gone, but Reggie Miller’s comments provide both a reminder and a challenge. A society that only pays lips service to honoring mothers once a year — and declares war on the family the other 364 days — cannot survive.

Just as strong fathers are worthy of honor and support, the same respect must be shown to mothers. This is especially necessary for those mothers who see the need for opting out of the workforce to focus on their central obligation of maintaining a loving home atmosphere, supporting their husbands and taking a firm stand in raising obedient, loving and respectful children.

To paraphrase a remark made earlier this century by famed evangelist Billy Sunday, “Show me how highly a society reverences its mothers and I can tell you the health of that society.”

Government-run day care centers cannot replace the need for a mother in the home. Perhaps it is time we return to the time-honored traditions of supporting fatherhood and honoring motherhood.

It does not take a village to raise a child. It only takes Mom and Dad

(Mike Ramey is a member of the African-American leadership group Project 21, and a associate minister of the Greater St. Mark Baptist Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.)


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