The “Anti-Mom”?

Yesterday, I came upon a headline in my news feed called “The Rise of TV’s ‘Anti-Mom’.”  I don’t really recommend the article, but I was alarmed by its main points.  It summarized the evolution of the way mothers are portrayed in popular television programs, tracing their history from Beaver’s mom and Donna Reed, to Carol Brady, Mrs. Huxtable, and then into Rosanne and some current mother characters in “Desperate Housewives” and “Modern Family.”  The implications are obvious.  What society expects from mothers has drastically changed.  We now celebrate, cheer for, and empathize with what the article calls “flawed moms,” claiming that the happy, organized mothers of the past “set up an atmosphere for women that was just impossible to actually stand by.”

Reading it made me sad.  And it didn’t even touch on the dangerous “reality” TV moms.  The very concept of “anti-mom” shows a shift from concern and care for others to an obsession with self and individualism.  I immediately thought of Sister Julie Beck’s recent talk and this bold claim:

“A lot of the antifamily messages that you are hearing are targeting young women. Satan knows that he will never have a body; he will never have a family. He will target those young women who create the bodies for the future generations and who should teach the families. They don’t even know what they’re being taught in the messages. It’s just seeping in, almost through their pores. Because Satan can’t have it, he’s luring away many women, and also men, and they’re losing confidence in their ability to form eternal families.

. . . Anti-Christ is antifamily. Any doctrine or principle our youth hear from the world that is antifamily is also anti-Christ. It’s that clear. They need to know that if it’s antifamily, it’s anti-Christ. An anti-Christ is antifamily.”

I’m not on any national news feed, but since I feel like one of the main purposes of my blog is to defend the divinity of motherhood, I just can’t keep my mouth shut.  I know that motherhood is more than a job. It certainly requires more than an actress.  It is a calling, a purpose, a mission.  And despite what the media chooses to portray, motherhood is powerful, important, and critical to the happiness of families and society in general.  I’ll just let truth speak for itself:

There is, as we all know, much talk about family values, but rhetoric, by itself, cannot bring reform. Nostalgically, many wish for the family life of yesteryear; they regard family decline as regrettable but not reversible. Others, genuinely worried over the spilling social consequences, are busy placing sandbags downstream, even when the frenzied use of sandbags often destroys what little is left of family gardens. A few regard the family as an institution to be drastically redefined or even to be rid of.

. . .  The hard doctrines, however, insist that we ask some hard questions. How can a nation nurture family values without consistently valuing and protecting the family in its public policies? How can we value the family without valuing parenting? And how can we value parenting if we do not value marriage? How can there be “love at home” without love in a marriage? So many selfish tugs draw fathers and mothers away from each other and away from their children. . . .

We may not be able to change such trends, but we can refuse to be a part of them.  When parents fail to transmit testimony and theology along with decency, those families are only one generation from serious spiritual decline, having lost their savor. The law of the harvest is nowhere more in evidence and nowhere more relentless than in family gardens!”  — Neal A. Maxwell

~

“In my opinion, members of the Church have the most effective cure for our decaying family life. It is for men, women, and children to honor and respect the divine roles of both fathers and mothers in the home. In so doing, mutual respect and appreciation among the members of the Church will be fostered by the righteousness found there. . . . Confusion and disorder are all too common in society, but they must not be permitted to destroy our homes.”  –James E. Faust

~

“In an era when the role of women is being questioned and examined as never before, we can know of a certainty the Lord’s plan of joy for each of his children, and how we, his beloved daughters, fit into that plan. As a result, we are able to stand firm as the tides of uncertainty and despair wash around us.” — Lynn Fortin

~

In my opinion, the teaching, rearing, and training of children requires more intelligence, intuitive understanding, humility, strength, wisdom, spirituality, perseverance, and hard work than any other challenge we might have in life. This is especially so when moral foundations of honor and decency are eroding around us. For us to have successful homes, values must be taught, and there must be rules, there must be standards, there must be absolutes. Many societies give parents very little support in teaching and honoring moral values. A number of cultures are becoming essentially valueless, and many of the younger people in those societies are becoming moral cynics.

As whole societies have decayed and lost their moral identity and so many homes are broken, the best hope is to turn greater attention and effort to the teaching of the next generation—our children. In order to do this, we must first reinforce the primary teachers of children. Chief among these are the parents and other family members. The best environment should be in the home. Somehow, someway, we must try harder to make our homes stronger so that they will stand as sanctuaries against the unwholesome, pervasive moral dry rot around us. Harmony, happiness, peace, and love in the home can help give children the required inner strength to cope with life’s challenges.  — James E. Faust

~

“Oh, my brothers and sisters, the sons and daughters of God, the members of Christ’s church, the people of all religious affiliations, the people of all nations, let us take this general panacea and heal our wounds and immunize our children against evil by the simple process of teaching and training them in the way of the Lord. Every father and mother in Zion, and every Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Mohammedan, and all other parents have the same responsibility: to teach their children to pray and walk uprightly before the Lord!” — Spencer W. Kimball

We need to reclaim our role as mothers who know.  When we do it as a group, we can make a difference in the world.  As a team, we can show our children and others’ children a better way of doing family.  We can build a generation with tools for happiness and worthy of God’s blessings.  We have to, because there’s simply no room for the “anti-mom” in Zion.

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28 thoughts on “The “Anti-Mom”?

  1. I love the way you give voice to your dismay over the ways of the world. So many of us just shrug and say, “Well, that’s the world, isn’t it? That’s Babylon, out there. Of course it’s messed up.” But you DON’T. You say it’s not right. That it’s not supposed to be that way and it doesn’t have to be. You fight it. You fight it with the only thing it can be fought with – the truth.

  2. elder nelson came to our stake a few weeks ago and told us that the primary focus of the 12 and of the general authorities is to teach fathers how to be fathers and mothers how to be mothers so that, in the course of their actions, they can save their children.

    this hit me so hard. i am not a mother yet, but i have decided that what i want to learn this year, or over the next six months, is what my Father in Heaven expects of me as a woman in Zion.

    thank you for this post. thank you for these quotes. they are wonderful and i am so glad to have the sustenance that they give, the confidence that being the kind of mother i eventually want to be is exactly what the Lord wants from me.

  3. Excellent points. And it was intriguing, this concept of the “anti-Mom”–where the flaws (small and BIG) are celebrated and regarded as praiseworthy, the selfishness, the pettiness, the small-minded gossipy characteristics that are coming to define, more and more, women of the world. “Women of God can never be like women of the world.” (Sister Nadauld)

    Good post, Steph.

  4. Have you read Mary Ellen Edmunds talk from Women’s Conference 2009? It’s titled “Letting Go of the World: It’s Time to Sell the Summer Cottage in Babylon” It is EXCELLENT!

    You can read it here: http://ce.byu.edu/cw/womensconference/archive/2009/pdf/Letting_Go_of_the_World.pdf

    One interesting thing about Zion vs. Babylon – once you really start studying about it you realize just how pervasive Babylon has become in our everyday lives. The question then becomes “Are we willing to do what is necessary to take it out of our lives? Really take it out of our lives?” It is a hard question to ask and I fear for some will be even harder to actually do.

    Here’s a series of posts about Zion vs. Babylon:
    http://misfitcygnet.blogspot.com/search/label/ark%20culture

    It really is an eye-opener.

  5. I have thought long and hard about this topic over the years. I love Sister Beck, she seems to be able to speak truth no matter what. No political correctness there. Sometimes it stings to listen, but only because I have ways I need to change.

    Our children have always been the most important thing for us. We are still learning and trying to figure out how to keep them safe from the world and to instill our values. They see so much of the world even in the school system. Downright scary things.

    You are so brave for standing up and fighting… I am more of the “lets move into the wilderness” mentality.

  6. I am so thankful for the Gospel… I am so thankful to be a Mother in Zion…. I only wish some of our non-member family members could understand my role as a mother.

    They ask me if I enjoy doing “nothing” all day… they say as soon as my youngest is in school I must go do something for myself… they say I should be doing everything these “Anti-Moms” portray. They are caught up in the ways of the world… it truly is all about “ME! ME! ME!” and the natural man.

    I will continue to live my life according to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and try to be an example to others…
    Thank you, Stephanie, for standing up and speaking against the ways of the world. I think it is our duty.

    A friend of mine put an awesome poem on my blog and I want to share it with you, it’s called “Two Temples”

    A builder built a temple,
    He wrought it with grace and skill,
    Pillars and groins and arches
    All fashioned to work his will.
    Men said, as they saw its beauty,
    “It shall never know decay,
    Great is thy skill, O builder!
    Thy fame shall endure for aye.”

    A mother built a temple
    With loving and infinite care,
    Planning each arch with patience,
    Laying each arch with prayer.
    None praised her unceasing efforts,
    None knew of her wondrous plan,
    For the temple the mother built
    Was unseen by the eyes of man.

    Gone is the builder’s temple,
    Crumpled into the dust,
    Low lies each stately pillar,
    Food for consuming rust.
    But the temple the mother built
    Will last while the ages roll,
    For that beautiful unseen temple
    Was a child’s immortal soul.

    We are building temples 🙂

  7. I love your thoughts on this. I love watching the old TV shows and seeing the perfect moms like June Cleaver and Carol Brady. I want to be them. Sometimes I succeed, and sometimes, the world drags me down a bit.

    Thanks for all the quotes. I loved Sister Beck’s talk, and I need to internalize it.

  8. Have you heard of this quote from Alexander Pope? :

    “Vice is a monster of so frightful mien, As to be hated needs but to be seen; Yet too oft, familiar with her face, We first endure, then pity, then embrace.”

    I feel like this is what media does to us.

  9. Amen. I love how you stand and up and publicly fight for what you know is right as opposed to just standing on the side lines. You are an example to many of us.

    I had never read that Maxwell quote before. It is powerful! And it really helps us focus on what we should be focusing on. If we truly use personal revelation from the Lord to guide our lives and our families, we will be in a much better place.

  10. I’m anxious to read Sis. Edmund’s talk that Chocolate linked to. I’m passionate about this. Not just moms being at home, but being MOTHERS. Thanks for standing up for all that’s good! Your blog rocks.

  11. AMEN!

    “We may not be able to change such trends, but we can refuse to be a part of them.”

    Thank you for raising a clear voice for the divine calling of womanhood, motherhood and family. I raise my voice also. One by one, united in purpose and desire, Women Who Know CAN change the world!

  12. Wow, Stephanie! Excellent quotes!

    Due to some financial issues and then some equipment malfunctions, we no longer watch much tv. And do you know what, we haven’t missed it much! I’m so glad to keep so many of those influences out of our home…

  13. How are you all so strong and confident in your status as mothers? Maybe I’m just in a bad phase or something, cuz I’m not feeling it. I’m struggling big time to know if it even matters that I’m at home with my kids. And with the ginormous list of what I’m “supposed to” do, I feel so very buried.

    Maybe someday I’ll be one of you strong ones?

    • Amber, While I’m totally confident in my *role* as a mother and my choice to be the best mom I can be, I don’t think anyone feels totally confident in their status. We can all do better. First of all, I’m learning that the “supposed to do” list is a LOT smaller than we think it is. If you want, I’ll be happy to send you some references to some of my favorite talks about this, but from what I can tell, the list shouldn’t be much more than this:
      1. Love your children
      2. Teach them the gospel (not all at once, but little by little, seizing opportunities when you can)
      3. Feed them
      4. Clothe them.
      I really think that’s it. Everything else is a bonus. This means it’s okay if I’m still in my pajamas at 4 pm and I didn’t get around to anything I meant to clean. Being home with your children DOES make a difference! We can offer our children love, care, testimony, and guidance in a way that no one else can. No one loves them like we do. All around me (and on the news) I see the results of children who are victims of absent mothers (even the ones who stay-at-home but think that #3 and #4 are their only obligations). I am an imperfect mother. I am not happy and organized all the time, but I want to be. I try. And when I achieve it, I feel great and I see good things happen in my home. What I don’t want to be is a mom who’s proud of being an “anti-mom,” who flaunts a lifestyle that appears to be free of familial ties or responsibilities, who puts my needs and wants ahead of anyone else’s and resents service. While I don’t know you personally, I know you don’t fit into that category, and even though your children don’t vocalize it, they appreciate it. And they always will, and the gift goes on to the next generation. It’s okay to not feel it all the time, but don’t give up on it. (And speaking from personal experience, don’t hesitate to ask for a blessing anytime you can feel you’re lacking the drive to do what you believe is right.)

      • Thank you, Stephanie. I might just print that off and hang it on my wall this week. I can honestly say that I do those four things; so hey, look at me, I’m succeeding. I appreciate you taking the time to reach out. I really do.

  14. Thanks for a great post Steph! It helps me to reaffirm what I want and what I’m striving for.

    There are still great mother’s in the world. My brother married one of them. When we get together, I take notes on everything she does and then I find out why she does it. I want to be a mom like her. I want to be a mom my kids will be happy to have had and will someday want to be like.

    Hang in there AmberWaves. There are whole seasons of time when find I have to force myself to “choose” to keep enjoying being a mother, and sometimes, no matter how I try, it just won’t work. One of the biggest things that has changed my life has been learning to let go of the guilt of not being “good enough”, especially as a parent. My mom as a master at feeling badly about herself in the role of mother and it’s taken me years to re-learn how to think about motherhood. Prayer was one of the main keys for me. Start with being happy where you are and it gets easier. It was one of the hardest things I ever learned to do, but it was so worth it in the end. I’m still learning, and there are still rough days, but I’m getting there. You will too!

  15. I totally agree with this.
    Most of the moms on TV don’t mother.
    They play cards, drink coffee.
    I hate them.
    I don’t know the last time I did either of those. 🙂

  16. I can barely stand the way fathers are portrayed in these shows, I’d never really thought about the mothers. But you are right. How sad that they feel positive roll models are bad influences on women.

  17. There are still pockets of places where more traditional motherhood is appreciated. My new town is one of them. It amazes me when a group of strong moms get together the kind of huge things they can do.

  18. Pingback: Tribute to Sister Julie B. Beck « Diapers and Divinity

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