Dear Dr. Linda,

I love my mother and my children love me, but I don’t love Mother’s Day on many fronts. To begin with, it’s a made-up holiday created by Hallmark to make a lot of money. Secondly, it forces mothers and children of all ages to be part of a holiday that has no meaning to them and may even be a heartache for them due to death, relationships or lifestyle.

In addition, elementary school teachers spend hours of valuable time having their students make Mother’s Day cards and gifts when they can be teaching them a host of other things that will help them succeed in school. Finally, I feel that Mother’s Day is teaching our children that there’s one day a year they need to be nice to their mothers and then they can be rude and uncaring the other 364 days.

Sign Up for E-News

Ilene

Dear Ilene,

Even though Mother’s Day is one of the most celebrated holidays in this country, I have heard similar remarks from others, especially that Hallmark created the holiday. However, if you go back in history you’ll see that Mother’s Day began with the ancient Greeks and Romans. They had festivals in honor of their mother-goddesses.

Mother’s Day is celebrated all over the world, but in the northern hemisphere it is celebrated on different days in April or May. It was first introduced in the United States by a woman named, Anna Jarvis, a social activist, not Hallmark. She is known as the founder of Mother’s Day in the U.S. However, as the holiday became more commercial, she became so distraught over it she actually wanted to stop it. She believed that her ultimate goal to honor mothers for their everlasting love became overshadowed by commercialism.

With that said, it seems that Mother’s Day is here to stay along with Hallmark cards, flowers, candy and overbooked restaurants. But is that so bad? Being a mother is one of the most important roles in life and it seems appropriate to honor mothers (and fathers, too). Generally, children appreciate and love their parents on the other 364 days as well. If children are rude and uncaring those other days, as you say, or other hardships and issues are happening in their families, then those are personal issues that needs to be addressed.

As far as thinking that it’s a waste of time for children to make cards or gifts for their mothers during the school day, it’s actually just the opposite. The lesson of giving is one of the most important lessons children learn. Even though a child and parent may give each other gifts throughout the year, having a special day devoted to mothers provides the opportunity for all of us to appreciate and celebrate our mothers. The same goes for Father’s Day.

Children learn that holidays are special days to honor, remember or observe a religious event, a particular event in history or a famous person or group of people. In addition, celebrating holidays together builds strong family and community bonds. They not only provide children with positive childhood memories, but also provide them days of excitement anticipating those special days. A child’s excitement waiting to give his or her mother the handmade card, painted rock (paper weight) or bouquet of tissue flowers colored and scented with lipstick, made at school, is genuine and heartfelt. 

Family celebrations, such as Mother’s Day, also help children grow because they provide a sense of belonging. Feeling that you belong, whether it is to a family, a school, a religious group or a community, is a basic need of all humans. If a person is not fortunate enough to have family with whom to share holidays, then they would do well to create their own traditions.

So, to Ilene and others who put Mother’s Day down, try to enjoy the holiday with your mom and children by explaining how it began and why it has continued. Plus, enjoy the cards, homemade or store-bought, the flowers, the candy and the other gifts you may get and say, “Thank You!”

Happy Mother’s Day,

Dr. Linda