“I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.”
“A mother’s nurturing love arouses in children, from their earliest days on earth, an awakening of the memories of love and goodness they experience in their premortal existence... Because our mothers love us, we learn, or more accurately remember, that God also loves us.”
~M. Russell Ballard
Parental roles are essentially unique. The perfect family arrangement has a father and mother; the father providing protection and the mother providing nurture.
Now, in many cases in our world, we face situations of broken, single, and multi parent, families. In some cases there are no parents. So, whilst we speak in terms of father being protector and mother being nurturer, we can safely assume, for the purposes of those without the complete parental set, that protection and nurture are two vital components in the upbringing of children. One parent or one guardian, particularly where they see parenting as their life calling, can provide both more than adequately.
The ideal is that the father provides protection and the mother provides the nurture. But, differing family situations can very adequately compensate.
A Father’s Protection
Father is a rock for the entire family, not just his children. That is God’s purpose and design for the man of the family, despite our culture weakening the importance of father and husband in the family. When a father is a rock for his wife and children, and even a rock for the mother of his children if they are separated, the entire family prospers.
The father, as a rock, actually mimics the Fatherhood of God.
As God is a rock in all believers’ lives, so is the father to be a rock for his family. He must do whatever he can to be the model of stability and protection. When he achieves this it has a significantly positive impact on his children. They feel safe. When a husband loves his wife, especially in sacrificial ways, the children feel safe.
A Mother’s Nurture
Interesting, isn’t it, to think that love predates our births? Love is part of our biology. We came from God and we go back to God, and in the middle, during our mortal lives, most of all we identify with, and yearn for, the loving nurture of our mothers.
As a father’s protection is safety for a child, so too is a mother’s nurture.
And if we can conceptualise a Motherhood aspect of God—the love of God manifest in a mother—we can see the rank importance of a mother’s role in providing the nurture children so desperately seek after. When children are loved they feel safe.
Children who feel safe, and grow up safe, prosper in safe independence.
It would not be right to end an article like this without a word of empathy for those who missed out on the better portions of a father’s protection and/or a mother’s nurture.
These, in sum, may be the source of all our significant hurts; those that recur through our lives by the processes of transference. In other words, much of our anxiety and negative thinking is generated from incorrect mental and emotional scripts written from a lack of protection and nurture when we most needed it; as children.
The greatest gifts we can give children are a father’s protection and a mother’s nurture. For single parent and no parent families there is much hope if protection and nurture are front of mind and close at heart for the parent or caregiver.
Children who grow up to be safely independent in their world have been blessed with two gifts: protection and nurture—both in abundance.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.