“You don’t mess with Mama Bear.” I’m not sure if there’s an equivalent analogy or saying for “Papas,” but I’ve recently had some time to ponder those Mama Bear tendencies that many of us moms experience on occasion. I think in times past, I could see my tender emotions towards my children as somewhat inferior or as some kind of weakness. I mean, it’s not always logical to react the way we do to “outsiders” who may offend our little ones or cause them emotional pain. Sometimes the emotional pain they experience is not logical or comes from a lack of maturity. Life can be tough, and our children do need to learn how to cope from a young age. And certainly we always have to see the big picture and understand that it is not always others’ intentions to wound our children’s spirits.
I had somewhat of an epiphany recently when my Mama Bear spirit came charging out of me after my 13-year-old daughter received what I felt was a harsh review on her recently published Amazon book. Perhaps these tendencies, when under the control of the Holy Spirit, are not so bad. In fact, perhaps they are actually a gift that God has put within us moms to bring balance to the parenting we do together with our husbands.
Imagine how tough a child’s world would be if there was no mother to listen and tenderly comfort when life hurts. In Galatians 6:2, we are told to “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” God himself is “…the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” And Jesus speaks about how He longed to gather Israel under his wings as a mother hen. What a picture of tenderness and compassion! Jesus could have used any illustration, but he chose to compare Himself to a mother who tenderly cares for her young.
Likewise, imagine how soft our children would be if they never had a dad to toughen them up and remind them of the realities of the world in which we live. Imagine if they were never taught to see the logic of a situation and the good that can come from hardships and criticisms they may face. God does not always speak tenderly to those He loves. There is a harsh truth in some of Jesus’ words, such as when He warns about hell and the consequences of sin. And there are even tough words for the righteous when He speaks of the last days, telling us “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.” Not comforting words, but truthful and necessary ones.
So this is what I think is important for us as moms and dads to recognize: We were each uniquely created to speak into the lives of our children and to protect them in unique ways by the very nature of the gender God assigned to us. Men protect physically, women protect emotionally. Moms are very tender towards the emotions and feelings of our children, and that is how God designed us. We are the perfect balance to our husbands, who sometimes are so logical and factual that they forget to make accommodations to the emotional tenderness that immature children possess. That is one reason why it takes both a mom and a dad to parent well. God designed our genders to compliment each other and bring a completeness to the parenting package. (But take heart, single moms! God also promises to be a “Father to the fatherless.” He will complete you and equip you where you are weak.)
As Moms, you have a gift of being able to emotionally nurture and protect. You can empathize with your children and feel their heartache, as well as their joys, in ways that Dads cannot. As Dads, you have a gift of being able to physically protect your children and prepare them for a tough world. You are in tune with what your children need to grow and mature into strong adults and in particular, with what your boys need to develop into strong, protective leaders. Be thankful today for who God designed you to be in your individual parenting role, and also for who He designed your spouse to be. Each role is equally important and we should learn to appreciate their strengths, rather than focusing on their weaknesses.
“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
— Psalm 139:14a