OK it’s mother’s day – it’s just one day. We can take mum out, buy some cards, gifts, say nice things that make us feel warm and fuzzy, and then for a lot of mums – that’s it.

And yet we have to recognize that mums look after kids, the house, the garden, and may work outside the home, do volunteer work, or even look after their own parents, relatives or grandchildren. They are (mostly) highly responsible people and parenting/caring is hard and constant work, so who looks after mum?

Children need to feel that their parents or caregivers enjoy them, and mostly they do, but the pleasure and enjoyment can quickly disappear when a caregiver becomes emotionally and physically exhausted. Parenting mistakes happen when a mum runs out of patience and has no-one to turn to, no-one to support her.

So who looks after mum? An isolated mother, or single parent is more likely to re-enact her childhood hurts if she struggles alone. Robin Grille in his wonderful book Parenting for a Peaceful World, says that parents should not be blamed, or made to feel responsible for their inadequate parenting.

Factors operating are their own childhood experiences (good or bad), their own personality, learning and skills (or lack of), and they are as good as the support which has been given to them. Grille says that they depend on getting support and backup, and that “the welfare of children is a wider social responsibility”.

Getting good ongoing emotional support from a partner is vital, and partners need to support each other because fathers also can feel confused or helpless about their parenting. A sense of equality in a relationship can go a long way to help a woman to feel valued in her role.

Research shows that social and interpersonal isolation is one of the biggest factors contributing to a lack of affection shown by a mother to her children as she struggles with her mothering.

So if you are aware of any mother who is struggling, isolated, and lacking in social and emotional supports, be aware that the mum needs looking after. She needs help and support. As a community and as a society we need more structures, formal and informal to see that mums are looked after and supported, not only on mother’s day, but quite a lot of the time, and we need to share responsibility with the parents so that kids can know that they are loved and appreciated and that they have their own special place in our society.

We all need to look after mums, and not just on mother’s day. They are vitally important people. They have raised past generations, and mums today are responsible for the next generation.

Book: Not your usual parenting book!

Parenting for a Peaceful World by Robin Grille

Longueville Media 2005

‘Stunning, absolutely fascinating! You’ll never think about childhood the same way again…’

Sandy McCutcheon ABC Radio National