The 18 Traditional Roles and Responsibilities of a Mother in the Family

Traditional Roles and Responsibilities of a Mother in the Family

What does it mean to be a mother?

A mother is the female parent of a child or a woman who gives birth to children in the family. While this is the traditional definition of the word "mother", a mother can also mean a woman who takes parental responsibilities of a child whether such child is biologically hers, adopted or from someone else.

Just like a father, one can become a mother through different means either by giving birth to a child, through adoption or just taking on basic civic roles and responsibilities in a child’s life. Despite this fact, one condition to qualify as a mother is to be a woman. This makes motherhood the pride of most women.

What it takes to be a true mother

We are used to the “sweet mother” narratives but whatever that phrase means is bound to the roles and responsibilities that are involved in being a mother. Without such obligations, then the concept of being a mother would be questionable.

In other words, giving birth to a child alone is not enough for one to be recognized and treated as the mother of that child.

Motherhood comes with immense tasks. So, it takes the roles and responsibilities for you to be a mother because it is the responsibilities and the roles you play in your child’s life that makes you different from a surrogate who just donated egg for fertilization.

Motherhood and Family Roles/Responsibilities

The society is shifting towards an era whereby family responsibilities are debated and family members no more acknowledge their roles.

Although one can be a mother independently of a father and takes the sole custody of a child, the traditional roles and responsibilities of a mother remains the same. Therefore, acting in place of a father or taking over the roles and responsibilities of a father does not make you one, just like a father cannot be a mother. Your double responsibility only shows your resilience and strength in handling multiple tasks even beyond your limit.

Note: This article is not limiting family members (parents) from helping one another or carrying out each other’s tasks when one is absent, it is only for awareness and as a resource to help guide and build a happy family life.

Why You Should Know Your Roles and Responsibilities as a Mother

Nursing mother

  • Knowing your roles and responsibilities will enhance good parenting:
Caring for a child is not an individual job. Each parent has a role to play in a child’s life and in situation where one is absent, there is always a loophole. In fact, research has shown that most people in prison in the United States are those raised by single parents. This does not mean that a single parent cannot raise a successful child but it emphasizes the need for each parent to take up their responsibilities amicably for a successful parenting.

  • When responsibilities are properly shared, the family will grow:
The subject of division of labor is not just a classroom lesson most of us learned in the elementary schools. When you play your part while the father is also playing his own roles and taking his responsibilities, the family is heading towards success through continuously growth. There is no argument about how two heads are better than one in family welfare.

  • Taking up your roles and responsibilities promote peace and happiness in the family:
frustrated parents cannot live peacefully and one cause of frustration in the family is when the burden is too heavy on one person. By taking on your roles, you are reducing the burden from your partner (in this case the father) who already has his own share of the responsibilities.

  • Knowing your roles and responsibilities leads to appreciation:
When you know your roles, you will appreciate someone who is there to help. In situation whereby your spouse takes on your roles, understanding that it was your duty, will give you reason to appreciate them and by this boost family harmony.

  • Responsible parents would likely raise responsible children:
Children understand their parents even more than the parents may understand them. As a mother, the child knows you better even as an infant. Although it is likely that he/she may appreciate you more than the father, it is also good to know that that child is watching you as well and through you, he may grow up to understand the need to be responsible and up to tasks.

Below are the Roles and Responsibilities of a Mother in the Family

Mother with children

1. A Mother is the Child Bearer of the Family:

It is the role of a mother to give birth to children in the family. Where the mother does not give birth, she is also supposed to be the one to make the first moves for child adoption.

It can be stigmatizing for the husband to be in charge of adopting a child without properly receiving authority from the wife who would become the mother of the adopted child. When it seems like you cannot have a child, be bold to make a step.

Although some barrenness has been traced to men, it is unfortunate that the society traditionally puts every blame on women. It, therefore, makes sense that you seek for immediate medical attention and/or alternative medicine where your husband feels reluctant.

Making a move will help you understand whether the condition is from you or your husband. This will help you know the next step to take. Of course, as a woman, you are bound to reach menopause while research says your husband can still have a child even at 90. This roles makes you the child bearer of the family because where there is no child, the first eye is on you.

2. Mothers are the family nurses and caregivers:

Women are naturally graced with care and concern as a nurse would to her patients. As a mother, you are the nurse of that family and the caregiver.

Mum hugging a baby

Irrespective of how caring a father is, he cannot offer your children the satisfaction they have when they are in your arms; housemates would not do this either. It is your obligation to breast feed your children, teach your infant how to walk, and nurse them to adulthood.

You are not only caring for your children but every member of the family sees you are the one whose arm they can lay on when they are in need of soft touch and comfort.

While people run to the father for protection and security, your arm as a mother is where they find comfort and care. Even your husband who might be the father of your children sees you as a nurse. This means that you should be open to offering everyone in that family your care at your capacity.

Caring here is not literally only about holding them in your arms, of course, some family members are heavier than you can carry, it is about showing them more concern, noticing changes in their lives and listening to them over other members of the family, even when it does not worth it.

3. Mothers and fathers are partners in child raising:

It is the duty of a mother to work together with the father as partners in seeking for a better way to train up their children. 

Even if there are differences or subject of conflict between you, when it comes to issues concerning the children and the welfare of the family, there is need for partnership. This means you can cover up in aspects where the father is not doing well.

4. Mum is the Best Cooks and in charge of food:

That sounds weird, right? That is how the society makes you feel. But cooking is one of the traditional roles of the mother while the father is charged with provision. Even most children take pride in their mothers when it come to the kitchen.
Mum cooking in the kitchen as her responsibility

In most cultures and society, men are restricted from places like the kitchen where women (allegedly) are supposed to be in charge. This does not mean that a father should not cook but an average father (worldwide) rarely cooks or hardly cooks well.

We can’t blame individuals or culture for this. Nature has already made you the one that feeds others directly from the womb during breastfeeding. Already, most children are used to you being the one to feed them. While others can cook, it is your responsibility to dish out food and serve your family or appoint someone that responsibility.

Children can also take this role when they grow up but it is important to note that most children would cheat on themselves or feel marginalized over certain responsibilities sharing. Meanwhile, when your children are still young, you have that responsibility no matter who is there to bail you out.

5. A mother can act in the absence of a father figure:

It is your responsibility to act as (or play the role of) a father when there is none. It is not going to be an easy task but taking that role may be the only option you have or the best from other options.

At times you may choose to outsource that fatherhood responsibility but this has to be handled in a sensitive manner because only a few people can take custody of children that are not theirs.

In situation where it seems impossible to play this role alone, try to seek for advice or connect with immediate family members to offer assistance or guidance. You can source for a father icon or a male mentor for your child.

6. Mothers are the easiest point of contact or the ‘middlemen of the family’:

For some reasons, most family members, especially the children, find it easier to communicate their grievances to the mother over the father. This is very rampant, especially in polygamous homes where the father is more engaged in several chores. While they might go to the father for basic needs, most of your children expect that you will respond to those aspects of need the father would not give them ears.

Large family of mother, father and children

It is therefore your role to make yourself easily available to them. Failure to offer them easy access can make them seek for alternatives out of the family which may have negative consequences.

7. Mothers command peace and Love:

While fathers are known to command authority in the family, mothers are known to command peace and love. It is your role as mother to ensure peace reigns in your family, both between you and your spouse and among your children.

Promoting peace in the family means you are indirectly in control of the internal affairs of that family. When you don’t promote peace and love in the family, your children are unlikely to live peacefully. While they are raised by the father’s disciplinary attributes, your peaceful life as a peacemaker would mold them into becoming better adults.

Promoting peace means learning to have good manners, keeping silent when there is need, and resolving conflicts among your children and letting them know the need to forgive themselves. The truth is that you cannot give what you don’t have. This role, therefore, requires that you learn to be a loving and peaceful person.

8. As a mother, you are in charge of family policing:

Women are naturally sensitive, observatory and detective. This gives mothers an edge in knowing when things are not right in the family, when a certain child needs special attention and so on. This aspect of parenting is very vital for every mother especially when it comes to taking care of the female child. It will help you to know when your teen daughter needs attention and when your son begins to make bad friends.

Monitoring and policing your family members is not bad, it just makes them know that an unseen eye is watching them and that will help them behave better.

There is no point for argument here because in most cases, men hardly notice things at home earlier enough but until it gets out of hands. May be this is due to the busy nature of an average man, or just nature’s arrangement.

9. Mother as the Final Point of Hope for the Family Members:

In cases when a certain family member is stubborn or wayward, other family members may tend to disconnect from him/her. It is mostly mothers that remain when everyone else feels like a certain family member does not deserve love anymore.
Mother consoling a crying child

It is important for you as a mother to know this and try to take a neutral side in most cases. Your family, even the father feels you are his partner, hence, no matter what the children does, your spouse might likely hope you are still there.

There is nothing as bad as a mother taking a side, it destroys the family and have bigger impact more than it would do if the father was the case.

Make yourself available for the family members to look up to as the last point of contact when no one else is available.

10. A Mother is the First Aider and Healthcare provider in the family:

You would probably see mothers knowing when a child is sick by merely looking at the eyes or monitoring the child’s feeding habit, something that most fathers cannot do. Yes, mothers provide first medical attention to the children because they are mostly the ones that would likely know when a child is not feeling fine.

It is also rampant that most mothers would take family members ill-health much seriously than any other family member thereby speeding up the healing process.

11. Emotional supporter and adviser:

A loving mum and child

A mother offers emotional support and advice to every member of the family. Sometimes the man can make wrong decisions, it is your duty as the mother of the house to call his attention and offer the best option that you think would favor the family.

The question on your mind would be, what if he does not listen? Yes, you are right, not everyone will listen but when your opinion turns out to be right most times, everyone in the family will come finding you. Besides, whatever decision in the family influences every member of the family. This makes it mandatory for every mother to be fully involved in her roles and take up vital responsibilities such as this.

In the aspect of emotional support, mothers are known to always encourage and motivate family members (from the father to the children) when they feel low and depressed. Comfort them, advise them, speak to them and give them hope. Traditionally, this is one of the roles that makes you who you are.

12. A Mother is the family’s Planner and organizer:

When it comes to keeping record, tracking schedules, keeping things in place and planning ahead for the family, mothers are the bosses.

Mothers plan family activities like prayer time, vacations, visitations and more. They also ensure everything is in place in the house as well as offering direction on how things should be done for the home keeping and family well-being.

13. A Mother is the Financial and Resource Manager of the Family:

No one does the management job like a good mother. Even when the father might live a lavishing lifestyle, you are likely to see mothers who prefer that money is spent only on things that matter and on important projects. They do not only manage the financial aspect of the family, but the family resources as well.

Women are traditionally known to be good managers.

14. A Mother is the Family Teacher:

A mother teaching a female daughter how to cook as a role

Most of the basic things you know how to do today might have been from your mum. Consider how to cook, wash cloths, clean and do basic things at home.

It is mostly mothers that handle this responsibility. In fact, we would not be wrong to say that the main parental responsibilities in case of home training is on the mother over the father. This does not mean that fathers do not play this role, but the reality is that mothers are at the top of the game in most cases.

15. A Mother is Child(ren)’s Earpiece and Compass:

Your children would more likely take what you say into their minds over what other members of the family say. Yes, you can easily manipulate everyone in the family over everyone else. This makes it much easier for you to make the children love or hate the father over the other way round.

You can as well build love or hatred among the family members, yes, you have that key as a mother. It is good you play a good role instead of taking steps that will leave the family in the abyss of chaos.

16. Mothers are Family’s Knowledge Bank:

For reason not stated here, mothers seem to know more about the family than the father. They can remember dates, know the secret of their children, even know each person that comes to the family over everyone else.

In addition, most children are likely to share secret information such as disclosing their lovers to the mother over the father. As a mother, see this as a heroic responsibility and keep your hears down to gather full knowledge about your family and its members. Is that your child’s friend a good person or not? These are vital things most mothers know over the father.

17. Mothers are Children’s Role Models:

Two daughters and mother resembling themselves

Mothers are good role models for their children.

Children are more likely to follow their mother’s exemplary life because they are closer to the mother most times than the father.

Your children look up to you and whatever they see you do is what they will imitate into their lives. Your female child, for instance, may treat people just the way you do and imitate most of your lifestyles because you are a paragon. It is your responsibility to behave well and be a good individual that is worthy of emulation.

18. A Mother is the Master Homemaker in the Family:

Mothers are often responsible for the day-to-day running of the household. She is responsible for activities like cooking, cleaning, laundry, and shopping.

That shout, "Is this how I taught you to wash it," is known to come from the mother and no matter how good you are, you can not do more than her. When there is a mother, the home is in the right hands.

A nuclear family

Final Thoughts on the Roles and Responsibilities of a Mother in the Family

The family is the smallest unit of the society and is structured as a nuclear institution. While the father acts as the president, the mother signifies the prime minister or take the case of a King and a queen. Above all, family is one of the most important things in life.

No member of the family can succeed as a lone boss. It is the collective efforts of all members of the family that can make a family happy and successful. This effort emanates only from everyone partnering together and taking up their roles and responsibilities accordingly. As a mother, yours is a master role and you have to accept it with honor for things to work right in your family or home.
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