The last post, The Difficulty of Mothering Alone and a Call for Older Women, brought much interest and the question of “how can older women best come alongside younger women” and encourage them, building up the next generation?
This is by no means an exhaustive list of suggestions, so I hope you will, using your particular experience, offer suggestions as well!
- Verbal encouragement. This is so easy and so powerful! In a day where young mothers are faced with many forms of discouragement, just having an older woman “cheer her on” can bolster her strength. Consider sending a card or just pulling her aside to say, “I am so encouraged as I watch you faithfully raising soldiers for the glory of God”. Do not underestimate the power of words. You could even encourage perfect strangers in this way.
- Meals. We all know the relief the ministry of food can be. Perhaps a tired mother just needs time to catch her breath. You could send a few frozen dishes to be pulled out on a hard day, items for breakfast or even a gift card to treat the couple to a date. I can even imagine that an older woman, experienced with easy meal preparation, could bless a younger mom (who may not have been well-taught in the kitchen), with some simple meal recipes and ideas.
- Mother-Helper. Sending an older, young-adult daughter over to relieve a young mother can be a tremendous blessing to both families. She may watch younger children while the mother runs errands, or she may do light housework and/or prepare meals. I have both been a recipient of this service and have been able to send a daughter to help another mother, and the blessing of this kind of ministry is priceless.
- Teaching your skills. I know many young mothers are learning for the first time and would love to have an older woman either show them all or show her daughters some practical home-making skills. The same goes for music lessons, art lessons or any other skill you have. Many can not afford lessons and would be so thrilled by this gift. An elderly widow volunteered to teach three of our girls piano and both she and our family are SO blessed by it! (She has shared with me how teaching has “given her life” again when she felt like she had nothing to offer anyone.)
- Educational assistance. My thoughts here go to purchasing materials that a young family may not be able to afford but would appreciate. A magazine subscription to Creation magazine (or something similar), a set of science DVDs, a microscope, telescope, etc. Helping them enrich their educational atmosphere would be tremendously encouraging.
- Just ask. Breaking the autonomous relationships among us and letting people know you are available and willing to help may simply come by saying so. Ask a young mother (or even an older mother with younger children) if there is something you could do to help her. You may have to be a bit persistent to let her know you are serious, but she will truly appreciate it!
Feel free to share your ideas and I hope we are all encouraged to bear one another’s burdens and share in one another’s joy!