Mothering Sunday, also known as Mother’s Day (which is actually taken from a US celebration day at a different time of year, but I digress) is approaching, but what are the origins of the celebration?
“Mothering Sunday is a day honouring mothers and mother churches, celebrated in the United Kingdom, Ireland and some Commonwealth countries on the fourth Sunday in Lent since the Middle Ages. On Mothering Sunday, Christians have historically visited their mother church—the church in which they received the sacrament of baptism. Constance Adelaide Smith revived its modern observance beginning in 1913 to honour Mother Church, ‘mothers of earthly homes’, the Virgin Mary (mother of Jesus), and Mother Nature. It gained popularity in response to the originally American Mother’s Day.”
In modern times, the day is less of a religious festival and more generally celebrated to honour all mothers within the family and to show gratitude and love for all they may have done for you. encouraging giving cards, flowers or gifts, but you can also make the day special and personal to your Mum, or any other mother figure who may have occupied this role within your life.
At school, children are encouraged to make handmade cards for their Mums, however what about those children whose mother is absent for some reason? Perhaps their mother has passed away, or they are a fostered child that would love to be back with their mother but can’t at present. For children whose mother is absent for one reason or another, Mother’s Day can be one of the hardest days of the year. The day is now very commercialised and it may highlight to some fostered children that they will not be with their birth mother on Mother’s Day. Also, Mother’s Day can be confusing for some children, as they may not be sure whether they should celebrate the day with their foster mother. Children may feel guilty or disloyal to their birth mother. If you are caring for a child this Mother’s Day, it is important to take some time as the day approaches to talk with the child about the day. Here are some tips on managing the day:
Understand the value of the day to your foster child
Some foster children may find Mother’s Day very difficult or maybe totally indifferent. It is important to have a conversation with the child about their thoughts regarding the day to gauge their feelings so that you will be able to respond appropriately. Perhaps you could ask them what they have done in the past to celebrate Mother’s Day, and how they are feeling for the upcoming day. You can then use this information to plan how to manage the day.
Acknowledge the child’s pain from loss
A child may respond to the above with a sense of loss and pain. It is important to acknowledge their feelings around this and address it. Encourage the child to be open about their feelings and allow them to feel safe that they can display this emotion on the day – and reassure them that it’s OK and normal and natural reaction to think of their birth mother on Mother’s Day.
If their birth mother will not be with them on or around the day, whether this is because she has passed away or is unable to look after her child, you can ask the child if they’d like to honour their birth mother by lighting a candle or saying a prayer.
Communicate with other adults in your child’s life
Your foster child may experience heightened emotions causing them to become distracted, sad or angry. It is important that the adult role models in their life, e.g. teachers, football coaches, know about and how it might affect your child. For teachers in particular, this will allow them to modify the work set (e.g. if they are making Mother’s Day cards) to also account for children who are no longer with their biological mothers.
Ensure your own biological children involve your foster child
Depending on how they view and value the day, it is important to consider how involved the foster child would want to be in the celebrations. If you have birth children already, it’s likely they’ll be teaming up, or maybe working alongside dad or another trusted adult, to help organise something special for Mother’s Day. As a fostering family, it’s important to communicate to your birth children to involve your foster child. This is an important part of inclusion and feeling accepted into the family group, and ensuring they are treated in the same way the birth children are when giving gifts or making breakfast in bed.
If your foster child refuses to join in, it may be because this is just too painful for them. They may want to deal with the pain in their own way, so it’s important that you don’t force them to join in if they would rather not.
Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to celebrate
Perhaps most importantly, remember that however you and your foster child decide to celebrate Mother’s Day, there is no right or wrong way. It is likely to be led by your foster child’s feelings and emotions towards Mother’s Day, so make time for your foster child on the day and keep lines of communication open, and ensure your child feels safe and secure enough to express their emotions if they wish.
Foster Carers make an incredible difference to children regardless of everything they have been through and the trauma they may have faced, so enjoy your day Mums and Foster Mums! Thank you for all that you do for your birth and foster children 😊
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mothering_Sunday Wikipedia – Mothering Sunday
http://www.supercoloring.com/coloring-pages/holidays/mothers-day Paint The World – Mother’s Day colouring-in sheets
By Lynsey Dobbs, Senior Recruitment Officer