Families are strengthened when mothers recognize that the calling of motherhood holds great power in righting the wrongs in the world. Mothers must understand that they hold a key position as they influence their children for good or ill.
"A mother has far greater influence on her children than anyone else, and she must realize that every word she speaks, every act, every response, her attitude, even her appearance and manner of dress affect the lives of her children and the whole family.
It is while the child is in the home that he gains from his mother the attitudes, hopes, and beliefs that will determine the kind of life he will live and the contribution he will make to society" (N. Eldon Tanner, "No Greater Honor: The Woman's Role," New Era, Jan. 1977, 31).
If you doubt the influence that mothers have in the lives of their children, pay attention to these words spoken by some stripling warriors going off to war for the first time. These young men had been taught by their mothers to put their trust in God and to never doubt His power to protect them, and they had great courage. Their commander wrote the following concerning a discussion about whether or not to join an ongoing battle: The young men said, "… our God is with us, and he will not suffer that we should fall; then let us go forth; we would not slay our brethren if they would let us alone; therefore let us go, lest they should overpower the army of Antipus.
"Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.
"And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it" (Alma 56:45-48). The faith of these 2060 young men kept them alive when men were dying all around them. There is real power in motherhood!
Much of the great good in the world today as well as much of the terrible evil is the result of the way that the children of yesterday were reared. We are surrounded by millions of young men and women who are doing tremendous things to help society. They obtain the proper education needed to help their fellow men and to provide for their families. They love, teach, and train their children to be good influences in the world. They show good examples to all who know them or observe them. There are also many young men and young women in the world who are taught by their mothers to hate people of other faiths. They are taught that they have a responsibility to kill anyone who is of a different religion. They strap bombs to their bodies and commit suicide with the hope that they will kill many infidels.
There is great power involved in motherhood! This nation and the world will follow where the next generation leads, and mothers control the direction of the rising generation. Neal A. Maxwell asked the following questions: "When the real history of mankind is fully disclosed, will it feature the echoes of gunfire or the shaping sound of lullabies? The great armistices made by military men or the peacemaking of women in homes and in neighborhoods? Will what happened in cradles and kitchens prove to be more controlling than what happened in congresses?" (See "The Women of God," Ensign, May 1978, 10-11.)
This same principle is enshrined in a poem written by William Ross Wallace and published in 1865. He wrote, "For the hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world." Motherhood is the preeminent force for change in the world because any changes that we want in the world must first take place in the home.
A modern-day prophet of God stated, "There is no need in any land for conflict between diverse groups of any kind. Let there be taught in the homes of people that we are all children of God, our Eternal Father, and that as surely as there is fatherhood, there can and must be brotherhood….
"Good homes are not easily created or maintained. They require discipline, not so much of children as of self. They require respect for others, that respect which comes best from acceptance of the revealed word of the Lord concerning the purpose of life, of the importance and sacred nature of the family, and recognition of each member of the family as a child of God" (Gordon B. Hinckley, Stand A Little Taller, 117, 131).
We have the words of two other prophets of God that emphasize the need for parents to teach their children correct principles. David O. McKay said, "No other success can compensate for failure in the home." Harold B. Lee said, "The most important work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own home."
There are numerous good reasons why God sent us to earth as babies to live in families. One of those reasons included the need for the babies to be taught properly. E. T. Sullivan explained that God changes the world in small ways: "We fancy that God can only manage His world with battalions, when all the while He is doing it by beautiful babies. When a wrong wants righting, or a truth wants preaching, or a continent wants opening, God sends a baby into the world. When God wants a great work done in the world or a great wrong righted, he goes about it in a very unusual way. He doesn't stir up his earthquakes or send forth his thunderbolts. Instead, he has a helpless baby born, perhaps in a simple home and of some obscure mother. And then God puts the idea into the mother's heart, and she puts it into the baby's mind. And then God waits. The greatest forces in the world are not the earthquakes and the thunderbolts. The greatest forces in the world are babies" ("God's Way," The Treasure Chest , p 53).
Babies soon grow into youth, and youth quickly matures into adulthood. Those babies will be forces for good or evil, depending in large measure on how they are reared. The wise writer of Proverbs declared, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).
A mother's example will do more than anything else to impress a pattern of life on the minds of her children. A story is told about a group of women in ancient Rome who were showing their beautiful jewels to each other with great pride and vanity. Cornelia, the mother of two boys, was among the group. One of the women asked Cornelia, "And where are your jewels?" Cornelia answered by pointing to her sons and saying, "These are my jewels." She taught her sons by her good example and virtuous life. The two sons were Gaius and Tiberius Gracchus - the Gracchi, as they were called. They became two of the most persuasive and effective reformers in Roman history. Those who remember and speak of them also remember and praise the mother who reared them after the manner of her own virtuous life.
I do not wish to ignore the effect of fathers on children because the influence of fathers is great also, but I understand that the roles of fathers and mothers are different. Motherhood is so powerful because the bond between mother and child is there long before the birth of the child. After birth, it is often the mother who spends long hours with children because mothers are usually in the home more than fathers are. If you listen carefully to the way that great men talk about their mothers, you will understand that mothers have a powerful influence on their children. It is mother who has the greatest ability to bring comfort and security to a frightened or unhappy child. For all these reasons, mothers carry much power in the lives of their children.
Thomas S. Monson made the following statement: "Men turn from evil and yield to their better natures when mother is remembered. A famed officer from the Civil War period, Colonel Higginson, when asked to name the incident of the Civil War that he considered the most remarkable for bravery, said that there was in his regiment a man whom everybody liked, a man who was brave and noble, who was pure in his daily life, absolutely free from dissipations in which most of the other men indulged.
"One night at a champagne supper, when many were becoming intoxicated, someone in jest called for a toast from this young man. Colonel Higginson said that he arose, pale but with perfect self-control, and declared: `Gentlemen, I will give you a toast which you may drink as you will, but which I will drink in water. The toast that I have to give is, "Our mothers."'
"Instantly a strange spell seemed to come over all the tipsy men. They drank the toast in silence. There was no more laughter, no more song, and one by one they left the room. The lamp of memory had begun to burn, and the name of Mother touched every man's heart.
"As a boy, I well remember Sunday School on Mother's Day. We would hand to each mother present a small potted plant and sit in silent reverie as Melvin Watson, a blind member, would stand by the piano and sing `That Wonderful Mother of Mine.' This was the first time I saw a blind man cry. Even today, in memory, I can see the moist tears move from those sightless eyes, then form tiny rivulets and course down his cheeks, falling finally upon the lapel of the suit he had never seen. In boyhood puzzlement I wondered why all the grown men were silent, why so many handkerchiefs came forth. Now I know: mother was remembered. Each boy, each girl, all fathers and husbands seemed to make a silent pledge, `I will remember that wonderful mother of mine.'" (See "`Behold Thy Mother,'" Ensign, Apr 1998, 2.)
The world and our nation would be much more beautiful if every mother regarded her children as the jewels of her life and took proper and loving care of her children. By their teachings, mothers will determine to a large extent what our nation will be like for the next generation. This is why I state that there is great power for good or evil in motherhood!