Mother’s Day & Kids Who Have Lost Their Mom

As we plan our lessons for Mother’s Day, it is vital that we approach the day with wisdom.  Some of the children in our classrooms may not have a mother present in the home due to death, abandonment, military service, incarceration, custody issues, or various other circumstances.

Parents can also be dealing with Mother’s Day grief, especially for those who have lost a child or their own mother recently. These feelings often will affect all the children in the family.

So how can we approach the day with compassion?  That answer is going to look different for all of us in children’s ministry, but here are some thoughts to consider:

1.  Know your students. Know their unique family dynamics.  If a child has lost a mom due to illness, inform the other family members in advance about your plans for the day.  Ask them for suggestions.  Give them the freedom to celebrate and honor the mom on their terms.

If a child has a mom in the military, bombard her with letters and a care package.  If the mom is in prison, keep the knowledge confidential, but still celebrate her as a person.  Have the children draw pictures and write out their favorite verses for “someone who could use a little encouragement.” Noone else has to know where the letters are going.

In the event that the child never knew their real mom, invite them to honor and thank God for a special woman in their life – someone who has meant a lot to them.

2.  Support the family. Communication is essential when a child is dealing with feelings of grief and/or loss.  Get to know the other family members.  Be available.  Allow them to talk.  Help in practical ways, with wisdom and discretion.  Recommend resources such as pastoral services, counselors, books, retreats, CD’s, etc.

3.  Encourage the child. Let the child know that you value them and everything that is important to them.  Do not ignore the loss.  Do not bombard the child with questions about their grief either.  Allow the processing to be on their terms.  Some children will express grief through talking.  Others will communicate more through artwork, playing, humor, music, sports, or dance.  Attend the events that mean a lot to them.  Send a random funny postcard in the mail.  Give a gift.  Rally the church and classmates to encourage the child and their family also.

4.  Be familiar with grief and loss. Research children’s developmental stages of grief.  Ask for a counselor’s advice.  Attend classes and seminars. Realize that children do not get over loss quickly.  Sometimes they will display resilience, adapting to a new way of life quickly, but they may still be experiencing loss and its accompanying fears/anxieties.  Their sense of loss is most likely to come and go.  Sometimes they will revisit the loss and its devastating effects.  Other times they will escape into a world of play and fantasy.  Also be aware of any guilt or blame the child is placing on himself/herself because of the situation.  Challenge those thoughts.

5.  Make adaptations in your lessons. In some cases, the grief that a child is experiencing may be too recent.  In this case, forgo a Mother’s Day Lesson altogether.  Another option might be talking about “Women of Virtue or Godliness.”  If a craft is involved, have the children make it for a “special lady in their lives,” such as a mom, aunt, grandmother, teacher, or neighbor.

6.  Love for the long haul. Consistently encourage children, even years after a loss.  Pray for them on Mother’s Day and throughout the year, as you see them or remember them.  Let them know that you care.  Celebrate big events in their lives as they mature.  Be persistent in your compassion for them, whether they acknowledge your support or not.

7.  Focus on Christ. The gospel of Jesus Christ is good news for a broken world.   It’s hope for children forging through life without a mom.  Jesus redeems pain and somehow forges something beautiful from it.  In your lessons and interactions with children and their families, focus on Christ by prizing His word.  Invite students to say along with you, “Surely, God is my salvation.  I will trust and not be afraid.  The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.”  (Isaiah 12:2)

As always, this is not an all-exhaustive list.  Please share suggestions and/or comments at the bottom of this post.  Whatever you end up doing for Mother’s Day, my prayer is that we will all show sensitivity, compassion, hope, and a spirit of gentleness to children who are hurting.

Need More Ideas? We also have a post about Father’s Day and Children who have lost their dad. Many of those suggestions are relevant for Mother’s Day too. You should also read our article “How to Comfort a Bereaved Child.”


Comments

  1. ena stuart says

    Thank you for these great ideas.They are real helpful to me as a Sunday school teacher who has to minister to students from varying social upbringing. God bless you greatly.

  2. mary davis says

    thank you, Tony. Just texted the dad of one of the girls in my SS class who quietly told me some time ago “Pray for me. my mom died.” This reminded me i should ask him how he wants us to handle Mother’s Day.
    Thanks for helping us all remember!!

  3. cynthia says

    I am a very new sunday school teacher and was raised up as a catholic.Your site is really helpful and the above subject is a real eye opener with information I would not have thought about.Thanks and be Blessed.

  4. kim says

    Thank you for giving this advice. This is my first year as a Sunday school teacher and we now have two little girls who just started to attend they have never heard about Jesus before and they have just recently been estranged from their mother. Here I was planning a great “mothers day” lesson for the kids when God brought these two little girls to my mind. I immediately started to look for help and advice in this area. needless to say I found this site and I wanted to thank you for posting this and will gladly use this advice.

  5. Dara Collins says

    Thank you Holly. We have a few girls at our church who are estranged from their mothers, but they have godly grandmothers raising them. I will keep your advice to heart.

  6. Rose Godsthrone says

    God bless Tony Kummer, this article has really helped me in my ministry. I Appreciate your efforts.

  7. Holly Asciutto says

    Tony,
    Did you develop what was written above? Even if you didn’t, thank you for posting. It is dead on! I was one of those children who lost her mom. She died when I was 12. I have to say the hardest part was Mother’s day and all the church did to celebrate Mom’s. It was painful but I was old enough to understand the church couldn’t ignore Mom’s. But in the process I felt ignored. No one acknowledged my mom and I. She was still a part of me and my life. People acted liked her death didn’t happen. So my encouragement to the church would be do NOT forget those children that have suffered a loss of a mother on Mother’s Day. Please do not ignore the fact that a child is motherless or fatherless. They need to know the loving care of our Heavenly Father and they need to experience that through His people. Surround them with extra attention and love. Maybe even have a young mother “adopt” them as theirs for a time. I know I spent most of my life “looking” for a mom. Mom’s are what God intended them to be, a nurturing, loving, caring influence. An important influence. I think we can help fill that gap as the hands and feet of Jesus. Thank you again!

  8. STANLEY KIMBIO says

    THANKYOU VERY MUCH FOR THIS ATICLE. IT HAS BRODEN MY MIND ON HOW TO APROACH THE SUBJECTOF MOTHER’S DAY. IT HAS REMINDED ME OF THE DAY I WAS TEACHING ON OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN WHO CAN DO GREATER THINGS THAN OUR PHISICAL/BIOLOGICAL FATHERS. ONE CHILD SAID TO ME THAT “IF THAT FATHER WILL DO BIGGER THINGS THAN THE ONE HE KNOWS OF, THEN IT SEAMS THAT FATHER IS MORE BAD THAN HIS”. THIS WAS BECAUSE HIS FATHER IS A DRUNCKERD AND WHEN HE COMES BACK HOME, THE HOUSE IS IN FIRE. GOD BLESS YOU MORE AND MORE.

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