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We must stop telling women to avoid motherhood

Roland C. Warren
Roland C. Warren is president and CEO of Care Net.

Have you noticed that, for many in our culture, motherhood is not something to celebrate but something to avoid at all costs?

For some, motherhood means the end of women’s careers, hopes, and dreams. Motherhood, they believe, does nothing to advance their lives or secure their futures; it is not part of being the modern “empowered woman.” Accordingly, they support abortion on demand as being a necessity for the advancement of women.

The irony is that these folks are in agreement with a fundamental belief of the patriarchal societies they reject: women can either be mothers or they can be successful in their careers — but they cannot be both.

Interestingly, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and the other great women who fought for equal rights for women did not view pregnancy and motherhood as a lesser calling than working in a factory or office. Rather they fought to ensure that women would not have to choose between the two.

Ironically, those who argue that pregnancy and motherhood are obstacles to women’s empowerment accept the basic premise of this flawed logic. They say in effect, “A woman can’t be a mother and be successful in her career, so we need abortion in order for women to achieve their dreams.” Instead of motherhood, now a woman’s social value, much like a man’s, is often determined exclusively by her career goals and achievements. We have swapped one logical fallacy for another.

The foremothers who fought so that women could have the freedom to choose a career and/or family, workplace and/or home; now many leaders who say they are carrying the “women’s rights” banner say “you can pick only one.”

So motherhood has become a lesser calling, a relic of our past. No longer is it “cool” for a young woman to say she longs to be a mom. “Think bigger! Don’t limit yourself,” she’s told, as if deciding to sustain life, give birth, and then raise a child is a “limiting” experience.

I know this is perspective is wrong from my own life experience. When my wife, Yvette, and I were in college at Princeton University, we faced an unplanned pregnancy. Against the advice of many people — including the college’s nurse who gave her the pregnancy news — we decided to move forward with our plan to get married and have our baby.

Yvette was told: “This will ruin your future! You’ll never be able to graduate from Princeton and become a doctor with a baby in tow. In fact, you might not even graduate.” However, Yvette did graduate from Princeton — after we’d had our second baby, I should add — and went on to become a medical doctor. She is a fantastic mother — and a brilliant and accomplished doctor.

Now, I understand that motherhood is not for everyone. Some cannot experience being a mom for relational or physical reasons or simply choose not to be a mother. But, as a culture, on Mother’s Day, we need a rebirth of the sacredness and importance of motherhood. This sacredness should be even more apparent to those of us who call ourselves Christians.

Indeed, even though God the Father could have brought His Son into the world through any means He wished, Jesus was born of a woman. So even Jesus could celebrate Mother’s Day!

Moreover, Mary, like millions of women throughout history, chose life in the midst of a difficult, unplanned (from her perspective) pregnancy. She brought the Christ child into a world where powerful leaders schemed to end His life. Yet, despite it all and through it all, she remained His mother. Indeed, then and now, she is an endearing and sacred role model for all mothers.

Accordingly, let’s give Mother’s Day some well-deserved love. It remains one of the most important days of the year and should always be.

Roland C. Warren is president and CEO of Care Net ( He grew up in a single-parent home, was the first member of his family to attend college, and graduated from Princeton University. Roland worked 20 years in the corporate world (IBM, Pepsi, and Goldman Sachs) and served 11 years as president of the National Fatherhood Initiative before joining Care Net as CEO in 2012. Care Net is a national, nonprofit ministry with 1,100 affiliated life-affirming pregnancy centers across North America, promoting a Pro Abundant Life vision for women, men, children, and families.

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