10 Tips for a Woman Dreading Mother’s Day

Do you know someone who is dreading Mother’s Day? 

The commemorative celebration filled with flowers, joy, and appreciation can turn into a trigger of despair for many women. As a childless stepmom of 28 years, I can remember a number of times it was unenjoyable.

A woman might be depressed or discouraged on Mother’s Day due to: a death (especially a child or a mother), divorce, infertility, singleness, illness, a wayward child, or—being a stepmom. Surprised? When a woman marries a man with children she often steps into a new world that is complex, confusing, and lonely. And she can be ambushed by the sadness that accompanies Mother’s Day.

Here is a list of suggestions on how to lift the spirits of a hurting woman on the day we celebrate mothers.

1. Pray for God to reveal a woman who needs encouragement this year. I am amazed at the prompting and people God brings to my mind when I ask. Sometimes it’s the lady behind the counter at Dunkin Donuts, sometimes it’s a dear friend.

2. Pray for that woman between now and Mother’s Day.

3. Send a card. It can be a simple, “glad we are friends.”

4. If you wish to do more I suggest a call, meal, small gift, flower, or any memento that reveals “I see your pain today.”

5. Understand that the person may not be emotionally able to chat or socialize.

6. Make time for the hurting woman. If possible spend an hour that weekend for lunch, the park, or the cemetery. Just knowing that someone cares can change the entire day.

7. For the single parent offer to take her child to the dollar store so Mommy has a gift.

8. For the stepmom, nudge her husband to do something nice in appreciation for parenting his kids. If he refuses, you do something.

9. When a death has occurred, photos, mementoes, or fond memories of the deceased can ease the grief. Family members often fear their loved one will be forgotten.

10. Infertility can be a hard one to comfort. Most women in this circumstance share that the goal is merely to get through the day. This woman’s womb longs for a baby—weep with her. Don’t minimize her pain, or offer cliché answers such as, “just relax it will happen” or “at least you can adopt.”

For the hurting woman it’s best to avoid places celebrating Mother’s Day—which might include church. Many women avoid attending on Mother’s Day because the celebration is one more reminder and stab to her wounded heart.

This Mother’s Day ask God to point you to one woman who is dreading the day. Even if God is the only one who sees your effort, compassion never fails.

Laura Petherbridge serves couples and single adults as a friend and teacher on the topics of marriage enhancement, divorce prevention, and divorce recovery. A featured expert on the DivorceCare video series, Petherbridge is a sought-after speaker at seminars and retreats around the world, with nearly twenty years of experience in helping others find healing and hope in their relationships. http://www.laurapetherbridge.com/


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36 thoughts on “10 Tips for a Woman Dreading Mother’s Day”

  1. Thank you for this article. I came to this conclusion “quite” a few years ago and stopped going to church on Mother’s Day. I have 6 sons (2 are step sons). This is a second marriage for both my husband and myself. Currently we have relationship with one of my sons & an emotional distance one from my husband’s oldest son. My son (who is a returning prodigal)& his wife stopped Saturday & honored me with gifts and dinner, stepson sent a reply text to my husband as he had wished our daughter-in-law happy Mother’s Day. I now keep my spiritual eyes on that this is a spiritual battle because the enemy is only drawing them into not honoring which is against the word of God. I am standing on the word that “my children rise up and call me blessed” as God’s word does not return void. Today I am thankful what I have and continue keeping my eyes on the prize which is restored relationship with my sons, daughter in-laws & grandchildren. (As we wait to meet 3 of our grandchildren) Know I understand the pain (as it’s been over 22 years for the oldest son )but I’m choosing to stand on God’s promises.

    1. I’ve been a stepmom for 31 years, so I totally understand. May God continue to provide wisdom, blessings, and insight in your stepmom journey. Please consider leading a stepmom group for other new stepmoms. they are deeply hurting and need your wisdom and experience. I’m happy to provide insight. just send a note through my web site. http://www.TheSmartSttepmom.com
      Love, Laura

  2. Thank you for your kind words and understanding. I am a childless stepmom of 19 years to 4 adult stepchildren. I remember those first years of our marriage and my misery whenever Mother’s Day arrived. My lonliness and pain has dulled somewhat, but it still hurts when I am shunned for several weeks before and after by my oldest stepdaughter. I try to remember there is still much pain related to her parents divorce and try to focus on the good things that we are able to share at other times.

    1. You are a smart stepmom. That doesn’t make the hurt go away, but it’s meant for encouragement. Please consider attending one of my stepfamily/stepmom events. I’ll be adding more in the fall. Blessings Sister, Stepmom. Love, Laura

  3. I could nit have children, but I am happy for those who have chosen that path. I replaced human children with canines. I call them my four legged humans. They bring much joy.

    The article is wonderful and timely but I disagree with the point if not bringing them to church. Even though she is suffering, I encourage it because God can bring peace to that woman at that moment. Church is the one place that us| should be judgement free.

    As a Christ Centered Life and Wellness Coach, thus is a great article and if I can hopefully you will allow me to share with my clients

    Peace and blessings


    1. Women who are struggling w Mother’s day often can’t “put on the mask” and pretend. It’s hard enough for ME to go to church that day and I didn’t battle infertility or the death of a child. I’ve been a Christian 37 years and in ministry 30 years. I have RARELY found a church where on Sunday morning a person who is in deep grief can just sit there and cry through the whole service. Plus God’s compassion often reveals itself when we get quiet and alone with Him. Many women NEED to be alone that day. Church throws gasoline on an existing fire of pain. Each person needs to feel free to do what will help them heal, and that is often different from woman to woman.
      If you contact me thorough my web site I can share duplication guidelines. Since writing is my full time profession my work has copyright. But I can share how duplication can easily be obtained. There is no fee. http://www.TheSmartStepmpm.com

      1. Then the church is not the right one, the right fit. Never should you ever feel that you can’t feel peace upon entering the sacred place that is his home.
        If you feel like gasoline on fire analogy, then there is something very wrong. My church is not like that at all. It is the most loving and compassionate place I know of. It is a judgement free zone and will pray with a person hurting|suffering if they request it. I think having Gods spirit washing over you is very cleansing indeed. I do think it really is the place you should seek out when you are hurting. If it’s a Christ Centered Church he will be there and there for you.

  4. Jane Muhlenbruch-Yee

    Please don’t forget the women who silently suffer on Mother’s Day because they’ve aborted a child somewhere throughout their lives. They may be mothers of other children now, but the memory of one that isn’t with them can be very strong. Regret may linger and it is very difficult to discuss it openly even if the abortion was not a secret. Having miscarried and undergoing the same procedure, it was the low point of my life. Consider blessing a pregnancy resource center in the month of May that helps women deal with the aftermath of abortion or miscarriage.

    1. I have other articles I’ve written about MD where I address ALL the women who may be hurting on MD and I do a segment on abortion. Most of those ladies never tell anyone, so they suffer in silence. And it affects how they parent the children they do have. It’s a huge situation with epidemic numbers, but we don’t address that in the church very often except to say “don’t abort.” Pat Layton has a superb Christian based book and web for those who are post abortion. Blessings to you for caring. Love, Laura

  5. thank you all for sharing, this is a very hard day for so many of us for so many reasons. It helps so much to read that others are struggling as well. I call these “hallmark event” holidays. I have already sent this link to 2 friends I know will identiy. Oh, that more churches could hear this messsage! I avoid church (and I am in leadership) on several of the big holidays because without family, I feel like the odd woman out, alone in a sea of families. Very depressing.

    1. After my divorce, Sundays were the worst day of the week. All the happy families were a constant reminder of what I had lost. And the devil used it to continue to whisper, “You are a loser. No one will ever love you. You failed as a wife. You are a disgrace to Christ. God will never use you again, etc.” Thankfully, I was in a great church and had good friends who walked with me. I didn’t know until years later that many ppl lose their church when a spouse walks out. If that had happened to me, I don’t think I’d be alive today. The pain, grief, and shame were too great. God doesn’t waste and season of our life–if we let him. My heart is with you, sister. and I understand your pain.
      Love, Laura

  6. Mother’s day is about honoring and giving thanks to God for the love and sacrifice mother’s made for us and to our society. Motherhood is often taken for granted and ignored – like most of God’s blessings. Losing or not having children when your heart aches for them-the pain is always there – might be helped by honoring someone else.

    1. When you are in pain this deep you can barely breathe, much less help others. It would be like asking a woman after a car accident, with a fractured femur, to carry her sister out of the car. She cant walk herself yet. She doesn’t have the ability to lift others. And grief, even for those who are strong in Christ, of this magnitude, takes a LONG, LONG time.

  7. This will be my first mother’s day without my daughter. She was killed in an accident this past March. The hurt is very depth, but I have to keep going for my older daughter. She needs me too. This is just the new normal I have to live with til it’s my time to join her in heaven. But for now I really don’t want to hear Happy mothers day from anyone because it is way beyond happy!

    1. My co-author and dear friend, Ron Deal, lost his child. I have not experienced this pain, but I’ve walked alongside him and his family. I am SO SORRY, esp for the hurtful things ppl say such as “you need to move on” and the one he told me was the most hurtful, “I know how you feel. I lost Fido, my dog last year.” Unbelievable.

  8. Even if you have children it can be difficult. Our daughter hasn’t spoken to us in 16 years and we have not seen our 4 grandchildren in that time. They have grown up without us. I used to run away on Mother’s Day. However God has healed my broken heart to the point where I can attend church again on this day but it is not easy. I am the women’s director at our church and I try to reach out to the hurting women on this day. This year I even get to preach the sermon.. God is indeed our healer.

    1. I agree. A wound from your child is devastating. I’ve been at the receiving end from those God has called me to “mother” and their rejection and infliction is the 2nd worst pain I’ve experienced. The rejection, betrayal, and abandonment of a spouse was the first.

  9. Thank you thank you THANK YOU for this! There is no pain on this earth worse than not being able to have children, whether it is through physical infertility or, like myself, because you didn’t get married and are past childbearing age. The pain only grows deeper as the years go by, as now not being able to marry and have children means I will also never have grandchildren. At least people sympathize with a married woman who can’t have children; the pain of single women is simply ignored or denied. So yes I go to church pretty well every other Sunday but never on Mother’s Day.

    1. “At least people sympathize with a married woman who can’t have children; the pain of single women is simply ignored or denied. So yes I go to church pretty well every other Sunday but never on Mother’s Day.” EXACTLY how I feel! I just turned 50 and have never been married. I have always wanted a large family with lots of children and that dream died along time ago. I usually skip church on Mother’s Day. It’s just too painful when they’re handing out flowers to all the moms. When I’m off for the one I always feel like I have to decline. It’s just easier to stay home that day.

      1. Kelly- in some ways I understand your thoughts. I am childless by choice. And you should see the weird looks and comments I get IF I reveal that information. I had a painful childhood and I didn’t want to bring more people into a painful world. It wasn’t for selfish reasons, as most ppl assume. But rather my own wounds made me so compassionate for children that I wanted to avoid exposing them to any pain. However, most women (esp in church) judge and criticize if they learn that. What I didn’t know at the time, was being childless allowed me to “mother” 2 nieces when their mom walked out at 2/6 and 2 stepsons. God knows what He is doing. even when it doesn’t “feel” like it. My heart is with you!! Love, Laura

    2. barbara rainey

      thank you for writing Susan. I’m so so sorry for you. I simply do not understand why God doesn’t provide husbands for so many women I know who long to be married and have children. May you have peace from Him and rest in His role as husband to you.

  10. Wow, look at all the comments. # real life. Praying for all of the above. “He delights over you with singing”. (& for my sister-n-law & another seperate friend who just had her 5th miscarriage). It will be a hard Sunday. We lost Andy’s mom (my mom-n-law) to cancer Jan, ovarian. Yuck. This bitter/sweet 2017 Mother’s day I assure you she will be celebrated, her legacy lives on through stories, saved cards, mementos & videos & her grandchildren will know all about her & the amazing mother she was.

  11. Thank you for this!!! I’ve always thought I was selfish for having these feelings & very embarrassed to even talk about it to anyone…sooo refreshing to know that I’m not alone in feeling this way.

  12. Please also think of the woman who chooses to NOT become a parent. I avoid everyone on this day because the message the church shouts is that “being a mother is your purpose, your reason”, blah blah blah. Choosing to not have children does not make me less of a woman, it does not make me less.

  13. We are so blessed to have our daughter; but, we have pain in our hearts for her birthmom on this day. We adopted our daughter at birth; and are so thankful for her birthmom’s decision; but, we pray for her especially on a day like today. We know God holds her in his heart; but, it surely is not easy for her.

  14. Ah! I didn’t know anybody at all actually understands the unimaginable trauma that we live in. That in itself assuages my heart some and eases some of the loneliness.

  15. In the middle of a divoce and fighting a custody battle. My soon to be ex husband is very controlling and is making good on his, “if you divorce me you will never see the kids again…”
    Unless by some miracle he allows me to take the kids to my mom’s tomorrow is going to suck…

  16. Thank you so much for writing this. What is also hard is that as one gets older, people automatically think you are a mom and say happy Mother’s Day on that day!!!

  17. Pingback: Ministry Tips for Mother's Day 2016 - Mike and Sus Schmitt - Mike and Sus Schmitt

  18. Thank you for this article. I have plenty of memories of dreading “mother’s day” because of children who didn’t always remember me on ” mother’s day” but a friend who has six children told me ” it’s a Hallmark day so don’t let it bother you”=that’s helped me a lot So I thank God for the good times with my children and “Mother”s Day is only a Hallmark Card day!! So I don’t care — same with Valentine’s Day!!=another Hallmark day LOL

  19. Thank you for this. As a childless stepmom who suffered from infertility in my first, abusive, marriage, I have had painful Mother’s Days. I have also been blessed by God, who promises many good things to those who are “crushed in spirit.”

    This Mother’s Day, my husband and his siblings are fresh from the loss of their mom to cancer, that evil thief. My husband and I are making sure that our nieces and nephews are extra good to their moms, helping them buy cards and lavish extra love on them, as they miss their own mother.

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