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May 7, 2008 > Counseling Corner: Mother's Day for peace

Counseling Corner: Mother's Day for peace

By Anne Chan, M.S., MFT

The greeting cards are flying, restaurants are poised for one of the busiest dining days of the year, florists are ready with bright bouquets, and even phone companies are bracing for the surge of calls. Mother's Day is here this month and people all over are making special efforts to celebrate and honor their mothers.

Interestingly, the origins of Mother's Day have nothing to do with greeting cards, flowers or restaurant meals. One of the earliest pushes for Mother's Day in the United States was generated by Julia Ward Howe in 1870. Howe wanted women to unite for peace against the violence of the Civil War. Her extraordinary "Mother's Day Proclamation" calls for women to unite and rally for peace. She certainly did not intend for Mother's Day to be a materialistic occasion.

During these difficult times when our country is at war and our economy appears to be going through a rough patch, it may be worthwhile for us to return to the roots of Mother's Day -- to Howe's call for peace and unity.

I'm all for small actions that make a difference. When I think of creating peace, I think of tiny steps that I can take to create peace in my home and life so that my positive actions ripple outward to my extended family, to my community, and beyond.

I would like you to consider the question: "How can I bring peace to my family and home this Mother's Day?" I'd like to challenge children as well as parents to consider this question. Going with Howe's original intent, I encourage all of you (mothers and children alike) to think of ways of creating peace through individual and collective efforts.

Here are some no-cost suggestions that will create a memorable Mother's Day and bring peace and unity to your family:

Write a letter telling your Mom all the things you appreciate about her.

Thank your Mom for the things she does every day that you've taken for granted.

Say "I'm sorry" when you hurt someone. Tell them you are making an effort for peace on Mother's Day.

Give the gift of helping someone feel heard. Listen to your partner and children without interrupting. Be genuinely interested in what they have to say.

Mend fences with someone with whom you've had a falling-out.

Plan a family activity that involves a good cause, e.g. helping someone in need, cleaning the environment.

Do a family activity that can benefit everyone in the family. This may take some thinking, creativity and collaboration, but it will be worth it. One such group activity could be planting flowers and vegetables that everyone can enjoy, baking bread or making a meal together.

Howe wrote in her "Mother's Day Proclamation" for us to consider "the means whereby the great human family can live in peace." I encourage you to consider small and creative ways to think of ways to make peace in your own great family.

We can all be creators of peace, whether we are biological mothers or not. To all of you out there, have a wonderful and peaceful Mother's Day!

Anne Chan is a registered career counselor and licensed psychotherapist in Union City. She can be reached at or (510) 744-1781.

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