Jack E. Nixson, 33°
S.G.I.G. in Wyoming
Chairman, Subcommittee on Family Life Program

The problems of family life are more complicated than ever before, yet there are solutions.

An ancient Jewish proverb states that "God could not be everywhere, so he created mothers." From that venerable beginning, or a similar point of time, the maternal family tradition came to be.

Modern experience suggests, however, that most successful families come from a more complicated development, including participation by father, mother, grandparents, and other common ancestors. But experience also concedes that the mother figure is almost always the linchpin that holds things together. Her strength lies in the fact that she is the ultimate source of unconditional love—the most intense, enduring, and nurturing love of all.

One of the truly great descriptions of the depth of a mother’s love is the DeMolay "Flower Talk" already cited in the Grand Commander’s message in this special "Family Life" issue of the Journal. The DeMolay "Flower Talk" addresses young men in the formative years of manhood and, in part, states:

"You may rise to positions of great influence in commerce, political or professional life, but you can never reach the heights of your mother’s secret hopes for you. You may sink into the lowest depths of infamy and degradation but never below the reach of her love.

"It was your mother who loved you before you were born—who carried you for long months close to her heart and in the fullness of time took God’s hand in hers and passed through the valley of shadows to give you life. It was she who cared for you during the helpless years of infancy and the scarcely less dependent years of childhood.

"As you have grown less dependent, she has done the countless thoughtful trouble-healing, helpful, and encouraging things which somehow only mothers seem to know how to do. You may have accepted these attentions more or less as matters of course and perhaps without conscious gratitude or any expressions of your appreciation. You are quite rapidly approaching the time in life when you will be entirely independent of your mother. The ties with which dependency has bound you to her may be severed as you grow older, but the ties of mother-love can never be broken."

It’s ironic that these profound words reflect kindly on the mother, the glue that holds the family together, while in the eyes of many that institution is falling apart. It’s easy to look with contempt on what is advertised as the modern family. Many members of older generations remember an easier and kinder era, "the good old days," a time when the family was automatically thrust together and there were not so many distractions to its welfare.

Home was composed of a beneficial, loving group, and each member contributed to the family’s well-being. With the departure of the work-intensive agricultural society and the ascendancy of city and industrial living, that picture faded. Today, the problems of family life are more complicated than ever before, yet there are solutions.

What the Scottish Rite and other organizations do to benefit family life is exemplary and should be further expanded. What legislative powers do to root out family problems is minimal and needs additional work.

The story is told of a group of mothers visiting a sick, bed-ridden friend. At the conclusion of the visit, one of the women said to the ailing woman: "Get well quick. We will keep you in our prayers." To which the ill woman responded, "If you really want to help, wash the dishes in the kitchen sink. I can pray for myself!" The help offered by some institutions and the government is not always practical or focused, and it may avoid real needs altogether.

In many non-traditional families, the most important ingredient to success, the mother, is working three or four jobs just to sustain her offspring, and she has little time or energy to give guidance. We can blame different things and people for this shortcoming, but until children have a closer loving support system, the downfall of the family is likely to continue.

One of the more intriguing plans for family renewal has been espoused by former Harvard Professor James Q. Wilson. For lack of better wording, it is entitled a "GI Bill for Mothers." It proposes a program similar to that initiated for World War II Veterans. In the plan, a parent, usually a mother, would postpone her own future until her children are out of secondary school. Until then, instead of working outside the home, her job, if she "enlisted" in this program, would be to perform the countless tasks mothers have traditionally done. In return, the family would receive monetary grants to feed, house, and clothe it. If the plan worked as well as its predecessor, it would return its cost and blessings many times over.

In today’s world, family life isn’t easy. The role model, a perfect family, never has nor ever will exist. The one constant and normalizing reality and the one most necessary for family well-being is Mom. If renewing the family is a priority, and it should be, then let the focus be on recentering Mom in the family.

Jack E. Nixson
serves as the Grand Almoner of The Supreme Council and has served as Grand Master of Wyoming; Grand High Priest, Illustrious Grand Master, and Grand Commander of the Grand Bodies of the York Rite; Grand Patron of the Eastern Star; Associate Guardian of Job’s Daughters; and a Chapter Advisor for DeMolay. Ill. Nixson currently serves on the Masonic Renewal Committee of North America for the Grand Lodge of Wyoming and for The Supreme Council, 33°, S.J.