Mother Centers bring women and families into center stage and support them in building their confidence and ability to help themselves and each other. They re-integrate the culture of care into public life.
Mother Centers have an impact on many levels: influence the quality of parenting and family relations as well as of neighborhoods, contribute to social cohesion and integration in communities as well as bringing a grassroots voice to local governance.
Mother Centers bring women and families to the forefront and support them in building their confidence and abilities to help themselves and each other. They reintegrate the culture of care into public life. Mother Centers have an impact on multiple levels, influencing the quality of parenting, family relationships, neighborhoods, social cohesion, community integration, and grassroots voices in local governance.
The aim of the “mothers’ center” concept was to improve the life situation of mothers, who were primarily responsible for raising children. The mothers’ center was intended to provide a space for women to connect outside of their professional spheres and create opportunities for contact and exchange within the neighborhood. The mothers’ center should be a contact point for women and children of all ages, offering opportunities for sharing experiences, seeking advice, and organizing flexible childcare, as well as fostering mutual support and community involvement.
In the past, scheduled consultation times, unfamiliar office atmospheres, and opening hours that did not correspond to family rhythms created high access thresholds. Additionally, the traditional professional-client dynamic made it difficult to recognize and appreciate the positive parenting skills of mothers. In response to these challenges, centers were developed that were self-organized within the framework of family self-help, and that focused on the abilities and experiences of the visitors, rather than their deficits.
What are Mother Centers?
The name “Mother Centers” can be confusing and may not be entirely up-to-date anymore. Today, Mother Centers are open houses for people of all ages, including mothers, fathers, children, women, men, seniors, people with disabilities, and individuals from different nationalities and faiths.
Mother Centers are a contemporary form of neighborhood support where people of all ages can share their experiences of living with children and families on equal footing. They operate based on the African proverb “It takes a whole village to raise a child,” and offer opportunities for encounters, exchanges, advice, care, and education within the community.
Coping with everyday life can be burdensome for many families today. Balancing family and career, navigating flexibility and demands of mobility in the workforce, and changes in social coexistence have had a significant impact. Most people, especially in urban areas, no longer live in multi-generational households, and experiences and everyday knowledge of older generations are not always directly passed down to younger ones. As a result, young families often face uncertainty when it comes to child-rearing due to an overload of information on one hand and a deficit in practical knowledge on the other.
Mother Centers, with their open meeting points, serve as contact points for people in the neighborhood with diverse needs, interests, and skills. They connect individuals who may have never met otherwise and create a community where lifestyles and life situations can intersect.
Modern village fountain in the quarter
In keeping with the African proverb – “It takes a whole village to raise a child” – the large and small centers work according to the principle of the extended family and offer opportunities for encounters and exchanges, for advice, care and education in the district.
Coping with everyday life is a heavy burden for many families today. The compatibility of family and career, flexibility and the demands of mobility in the world of work are among other important factors that have subjected social coexistence to a significant change. Today most people, especially in big cities, no longer live in families with several generations under one roof. Experiences and everyday knowledge of the older generations are no longer passed on directly to the following generations and young families experience a great deal of uncertainty in questions of child-rearing due to a wealth of information on the one hand and a deficit in practical knowledge on the other.
Mothers’ centers with their open meeting points are contact points for people from the neighborhood with a wide variety of needs, interests and skills. They connect people who would probably never have met otherwise. They create a community where lifestyles and life situations diverge.
By families, for families
Mother Centers operate as family self-help institutions, providing self-organized mutual support on a daily basis. They offer an open and low-threshold structure through their working concept of open and continuous services in their own spaces, the principle of laypeople supporting laypeople, and the integration of children. Social life within Mother Centers bridges the gap between work and family responsibilities, private and public spheres, and young and old generations. The variety of services offered is based on the individual needs of the local community and is developed by the families themselves, resulting in a diverse array of family-supporting, family-relieving, and family-supplementing services throughout the country.
The heart of every center – the café
The heart of every mother’s center is the open café, which is surrounded by a wide range of family-friendly services, neighborhood help and advice. The activities are geared to individual needs and the respective municipal circumstances and offer concrete and creative answers to local gaps in supply.