Emergence of the concept

The concept of “mothers’ center” emerged in the 1980s with the aim of improving the life situation of mothers (who were primarily responsible for raising children). The mothers’ center should restore the public sphere for women outside of the professional sphere, creating a space for intermediate stages. It should serve as a contact point for women and children of all ages, offering opportunities for contact and exchange within the community. Visitors to the center should be encouraged to share experiences, seek advice, and offer services themselves, such as organizing flexible childcare and supporting each other and the community.

Since its inception in 1981 in Munich-Neuaubing, Salzgitter-Bad, and Darmstadt, the concept of mothers’ centers has been successful and has spread to over 1,000 centers in 20 countries worldwide. Many centers have evolved from small meeting places to larger facilities that provide social services, training programs, and a variety of services for people of all generations.

Whether it’s a small meeting place or a large facility, all mothers’ centers still operate based on the same concept and idea. The common goal remains the balance of work and family life, the motivation to help each other, and the participation of all in social life. Although the focus is no longer solely on mothers, the idea and concept from 1981 are more relevant than ever.

Current empirical studies show that families still often feel stigmatized and not taken seriously in their role as parents or experts for their child, similar to the findings of a study conducted by DJI in the 1970s. The demand for and utilization of parental education programs are heterogeneous, with families in stressed or precarious circumstances often being underserved.

Therefore, it is not only about providing financial support to disadvantaged families, but also about empowering them to develop their own strengths and overcome challenges. The goal is not dependency, but self-responsibility and social responsibility, as supported by child and youth laws. With this understanding, state funding policies focus on family self-help rather than family assistance.

Mother centers and open houses for young and old provide low-threshold access to family support, enabling participation through collaborative work (parents helping parents) and promoting an appreciative attitude within the community (philosophy/holistic approach). They are always embedded in the local network, recognizing the importance of networking in supporting families.

Despite these socio-political findings and the ongoing need to improve access to parental and family education, it is surprising that the concept of “mothers’ center” has not yet gained widespread political recognition in NRW (North Rhine-Westphalia).

Organization/networking:

Since their development in the 1980s, the number of mother centers has grown to 400 in Germany. Internationally, mother centers are present in 22 countries and are organized in the Mother Centers International Network for Empowerment (MINE).

Content source: http://www.muetterbuero-nrw.de/konzept.html