Every mom can use a night out once in a while — which is the premise of the new movie Moms’ Night Out.

The family comedy celebrates motherhood by highlighting a variety of parenting joys and challenges.

Created by Jon and Andrew Erwin (October Baby), the film opens May 9.

Speaking openly about Christianity and her pro-life views, a rarity in Hollywood, actress Patricia Heaton stands up for what she believes in, recently tweeting a pro-life message that gained wide attention.

Heaton, who plays Sondra, the pastor’s wife, is an executive producer of the film. She recently took time out of her busy schedule to speak with the Register about the movie, motherhood and raising kids in today’s culture.

 

What makes being a mom so challenging?

Especially for the mother of young babies or young toddlers — you don’t have a minute to yourself — there are other human beings who are really totally dependent on you. From the minute you get up, it’s feeding them and bathing them and entertaining them — and keeping them busy and keeping them safe and trying to be a role model for them. And once you finish feeding them and cleaning up and maybe doing the housework and the laundry, then you have to start it all over again at noon. And then you start it all over again at five o’clock. And then you have to go through this ritual of getting them into bed, making them stay there and go to sleep — it is endless! And it’s hard! And it can feel like drudgery if you’re not careful, you know?

And I think there’s a lot of pressure on us as women today to be there constantly, 24/7. … We are supposed to do all of that and turn them into award-winning athletes or scholars, well-rounded human beings who also do charity work — a lot of pressure!

The movie talks about that demand — "Who are you doing this for? Who is putting this on you to have to be perfect?"

 

In the first scene, we see the mom having a meltdown. How might this film encourage or help the moms in the trenches — the stressed-out, the exhausted and the under-affirmed mothers?

Seeing your life reflected on screen, whether it’s a TV screen or in a movie theater — and I found this with Everybody Loves Raymond and The Middle — just reflecting back what they’re going through, helps people somehow. Especially if they can laugh at it — it’s kind of, like, this release.

You’re being acknowledged — there’s somebody there, acknowledging what it is that you’re going through.

And if the program is not only acknowledging what you’re going through, but also having a sense of humor and a bigger perspective, it helps you take a step back and look at your life, too, and take a breath.

That is what is really great about being in this business — that, hopefully, once people see their lives reflected back to them, it is an encouragement. If it’s being realistically portrayed, it gives people the sense that "you’re not alone." I think this movie gives moms a sense that they are not alone. … It’s really a very funny and entertaining movie.

 

Can you relate in any way to your character or any of the other women in the movie who really need a night out?

I remember very well having toddlers, and I had four boys ages 5 and under while I was on Raymond. I barely remember shooting Raymond — I was so tired. [She laughs.] So I totally get it. … Right now, I am more in the phase where my character is on The Middle, which is with teenagers.

As far as Sondra, I do feel that, in my position, there is somewhat a bit of pressure to maintain a certain exterior because you are on display all the time, and you have to be careful what you say publicly — because things are not always received in the way you intended them, and you can’t control it.

I think if you publicly identify as a Christian, you take on this other mantle, and people can be super critical of you — and especially Christians.

 

What are the most challenging things about raising kids in our culture today?

It’s challenging raising kids in our culture. There is a message out there that is very detrimental to the dignity of human beings from the media, generally: It’s treating each other as sexual objects. There’s a sort of base quality to a lot of the entertainment that is out there. I think it does a lot of damage, because I don’t think it deals with the realities of the human spirit.

When kids are taught that sex is very casual and that there’s no difference between men and women — and that men should not control themselves and that women should be free to be as casual about relationships as men are — it’s very hurtful to all parties involved. I think it doesn’t deal with the truth of how we are designed, so that people try to act like this sort of "freedom" is liberating, but it is actually sort of a real chain around a person; and it can do so much emotional damage, not to mention physical damage. We see it a lot here, in groups where I work with young people.

Fortunately, I have boys who have sort of rejected pop culture because they think it’s uncool. They don’t like basic pop culture. If something is super popular, they usually stay away from it. Because they are boys, they are much less likely to go along with a lot of that stuff. They think they are too cool for that. [She laughs.]

I think that, in this pursuit of "equality" — and I understand that women want to be treated with the same dignity that is afforded men and with the same respect — that doesn’t mean that we should take the worst characteristics of male behavior and take those on ourselves and say that makes us equal. That’s the message that’s out there.

I see it in the culture: the music, the ads and billboards, TV commercials and some shows. And it’s discouraging. But I think, also, a lot of kids reject that message too, but we don’t see them portrayed as much.

Parents have to be super, super, super involved and aware of what their kids are watching and listening to and who they are hanging out with, and they have to be monitoring all their social networking very early on.

Parents have to really, really be in control of it from an early age. … You need to start really strict. You have to be very frank with your kids. You have to talk to them about morals and sex, because they are going to encounter all kinds of stuff, and they need that message that comes from you before it comes from anybody else.

Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle

is a mother, EWTN TV host

and author.