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Miss Ruthie Speaks...Responsibility

Part V

Responsibility as a Mother

[continued from 9/9/10]

Black news - tips on motherhood, the responsibility of a motherLast time I touched briefly upon being a responsible mother of school age children. One young mother once said to me, "I'll be free once my kids are grown".... Wrong! One of my sons asked me when will I not have something to say about his lifestyle and his choices. I told him when I am put in my grave. As long as I live, I'll always have something to say. Once a mother, always a mother, whether your children are young or grown, or close to you or not, you'll always have that special spot in your heart for each one of your children and you'll always feel like you can "mother" them.

My husband and I once presented a seminar on "Parenting Grown Children" for our church's marriage fellowship group. At the time, one of our sons was out of the house living on his own, one was in college, and another in high school. None were married and none had children.

We shared with the group how our parenting roles had changed from when they were little. While they no longer needed us to watch over them and tell them what to do, they still needed our advice for various situations such as the classes they chose in school, sporting activities and hobbies such as music instruments they played, their responsibility in driving a car and obeying the rules, staying within their curfew, and their selection of friends. They would say the most important advice they wanted from me was in the area of relationships they had with girls. We would have long conversations on the types of girls they were attracted to as well as the ones they were not attracted to and why and their opinions on the differences they found among the girls. They all said they wanted someone like me. Of course, this, I thought, was the highest form of praise that to receive from a son.

As a mother, what I wanted most was respect from my sons. In order to get respect, I realized I had to carry myself in a respectful manner. I was mindful of how I talked, what I did and how I acted in front of them. I was careful about my appearance. I never paraded around the house immodestly in my underwear or gown without wearing a robe. I closed the door to the restroom and my bedroom when I needed privacy, and I respected their privacy in these areas as well. Mothers can "mess up" their boys. Mothers are all most boys have to look to as role models for women. If a mother is negligent, her son will be affected. He will view women negatively and treat them that way.

Boys who have had negative experiences with either or both parents may grow up disrespectful and mean, especially toward their mothers and other women.

They may even become mentally or physically abusive. I once visited my neighbor and witnessed something I had never seen before. Her little son was cursing at her and calling her out of her name. I was incensed. Then I noticed that her husband was doing the same. I saw that he had absolutely no respect for his wife and was teaching this to his son. Elder abuse toward a parent includes hitting or otherwise abusing them or neglecting them by withholding support and basic needs such as food and care for a sick parent. These behaviors become legacies (or curses) which are passed down for generations through sons and grandsons.

Likewise girls who have experienced bad parenting will be affected causing many to become problem mothers themselves. Through the many years I've managed my husband's law office, I've witnessed first hand mothers coming in for legal help for their sons. If it's his first incident, they come in crying in disbelief of the criminal charges. Oftentimes it's not the first time. Their sons have a record and have been arrested and have served time before, but they still come in crying in disbelief. Have you ever heard the statement, "Not my son?" Well I have. I've learned to never say what my kids won't do. Remember Kahil Gibran's quote in his book, The Prophet, "Your children are not your children... they come through you but they do not belong to you, you may house their bodies but not their souls... for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow which you cannot visit... you may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts."

Problem mothers won't let go of their children. They are overprotective. They hold on to their children in controlling ways, causing their sons to become "mama's boys" and crippling their daughters. Those who become enablers of their son's bad behaviors by bailing them out of trouble and making excuses for them, cause them to be of no use to their wives or the mother (or mothers) of their children. Sons and daughters who do break away may have mothers who try to interfere in their lives and come between them and their spouses.

However, good mothers are a blessing. And while I fully believe, like the title of author Shirley Smith says in her book, They're Your Kids Not Your Friends, is true, because your child does not need you to be their friend. They need you to be a parent. If you and your children become friends after they're grown, then that's a blessing. But if not, that's okay too, especially if you know you've been a responsible mother and taught your sons to care and respect the women in their lives and you've taught your daughters how to be young ladies. In any case, try to cultivate good relationships with your children, no matter how they turn out. However for both sons and daughters, the most gratifying feeling a mother has is knowing her children value her opinion and seek her advice on their lives, their children, their significant others, their work, their finances, and life goals.

[Ruth Hopkins is the co-publisher and managing editor of THE JOURNAL. You may reach her by phone: (626) 798-3972, or email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ]


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