“Children must be made up of silk. They must be brought up with a serenity in their skin, but a bulletproof strength in their souls...” – C. JoyBell C.
At this point in my life, I am only in the second year of the “twenties” stage… and I am already looking forward to helping raise a family! To be honest, this has been a dream of mine for quite some time. I anticipate the arrival of my first-born child, and working in partnership with my wife to raise him/her along with their brothers/sisters down the line.
I understand a few things: 1) I have so much life to live before settling down and having children. 2) Raising and maintaining a healthy family will be one of the most emotionally, time-consuming, beautiful challenges I’ll ever experience. 3) Raising children is about much more than teaching “right and wrong.”
My mother, Venice Williams, has always shown that she is not the average parent. I am blessed to know that God gave me a role model who continues to lead my siblings and I through our life journeys. Most importantly, she’s shown us that having positive and healthy values (from the beginning) is crucial in shaping our future.
Mommy established an open relationship early in our childhood. We were a family that communicated with each other, shared any and all ideas/thoughts, and no questions were ignored or considered “dumb questions.” I knew that I was able to say anything to my Mommy, and that I would always receive some sort of definitive answer…
Mommy made sure that we were well aware of what was encouraged and supported in our household. Being both a Youth Minister and a devoted believer in Christ, we lived in a Faith-based home. Mommy taught us how to pray throughout the day, she kept us active in the church, and even led us in devotions at home. We’ve always been strong supporters of the Arts. Mommy placed us in schools that practiced artistic education, encouraged us to play instruments, to perform/showcase our talents, and led us through art activities in the home… We believed in being respectful not only to our adults and elders, but to everyone we interacted with. Mommy went beyond teaching us to “be polite” and to “remember our manners” by encouraging us to carry a positive attitude, to acknowledge everyone with a smile and an open presence, to practice attentive & engaging listening/responding, to think before we speak, and to be genuinely thankful for every moment of our lives… She taught us to be knowledgeable of our culture, and to represent African Americans and Native Americans (not Indians) with pride… We were taught the importance of education, and were expected to earn “A’s.” Earning a “B” was good, but there was always room to improve. Earning a “C” or below was not acceptable; we’re not average individuals, so we couldn’t bring home average grades.
Mommy genuinely cared about our interests—which was absolutely awesome. As a result of teaching us to be open-minded, we gained unique aspirations at an early age. At one point, I remember wanting to be an Archaeologist! She was always willing to play with us, and even watched some of our favorite television programs like The Magic School Bus, Arthur, Rugrats and Recess.
Speaking of entertainment, Mommy made it very clear that things like television and video games would be limited. She encouraged us to spend our time in activities away from the screen and doing things that were constructive. We definitely were exposed to so much as children! She placed us in academic programs that would boost our knowledge and recreational programs in the summer that allowed us to grow in our aspirations and expand our horizons.
Transitioning from child to adolescent wasn’t the easiest for me. I found myself slipping in my academics, becoming self-centered and forgetting about my faith in Christ. My Mom used this as an opportunity to help rebuild the young man that she expected me to be. Of course, I was punished for my behavior and poor grades… However, she allowed my mistakes to be teachable moments.
I strongly believe that all of her hard work in raising us allowed her to feel secure when we became independent teenagers. (Note the phrasing here. We were not granted “freedom.” Freedom is different than independence.) My mother believed in parenting with a limit, and without being an “over-bearing” Mom or being “controlling.” We were still expected to represent ourselves and our family, and to make positive choices. However, my Mother believed in taking a step back and allowing us to experience the world on our own. She encouraged us to put our skills to the test, to be confident in the world that we live in, and to continue growing, learning, teaching & living as a positive role model.
One day, I am going to be a father…
And I’m going to do everything in my power to raise my child, and my family, the way that I was taught.