It Takes a Village, but a Sane Village
As a single mom I find myself receiving parenting advice from my village regarding disciplining my child. What stands out mostly are comments like, "You better get a handle on that boy," "You better check his behavior," "You better make sure that boy knows you his momma,” and “You better make sure that boy understands you're the parent!”
Believing my village would not fail me, I finally did it. I did what I believed everyone wanted me to do. I let him know who was in charge, that’s right, I spanked his 3rd grade backside for "borrowing" what didn’t belong to him, his sassy mouth and for plucking my last nerve. Heeding the awesome village advice, I showed him who was boss; I made him fear me first and God second.
Well, it worked. My wonderful child went to school the next day and apologized to his teacher and classmate for his actions. I could not get him to do such a thing in the past by just talking to him. The embarrassment of his first set of actions was substituted with relief that I prevented a future kleptomaniac. I thought, “That's my boy, he owned up to what he did and made amends.” I also spoke to myself, “I must say, I am raising an honorable young man. I'm a proud mommy, stick with me kid we gonna be alright.”
Yet, there was one part that my ingenious little mastermind left out. He went to after school and shared his butt whooping with anyone who listened. He showed them the scratch on his pinky, and the whelp the belt left on his side.
When I came home from work I was greeted at the door by a parent I recognized from the PTA. We exchanged pleasantries, but little did I know she worked for the county and was called to my home as the emergency caseworker. My heart sank. Plus, I was pissed I didn't make my bed and wash the dishes before I left the house that morning. I think I should tell you this woman was already irking my nerves because she and I were on the same committee at school. Ain’t this a hoot!
Anyway, while standing there I could not understand what was being implied or explicitly stated. Abuse!? My mind was racing, “Are you kidding me? This over privileged child has everything his heart could desire. I have worked my backside off for him. I have done everything under the sun to provide him the best home possible and you want to accuse me of child abuse? I tell you what! You can have him and you had better take him now because when he turns into a teenager and really becomes a true terror, I do not want you or anyone else telling me I didn't do my job as a loving mother and raise my child correctly!!”
Let’s flash forward to the scene where I’m crying and venting on the shoulders of two members of my village. This village, which originally encouraged me to take control of my child’s behavior, was now giving a new set of wisdom. One stated, "Why on God's green earth would you wait until you got so angry to spank him?” Another said, “Wasn't there another way you could punish and chastise the boy?"
What!? “Well, did you offer me a different way to chastise the boy? Err NO!” Now, I'm not blaming anyone for my actions. I did it and I would do it again if the situation called for it. But wait, here’s the plot twist. This was the same village that put the smack down on my backside whenever I got out of line! Are you kidding me! A better way? Did you show me a better way? I digress.
As I pondered why I was explaining myself, I realized how alone I felt. Later the feeling would be a reality. It would be just me, all alone, left to now deal with social services, who were constantly in my house inspecting my child, making sure my home was clean and that I had ample food in the fridge. Every time they came I had to refrain from yelling, “Get out” in my scary voice.
Thousands of dollars later in legal fees, the charges of abuse were unfounded. I thought you might want to know this. However, this was not my happy point. You see, during this whole ordeal, my village started diminishing. I noticed everyone who loved to share his or her sound advice or wisdom started to dissipate. Although, some would stay in the background offering their insight, they never seemed to have solutions.
It was at this time, I felt abandoned, all alone, and somewhat betrayed by the folks I trusted. So, I found myself having more and more conversations with God just because there was no one else there to talk to. At one point in my conversations with God, I heard Him speak to me. In prayer, it was put on my heart, “It took you long enough. It was about time you found your way home.”
Well, because I’m still sassy, I replied, “Oh no you didn't Lord. Was this to teach me a lesson? Was my world turned upside down for You to say come to Me?” I had conflicted thoughts. One thought was “I get it.” Another thought was, “Oh! Heck no I don’t get it.” I was sure that I was mad and I asked for time to process all this.
My prayers and the processing would continue. I would come to understand that while one’s village is there for support, God, your Father still comes first. I learned to speak to him and to be still. Thus, in the midst of this turmoil, I learned these three things:
Trust God’s wisdom. You will not always understand why He allows things to happen, but there is always a great plan for your life involved.
You are the company you keep. Take an assessment of the people in your village. Not, everyone you've allowed residence deserves to stay. Some of them sons of guns need to be excommunicated, disavowed, burned at the stake; well you get the picture.... Especially, if they offer no solutions and only criticism.
God is with you always. When you think you're all alone, abandoned and left on the island with not even Wilson the ball, know that God is with you always. He just wants you to acknowledge he is first in the village. (Truly, easier said than done)
By the way, the child who is at the epicenter of this tale is good. He is still actively eating all my food, wasting my electricity and talking back to me, while being the dynamic kid he is and writing this unrealistic list to Santa.
O people in Zion, inhabitant in Jerusalem, you will weep no longer. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you.