I know I have been a mother for only six years and I can only speak of the meager years of this lifetime and lifelong journey. I have yet to face the tough teen years to test my true patience and parenting skills but I also know that I am raising one Godly child.
Maybe some will say it’s too early to tell but I know I am already reaping what I have been sowing.
Being a single mother from Day One imposed on me the need to be sure of every step and decision I make. That means being extremely thoughtful and careful of my choices especially since I am the only decision maker in the life of my child. Everything has to be for her best interest, never my convenience.
As a solo parent you feel that you cannot afford to slip. But we are human. And we do fall and fail at times—a lot of times even. But what is more important than rising when you fall and correcting your wrongs is restitution – restoring what has been lost or broken.
If there is one essential trait that a parent must exhibit at all times in order to effectively teach it to their children, it is humility. Humility to say no. Humility to seek help. Humility to ask for forgiveness [even if you are the parent.]
I realized that as a parent there can be no room for pride. James 4:6 reminds me that “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Whatever we want to teach our child, be that love for others, respect for elders or humility, we must be those first.
Parents naturally demand respect from their children because they are the parents. They are the authorities. So much so that even when they are wrong, they refuse to admit nor ask for apology. Is that what we want to teach our children? Does our position of authority make us then infallible?
I learned that as a parent we also need to work for and earn the respect of our children. And we can do that effectively when we show humility to them.
When you are the only parent of your child, you tend to say yes to everything. Because you don’t want to miss out on anything, especially earning opportunities to provide for your child and secure her future.
However, in the process of taking in more than you can accommodate, you run the risk of losing yourself and putting in peril the intimate relationship you should be building and securing with your child.
At the peak of my earning and career where I had more than enough money to cover us for the next N number of months, but with barely any time to rest and spend with my daughter, I asked myself: Is this what is best for my daughter? Is this what my daughter needs?
Is it money that she needs or Mummy? Is it financial security or the feeling of security knowing that Mummy is there for her always and will be, now and in the future?
This humbling realization brought me to my knees to surrender our future to Our Jehovah-Jireh, Our Great Provider – to sustain us while I, focus on Parenting. Because the Lord has reminded me that He has been faithful to us before He will continue to be so because He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Because He is my Partner and My God, I can count on Him to sustain and secure us.
This decision to say no to hefty-check-paying-word to prioritise time with my child became an opportunity to teach her the humility to say “No” to certain opportunities and “Yes” to family because family is of a higher priority.
I always tell my superiors or co-workers when they make me choose between working or being present at a school activity: “I am sorry but I am the only parent my daughter has and she needs me.” Because of my security in Christ, I have the freedom to say no to a big pay check and say yes to a free day to be with my child. Because I know He will take care of us.
It is also very humbling to realize that after years of doing things on my own that it is okay to give up control and admit I cannot do everything on my own. I have struggled to be the Mom and Dad, the provider and nurturer all at the same time. It is when we feel we can still make it that we actually break and fall to our faces and acknowledge the fact that we really cannot do everything at the same time.
In my humility I learned to ask for help, especially for physical presence of male family members to stand in as the father figure in school presentations, awardings and gatherings.
Or even just the small task of letting them pick up Gummy when I really cannot be in two places at once. I learned that it is okay to ask for help. It will never make me seem inefficient or look weak nor appear less of a good mother. Asking for aid will never make me less of the Superwomom that I am. What can my daughter learn from this? Same. To ask for help simply because it is okay.
Finally, if I want my daughter to learn to put others before herself, others’ interests and feelings before hers, I have to model it myself. The most effective way to show that is by saying I am sorry when I am wrong. Like when I lose my temper and raise my voice when disciplining her. When I forget something. When I fall short. Saying sorry and humbling one’s self enough to admit that you did something demonstrates your respect for the other person’s feelings regardless of their age.
I want her to learn that at any given time that you are convicted that you are wrong, you must say sorry right away and wholeheartedly. That way the restoration of relationships will take place instantly.
If there is only one thing that you want your child to learn, what is it?