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Jeniffer Oroko recalls the blessing of an African mother who loved and disciplined and a village who helped raise children to be respectful.  She asks the question, ‘Do we need to rethink our society’s attitude to child raising in the light of the recent riots?’


Mother’s Noble Role

Proverbs 31:27 -28    “She looks well to the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.”

The memory is still vivid in my mind of this lone mother standing side by side with her eleven year old son.  It is three days after horrifying scenes of social disorder and violence on the streets of London.  The fires have died down and the authorities are seeking to bring the perpetrators of the violence to justice. It does not get any worse than the shocking reality of how young some of those were, who caused mayhem in the streets. The mother stands there waiting to hear from the Judge the fate of her child.  Nobody is with her;  she is all alone picking up the pieces. I just can’t imagine what is going through her mind but she stands stoically by her son. How could her child be part of this dark time in the history of Britain? That must never have been in her plan for her little boy.

Mothers take a special place in our lives; they have the best welfare at heart for their children and want the best for them; they will stand by their children at all times.  Those mothers who think and do otherwise for their children, need psychological help.  Mothers work hard to shape how we turn out in our later lives.  Speaking of my own mother, she had a heavy influence on who I am today.  My mother taught me to work hard.  She lived at a time when ‘child labour’ arguments had not been conceived.  If she apportioned out duties to my siblings and me, she expected them to be done without question.  If I did not do my duty, the line of action was clear: she invoked and literally applied Paul’s advice ‘If a man does not work, he does not eat’ 2 Thessalonians 3:10.

In a country where social welfare policy did not exist, I had to learn to fend for myself early.  If I wanted shoes, (which I never had until I went to Secondary School) and I had to get them simply because they were a requirement, I had to work for them.  One does not take advantage of civil disorder downtown and help oneself to other people’s property with an argument that the society has not catered for them.  My mother would consider that self-disrespect.

My mother taught me resilience. When you want something, you will get it if you are focussed enough.  It might take long to achieve it, but you will achieve it eventually; patience will always be a virtue. One would think she had listened to the one time British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s five word speech ‘Never, Never, Never give up!’

My mother taught me respect and especially of the elders.  An opportunity to ‘reason’ with an elder was so rare that actually it never existed.  I took advice from an elder because they knew better.  These folks of my village, including my mother, never understood that this autocratic approach constituted ‘emotional abuse’ of their children. Actually, if I had the audacity to state my case, the application of the common saying ‘Spare the rod, spoil the child’ (He who spares the rod, hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him -Proverbs 13:24), was swift and without any regret.  The village had never heard of ‘Child Helpline’ or any Social Work intervention.  What there was in my time was ‘Mother Helpline’ such that when my mother disciplined me, the ‘Social Work’ intervention of the time (other village women) was at hand to assist her in meting out the discipline.  I did not have anywhere to run to for consolation or refuge because everyone understood that I needed that discipline to give me strength to face the world out there and make me responsible.  You see in my village, the understanding was that bringing up children was a community effort, true to the African idiom of ‘It takes a village to bring up a child’. And sure enough, the community lived up to that!

When I reflect on the journey I travelled with my mother until she ‘rested in the Lord’ 10 years ago now less a month, I praise the Lord for her and  always call her blessed.   I am what I am because of my mother with God’s help!

For those of us who have been called to the noble role of being mothers, the challenge is real. Times have changed from when we grew up.  Now we have ‘big brother’ surveillance and a society with a different approach to raising up children.  The reality was stacked against the mother at one of the trials of the looters after the London riots recently as explained in the opening paragraph.  That was a big lesson for me. The poor mother was all alone standing by her eleven year old  boy.  There was no Social Work present to help her, after  she had failed to instill life’s virtues in him.  It is so important to know how to discipline our children firmly with  love and good guidance.

My prayer is that we consistently pray for wisdom that comes only from above which leads us to be…. “pure, friendly, gentle, sensible, kind, helpful, genuine, and sincere”. James 3:17. This wisdom will guide us in these tricky times to know how to carry out the noble role divinely given to us as mothers, so we can live up to the picture painted in Proverbs 31:28 and enjoy the reality of those words!