As a Christian, I always look forward to going to church on Sunday; it makes my week and my weekend. So I was particularly looking forward to going to two services this weekend, as my son is home from Uni and we were going to go to his church, at Jesus House, together to get his form for his Transform trip with Tearfund signed, after I had gone to my church at All Souls.
So the fact that I was unable to go to either, for health reasons, meant that it could have been a very depressing day indeed. It was in fact, the exact opposite for several reasons: first, it’s a beautiful day, the sun was out in full force, and who could be depressed on such a beautiful day? Secondly, my beloved Arsenal, defied the critics and recent form and thrashed our North London rivals 5-2 at the Emirates! Lastly and most importantly, my son is home from Uni and that always gladdens my heart.
I love spending time with my son. He’s witty, intelligent and fun to be with and if he wasn’t my son and a generation apart, we would probably still be friends. I have no tales of woe to tell, just fond memories and fun times we’ve had, some he remembers and others he doesn’t. Now that he’s left home, I like reminiscing and saying things like, ‘You remember the time when we…?’ he takes great pleasure in saying,’No!’ But then he listens with fascination as I regale him with some tale of mischief when he was an infant which he can’t possibly remember.
My joy of parenthood (don’t get me wrong, it was hard, especially doing it alone) I put down to my faith. This weekend is just an example of how all those difficult times paid off, because as he went off to get references from the church leadership, (I had read the requirements of the reference form) I was proud that any one of the leaders of the church would be proud to give him a reference. I was grateful that there would be no need for an awkward moment, with a frank explanation which would go something like, ‘I’m really sorry, but I cannot in good conscience recommend you for this, are you sure you wouldn’t like to do something else?’
My faith has been the guiding light in my parenting style. I was brought up a Christian and I brought up my son that way, guided by many scriptures like the one in the title. Contrary to the popular culture of indulgence and permissiveness masquerading as modern parenting, discipline was a major part of my son’s upbringing. Not of course in the sense of beating him with a rod, but in the sense of establishing boundaries, explaining them and sticking to them. This is of course time-consuming, frustrating and exhausting, but the rewards far outweigh the hard work required.
The most gratifying thing about discipline is that enforcing these boundaries builds the relationship because all that explaining and insisting creates trust and communication all essential for a good relationship.
Being a lone parent and a member of a church family, there was ample help available when I needed it. Many male role models, who are still involved in his life, take him out for meals, call him up at university and help him find summer jobs. ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ and that proverbial village was my church.
Being raised in the church, as Christian also gave my son a sense of identity and belonging. I remember when he was about 14, he came to me and said he wanted to pierce his ear. Amidst the screaming in my head, I sent up a quick prayer for help in knowing what to say. I said to him that piercing his ear would give people a definite impression of him that might not be an accurate portrayal, since he was still growing and discovering himself. ‘Why don’t you wait till you are older,’ I said, ‘when you are more certain who you are, then you can express yourself in a way that is really you.’
I thought it might have sounded too convoluted and philosophical for a 14-year-old, so I tried to take it back,’No Mum,’ he said, ‘ it’s fine, I understand what you mean, it makes perfect sense.’
One of the things I’m most grateful for in my life is my son and my faith that has guided me so I could guide him. Now he’s almost grown and left home, I’m grateful all over again for my faith in my Lord Jesus Christ in whom I live, move and have my being.