Question of the week:
I am a 51 year old Black American female who is a single mother of a 12 year old boy. I come from a very impoverished family who was just surrounded by “low class “ values and people. I too have participated in many low class practices including two divorces and poor financial lifestyles. I am a Christian and I am a 4th Grade teacher with a college degree. I also am recently debt free (thanks to Dave Ramsey).
I also have managed to have a small amount of money saved (6 months of my salary). I have been learning so much about money and my view of it since I recently began listening to your podcast. How can I begin to pass some of these principles regarding finances, family etc. to my 12-year-old son if I have been a poor model in the past. My 12-year-old son is at risk for all the negative problems that the typical African American male falls prey to. I am not married and there is no male role model in the home. He has poor behavior, he lives in the presence and does not think of the future or consequences. Poor grades, Poor speech, poor work ethics… I am embarrassed that I am in this situation. This is my only child. What can I do to try and save my child from this???
I hope it is not too late! Please any advice will be greatly appreciated. Can you recommend any books or other resources. I need desperate help. I am trying to change my family tree.
I love all that you do.
Your desire to save your son from making some of the mistakes you made is shared by every good parent. Seeing how hard you are working to overcome past mistakes is a tremendous lesson for your son.
We encourage you to speak openly with him about what you have learned and are learning. We know you won’t fall into the trap of preaching pedantic lectures at him, but instead verbalizing how happy it makes you to not worry about debt collectors, to know that if something breaks you can afford a replacement because you have savings, and how grateful you are to be working and being productive rather than relying on charity from your fellow citizens. In terms of economic understanding, Dave Ramsey has resources for youth and Connor Boyack has wonderful books as well. Read these with your son or have him read them and then discuss them over dinner. At twelve, your son is old enough for you to share logical and intelligent conversations.
Use the summer months when school is closed to your advantage. We hope that at twelve, your son still accepts your authority. Plan activities with him that, while being fun, also transmit the ideas you wish to teach him. While he may prefer being out all day with friends, it would be valuable for him to spend time with you. He should have a clear list of tasks to do that must be finished before playing and you should make every effort to turn cooking and cleaning together into an enjoyable rather than punitive experience or something that only you do. Maybe Monday mornings can be set aside for the two of you to visit local historic sites and another morning can include a shared volunteer opportunity. Pick a book to read aloud in the evening based on his interests and your goals. (One resource for book ideas as well as ideas for how best to read aloud is https://readaloudrevival.com/) Insert yourself into his life rather than retreating away from it. Make your home one where his friends hang out and don’t hesitate to establish house rules as to language and behavior.
Living in the present is a perfectly normal state-of-being for a twelve-year-old. Make sure the vision you present to him is one of high expectations. Don’t allow him to think that failure is an option; explain how that can so easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is certainly not too late for your son to grow into a fine man.
Admittedly, you are in a tougher situation because your son doesn’t have a responsible father living in the home. Sadly, too many of the male role models we see around us these days are negative ones. But there are plenty of good men and good families around that can serve as models and even resources. Seek out mentors for yourself also, in terms of mothers with experience communicating effectively with a teenage boy. Finding those alternate authority figures is your job. Keep searching until you find a church or youth group that has a proven record of properly mentoring young men. The right men in the black community will be better able to advise you than we are.
We aren’t trying to whitewash the challenges that face you. Your fears are grounded in reality. Pray, pray some more and then seize every bit of control that you possibly can. You have already gone outside your comfort zone and taken hold of the economic reins in your life. You are clearly a warrior. Keep on fighting. This story can have a very happy second chapter…
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin
Would you like to learn more about the book of Genesis?
Right now the First Lesson of Scrolling through Scripture is FREE.
Even if you don’t know the Lord’s Language, Hebrew, you still can access the original language of the Bible, delving way deeper than any translation. Rabbi Daniel Lapin walks you verse by verse through the Torah, the Bible, decoding the original Hebrew text via the lens of ancient Jewish wisdom.
Unit One focuses on the six days of Creation and foundational principles from the beginning of Genesis. This First Lesson discusses Genesis 1:1, how God communicated with man through the Hebrew language, and how studying the Bible in Hebrew opens up a world of deeper meaning.