I trust you are well, I am a South African single mother.
My son is 10 years old and is starting to get difficult to deal with. The other day he lied for two weeks about his ear phones that he lost and said they were at school in his locker. I called his dad to assist in disciplining him and he was very dismissive and said he must just go look for the earphones. For me it was not about the earphones but about the fact that he lied. How do you think I should have handled this? Should have I done the disciplining just by myself or was I right by including his dad? I grew up in a household that had both parents present and when disciplining happened it was done by both my parents.
I am actually so confused and afraid I will not raise a good boy without involving his dad therefore I always see the need to include his dad even though he is not that useful. It may be because he was raised by his grandmother and mother.
I hope you can assist me and point me to scriptures I can get encouragement, guidance and strength from.
Our hearts go out to you. You are bravely facing the reality that raising a son to be a good man is vitally important but not an easy task. Doing so in a home without a father is certainly more difficult.
One of our hardest life lessons is learning to deal with our reality. It is so tempting to say, “If only” and think that if we were richer, prettier, wealthier, smarter, healthier, had different parents or were born in a different place our lives would be so much better. Yet, we all have to deal with what is truly in front of us.
It sounds like you had parents who acted as a devoted team. “If only” you could provide your son with the same. You cannot. Once you accept this truth, you will be better able to face the normal challenges that come with an adolescent boy. You will have to shoulder that responsibility yourself.
While you can be grateful if the father helps, you have to look to yourself rather than to him. We don’t know the situation and maybe you can have a talk with the father and encourage him to step up to the plate, but until that happens, you will have to fill the role yourself. You are not a couple and that is the reality with which you have to work.
We agree with you that the issue with the earphones is the lying. We would encourage you to talk to your son and let him tell you why he lied. Was he afraid of punishment? Is he aware of tight finances and felt miserable about losing something that cost money? In a calm way you can let him know how important it is that he be an honest person. Don’t let your imagination run away with itself so that you magnify this one incident into defining his character. It is only one of many opportunities you will have for conversations that gradually sculpt your son’s moral code. Of course, you need to model all the virtues you wish for him in your own behavior.
We do think that a teenage boy needs a man or two in his life. This is tricky when the father isn’t available. You need to be careful to shield your son from men who are potentially abusive and keep a sharp eye on any developing problem areas. Are there reputable male youth groups or sports teams whose leaders and coaches make a point of building men? Do you have brothers, neighbors, church friends or relatives who can step in?
We would like to leave you with a Scriptural reference to a fine man whose father did not accept proper responsibility for him – King David. In Psalms, King David refers to himself (Psalms 86:16 and 116:16) as “son of your maidservant.” His mother, rather than his father, was the mainstay of his upbringing. Yet he became king of Israel and author of Psalms. Not bad for a boy whose dad didn’t think much of him.
Raising children today in the best of circumstances is challenging. Your situation is even harder. We have faith that with hard work and prayer, your son will become a man who brings honor to you and to his Creator.
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin