26. Self-respect. University of life: (Mom’s lectures)

Our elders did not have much tertiary education, but they are so much wiser than so many younger people who do.

You may say that they attended the “University of Life” where you learn through “experience”, and as we all know, “experience is the best teacher”.

It is now a year since my mom passed on, yet not a day passes by when I do not think about my mom as I witness situations my mom had a strong opinion about and how accurate she was in her predictions and warnings.

In a nutshell, my mom was very strict on discipline, morals and ethics; no compromise.

I have decided to compile some of the advice that stayed with me.

On discipline:

We teach our children and husbands to misuse, abuse and enslave us:

A cousin of mine once told my mom how tired and drained she felt. My mom, who knew her circumstance, calmly advised her:
“Whilst it is of utmost importance to be a good wife and a good mother, it is equally important to let your husband and children know that you are a human being too.

Just because you got married and have children, does not mean you have to surrender all your rights as a human being and just sacrifice yourself for your husband and children”.



Her general advice to mothers:

The way you treat yourself is how your husband and children will treat you:
So many working mothers have to come home and clean the mess that was left the morning while everyone was rushing to go to school or work and still make food for the night.

The husband, in his turn, kicks off his shoes after work and rests as though he was the only one working, while the children do their school homework.

By excluding everybody in the house to help with the errands and by “over-serving” them, that mom is sending out a message saying, “I have no self-respect, I am at your service, I am the maid in the house”, and of course that is exactly how her husband and children are going to treat her.

If over the years her husband and children eventually disrespect her and take her for granted, she only has herself to blame..


As a mother you are entitled to the same things you sacrifice yourself for, you too have a life.

Be a wife and a mother in a way that you will be respected and appreciated.

Everywhere you may find yourself in life; there will always be a code of conduct you have to adhere to, at school, at work, among respectful people, elders and similarly in a house hold.


Teach your spouse and children to respect you:

Too many women unintentionally “train” their husbands to disrespect them to the extent that the husband totally disregards even the marriage code of conduct.

My mom’s favorite saying on this was, “Some people create their own storms but become upset when it rains”.

Another favorite saying was “if that husband who never respected you runs off with someone else, it’s actually a gain not a loss”.

Love your kids, guide them, help them, be there for them as a mother, however don’t love them so much that you turn into their slave. You will do more harm than good to the child.
The day you are not in position to serve them, they will be ten times more angry and upset than the child who was not over-served.

Your child needs your guidance from the day they are born until you die; you will always have more life experience than them.

Raise your children so that other people will love and admire them:

A child who was indirectly taught by the parents to be disrespectful towards them will be disrespectful towards other older people as well.

Do not raise your children so that people will have bad thoughts and bad feelings towards them, especially older people.

My mother believed that things will always go wrong in those children’s lives if people harbored bad thoughts and feelings toward them.

If you don’t hit or reprimand your child, your child will hit and reprimand you:

We were sitting in the doctor’s surgery once when a child stubbornly refused to stop crying and was hitting the mom as he was crying. The young mother was most embarrassed of course.

My mom just calmly told me: “she deserves the hiding; if you don’t give your child a hiding your child will give you a hiding”. Of course, what she meant was, reprimand and discipline your child.

Prepare your children for the real world:

Do not bring your children up too tight to your chest. If something should suddenly happen to you they would be completely lost, unable to cope, incompetent and devastated.
It’s not what you do for your children, but what you teach them to do for themselves that will prepare them for the real world out there. You won’t be around forever to do things for them.


Your child needs you more than you need your child:

Your child needs your guidance, be a mother and don’t tell me the child doesn’t want to. Find a way of teaching her- it’s your way and not your child’s way.

Do not over-love your child- soon that child will pick it up, it is normally those children who use the very same love that you have for them as a weapon against you by blackmailing you emotionally and forcing you to be subservient to them.

You train your child by your hand, but do not love your child so much that your child teaches you by his or her hand. Be a parent.

I am not your baby sitter:

We were eight children. Looking after grandchildren would be the exception rather than the rule for my mother. If one of her married children was in dire need, she would offer.

Her famous saying was “I’ve had my joys and struggles with babies, “now experience yours”, what makes you so special to be exempted from the experience?”

Teach your children to love and honour you:

A neighbor of ours once popped in by my mom on her way to her daughter.

Teasingly, my mom popped one of her favorite rhetorical questions: “why do you visit her so much, and why is it that she never visits you, why is it just one way traffic from your side only”.

Her response was: “I miss her and the baby”.

With one hand rubbing her arm my mom told her: “I know the feeling, but just as much as you miss her, she is supposed to miss you too, love, care and respect is a two way thing, give her a chance to miss you too”. If she really cares about you she will make a way to get to you too.

Too many mothers indirectly teach their children to abuse and exploit them, and some shockingly love their children so much that they even switch roles with their children, completely surrendering their parent authority to their children.

Mutual respect:

People will treat you the way you treat them. Do not demand respect from everyone if you are selective in whom you show respect to.
So many people are most respectful to people of status only, and unconsciously disrespectful to people they deem below them.

Do not act in a way or do things that will cause your spouse to feel disgusted with you, or your children will feel ashamed of you:
Here my mom was referring to certain older people who refuse to surrender their youth.

Make sure “you” do the right thing:

If we came to her and told her that a certain person had acted towards us in a bad way, her advice was always, make sure “you” are doing the right thing.

By adopting the same behavior as that person, to get back at him or her, you have made that person your teacher
Explain yourself:

If you are not happy in any situation you find yourself in, do not accept it out of fear that you may hurt that person’s feelings.

Find a way to tell that person why you are not happy without being rude. It is of utmost importance to get the message across so that you won’t have to suffer the same thing again in the future.

People cause scandal:

A certain unmarried young lady was complaining to my mom, telling her that people were gossiping about her

They were saying that she was having an affair, when the only thing she did was sometimes walk to the nearby mall with a married colleague.

My mom’s short retort was: “nothing is innocent, even if not from your side then from his side. The moment you as a young unmarried lady, walked with a married man, you broke society’s ethical rules, not to mention religious rule, it doesn’t matter how innocent you feel it may be.

People are the cause of their own scandal, you only have yourself to blame”.

There are so many other saying/teachings/lectures that stayed with me, too many to mention…
Today, many years later, even though all my siblings are well over fifty years of age and some are even grandparents, we are still inseparable; we are each other’s circle of friends.
At the anniversary of her death we were all sitting around my mom’s grave- after our group prayer we just sat there, each in their own thoughts.
I was sitting right where her head was – as I looked at all my siblings, I thought: this is the result of her guidance. With a throb in my throat and my one hand on her gravestone, I bowed down and whispered: “mom you did a great job”



I am sure there is a saying you can remember your mother or father had taught you, something that has been engraved in you up until today, advice given by your mom or dad that you understand and appreciate even better now that you are more mature, please share your story below......
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