We had a very interesting visit with Joel's distant cousin yesterday. Mike has been doing prison ministry in the Atlanta Prison System for the last eight years. He shared numerous "hair-raising" experiences and his thoughts on the "whys, how tos, and wherefores" of criminals and prison life.
Alarmingly, he stated that the number one reason for all criminals can be traced back to the breakdown of the American family. He went on to say that when a young man turns 11, 12 or 13, he needs a father to show him how to be a man. No matter how wonderful his mother may be, no matter how much the son wants to please her and doesn't want to disappoint her, she can never fill the role of the father at this crucial time in a young man's life. He stated that even a "bad" (abusive, alcoholic) father was better than no father.
This brought an incident that happened a few years ago, back to mind. Sometimes, we mama's need to move over and let Dad have the freedom to deal with his son as a man.
Isaac had begged for months to be allowed to mow the lawn by himself. He had mowed sections of it, but never the whole lawn. Joel decided when he was ten years old that he was old enough to take on that responsibility. He explained the ins and outs of the lawnmower and weed whacker, showing him the best way to accomplish the task. For the first two or three times, Isaac did an outstanding job, so much so, that Joel paid him $10.00 for a job well done.
By the fourth time, the newness had worn off and as the day was hot, Isaac hurried to finish, leaving several strips of uncut grass. Joel was not impressed when he came home from work. He immediately sent him out to mow all the strips he had missed and to weed whack. Isaac was in tears and my tender, "Mama" heart broke. After all, Isaac was only ten years old, and couldn't be expected to do a "perfect" job! Although, I never said a word to Joel, he knew by my attitude that I did not agree with how he was handling the situation.
God began to deal with my heart, though, and I knew that I was wrong. We began to discuss it and I explained to Joel, that being a Mama, I would give Isaac more grace, but God knew that Isaac needed his daddy to teach him how to be responsible and to do his best with every task. I told Joel that although it was hard for me, I was going to let him deal with Isaac the way he felt was best.
We Mamas tend to be too tender hearted with our sons, (and that's what we are supposed to be!) But God knew that as teenagers, boys would need a firmer hand, therefore He in His wisdom, gave them Dads. So the next time you're tempted to step in and intervene for your son, remember we need to "Move over, Mama!" and let Dad deal with "Johnny" as a man. God knows what's best.