The Courage of a Baltimore Mother

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. – 2 Timothy 1:5

I’ve been holding a contest on my Facebook page asking people to comment with a topic they would like to see me cover in an upcoming post for a chance to win one of two prizes from Running Princess. One reader suggested I write about how to deal with older kids who mess up. I was coming up with my own take on it.  But then the world was introduced to Toya Graham of Baltimore.

Toya is a single mother of six. Sixteen-year-old Michael is her only son. Like so many innercity youth, particularly those growing up without fathers, Michael has been wooed by the streets. This week he got caught up in the violence that has shaken Baltimore – that is, till his mother got hold of him.

Toya describes herself as a “no-tolerant mother.” One could certainly get that impression from the way she went ballistic upon seeing her hooded and masked son participating in a riot. She gave her much-larger son what could only be described as a whooping. And America cheered.

“I was angry,” Toya said. “He knew he was in trouble.” You think? Michael never thought to run from the police, but he seriously considered running from his mother. He recognized the true authority figure in his life.

Toya said she didn’t want her son ending up as another Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old Baltimore man who died as the result of a severed spinal cord while in police custody. But she also hoped to show him a different path. “I choose not to live like that anymore,” she admitted. If she has her way, her son will do the same.

That’s the influence of a mother. Even in a less-than-perfect world – one without a father’s presence, one surrounded by a culture of brokenness and turmoil – a mother can be a steadying force in a child’s life. Look at Timothy. His father receives no credit for his godly upbringing; sole credit goes to Timothy’s mother and grandmother.

We mothers must strive for the souls of our children, and that striving doesn’t stop when we no longer can control them. I cannot count the times (though perhaps my children can) when I’ve gotten in the faces of my taller, stronger sons about choices they have made or attitudes they have had. They didn’t thank me at the time, but I know they are now grateful that I held my ground for the sake of their souls.

Certainly you must take a stand as long as your children your dependents. Once they are independent, the waters become a bit more murky. My first recourse is prayer. My second is a godly example. My third, if solicited, is biblically based advice. But if I ever saw one of my grown kids in serious trouble, I could channel a bit of Toya (minus the profanity and slapping, of course).

Mothers don’t give up on their kids, no matter how old. That’s the God-given responsibility of every mother. If you give up on your child, who is left by default to show him the way?

As Toya said, “Is he a perfect boy? No, he’s not. But he’s mine.”

If more mothers had that attitude, imagine what a different world we would live in. Go, Toya.

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