Friday, October 28, 2016

A Hardworking African-American Mother Inspires Us All

While Being A Parent
Author: Eddie Marie Durham
Published by: iUniverse LLC, Bloomington, Indiana, 2014

A Hardworking African-American Mother Inspires Us All
This is a book written by a hard-working, never-say-die, African-American mother of three boys. It is from the heart. She covers topics that many of us don’t discuss easily and she does it with almost childlike transparency. She believes in God. And she has had her shares of troubles. Anybody who has a sense of the woes of parenthood today needs to read this book. And while they’re at it, learn much about the modern African-American experience of life in America.
Let me say straight out that this is not a scholarly tome.  While she writes well, the book did not have the benefit of professional editing given the limited resources Eddie Marie Durham had –  what it got in that regard was a wonderful labor of love from a friend. So set that aside and don’t let it interfere with Eddie’s message – it just may help save your child and you.  Here is just a glimpse of what she shares.
As a trained educator, Eddie starts off with the premise of “you better know what you’re getting into if you’re thinking of becoming a parent.”  She was shocked when she learned about a group of young teens in her own school forming a pact to become ‘mothers’. In fact, much of the beginning of the book is intended to warn young women about having babies before “they really know what it’s all about.”  And she does so very capably.
Then she begins her specific lessons: Early she provides us with an educated view on discipline. It’s not a dirty word and it doesn’t always mean corporeal punishment. While she believes in spanking when totally necessary, she also recognizes that in today’s world where the social mores are against it, it is not appropriate for the most part.
Whatever she shares, she does it most frankly, especially on topics not easily talked about. One example is her husband’s earlier life and his son by another woman. And then there’s the experience she and her first son had with the Boy Scouts – heartbreaking, but handled well by Eddie.
What struck me while reading this book is the incredible similarity of hopes and cares or concerns and struggles and fears that this mother had with what many of us have experienced as parents.  Parenthood, at its foundation, is not bias to color.
She writes about the importance of two parents, a father and a mother in a child’s life, both of whom are partnering with God in the raising of that child. But Durham realizes that is not always possible.
Early in the book she lays out very clearly the importance of rules and quoting one of her devotional readings, she reminds us that the story behind the famous movie, Bonnie and Clyde, was indeed, “who raised Bonnie”. She then proceeds to share some gems she found with respect to rules – how to explain them; how to enforce; and what to avoid. She quotes one adolescent program director as follows: “When the responsibilities expected of children are significantly lower than the privileges allowed, that is a cause for concern.” Then shortly afterwards, she outlines her own mother’s unique set of 12 rules for her children as well as the reason(s) for each one. Well worth the book’s purchase for that alone. Lastly in this regard, Durham discusses the topic of homework and what it is meant to accomplish quoting considerable research on the topic.
She is not a big fan of television’s impact on children with respect to the reality of life. She shares how she dealt with her son’s sports accidents as well as her feelings about his first date. Handling the eldest son’s decision to move out was not easy. And then there were the serious illnesses that beset one of her son’s, then the wife of another, and then the author herself. Even the fact that her husband retired and hung around the house while she still worked and how that impacted the child-rearing, makes for an interesting read.  All excellently handled, providing for us a role model of what being a parent – even of grown-up adults is all about.
The author, a post-graduate educated elementary school teacher, now retired, resides in Texas. One of her passions throughout her career was to write poems, stories, and plays making difficult accounts more understandable to children of all ages, as well as a means of celebrating and remembering the event described. Durham often works these works into her writings as examples of what she as a parent was called to do sometimes.
We often hear of kids from tough lives succeeding because of what their mother was like – what she did, what she said at times, her sacrifices, how she showed her love even when things were tough and there was no money, and so on. Eddie Durham is one of those mothers – only she’s telling the story of her sons and how they got to be who they are. Personally, I consider myself fortunate to have come across Durham and her book.  I highly recommend it to all thinking of parenthood or those already in its throes.
·      Ken B. Godevenos, President, Accord Resolutions Services Inc., Toronto, Ontario, October 28, 2016.

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