• Ebony Cosby

Mama's Secret Sauce: A Mother's Day Recipe for Obedient Children

Growing up, my social circle revered my mother. To my friends, I had “the cool mom.” She was young, fun, and easy to talk to. She still is. My peers would say, “Man, I wish I had your mom.” Little did they know, my mama did not play.


As long as I stayed in line with the rules of her household, my mom and I maintained a cool balance. Our close bond might even look sisterly to some, but underneath our connection lies a special kind of discipline. And we enjoy a shared commitment to high standards for how we treat one another.


So what’s in our secret sauce? The answer is simple: communication, information, submission, and respect. My mother always made it very clear that she demanded respect. But she also gave it.


In the beginning, we had typical mother-daughter fights about attire, boys, and my curfew. I knew the rules were for my safety; I just felt she was being a little overbearing. The small battles that made up our war ended when she realized that her little girl wasn’t a little girl anymore. My teenage rebellious phase didn’t last very long because parenting for my mother was never about a power trip.


Some parents strive to have complete control of their kids. Thankfully my mother was never this way because that desire to control can often backfire. I remember a few of my peer’s parents preferred to have absolute dominion over their offspring. I also remember those same peers engaging in underage drinking and other problematic teenage behaviors; there’s definitely a relationship between control and rebellion.


My mother raised me to have Christian values. We practically lived at church. I remember watching her model behaviors she wanted me to exhibit. I’m not under any illusion that my mom was a saint. She wasn’t. But neither was she the “do as I say, not as I do” type of parent. And I respected that.


Despite the great example my mother set, once I was old enough to drive, I became tempted to party and get into the so-called “troubles of youth,” just like my friends. I was the “good girl” amongst my peer group and I grew tired of feeling left out because of it. So I decided one day at school that I was going to give “being bad” a try.


Fortunately for me, my “bad girl” plans were over before they began because when I got home from school that day, my mother shocked me with her mind-reading ability. She said, “You’re 16 and I know a lot of your friends are probably drinking and smoking. I’m sure you’re curious and may want to try it. It’s your decision, but I just want you to be safe.”


I was floored, wondering if this was some kind of setup designed to elicit a confession, which would surely lead to a punishment. But it was none of the above, and suddenly I found myself totally disinterested in being bad and doing bad things! My desire to be a rebellious teen suddenly disappeared, just like that.


At a moment when most parents would have chosen a show of force to let their children know who’s the boss, my mother opted for us to have a more equitable relationship centered on mutual respect and communication. Rather than trying to control me, she honored my right to make decisions. In return, I didn’t feel the need to rebel. I didn't want to do things just to spite her.


So on this Mother’s Day, I thank my mother for using a Jedi mind trick to get me to do exactly what she wanted. In fact, her tactics worked so well that I remained a “good girl” even through college. I’m not here to say that this exact recipe will work with your child or your style of parenting. I will just tell you as any good cook would: Season to taste.


Here’s to my mom and all the moms cooking up creative and cunning ways to keep your children safe and healthy, even if it is against their will. To all of the mothers out there, have a happy Mother’s Day! You deserve it!

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