September 06, 2013

parenting advice from kaaka Irene

'kaaka' means 'grandmother' in one of the Ugandan languages.  kaaka Irene is my dear friend, Osiria's, mother.  from the moment i met her, there was a spiritual connection of love that brought us close together.  her bright smile and warm heart were like a magnet for mine. 

one time i went to kaaka Irene's room to visit with her.  we sat on the bed together and talked like old friends.  we sorted dry beans, removing the rotten ones from the good ones as we talked about the spirit of life.  she was ready to answer the question i had first asked her upon meeting her:  'What advice would you give me to raise my daughter?"

kaaka Irene raised a daughter whose heart is overflowing with love for God in a genuinely spiritual way of living her life. her daughter is such a spiritual rock in my life that i had to ask kaaka Irene that question.  i wanted to know what she did or how she lived to convey that spirit and moral character into her daughter.

with a page full of notes written in her native tongue she began translating her answer into English (a language she taught herself as an adult while living in Uganda!) while i listened intently to every wise word she humbly offered.  briefly, this is the advice she gave:

  • Parents have to lead by example because kids are always observing to see if you are doing what you say or if its mere talk
  • Parents should speak into the lives of their kids...we have the power to create by the words we say...speak what you want to see happen in the lives of your children
  • Affirm your children and let them know they are very, very precious; let them know what can add or reduce the value of their lives
  • Choosing friends wisely and not following the path of the wrongdoers..this involves learning to say no even to peer pressure...even at the risk of being unpopular among peers....the good should always overcome the bad
  • Make devotion and prayer a dependence on the guidance of God
  • As mothers, we have a big role to play because we have the power to impact generations

listening to kaaka Irene that afternoon left an imprint on my soul.  she spoke as an elder with wisdom -- that blend of spiritual qualities which glows through silence and speech, through stillness and deeds.  her heartfelt words, spoken oftentimes with passion and emphasis, made my soul feel as if it was being nourished.  it felt as if my ancestors and holy souls orchestrated this moment in my life.  i was hungry for her knowledge and experience and she shared it so generously and thoughtfully with me as if i was her own daughter.  it was one of those gems of oneness in my life..

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