Few of us will ever forget Dr. Ben Carson’s remarkable address at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast. His words were powerful, engaging, and refreshingly candid at a time when most people carefully avoided any message that could possibly be considered politically incorrect.
Ben paid special tribute to Sonya Carson, his courageous mother, and gave her credit for raising her two sons in a way that helped them reach their potential, even though they lived in very difficult circumstances.
Do you remember the powerful parenting lessons he shared? Would you like to see if anything Sonya did might be helpful for your family?
Here are four small things that made a big difference -- in Dr. Carson’s own words.
Believe in Your Children
“I was a horrible student. Most of my classmates thought I was the stupidest person in the world. They called me dummy. I was the butt of all the jokes. Now, admittedly, it was a bad environment, a single-parent home, you know, my mother and father had gotten divorced early on.
“My mother got married when she was 13. She was one of 24 children. Had a horrible life, discovered that her husband was a bigamist, had another family. And she only had a third grade education. She had to take care of us. Dire poverty. I had a horrible temper, poor self-esteem. All the things that you think would preclude success. But I had something very important, I had a mother who believed in me.
Never Make Excuses or Allow Your Children to Make Excuses
“And I had a mother who would never allow herself to be a victim no matter what happened. Never made excuses, and she never accepted an excuse from us. And if we ever came up with an excuse, she always said do you have a brain? And if the answer was, “yes,” then she said then you could have thought your way out of it. It doesn’t matter what John or Susan or Mary or anybody else did or said. And it was the most important thing she did for my brother and myself. Because if you don’t accept excuse, pretty soon people stop giving them, and they start looking for solutions. And that is a critical issue when it comes to success.
Trust in the Lord and Pray For Wisdom
“Well, you know, we did live in dire poverty, and one of the things that I hated was poverty. you know, some people hate spiders, some people hate snakes, I hated poverty. I couldn’t stand it. But, you know, my mother couldn’t stand the fact that we were doing poorly in school, and she prayed and asked God to give her wisdom, what could she do to to make her sons understand the importance of wisdom?
Encourage Your Children to Turn Off the TV and Read Good Books
“God gave her wisdom. At least in her opinion. It was to turn off the TV, let us watch only two or three programs during the week, and read two books apiece and submit to her written book reports which she couldn’t read, but we didn’t know that. She put check marks and highlights and stuff. But, you know, I just hated this. And my friends were out having a good time. Her friends would criticize her. They would say you can’t make boys stay in the house reading books, they’ll grow up and hate you. and I would overhear them and say, you know, mother, they’re right. but she didn’t care.
“You know, after a while, I actually began to enjoy reading those books because we were very poor, but between the covers of those books I could go anywhere, I could be anybody, I could do anything. I began to read about people of great accomplishment, and as I read those stories, I began to see a connecting thread. I began to see that the person who has the most to do with you and what happens to you in life is you. You make decisions. You decide how much energy you want to put behind that decision. And I came to understand that I had control of my own destiny. And at that point I didn’t hate poverty anymore, because I knew it was only temporary. I knew I could change that. It was incredibly liberating for me, made all the difference.”
Watch or Read Dr. Carson's Address at the National Prayer Breakfast