Prefer to read the episode transcript? See below.
Dr. Leslie: Hello everyone. And thank you for joining us on our podcast today, where we are joined with Ms. Rochelle rivers, who is an author of a journal collection. She is a life coach. She is also a 33-year veteran of AT&T. Gone back to school to get a second master's degree. And she is the mother of one son.
Ms. Rivers: Yes, she is.
Dr. Leslie: So, Ms. Rivers, welcome to the show today. We thank you so much for finding time in your schedule. I know you're working nights and you're sleeping during the day, but I thank you so much for taking the time to join us on today. So, can you just give us a little intro into what your life looks like right now? Just what'd going on. Give our audience a good feel for who you are.
Ms. Rivers: Well, thank you Dr. Leslie, for inviting me to your show. I so look forward to speaking to you every chance I get. I was speaking with my sister who happens to be an educator as well, she teaches early childhood education in Rockdale County, and by the way, she happened to have won teacher of the year, I think for 2019. So, I come from a family of educators, so I have a special place in my heart for Dr. Leslie. She showed up at a time in my life when I needed her. And I was telling my sister that Dr. Leslie had invited me to the podcast and I was really excited because I don't care what you do, if you need me, call me. I'm here to testify, to offer whatever I can as a way to say, thank you, thank you, thank you for everything that you've done and showing up in my life. And the life of my son, who by the way, I've had a recent conversation even prior to this, who said to me, his favorite best, most productive time in school was when he was with Dr. Leslie.
Dr. Leslie: Oh, wow. I did not know that.
Ms. Rivers: We were just talking about some things and he said, she got me and he enjoyed school. at that time.
Dr. Leslie: You know what, Ms. Rivers, I'm going to use that opportunity to pat myself on the back. But I get that a lot.
Ms. Rivers: You should.
Dr. Leslie: It just lets me know that I'm always in the right place at the right time. Even when it doesn't feel like it.
Ms. Rivers: Exactly
Dr. Leslie: Tell Eric that I said, thank you. And I want to see his face.
Ms. Rivers: I will definitely tell him that. Eric is going to be a father soon.
Dr. Leslie: How old is he now?
Ms. Rivers: He is 28.
Dr. Leslie: Oh my God.
Ms. Rivers: You had him in the seventh and eighth grade.
Dr. Leslie: Yes.
Ms. Rivers: And he just turned 28 in January. He has a baby coming in April, April 27th. Isn't that something?
Dr. Leslie: I can't wait to see him. He was taller than the rest of his peers. Is he still very tall?
Ms. Rivers: He's not as tall as we thought he was going to get, but he's about as tall as his dad. He's 6ft 2". So, he's still tall, considering average, but yeah -
Dr. Leslie: So, I said you were at a company for 33 years, you went back to school. What does all of that look like as a mother? I know your son is older now. But you went through the death of your father. And you had to take care of him before he passed. I do remember that. Just tell us a little bit about that time in your life.
Ms. Rivers: Well, I had just gotten into a place of what I felt like was emptiness and I had free time on my hand, even though I was helping to take care of my dad. He wasn't in such bad shape that he needed constant care. And plus, I'm the oldest of four. So, I have other siblings that would step in and help out and who actually lived closer to him. And one of my brothers actually lived with him. So it wasn't that I was always in need, but I did take him to the majority of his doctor's appointments and visit. He seemed to want me to be the one to take him to the doctor's appointments. So just as I had recommitted or was in a place where I had space and time, I recommitted to helping you and your school and the things that you needed.
But it's almost like within a couple of weeks of doing that, my dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer. And so, we were kind of thrown in the midst of that. Now mind you, five years prior, we had lost my mom to stomach cancer. So, we were still kind of dealing with some of those emotions as they resurfaced when my dad got sick. And I was focused on that, but in the midst of being focused on that, that was also the year that I reached 30 years of service with my company. And I was kind of in a place of contemplation, where am I going next? What's next? What do I want to do? Am I going to stay here for more time? Am I going to go and leave the company? What am I going to do with my life? So in between doctor's appointments and taking him to visit the doctor, I kind of was just like, you know, maybe I'll do some adjunct teaching. Maybe I'll do some community college teaching. You know, as I mentioned, I'm from a family of educators, I just chose not to be an educator. But now maybe it was something that I could consider. So, I did some research looking at what the company had to offer from an educational perspective. And I realized that there were additional monies and funds available for me to kind of move in a different direction. If that's what I wanted to do, the company was moving from a telecommunications company into a technology company. And because of that, they were offering us an opportunity as employees to pivot our skillset to technology-based opportunities. Now, I had been in technology for 20 plus years. I worked in technology within telecommunications, but I didn't have a technology degree. I had a master's degree in organizational leadership and my bachelor's degree was in organizational industrial psychology.
So, I kind of was on the business side of the organization and not technology. So, I went online. I said, well, let me see what we got. They had some more funds. And I said, well, maybe I need to take advantage of this and get another degree. You know, maybe I'll take advantage and get a technology degree. And as I proceeded, one of the things that popped up was an opportunity to go to North Carolina A &T. AT&T and North Carolina A &T had come into some level of agreement where there was a partnership and we could go back at a reduced rate and the company was paying. A little backstory on that. When I graduated high school, North Carolina, A&T was where I wanted to go. I was accepted, but I got a letter saying that your dorm is not secure. You're going to be in a lottery. And I thought as an 18-year-old at the time, I don't want to go if I don't know where I'm going to stay. And I didn't have the benefit of parents who had been in that space. So, they didn't have much to offer as far as what they understood. My dad, although he was a college graduate, he graduated on the GI bill. So, he was in the military. You graduated once you had a family and kids. So, living in the dorm, wasn't an option. And my mom had chosen not to go to college, so she didn't have that information as well. So, I decided not to go, but the one thing that haunted me, if I could say I had a regret was not pursuing that degree at North Carolina A&T. So as destiny would have it, AT&T said, well, we're in partnership with them.
And I checked over the years about HBCU that had online programs because my degrees were online. And when I saw that, I was like, you know what, I'm signing up. And I remember telling my dad that I was going back to school. He said "again", I said, yeah, I'm going back again. There was some excitement because he is an educator. So, he was all for furthering your education. And unfortunately, a few months into his diagnosis, he passed away. The diagnosis was in August of 2018 and he passed away in December of 2018. And interestingly enough, I had already done everything I needed to do to start school in January of 2019. So, I took a moment and I said, do I really want to go and pursue this degree right on the heels of burying him? I mean, literally a month after he passed away, I was going to be starting school again. And I wasn't sure, but I said, you know what, Rochelle putting it off is going to solve what? Just dig in and do what you got to do. And I had made the decision that I wanted to complete this degree in a year. It was going to be very aggressive and I had to be very focused, but I completed it in a year. So, December of 2019, almost the anniversary of his passing, I walked across the stage and graduated with a second masters in information technology. So that's kind of what I've been doing here lately.
Dr. Leslie: Is not God good?
Ms. Rivers: All the time.
Dr. Leslie: Yes. Amen. So, having said all that, that gives us some background about you. One of the things that I heard you say was after, your son left and things were going on with your dad, you became an empty nester. You started looking for things to fill your time. So, with Dr. Leslie Inspires, we try to find ways - women that are interested in us are women who are struggling in some form or fashion to raise their son. And as we mentioned earlier, or you mentioned you have one son. I had said, usually women with one son. I can say, well, how many sons do you have? When you say one, I say, hmm. It's usually one way or the other. But tell us a little bit of your story about raising your one son and what that was like for you as a mother, maybe some of your triumphs and some of your struggles as well.
Ms. Rivers: I think the biggest thing that comes to mind is recognizing and it takes a while because I didn't recognize this early, that there is a real and true communication gap between men and women. And when you understand that your son is a little man. Not from a mature can handle things perspective, but his thought processes are that of the male gender. And we so communicate differently, but I'm a female, so I'm communicating with this man child as I would from a female perspective. He is not listening to me because we're talkers, they are not. So, as we talk more, they tune out more so therein lies the struggle, that's when in my opinion, when the struggles begin. Because they're kind of tuning you out, cause it's like, I don't want to hear all that.
Dr. Leslie: What age did you start to see that Ms. Rivers?
Ms. Rivers: I think I noticed that right around middle school, high school timeframe. Just as when he was there with you, seventh, eighth, ninth grade. I think that's when the lights came on for me that we're not having the same conversation. What I'm communicating, he's not getting. And of course, a clear part of communication is not just someone speaking but is the other person comprehending and getting what you're saying. But I think when we're mothers raising our sons, we think they're hearing what we're saying and they're not. And their translator takes what we say and gives it a different meaning. But that's true when you communicate with grown men, that that's what's happening. And I did not know how to fix that. I didn't know how to change that. So, in my ignorance, I continued communicating the way I knew how to communicate, which meant he can continue understanding or not understanding to the degree that he was.
So, I think that opened up a space of me recognizing that we're not connecting. And that was a little disheartening because I had made it my business to try to connect with him, to try to be heard and to be understood. But I wasn't getting through, but I didn't have the tools to get through to him. I didn't know what I didn't know at the time. And unfortunately, you know, we kind of struggled for several years until we could get to a place where we could sit down and have open and honest dialogue about a lot of things. And that's when we were able to kind of connect and say, you didn't hear what I was saying, nor that I hear what he was saying. And sometimes it wasn't what he was saying. It was just his behavior, but because I didn't know how to interpret it. I didn't realize he was giving me signs and messages in his behavior, but I didn't know that's what that was. And I'll tell him now it's unfortunate, but you guys don't pop out with an instruction manual in your hand saying, this is who I am. This is how I am and do this to get through to me.
Dr. Leslie: Let me ask, what role did his father play in his life and was he able to help you at all?
Ms. Rivers: That's the unfortunate part. He was always there, but not there. You know, we could always call him if he needed anything. If he wanted anything from a financial perspective, he was there. Emotionally he wasn't so much clued in. And of course, that's very frustrating because the beauty, and of course you realize it in hindsight of mothers and fathers parenting their children, is that you have both aspects. We are truly nurturers. And where we dropped the ball, when we're dealing with a male child, that's when the father should pick it up and say, I get what you're saying, but he's not hearing because we hear this way. But if they're not in a space that they can do that, then we can't work together to get the message across to the child. So, although he was basically there, as far as being a true emotional support and understanding, trying to understand what he needed, especially doing high school years where he's maturing and trying to figure himself out, he wasn't very helpful from an emotional perspective.
Dr. Leslie: Yeah. Let me ask. Cause one thing that I see with very strong mothers, very strong women, very strong wives, sometimes we as strong women don't allow men have that space to talk. So perhaps do you think that maybe his father tried to talk at some point and was shut down and it’s kind of spilled over? I just did a podcast, sounds like something very similar, but there are some things after you've been doing this for a while if you can kind of hear maybe what happened, because just like your son, sometimes men, like you said, the boys are little men.
Ms. Rivers: And I learned with my ex is that yes, I am obviously a very strong-willed outspoken woman. And my opinions will be heard. His personality is the total opposite. It doesn't matter if I had said anything, he's not a talker. And it was really always that way. When I think back on it, he was always that way. We went to high school together. Now we weren't together in high school. We met at the high school, but I knew who he was in high school. Interestingly enough, one of his best friends is married to my sister. His argument would also be today that he doesn't talk. You don't get a whole lot of conversation out of him. Now, when we were young -
Dr. Leslie: Was that attractive to you?
Ms. Rivers: I think it was, but I think it was attractive because of where I was and my level of maturity at the time. As a strong woman who was clear on what I wanted to do, I didn't really need a whole lot of input. You know what I'm saying? So, I was focused, this is what I want to do. And he was like, well okay let's do that. You know, not really bringing in a whole lot of "what did you think about", or "how about we consider"
Dr. Leslie: At that age, like you said, you didn't need all of it.
Ms. Rivers: Right. And I didn't know the importance of that. You did not know the importance of that. So, when we were young, because we were 21, I was 20, he was 21 when we started dating, you know, very young. Not aware of ourselves or I own issues of insecurity. So, you don't realize that you may be choosing someone out of your insecurities as opposed to out of what is actually needed. So, his quietness was wonderful. That means I don't get a lot of pushback, for the things that -
Dr. Leslie: Your talkativeness was, "hey, good, I don't have to say too much".
Ms. Rivers: Right. And for him, it was like, she's talking, it doesn’t require a lot out of me, works out. That's great until you realize, I need you to step into this situation. And in his mind, well, no, because you've been handling it. So, keep doing it, not recognizing the level of importance that he had in shaping and molding his son as well. So, you don't realize those things until you're in it, you're in the war, you're in the trenches and you realize, okay, so I need you to step up, get engaged, offer something, say something. There were occasions when I would say, "hey, he's getting old enough, you need to teach him how to cut the grass. Or he needs to have the responsibility of taking the trash out". And his response was kind of, by the time I go through all that, I could have done it already. That is an indication that you don't understand the importance of him learning those things. And why, you just kind of want to say, well it's done with difference does it make. But it makes a difference if you're trying to teach a lesson to the child. So, then I come along with the whole lot of you need to do, you need to do. And he's thinking about, well, dad doesn't think I need to do all that so why I got to do all that.
Dr. Leslie: That was good stuff. I was asking what were his responses to you and what were his responses to his father and how did they differ?
Ms. Rivers: Well, his response to me was always, he was never going to be just completely disrespectful and just not accommodating in conversation. But he just wasn't going to do what I was asking him to do a lot of times. And with his dad, there were no real needs for response because his dad never really asked anything of him. He didn't make demands on him as far as - I was the one that was involved in school, I was the one that went and spoke with the teachers. I was the one that was involved with all of his extracurricular activities.
And his dad's response was always, well, I got to work. Well, I got to work. I got to work. And it was a constant. So, the brunt of what was required was dropped in my lap. So, his dad never made any response, no requests from him to respond to. But what that did show me as time went on, was the same message that we get so often. The one that's there, the one that's in the trenches, the one that's doing the work is deemed the bad guy. And the one who is, well, nothing's required. Of course, is going to be deemed as the good guy, because they make no demands. They have no, you need to do this, or you need to do that. So of course, any kid is accepting and more appreciative of that scenario than they are of the one that is saying, Hey, this is what you need to do.
This is what we've got to get done. This is where we stand. Any concerns or issues that he had, he would more often - if he wanted anything and he felt like I was going to say no to what it was he was looking for. He would try to engage his dad. His dad would call, we would have conversation, but he was never one that was just going to say, this is what needs to be done. And what I think should be done from a male perspective, it was always one to acquiesce and that's in every aspect of his life.
Dr. Leslie: So, let me ask you this based off of what you just said. We have a course called "Sons Speak Loudly in Quiet Desperation" where I interviewed, males, ages 16 to 53. And some of the responses that I got, overall, I found some angry men. And just like you said, most all of them were accustomed and I picked these men from, people that I knew or people that somebody knew that was willing to be open. And across the board, mom was there, mom was there. And in most cases, dad was not, or maybe he was there, but was not -
Ms. Rivers: Was emotionally not there.
Dr. Leslie: And so, you got the result was an angry young man, but they could not articulate that they were angry. Deep down inside Ms. Rivers, they wanted their father.
Ms. Rivers: That's exactly what they wanted. But there's nothing that a mother can do about that. You know, I encouraged his dad, look, y'all have the same interests, you all like the same stuff. When it's a game day, instead of you going to hang out with your friends, how about you and he go hang out and watch the game or whatever. But it was just, I was not going to get what I was hoping to get from him.
Dr. Leslie: So, did it change at all over the years?
Ms. Rivers: It has not. They have the relationship they have. And what I had to accept was that is the relationship they have. They talk to each other, it's all surface level conversation about the game what's going on, his dad. And it was so interesting when he told me that his girlfriend was pregnant. I was not excited. Honestly, I just was like, really? Cause you ain't ready. Because you're thinking, that requires a lot. I don't know that you're ready. But let's be clear, who is ready? You know, when you first become a parent. And we had a conversation later and after he told me we talked and he left and I immediately called his dad. I said, have you talked to your son? He said, no I haven't talked to him in a couple of days. I said, well he's going to be somebody's daddy. He was like what? I said yeah. And so, we kind of had that conversation. And then a few days later it was my birthday and my son came to take me out for my birthday. And he said, you know, I talked to dad. I said, well, you know, not told him that. He said, yeah, he told me, he said, you know, he seemed kind of excited. And I just looked at him. I said that he would. And so, we didn't have an extensive conversation at that time, but later he asked me, well, why did you say that? Why did you say he would see him excited? I said, because if you've been in the trenches, you know, that it's trepidation initially not excitement. I said, but if you've kind of played it on the sidelines, it sounds exciting. You know, we keep hearing from so many people, our age, I'm a grandmother. For people our age, we keep hearing, Oh, being a grandparent is great and it's this, it's that. And that sounds great from a grandparent perspective. But when you understand that from a parental perspective, the work that's going to be required of him and her, it's hard to be really excited when you know, the level of work that's there.
And you know that this person may not fully be equipped for the work that's there. But if you have not done the work, then you get to sit in the seat of excitement of just about being a grandparent. Because it's all everything on the outskirts for you. Now what I have been able to do in order to maintain a level of civility and humanity between myself and my ex-husband for the sake of our son, is I had to realize he was doing the best he could. When I look at what his experience was, I realized that's why he is who he is today. So, you can't continue to hold someone responsible for being something that, one they never saw. And two, they just didn't have the ability to become for whatever reason. So, we have been able to maintain a relationship of civility, but not without me periodically being a little frustrated because he didn't step up and be the type of father that I knew that my son needed.
Dr. Leslie: Wow. You've said some really rich things because there are so many women dealing with the same thing. So, do you think that you just came to a point of acceptance of that's how his father is? Or were you able to evolve in your role to accept his role or does it still just frustrate you?
Ms. Rivers: It still is a bit frustrating when I really sit in it and think about it. But I have evolved over a period of time from just wanting to be angry because my dad was such a great dad. He did not have the best experience because he complained. You know, we all can find things to complain about our parents and he had a few complaints, but he decided that the things that he complained about his kids would not complain about.
Dr. Leslie: That's how it usually is.
Ms. Rivers: That's usually what it is. But then I have to remember the anecdote that says you could have two sons grow up in a household of a father that's an alcoholic. One will be an alcoholic and one will never drink, the reality that I own personal perspective paints a picture more so than anything else. And so, my dad decided that I'm going to do better for my kids.
I'm going to be there 100% involved, engaged. Now his parents were married until his mother passed. But we were kids when his mom passed. So, he was real grown, but one of his complaints was that his dad worked a lot. So, he wasn't available for the extracurricular activities. And the things that he participated in; his dad was never there. It was always his uncles and other people. So, he said, that's not going to be me. So, whatever we did, he was participating in that. He was the coach of the track team, the softball team, the basketball team. The only thing he didn't coach was when I was a cheerleader, my sister and I were cheerleaders. And then he came to the game. So, he was 100% engaged. These are my kids. He did the same for my brothers, whatever they participated in.
He was a coach. He was there. So, we knew. And that was my example of fatherhood. You know, he worked a lot. My mom was more or less a homemaker. She would work part-time sometimes, but it was four of us. So, it just made sense that she, take care of the kids. And so, my dad did work a lot, but he was engaged in our lives. We could not say, well, he's at work and that's why he's not here. Because whatever his jobs were, they knew that whatever my kids are dealing with, they come first. So of course, I'm expecting that same thing. And I get that. So, I'm like, okay, you have complaints of your father, but why are you not being better than him? You know, or being different? Because that to me is just what you do. You say, this was a problem. And I don't want that to impact my child. So, I do differently. But in his case, he was the son that did the same thing that the father did. In that aspect, there were some things about his dad's life that he did not adopt, but in that regard, he did adapt that. And at some point, you have to own, I can't change you. I can only change me and how I react and respond in the situation. And even bigger than that, I have to realize that the experiences that we lived through a really orchestrated and ordained by God to get us to where we want to be. So as much as I want to make for a perfect situation for my son, that's not going to happen. Not only that, I had a conversation with another friend of mine, her son and my son played basketball together and we were just talking and one day and I told her, I said he needs, and this was prior to his dad and I separating, I said, he needs some hardships in his life. And she says, well, why would you say that? Because you know, as parents, that's not what we want. We want to make the road smooth for our kids. I said, but hardships help you navigate life. I said, if I make his road smooth, which as an only child, your road is kind of smooth. Your parents were doing pretty good. His dad and I, we lived a very good, I would say, upper middle-class life. So, he didn't want for anything. He was the only grandchild, the only nephew. My sister was teaching and brother in college and my parents were spoiling him rotten. And so, he wanted nothing in that regard. I said, but he needs hardships in his life because he's got to learn how to navigate the hardships.
And she was like, but nobody wants their child to go through that. And I said, we don't. I said, but that's where your strength comes from. That's how you find out what you're made of. That's how you found that out. So, I had to eventually say, okay, so if he's not going to have the perfect life or perfect experience from dad's perspective, and even from my perspective as a mom, these are the struggles that he's got to have in order for God to get him to where he's got to be. So, I had to kind of sit in that and get okay with it. Cause you know, we kind of want to run to the rescue all the time.
Dr. Leslie: This is my book. Setting boundaries with Your African American Son. And I was actually looking for the part in the book talking about the chrysalis. And so, from a butterfly that is exactly it. And we as women, with our children, with our sons, we want to save them. Just like you had a nice life with your father, your parents. You looked at your relationship growing up and said, okay, I didn't like this part of my life. I'm not going to do that. And I'm going to make sure my son knows, blah, blah, blah.
Ms. Rivers: Exactly.
Dr. Leslie: And so, once we do that, like you said, as nurturers, we just don't want them to struggle until you come to the realization that -
Ms. Rivers: Without struggle, what?
Dr. Leslie: Nothing. So as part of the chrysalis, when that a little caterpillar becomes a cocoon and as it is sitting there upside-down hanging, some stuff is taking place on the inside of that cocoon
Ms. Rivers: That has to take place. If it does not that Caterpillar does not become the butterfly.
Dr. Leslie: It does not. If you help it out, it becomes a little cripple butterfly. And the thing is, we usually - and I'm glad you did find that out because unfortunately, Ms. Rivers, some women are having massive, massive health challenges because they are finding it very hard, one to admit that there's a problem and two, that they should not help him. They continue to build a lifestyle out of helping him.
Ms. Rivers: That's what I did not want. Not only for him, but let's be clear. I didn't want it for myself. That means I'm constantly engaged in this process in a way that I don't want to be engaged in it. I knew from early; I might have been pregnant when I realized I want to raise him to be independent, not dependent on me. So, I would let him go with my parents, with my sister. And my friends would say, EJ is gone again. Yes, because I want him to feel comfortable with other people and not think that his only security is with me and his dad. So, I wanted him to have that experience of not thinking I was the end all be all, because what happens if God forbid you take me? How then does he his emotions, if he thinks that the son was only with his mama, now you got to live a life without your mama and you can't.
Dr. Leslie: When you are alive and as he's bumping into those walls, you can say, well, this is what happened right there. You can lead and guide him while you are alive and telling him. But let me tell you - and this happens so much.
Ms. Rivers: All the time.
Dr. Leslie: They're making mistakes and you're saving them. Guess what? Like you said, God forbid, the Lord takes you. When he takes women, the kids, the sons don't know what else to do.
Ms. Rivers: They have no way to manage because she has managed everything. And I told my friend that I was telling that to. I said, I need him to go through some hardships while he is under my watch. I said, meaning before he graduates high school because I have some influence at that point, I said, once he gets out into the world and starts dealing with hardships, my influence is less and the consequences are greater. I said, so I need him to have some struggles. And he had had none, life had been pretty much - even though I was the one that would say no more often than anybody else, he knew he could call his grandmother or my sister, or even go to his dad and problem solved. Whatever he was trying to get or have, then they would solve that.
That's what it was. So, I finally had to accept that some of the hardships in life, although they appear to have been created by him, they were orchestrated by God. We don't go through anything that he is totally caught off guard with. And I had to lean to my faith, which going through my divorce and just dealing with the realities of what my life was. Because it wasn't what I thought it was going to be. You know, we got a picture and this doesn't look like that. So, I had to sit in prayer and I was really growing from a spiritual perspective and spent some time in the book of job and I understood. And the one thing that slapped me in the face that just opened my eyes and made me see who God was in a different light was the very beginning when it says that basically Satan was walking to and fro looking for whom to devour. And God said, have you considered my servant job? So, I said, in that moment, in my immature state, really God, that's what we're doing?
So, you said, Job is the most upright dude in us. And when Satan say, I'm looking for somebody to bother you say, what about Job? And Satan even said, why should I, you've got him covered up so much. Why should I even bother? And God says, well how about I remove some of this cover? So basically, what you're saying is, you just open the door on all of this "hell" that came into Job's life.
Dr. Leslie: Because I know he's going to come out as pure gold.
Ms. Rivers: Not only is he going to come out as pure cold, although I deem him as the most upright man in us, there are lessons that Job even still needs to learn. This is how he's going to learn them because he's sitting in this upright seat. So, it’s kind of gives the illusion that I don't need to learn nothing. I got all the answers. I'm good. But when these trials come on him, those are additional lessons that he had to learn. And God knew he needed those lessons. And because he needed to learn them, he allowed all this what appeared to be calamity in Job's life. So, we've got to sometimes give thought to the fact that some of this stuff, God said, this is what this one needs to get to where I've called them to be. And what I continue to hope for is to have an influence in my son's life so that when those things come and we talk, I can help him navigate those from the perspective of how you need to think, how you need to look at life, what you need to ask for in prayer or how you need to seek God in prayer. Not from, I need to rescue you, but here's an opportunity that God is trying to show you something, you need to learn. I've heard it stated, all things are lessons that God would have us learn.
If you find yourself in a situation, no, I'm not necessarily going to come to the rescue. But what I will say is this is a lesson. What will God have you learn in this? And you got to seek him and you got to ask him and that's going to help develop your spiritual muscle and help you get to where you need to be. Because me answering or coming up with a solution at every turn, that's not going to help you develop the spiritual muscle that you need. And these things were sent for that. And that's hard because as a mother, we want to save, God though. We want to save them. We want to save them. And we are creating a monster when we saved them.
Dr. Leslie: I think, how often does God look down at us and want to save us? But he doesn't. He doesn't sometimes it feels like he does, but it's like, we want him to, until like you said, we develop that spiritual muscle. We don't expect him to, but now we're looking to say, what lessons does God want me to get out of this?
Ms. Rivers: Because you want me to learn something in this. But that's the thing. We know that God is moving and saving us, and mercy and grace says, you walked before me and you prevented some things from happening in my life that could have taken me out. But there are some other times when we say, well, then why aren't you doing them at this situation. This situation is a big hot mess. Why didn't you do something about that? And God is saying, because I need you to deal with that. I need you to deal with it. And he determines our spiritual growth and maturity based on how we deal with it. He's not a teacher. And I say that when I talk to other women in coaching. In school, some teachers have been known to say, and we know kids have experienced this. You didn't pass the test, but you pass the test. You know what I'm saying? We going to send you off. You ain't ready but go ahead. God doesn't do that. He never does that. You don't get to go to the next level of spirituality until you legitimately pass that test. He doesn't say, well, you were close enough. No, you got to step up. He's got to see you handle that in the way he expects you to handle it with a level of maturity on that level before you graduate,
Dr. Leslie: You know what? The children of Egypt, it was an 11-day trip.
Ms. Rivers: But how long did it take them?
Dr. Leslie: 40 years?
Ms. Rivers: Because God said, if y'all going keep walking around this mountain until you get it, they keep right on. I'm not going to solve this problem. You've got to solve it. It's just like I was working with my niece. My sister's daughter is currently 16, but we were doing some algebra and I was coming out. My sister was like, can you come help out with this algebra? Cause that's not my thing. So, I could go and give her every answer. But how's that going to help her when the test come? You've learned nothing. And that's what God is wanting us to get. And like you said, the children of Egypt, the 11-day journey, 40 years. Cause y'all, didn't get it. And he was not going to cut corners after 20 years, and say, well, go ahead.
Dr. Leslie: Yeah. And the other thing that I keep reminding myself of that, I like to remind mothers, he's already provided everything that we need. It's like you with your son, you've already provided whatever he needs, but he's got to come correct. He's got to do his part. Maybe when he's younger he could have just been given some things, but with maturity –
Ms. Rivers: You can't be given things. There's an expectation on you to step up to the plate, to be able to earn it. And I think that's what becomes hard because as our children grow, our parenting has to evolve with them.
Dr. Leslie: Yes.
Ms. Rivers: And we've got to recognize that not only are their needs different, but what is required of us is different as well. And if your intent is to put out "the best product", then you've got to do a better job with what is this thing called help? What is that? Help can hurt if given too much. And we've got to be willing to step back sometimes and say, okay, now this is on you. There's an expectation that you handle this. And if you've created your bed, then you're going to have to lay in this bed and deal with the consequences of that.
And that's hard because as parents we're judged, we're judged on the actions and decisions about children. The question is, well, what kind of parents raise this one? The same kind of raised any kind, they just made decisions that they made when they got a certain age, they decided, well, I'm going to try this. So, I'm going to do this and it created a problem. But we know that we're judged by that. So, we try to save, not only the children, but save our own ego.
Dr. Leslie: That's about us. Yes.
Ms. Rivers: The ego says, well, what are people going to think about you? But you've got to get really comfortable, that I'm good with me, that I did what I was supposed to do. I did the best job. And the people that know you, they know how you raised your children, your son, and you can't worry about that. And you got to let the chips fall where they may and trust that God got it all. He's got it all in control. He did not wake up and say, he did what? God didn't wake up and say that. He is constantly aware of what we have done and what we will do. And he's made a way already for that situation.
Dr. Leslie: Yeah. As sons are covered by their mother's prayers, God, he fixes all the broken pieces. What the enemy meant for your son's harm, God, he will turn the thing around and make it work for him.
Ms. Rivers: It all works together for the good. And we have to remember that. And I try to keep that in mind, even with just speaking, it's black history month. Malcolm X, we know who he is based on who he was as Malcolm X, but Malcolm little went the jail.
Dr. Leslie: Right.
Ms. Rivers: And he had to go to jail as Malcolm little to become Malcolm X. If he had been saved from going to jail from a parent that wanted to prevent all of that? The experience that he had in jail that made him become Malcolm X, he never would have had that experience. So, we've got to stop looking at - an anecdote that I remind people of all the time is there was this farmer in this land. And he was having a hard way with his crop, he only he had one horse and he had all this crop that he needed to harvest.
And the township people would walk by, oh my God, this is horrible. You've only got one horse, how are you going to do this? And the farmer would say, I don't know, good or bad we'll see. And then the one horse got sick and that was like, oh my God, the one you had is sick and gone. He said, how horrible is that? He was like good or bad we'll see. Well, the stake horse went away to be healed. And when it came back, it came back with a whole bunch of wild horses. Oh, how great is that? You've got all these horses. Now you can harvest your land. He's like, I don't know, we'll see, good or bad. We'll see. And then his son was helping him with one of the wild horses who kicked him and broke his leg.
So, they were like, Oh my gosh. Now your son can't help you because he's got a broken leg. How horrible is that? And the farmer said, I don't know, good or bad, we'll see. Next thing you know, the King of the township says we're going to war. And every able-bodied man is going to war. Well, your son is not able-bodied so he doesn’t go to war. And they were like, oh wow, he didn't go to war. And the father was like good or bad we'll see. But the moral of that is you don't know what a situation is, whether it's good or bad, it may look bad, but it may prove to be good. It may look good and may prove not to be, allow God to do what he's going to do in that situation. And that's hard as mothers because we just want to save them. We just want to save them and keep them safe. And we can't because that's not how God designed it. And we got to remember, he is Gods before he's mine anyway.
Dr. Leslie: Say that one more time.
Ms. Rivers: He belongs to God before he belongs to me. And that's what we've got to accept and that's hard.
Dr. Leslie: And the other thing is, God loves him way more than you.
Ms. Rivers: Way more than I could even imagine. But not only does he love him, he loves me and him in that situation. So, he got that whole situation under control. But it's so hard to recognize that, especially when you have an idea of how it's supposed to be in your mind. God said, well, man make the plans but God orders the - what is this?
Dr. Leslie: God said, we'll see because you're not listening.
Ms. Rivers: You don't know, is what he thinks. I know that's what he said to me. You don't know. So that's the hard part, we've got to learn how to love and let go. And that's so difficult because we just want to hold on to them. And I mean, but when you think about what motherhood was, when they got here, it was about protecting them. That's what you did for the first, 10 good years, at least 10 good years of their life. Because they're with you most of the time. I remember when I had him in the hospital, I remember thinking I got to take him home and keep him alive because if I don't keep him alive, they going to lock me up. And that was what parenting meant at that time, when you taking this baby home, I got to take him home and I got to keep him alive.
Dr. Leslie: And you know, as we get ready to close, this should have been like a two, three, part series.
Ms. Rivers: Well, it can be so good.
Dr. Leslie: It was so good. One of the things that I was thinking as your son is preparing to become a father. I'm wondering how much of him is going to look at his father as he determines the type of father that he wants to be. And then sometimes it's when you take that baby home, once the baby is out and you can actually see, oh my gosh, especially if the baby comes out, looking like him. We develop this overwhelming need to protect. So, it is going to be very, very interesting, because that could be part of his walk that the Lord says - where everything changes for him.
Ms. Rivers: And you know, that is definitely something that we've communicated about, you got to make decisions about what type of father you want to be and what your experience was. The beauty of my son is he did see his dad, but he also saw an interaction with my dad. And he had a strong interaction with my dad, to see what kind of father he was with us. Of course, it wasn't, his father, it was his grandfather. So, he had a different experience, but that was a male influence in his life. I'm hoping that he uses that from a positive way to choose to be better. But what I know, I'm apprehensive only because I know that you can want to do better or you can see what's wrong and still choose not to do better. You know what I'm saying?
Because of the experience that I had with his dad. Now, what I have done is implore his dad to engage with him and being open and honest with some of the mistakes he made. And offer some measure of recompense to the degree that he can. And hopes that it will have an impact on Eric. But again, we have to wait and see, unfortunately, men don't have the full experience of what is to come because their bodies don't change when there's a baby coming. It doesn't really become real to them until the baby is here and crying. And then they realize, Oh, I really am somebody's daddy. You know, whereas mothers, my life changed from the moment of conception. I can't eat that. I can't smell that. I can't do this. You know what I'm saying? So, it became aware to us immediately, there's a baby here.
There's something growing. Whereas with them, it's like, oh, okay, well, yeah, I see the baby bump. I see the baby kick, but it doesn't become real until the baby is here. And now you got to put this baby in your hand and realize this is my responsibility. So, I'm just hoping my prayer and my conversation with his dad, with other men, who have stepped up to the plate are going to be an example for what he should do and how he should operate as a father, if he wants something different. But again, I leave it up to God, to say, God, you know what we all need. God ordained this and by this, I mean me and you, not just this conversation, but I literally was in a place, how is my child going to school?
I have no idea. I don't want to put them in public school. I have no idea. And I'm riding to work, literally crying out for God. And I hear this advertisement for a solid foundation on the radio so many years ago. And I said, what? This sounds like what I need. And I remember when I walked in - because to work, some of my peers knew that I was looking for, a school for him. And it was like, hey, did you hear the thing on the radio? Yes, I did. And I said, I wrote down her information, I'm calling her today. And I think I called later that day or I called Eric, my ex and said, hey, I think I found the school. And then within a very short period of time, we were making the arrangements for him to be there.
But God heard that cry. And if he heard that cry, he heard all the rest of them. And he shows up and it was maybe a few months before my dad passed. He asked me about, that school EJ used to go, they loved that place because they would come to the programs that you put on. They love that place. My sister asked me not long ago. Were you still teaching in the classroom? And I said, well, I don't know. I said that we re-connected, then daddy got sick. And I just had not been back in touch. But yeah, we all loved it because to me, that was God. So, if he managed all of that, he can manage this one too.
Dr. Leslie: That's right. That's right. Your son is just creating a testimony. I want to encourage you to just continue even as you go into 2.0, as a grandparent all is well. I don't know if you know, but I have two grandchildren now.
Ms. Rivers: Oh, well, no did not.
Dr. Leslie: So that's going to be another conversation. I like you felt the same way. And I tell you now that those two little brothers are here. I love them dearly. As a matter of fact, I'm missing them right now and I'm going to probably go and see them. I felt the same way. I actually wrote down something today on a different podcast that I was going to do concerning that, even concerning myself as I see different things evolving because my mother had me when she was 16. My brother, when she was 17. And the doctors she said, and all of this just came out because she was diagnosed with cancer. And so, she just had her fourth round of chemo. She's 68, she'll be 69 this year.
Ms. Rivers: Wow. Prayerfully. She will be fine.
Dr. Leslie: She is fine. And the thing is all these things that have happened that should have just like been, you messed up your life. Then my brother that she had at 17, his daughter is now a doctor, a physician, which he had her at 21 unmarried. And everybody's looking at them like - but my mother has the best children, me and my brother and my sister who she had at 35. So that's a whole other podcast that I haven't talked about. So, your son's footsteps are ordered and you're going to love that grandchild all the more, because you will be able to give them back and you will easily be able to say, no, not today.
Ms. Rivers: Exactly. I'm looking forward to that. I just want so much for him to know, we hear that saying, and you know me Dr. Leslie, I'm a lover of quotes. If I knew then what I know now I tried so desperately to help my child know for his now the things that I can say, I wish I had know at his age. But some stuff you just got to learn. Experience is the best teacher. You learn it, that's it. You got to get beat up with the experience in order sometimes to get that message because most people don't appreciate something until it lands on their front door. You know, I can look at your situation. I can sit in a seat of judgment. I can make a whole bunch of statements. But until that is your experience, you don't understand it. And you got to walk a mile in somebody's shoes as they say, to get it. So, I'm looking forward,
Dr. Leslie: Ms Myers speak on that very thing today.
Ms. Rivers: And that's just the truth of it. So, I'm going to be here to encourage, to help, but you all got to go home.
Dr. Leslie: We are going to close out in prayer and I just thank you for such an awesome and rich interview. I really do appreciate it. What's the name of your coaching company? And then what's your handle on Instagram? Because I love your posts too, I always try to hit like when I get on there,
Ms. Rivers: My coaching program is "Discovering you Transitional Life Coaching" and my journals fall under that same umbrella "Discovering You” journal collection that I've created. And I just wanted a space for particularly young ladies, but I did create one that is called "The Playbook for Young Men" to be able to express themselves. It's a nonjudgmental zone. People in the African-American community are having an aversion to therapists. I think we are overcoming that and realizing that there's nothing to be ashamed of and we all may need some help, but until you get there, your journal can be your best therapist. Because there is no judgment. You write how you feel and no one gets to judge you and you petition and you talk to God and you listen to what he has to say. So that was my thought. Plus, I knew that a lot of people were struggling.
My niece was one struggling through middle school and I wanted little girls, young ladies to have a place. And the pictures on the cover, the journals are the same on the inside, but the pictures kind of reflect a young girl that may be in college or a young girl in middle school. And then an older woman, that's just kind of trying to make their way and find their way. So, discovering you @discoveringyoujournals is Instagram also @rochellerivers on Instagram also. Which is where you probably see most of my motivational kind of inspirational quotes. I live in that space. That helps deal with life and get through the day. So, I kind of put that stuff up as a reminder to myself and it just so happens, a lot of people think it helps them too.
Dr. Leslie: Absolutely it does. I like them. I think I may start like taking them and reposting.
Ms. Rivers: So that.
Dr. Leslie: I'm going to close us out in prayer and then hopefully you have subscribed to this podcast. That way you can find it when it comes up. I don't have the date yet, but my head always keeps them in the queue so we can just keep going. So, thank you so much. And let's bow our heads in prayer. Father God, in the name of Jesus, we thank you Lord for this opportunity to come before you. I thank you so much Lord for the words of wisdom that Ms. Rivers has given to the mothers that are listening at the sound of her voice. Father, God, we pray that you would lead and guide each and every woman on this earth who needs to hear what she has said.
Any woman who is going through the same thing and they just need to hear some wisdom and some food for thought. So, father God, we just thank you for Ms. Rivers. I pray that you will continue to cover her and her son as they navigate adulthood and even being a grandparent and parent. I just pray Lord that you would cover them because their footsteps are already ordered. This situation did not take you by surprise. There's going to be a whole lot of good that comes out of it. Thank you oh God. We will be so careful to give you all the praise, honor and glory in Jesus mighty name we pray. Amen.