Sonya Carson was born into a family of 24 children. She was abandoned after birth and raised in a series of abusive and neglectful foster homes. She was withdrawn from school in the 3rd grade and forced to work. She craved love and affection and a sense of belonging to a family. When a dashing and handsome man 15 years her senior swept her off her feet with attention, she married him. She was 13 years old. She soon gave birth to 2 children, but her loving and prosperous marital environment changed. Her husband despised having to “share” her with newborns, and he made life miserable for his young bride, spending no time with her and spending his money on frivolous pursuits. After a decade of neglect, she took her sons and established a new, independent life in a new city.
Carson worked 2 and 3 jobs, simultaneously, in order to provide food, clothing and shelter for her 2 young sons. In spite of her efforts, she saw the deleterious effects and inexorable bad influence her sons received from their poor surroundings. The neighborhood was populated by criminals and drug dealers; education and betterment took a backseat to gang membership and running with the crowd. Her son Ben was failing the 5th grade and lashed out in rages at all authority. Carson felt her grasp on him loosening as he slid towards a life of ill-repute and no good.
Carson responded with vengeance, passion, and the conviction that neither of her sons would pander to the lowest common denominator. They each had potential for greatness, she believed, so she took it upon herself to foster an environment that promoted achievement and hard work. She established mandatory reading and study times for her sons and gave them plentiful educational assignments outside their customary schoolwork. She curtailed TV viewing and required library visits and book reports which her mother graded and returned. Not until years later did her sons discover that she in fact taught herself to read and write in the process of grading their assignments!
Her sons, Ben in particular, thrived under the harsh and demanding regimen of learning. They were astonished at what they could learn when they applied full focus. They astounded their teachers, and Ben became obsessed with learning. He harbored a dream to become a surgeon, and change the world. He devoured every scrap of knowledge he could acquire, and moved to the top of his class and to the top of his profession.
Carson instilled in her sons the belief that there are no excuses in life. The negative circumstances into which you are born or raised can be altered and skewed toward achievement and success. Greatness is not something that is bestowed, it is earned and it is available to anyone willing to pay the price. Carson paid the price, for her sons, and they bought into her message. Pay the price and become great!
From September 2010, http://raising-a-man.tumblr.com