Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child By: Willa Suggs

Posted by on

Today we've been lucky to have a guest ask-a-mom post. :-) She introduces herself so I'll let you jump right into it.

My name is Willa Suggs. My parents Caroline and Jack met as young children and decided to marry when my mom was about 19-20. They eloped to Las Vegas and were married by a one legged man. I was born in California where my father was stationed in the Marine Corps. My mother, brother, and I moved to KY when I was two and my dad was stationed overseas. My sister was born in Paducah. My parents divorced when I was eight. My father remarried and I have a half-sister named Heather. I met my husband when I was working at the MTC in 1M. He was my supervisor. I worked custodial. There was a really weird fellow who was looking for me to ask me out so Howard intercepted and told me that I could use the excuse that I was going to go out with him. He’s slick like that.  We started dating that weekend and dated every weekend afterwards until I returned to KY to go to graduate school. On his urging I returned after the summer to Utah, and we were engaged and then married in 1996. When we decided to begin having children we discovered that we had fertility issues. After a couple of years of fertility treatments we decided to consider foster care and adoption as a way to build a family. I continued fertility treatments for a little while after we had children placed with us.

Howard and I have parented 12 children. We fostered a 14 year old African American for a month. We fostered a baby that was a biological sibling to Veronica and Trevor, our oldest two adopted children, until he went to live with his grandparents. We have legally adopted nine children and have custody of our 4 month old baby currently who is a biological sibling to seven children that we adopted.

More about Me

Favorite Hobbies:

My hobbies are cooking and scrapbooking.

Favorite Music:

I enjoy country music and music by LDS artists and year round Christmas music.  I also like 80s hairspray rock.

Favorite Food:

I can’t narrow down a favorite food. I learned to cook while sitting on the counter watching my grandma. She let me participate in the preparing and cooking food process and passed on many things about cooking that she learned from her mother and grandmother.

Favorite Movies:

My favorite movies are Grease 2, Romeo and Juliet (the one starring Olivia Hussey), You’ve Got Mail, and The Phantom of the Opera. I love Christmas movies as well. Pretty much most Christmas movies.

Favorite Books:

Some of my favorite books are children’s books and young adult books. I don’t like books with lots of swearing, with sex scenes, or with graphic violence. I don’t like books about child abuse. They are not entertaining to me.

Blogs That I Keep:

Here is the blog that I used to keep. Haven’t for a long time because my laptop is really persnickety and I just don’t get on the home computer very often at all. Plus I share pictures on Facebook now so family can see those and it’s just easier.

Life As a Mom

When I became a mom a lot about me changed. When I was younger I spent a good deal of time and money on clothes and make up and fun activities. I loved to country dance, loved hiking in the mountains in Utah, took ballroom, swing, tap, ballet, jazz, and belly dancing classes. I was in gymnastics in high school. Since becoming a mom I have not had time for any of the things that made me who I was before kids. However, my time is spent caring for my home, caring for my kids, and being involved in what they love. I don’t resent that. I don’t have periods of time where I long to be someone else. I simply recognize that mom is a full time job and the most important undertaking I’ve ever made.

I have a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and did my master’s work in Clinical Psych. I have worked in psychiatric residential care centers for kids. I have worked as a case manager for severely emotionally disturbed children. I have worked as an Early Childhood Mental Health Specialist. After ten years of being a stay at home mom I now work as a Special Needs Adoption Program coordinator. During the ten years as a stay at home mom I worked part time from home as leader of a support and training group for foster/adoptive parents and as a special advocate for education for foster/adoptive kids.

My mentors and examples of being a mom are not from TV or movies. I watch my friends with their children and choose qualities that they have and try to add those to my parenting techniques. Good parenting is not something that just happens. It takes research and practice and study and prayer. My parenting skills are effected by my education and my mother’s parenting and all of the learning that has occurred over the years.

Some things that I would not want to live without as a mom are disposable diapers and baby wipes, books, toys, lots of extra socks and underwear for the kids, a washer and dryer, kid safety locks on car doors, car seats, ear plugs, and air freshener. 

If I Had a Day to Myself:

I would clean the house. I know that makes me a pathetic person but it’s so much easier to clean when there aren’t little feet walking around messing things up and I really do love my home. It is my safe haven. It is where I am happiest.

Pet peeves:

People eating with their mouths open, dirty dishes in the sink, people crunching ice with their teeth, and invasion of personal space by anyone other than my husband or children.

What It Means to Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child

The hardest part of being a mom is watching children exercise their free agency in ways that will not end well for them. I do the best I can to teach my kids what is right. I am grateful that we have free agency and that we live in a country that generally celebrates freedom and individual choice. As someone who has lived life a little it is sometimes easy to see what actions will lead to a crash and burn situation. Watching your own children walk to the edge of a dangerous cliff and then not heed the warning signs and walk right off the cliff is both scary and heart breaking.

An understanding of spare the rod and spoil the child requires that one understand what “the rod” means. I believe that “the rod” is referring to the word of God. Thus, I believe that if a child is not reared being taught what God’s commandments are and how to apply them to his/her life then the child’s life does not stay on track. Simple as that. I have children who have suffered abuse and neglect at the hands of the people that were charged by God to protect and love them. I do not believe in the use of frequent corporal punishment. I have, on occasion, swatted my children on their hind ends but I can count on my fingers how many times. And I have never given any of them a “spanking” like I received as a child. And I was never beaten or abused. I believe in time outs, natural and logical consequences, and incentives.

Final Words of Advice for Moms (and Parents):

My parenting advice is to do research and decide what makes a good parent. Watch parents around you and extract from their parenting styles what you like and what seems to work. Get creative with incentives and consequences. Don’t parent all children the same…they are not. Tailor parenting to the needs of the child.

← Older Post Newer Post →


  • A great content. Many thanks!

    jersgamneds on

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published