Ayana Johnson talks raising her son while his father is in prison

Mother: Ayana Johnson | City: Atlanta GA | Instagram: @ajbeautiful @adaywithoutdad

Tell us about yourself? (who you are, what you do, etc)

I’m an Inspirational Speaker, Author, Clinical Mental Health Counselor, and Entrepreneur. I was born and raised in South Bend, IN and moved to Ga In 2003 when I started high school. I am passionate about being a light in this world and influencing others to do the same. I wake up everyday with a desire in my heart to serve God and shine his light so that people (especially women) would live in their purpose and exemplify Christ through the image of our Beauty.
dear fathers-women raising our future

Can you tell us about your experience raising your child without the father present? How does it impact both you and your child?

Honestly, my greatest struggle was when he was sentenced to over a decade in prison. He is the Love of my life and high school sweetheart. Our son was born Only one year before he went to prison so I was devastated , I dealt with resentment and started acting out doing things I had no business doing. But one day I looked at my 3 year old son and just made a promise to him that I would do different. I would live different and break that generational curse off of his life. I did not want him to grow up making the same mistakes as his father or any other man in my family by choosing the streets. So I decided to raise him in church and teach him better. I gave my life to God and decided to be a positive influence on him and I know that is why I didn’t find myself struggling to raise him. My struggle was trying to make sure I was living right for him. That was the Greatest challenge for me.

What things led to the father not being present in your kid(s) life?

His father has always been an amazing dad before he went to prison and he is an amazing man overall. But one day he made a mistake and was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Our son was only 1 at the time so it was a lot on us both but we have pushed through to the end successfully because he will be released this year 2020.

What was your experience with your father growing up and how did that impact you?

Growing up my dad was present in the house but not in my life because he was always in and out of prison. Whenever he did come out he never took the time to build a bond or relationship with me. Now that I’m grown I realize that he chose hanging out, the streets, Maybe women etc. over being a father. I love and respect him today as my dad but I’ve never experienced a relationship. I know that that situation only prepared me to be there for my sons father as I watched my mom for years carrying us to prisons and being there for him. So when my Love went off to prison, it was no surprise to me. God has a special was of setting us up even when we don’t fully understand. So I’m grateful.

What advice would you give to other #WomenRaisingOurFuture?

PUT GOD FIRST. And when I say this I mean literally give God your Life so you’ll be able to pay attention and spiritually discern the small details about your son and raise him accordingly. There is another level of parenting when a woman is assigned to raise a boy up alone. And it can be done rather or not she decides to change her life but it can only be done properly if she gives up her life to save his. I mean totally living as an example to him. I was intentional to make sure my Malaki (my son) didn’t grow up watching me indulge in certain behaviors that could negatively affect him. I started smoking cigarettes because I was curious when I watched my mom do it. Does it make her a bad mother? Not at all. But kids watch what we do not necessarily what we say and that’s always been what I stood on raising my boy. I knew that my decisions depended upon the outcome of his future and that’s what we have to remember as single patents. You’ve got to pick up the weight for the fathers role as well that’s why it takes so much more out of you. So many more expectations. I could speak a lot on this topic so I suggest that woman please follow my organization @ADayWithoutDad on all platforms and attend one of my conferences.
dear fathers-women raising our future

If you could think of any resources that would help you through the process, what would they be?

Honestly I stayed away from outside resources because no one knew my son like me. No one understood what his calling is but me because God would tell me who he is and it’s always been my duty to fulfill that. In addition I stayed away from mentoring programs, social clubs etc because unfortunately some men attempt to be too personal with me and try to take the role of his daddy lol so I didn’t involve myself in that. I’m not against resources but I just suggest that you hear from God and not just involve yourself or your son with things and people because you “Feel” like he needs to be around male figures etc. there is a calling on his life and our job as a single mother is to protect his calling and deviate from confusion or unnecessary relationships. I kept him in basketball to stay active since he was 5 and raised him in church to make sure he learns how to understand who God is and build a personal relationship with him. I taught him how to read his bible and understand the value of Life. That’s the best resource, it helps prepare him for this crazy world we live in today.

If you could write a letter to your child’s father starting with “Dear Father,” what would you say?

Dear Father, We Love you. We are proud of who you’ve become. You are our hero and I’m thankful that God chose us for this journey. It has changed us both and opened up an opportunity for Malaki to have a chance to live responsibly and successfully. We have so much history throughout this entire journey together and the future is even brighter. I don’t regret you leaving us and I’m more than confident that you’ll come home and be the living example for Malaki as a man. This was all Gods plan. So come on home and move forward!

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