Grandma Gigi on the role of discipline in successful parenting

On Mother’s Day in 2016, Pastor Miles interviewed seven of the moms in his life from the stage. Among them was his mom, age 79 Margaret. She has thirteen grandchildren and (at the time) five and a half great-grandchildren, which is why she is known in the family as Gigi.

Barely five feet tall, she married Pastor Miles’ dad in 1958. Together, they raised five kids—at one point ages one, two, four, six, and seven—in Long Island, NY. She described a typical day in the McPherson household as follows.

When all the kids were in elementary school, she would get up and fix breakfast and lunch for the them. She’d then take them to school in the Volkswagen bus, picking up some carpoolers along the way. Some days she’d carry as many as ten children (with no seatbelts).

She’d then return home to straighten up before working a part-time shift as a nurse. After getting off work she’d pick the children up from school, take them home to change for their after-school activities (football practice and dance), and then take them to practice.

While the kids were at practice, she’d return home to prepare dinner. Then she’d pick the kids up, bring them home, serve them dinner, help them finish their homework, and then put them all to bed.

So how did she do it? The secret, she admitted, may be in keeping order and discipline.

“If they mouthed off they got soap in the mouth”—she said.

“They didn’t have child protective services in our neighborhood”—joked Pastor Miles.

“And my father was the po-po, so we couldn’t really go anywhere!”