Raising children in the Roanoke Valley to be successful adults

The hustle and bustle of everyday life can prove to be a challenge for parents trying to raise their children to be successful adults.

A local leader and mom wrapped up how she and her husband accomplished raising their two sons: Be involved.

Roanoke Rapids District 1 Councilwoman Suetta Scarbrough and her husband Oscar Luther Scarbrough Jr. moved to Roanoke Rapids when their son Keith was 8-years old. “It was quite the adventure. My parents made it fun and something to look forward to. I think it really set the ground work for loving growing up in Roanoke Rapids,” Keith, now 46, said.

Second Scarbrough son, Mark, 39, said, “Mom and Dad worked together as a team. My parents never missed a single game — football, basketball, band concert — and I don’t mean they came to most games, I mean they literally never missed a single game. Now that I have kids, I don’t know how they did it.”

Suetta, who has been a widow for 15 years, shared, “I think my sons were successful because we (she and Oscar) were very involved in their activities.”

Part of that involvement included Suetta being president of the Roanoke Rapids High School Band Boosters, as well as chairwoman for two band competitions.

“It is extremely important children are involved in some activities. It can be over done,” Suetta said. “They need to have some breathing room, but they need structure in their lives. (Activities) builds working with others. When on a team, you’re working with others — that teaches you how to get along with others and solving problems with others.”

Mark stated, “There were clear boundaries set, I knew when I had to check in and when I needed to be home.”

Keith explained his inspiration for steering clear of trouble while growing up, “My mom met with other mothers at Hardee’s at least once a week, and if any kid ever told on the other, the moms found out about it.”

Suetta said she once asked a neighbor just how she handled six children. The neighbor replied, “Keep them broke and keep’em busy.” Scarbrough said she and her husband heeded their neighbor’s advice, she added, “My boys worked in high school. Oscar said, ‘I want them to know why I want them to go to college. They need to understand labor.’ Both (my) sons have a very good work ethic.”

Keith lives in Memphis, Tenn., and is director of clinical information systems at the University of Tennessee Medical Group, he has two daughters, Mara, 16, and Natalie, 14, with his wife Pam.

Mark is a financial advisor in Raleigh at Scarbrough and Associates, and is married to Beth. They have a daughter Mary Brown, 8.

Mark said his parents’ teamwork worked well because his dad was quite introverted, and his mom was the opposite, saying, “Mom has always been a leader.”

Suetta taught home economics for one year after graduating college in Cedartown, Ga., at what was then Georgia State College for Women. She and a colleague were called into the school’s president’s office in 1959. They were hired as the first full-time traveling admissions counselors in the state of Georgia. Then Suetta taught second grade for one year in Rockingham, before moving to Roanoke Rapids, where for 13 years she had a preschool for 3 to 4 year olds.

Suetta said she believed it was her organization and leadership skills at RRHS that led to her being elected to the Board of Trustees at Halifax Community College. She also served as chairwoman twice for the trustees, as well as serving on the board for 18 years. While on the Board of Trustees, she was also on the State Trustee Board of Community Colleges.

“My mom is just an inspiration to me, I mean it sincerely,” Keith said. “I am extremely proud of her … I admire all that she has done and accomplished.”

When asked if he is following his parents’ lead when raising his daughter, Mark responded, “I hope so, but I don’t think I’m as good at it as my parents were.”

Natalie, Suetta, and Mara Scarbrough. When asked for one word to describe grandchildren, Suetta said, "Wonderful!"

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