Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

Solving the pressing family crisis in our community could start with some simple solutions.  President Obama’s “The Audacity of Hope, Hill Harper’s books “Letters to a Young Brother” and “Letters to a Young Sister,” and Bill Cosby and Alvin Poussaint’s “Come On People” all contain a central theme on the family.  To me, the theme was be careful when and with whom you start a family. 

President Obama and Hill Harper were classmates at Harvard Law and both seem to emphasize waiting until the early twenties at least before making huge life decisions—like 23 years old.  Of course, young people start college, training at technical schools, serving in the military and building careers before that age.  But, I wish they would train, study and work by day and worship, chill and enjoy life at night and on the weekends while being very deliberate about life-altering actions like parenthood and crime. 

The difference between 16 years old and 23 years ago is vast.  While working in a community service program with young mothers, I quickly learned that most of the moms wished they would have waited to better know themselves and the guys with whom they were dealing before having a child.  Most of my students later discovered that the dudes themselves didn’t really know who they were at the time.  If you like to party, you should get partying out of your system before dramatically affecting you life and those around you.

My friends and I are constantly puzzled by young people who were raised under difficult conditions who put themselves in the same conditions.  Of course, that young person’s parents often shoulder the burden of caring for the teen mom’s baby at a time when grandmothers should be enjoying relief after struggling for almost two decades and getting their money straight. 

We know that medical science, diet and exercise could give young people today the opportunity to live 20 years longer than their grandparents.  So, what is the rush to be a parent?  Hill Harper wrote that many young women are looking for love from guys or want a baby to love.  But, careful life-planning and love for the unborn child should have them delay parenthood until conditions are better—never perfect but better. 

Governmental resources are scarce and taxpayers are understandably ticked about entitlement spending.  While some loved the general idea of an Obama presidency, I was crazy about Obama speaking to young people about being careful with life choices in a manner similar to the decision-making of President Barrack Obama, Michelle Obama, Bill Cosby, Hill Harper and countless others who could teach these life skills and back them with proven actions.

I say young people should study, work and have fun while they are maturing and please listen to older people around you—they have been where you are heading and you can learn from their personal histories. 

The Audacity of Hope: Barrack Obama

p. 255 In other words, African American understand that culture matters but that culture is shaped by circumstance.  We know that many in the inner city are trapped by their own self destructive behaviors but those behaviors are not innate.  And because of that knowledge, the black community remains convinced that of America finds its will to do so, then circumstance for those trapped in the inner city can be changed, individuals attitudes among the poor will change in kind, and the damage can gradually be undone, if not for this generation then at least for the next.

Such wisdom might help us move beyond ideological bickering and serve as the basis of a renewed effort to tackle the problem of inner city poverty.  We could begin by acknowledging that perhaps the single biggest thing we could do to reduce such poverty is to encourage teenage girls to finish high school and avoid having children out of wedlock.  In this effort, school and community based programs that have a proven track record of reducing teen pregnancy need to be expanded, but parents, clergy and community leaders also need to speak out more consistently on this issue.

p. 245 Then there’s the collapse of the two-parent black household, a phenomenon that is occurring at such an alarming rate when compared to the rest of American society that what was once a difference in degree has become a difference in kind.  A phenomenon that reflects casualness toward sex and child rearing among black men that renders black children more vulnerable – and for which there is simply no excuse.

p. 347 I didn’t have a prepared text, but I took as my theme “what it takes to be a full-growth man.”  I suggested that it was time that men in general and black men in particular put away their excuses for not being there for their families.  I reminded the men in the audience that being a father meant more than bearing a child; that even those of us who were physically present in the home are often emotionally absent; that precisely because many of us didn’t have fathers in the house we have to redouble our efforts to break the cycle; and that if we want to pass on high expectations to our children, we have to have higher expectations for ourselves.   

My notes from the Cosby Book: Come On People



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Mrs. Juanita Goggins froze to death alone recently in South Carolina and reading her story was hard.  She was the first Black woman elected to the state House and a pioneer in public service. 

We must respect and protect our senior population and value them as the community’s most prized resources.  It hurts my heart to see young people using the worst imaginable language near senior women.  These women, many of whom lost their husbands years earlier, barricade themselves in their homes at night and during the day in fear of half-raised neighborhood thugs—but White folks are the biggest concern for the community.  Right.

I am pleased to say that I have always been a person who got taught when the old school people were sharing knowledge and wisdom on the block, in the church parking lot or the barbershop.  Since I have lived long enough to become old school myself, there is a natural obligation to share also but the homies aren’t interested.  They learn from rap videos and end up with an entitlement mentality and a lust for silver and gold.  “Seek ye first…”

Kids in our community are eager to start families with people they barely know while the parents who raised them are still on the struggle.  While the following statement is likely a stereotype, you must admire the Asian culture in America because the family unit functions as a cohesive operation—like a small business.  My Black brothers complain about the Indian and Korean businesses in the community but I say learn from their model.

Before starting a new family, our kids should take care of the seniors who let us stand on their shoulders.  They fought the good fight but now fight people who look like them and face neglect.  Family life would be much nicer if marry couples had their first child after the marriage solidified and after they were finished being young.  I say 24 years old is a good number.  Between 18 and 24, we should be checking on the seniors and learning from them.  Respect your elders….even when you get old.

The worst feeling in the world is putting off seeing about the seniors and learning that it is too late—-you selfish bastard.  I hope the rims and tims were worth it and stop leaving your kids for your parents to raise.  Those parents might find themselves with little savings at retirement age.  Retirement, what retirement. 

No one can say that I didn’t make the seniors around me priority one.  Matthew 19:19  “Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Bible verse and cuss words in the same paragraph; let’s us say I am a work in progress and the senior are still busy molding.


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father day

This weekend we will hear everything that can be said fondly about America’s fathers.  I wanted to take this opportunity to salute an often forgotten group, intentional childless men.  Some men take parenthood so seriously that they wait for the optimal time and conditions to bring a child into this world. 

If those conditions never occur, some deliberate guys choose to enjoy their wives, extended family and/or the sweet single life.  My wise cousin who grew up in Philly tells me to go where you want and do what you want when you want because you have neither “chick nor child.”  That statement must be her way of saying thank heaven that your selfish behind realized your selfishness and skipped parenthood. 

Fatherhood in the Black community is the toughest job you will ever love.  But, it is a roll of the dice.  My deer hunting friends (code for White guys) put that little red and black Georgia Bulldog football in the crib with their sons and look forward to gameday at Sanford Stadium in twenty years.  Of course, their sons will likely be sitting in the stands next to them rather than on the field.  What about the brothers who think that their sons practicing basketball 6 hours a day will get them into the N.B.A.  If Junior would get his homework with that much determination he could be in the N.B.A., the National Bankers Association and own a basketball team.  Wait a second; non-parents have no rights to offer commentary on parenting.

If I had to work as hard as my daddy did—that man loved working- to provide for some kids who might turnout to be crappy people, I will pass and by the looks of things a considerable percentage of those who produced children should have passed also.  If the kids are here, it is time to step up because the human infant is likely more dependant than any other mammal.  “Did he just refer to my precious buddle of joy as a mammal?” 

In high school, I worked at a little radio station and next to the microphone the station owner placed a Winston Churchill quote.  Basically, the quote stated that it was not expected of you to do your best; it was expected of you to do what was expected of you. That statement has Father’s Day written all over it. 

In politics and policy, the officeholders from my community are reluctant in asking young people to refrain from starting families until they are prepared.  Of course, parenthood and marriage (not in that order) actually seasons and matures some fellows—who knows.  Successful guys my age can always get involved with Big Brothers, be good uncles or adopt a nice teenager. 

The public assistance and abortion debate should include targeting teens with real options and information so they will hopefully understand that parenthood is different from having a puppy and I have seen some folks with babies who I would not trust with a puppy. 

How in the world has the conservative movement failed to capitalize on the common sense mindset of reasonable African Americans?  I like President Obama as head of the executive branch of government and the residual benefit of a strong young family in the White House is priceless to Americans of any color.  If the Georgia GOP wants to pick up a congressional seat in say Macon, a genteel Black Republican with say a strong intellectual husband would appeal to our community like southern Obamas—giving Black fatherhood examples is better than still another grant.  

Girls with “daddy issues” might have messy relationships with men. Boys with absent fathers might ended being raised by the streets and fellow inmates.  The women who were mother and father to their children should enjoy their second holiday in two months.

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