To keep it 100, I am not a journalist. I will, however, express my observations and talk about my experiences raising our son. I will also discuss other parents’ perspectives as they contribute to this series. Having a family is a rewarding experience. I've always heard the clichés about kids being someone's world or a parent never having known true love until having children. I could appreciate their words but could never reach them emotionally until I was handed my newborn son twelve years ago. Everything changed. Priorities shifted. I knew that I would readily give my life for my son.
THEY ARE WATCHING The responsibility of setting an example for a child is a precarious tightrope for any parent. Core ideas like a sense of family, responsibility, tolerance, self love and self awareness all start in the home. Kids emulate what they see in their environment. No secret there. We have to be conscious of what we, as parents, co-sign in the home. They are watching.
We men have to be aware of what we impart to our sons. Independence and a sense of responsibility are directly and indirectly handed down. We can tell them 'directly' to stand up straight, have a firm handshake, think before you speak, and look people in the eye. Noted. But are you a hard worker? Are you punctual? Are you hands-on in maintaining your home? Wash and maintain the car? Wash and maintain yourself? Cut the yard lately? Pitch in around the house overall? Cook? Before our sons are old enough to pitch in and help with these tasks, they are observing our attitude toward the work. If you just want to chill around the house and play video games or watch football, you are planting the seeds for a man that will be less inclined to be self-motivated. Self. Are you a 'hustler' that scams the system? Are you the type that thinks for self and goes your own route? Blaze blunts on the daily? Do you know God? A little accidental (or on purpose) racism in ya? Things like this that you take for granted have to be re-evaluated when you have kids. It's easy to say 'To hell with it. I'm gon' do me!' but it's not about you anymore.
In my home, I know that the way I interact with my wife lays the foundation for how my son will deal with his relationships as an adult. I’m back to opening the door for my wife and making sure the shouting matches are at a minimum; or at least behind closed doors. I try to speak respectfully to my spouse day to day and be a true head of household. Lastly, I try desperately to watch my attitude and keep control of my foul mouth. I can usually cuss up one side of the street and down the other but I try to keep it clean around the boy. THAT is a STRUGGLE.
All kids will eventually go their own way and opt to do their own thing, but the core values they operate from will be what they learned growing up around you. Actions speak louder than words so demonstrate to your son what it takes to be a man. And teach them how to choose the right woman.
Women.. first off, I agree that you are the most resilient entity on the planet. God was clearly on His 'A' game when woman was created. I also agree that sisters can, and are, doing it for themselves and doing it on their own. My mom raised three boys single-handedly and I'm STILL scared of her to this day. She gets a Mother's Day card AND a Father's Day card every year. That said, I have to paraphrase Chris Rock and say.. just because you CAN do it doesn't mean it's a good idea.
Ideally, a family has two people at the helm. Visible partners who manage the family as a team. Women, you can set that example for your daughters. Do it by showing them that they can make a home for their family, by showing them they can follow their dreams by following your own, by communicating with your mate, by communicating with THEM. Let her see you graduate or start your own business and still be Mom. Encourage them to think outside the box and break tradition in work AND play. Our daughters need to know it's possible to be with your mate and still have some independence. Be that. They are watching.
Are you teaching your daughters to be women or to be video vixens? Do you carry yourself like a queen. And I don't mean with the 'doing too much' fanfare, but.. is there more class showing or ass showing? Do you have a 'babysitter' damn near every Friday night so you can turn up with your ride or dies at the club? What's your Instagram page look like? Any videos you wouldn't want her to know about? The message isn't clear to a very young girl, but don't think there isn't a message. Real question.. what are you teaching your daughter about the vagina? Is it a means to an end? Do you get the money first? Does she know it's not a weapon? Does she know it's a precious and personal part of her to be shared for the right reason? With the right one? Will she be equipped to discern the right one? Are you?
Daughters are great students, are you a great teacher?
In my opinion, the first lesson for young black girls is 'love yourself'. Teach them to be their own measuring stick of what is beautiful and to start with their own mirror. Help them understand that being beautiful inside is worth so much more than external looks. No one else can cloud her definition of self worth when Mama has already helped set the standard. This awareness carries over into all of her social relationships, emotional relationships and physical relationships. Does mom tolerate abuse? Demonstrate that no queen stands for a man putting his hands on her. She needs confidence that it's his loss if she were to leave him; that she's worth fighting for.
Our young queens and princesses deserve to be deserved. We need more confident, grounded, intelligent women we can be proud of. Those traits start at home under the tutelage of someone they can look up to. You know how you reach that realization "Damn, I'm MY MOTHER" after you've grown up? Will that moment of clarity for your daughter be a proud moment or... ??
There is so so much to cover on a topic like this. It's not an oversight that this writing misses so many points. Going forward, I hope to explore more on the topic. Feel free to contribute to this conversation as we continue it in the blog section.
Its critical that we prepare our children to aspire to greatness regardless of our economic or geographic station. The foundation upon which they build character comes from you. Their success is predicated on your teachings, your examples. Are you cultivating the next president or the next WorldStar Hip Hop clip?