RAISING A MAN: Tips for single mothers AND fathers #10 of 10

As an adult, I can remember a few bad decisions from my childhood that makes me laugh. One particular stupid thing I did was at the worse possible time. I remember the people that were there and how it later caused me a significant amount of embarrassment and shame. It almost ended up with me getting a good woopin’.

I think back to when I was 11 years old and my grandparents were out of town for a couple days, my uncle was in charge. I thought that if I did something and I could, quite possibly, not get the strap.

I was at a friends birthday party and, for some reason, I felt like I could act a fool. There were about 15 teenagers and parents at this party. I was one of two black kids there, my older cousin was the other black child there.

I was acting a fool…ruining the surprise about the trick candles, plucking people, running my mouth, acting like a monkey in the worse possible way.

This tip is not about acting like a monkey in front of white people or about my uncle’s explanation of how I misrepresented the family or even about my cousin snitching on me. This tip is about the fact that no one has proof of what happened. There may be a still picture or some parent reminiscing about the out of control black kid at Brian’s party. They don’t remember my name and the whole event is possibly forgotten.

That was decades ago, social media didn’t exist back then. YOU don’t have that luxury now, everyone has a camera or is recording you on video. You are being recorded even when you think you are not. My last tip, #10, is about social media. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and TicTok didn’t exist back then so I don’t have my most embarrassing moment on some platform somewhere. My event wasn’t even the only thing I had done as a child and it wasn’t a moment, it was the damn whole party! My point is…regardless of what you do, it will be a bad thing and it will be your worse moment replayed over and over again.

I changed my last tip because of Sha’carri Richardson. She’s 21 years old and she’s making some mistakes. We all make mistakes but luckily, not on the world stage. Hopefully, she will look back at this, years later, as an immature time in her life. People will replay her comments, her tweets, etc. We were all immature once, shoot we still have our moments now but fortunately it wasn’t replayed on the world stage. My advice is be careful of how you allow people and these social media platforms in your life for the good or the bad.

MPM

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RAISING A MAN: Tips for single mothers AND fathers #9 of 10

First…

When you mentor children, you must know that they don’t have to tell you anything. Appreciate that they trust you enough to talk to you.  In a world that doesn’t allow our children to be innocent. Our society has become so critical and accepting of everything, how do we protect and nurture the logic of a brand new individual? There’s so much criticism immediately out of the womb…shoot it happens when the child is in the womb. Who’s the father, are you married, do you want a boy or a girl, you’re too young to have a child, you’re too old to have a child. STOP

Our children are flooded with the pressure of success and money and they have no idea how to attain either. Society is shaping their priorities before they allowed to even walk…so when they trust you enough to share with you…shut up and listen.

Don’t tell them anything…guide, advise, support, tune and adjust their perception.

You are possibly through half of your life’s decisions, they still have a million decisions to make, the best you can do is help them through these decisions.

When I’m entrusted with the thoughts of a mentee, I probe to understand how they rationalize. I try to find out, “How did they get to this answer?” When you listen to their logic, it helps you understand their process. Sometime their process is flawed, sometimes it’s just limited in scope and understanding. That’s where you come in…help them arrive at a resolution that is positive, balanced and forward moving.

For example, I mentor a young boy named, Marcus, almost 10 years old. We’ve only talked a few times but he’s a smart kid, very self aware. He said he wants to be a; Professional Gamer, Video Editor, Actor or Olympian. I said, “Well you can be all those things. You could actually work and earn a living doing the gaming and editing for a company while acting on the side. You can also improve your skills as a swimmer. To be an Olympian you have to be exceptional so understand if you’re really good then keep at it. If you’re always coming in last…give it some thought. I’m not telling you it’s impossible…just keep all your options open. You could be gaming online and find out there’s a director that likes the same game as you. You tell him you’re acting, talk to him about it, send him your acting portfolio and headshots and make it happen. Also with tech you have to always be looking at what’s the hottest game or technology to stay abreast of the newest trends. My point is engage in anything that might be fun to you and you might actually be able to find a way to make a living off of it.”

I didn’t tell Marcus what to do…he just shared with me. If you tell them what to do all the time, they never get to mature their own rationale and thinking processes and when that happens they start to just believe and follow whatever is on instagram, twitter or any other platform. Then they become part of the masses that are criticizing and adversarial. They default to the comfort of being ambiguous because it’s too intimidating to actually have an opinion that’s not accepted by everyone.

My last point…children are being vulnerable and asking for help, you should really listen and aid them on their journey even if it’s beyond your own horizon.

Oh wait…the tip this month is to be his coach not his friend.

MPM

Ps. Marcus…if you’re reading this, you could also start your own company gaming or video editing.

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RAISING A MAN: Tips for single mothers AND fathers #8 of 10

As a teenage boy growing up in Philadelphia, North Philly specifically, was my world. I lived with my mom and her boyfriend, Milton and my brother Jason at 1418 Clearfield Street, but my block around the corner, the 3100 block of Rosewood Street, was my stomping ground. Most places within a 3 block radius was my hood. That’s where I felt comfortable but anywhere within a 6 mile radius of Broad & Allegheny Avenue was open to exploration. Starting from that location, on any given summer day, me and my crew would ride our bikes all over the city. All of us kept a pair of vicegrips locked on our bike frame and a patch kit with matches just in case we caught a flat. No passport or drivers license, just newly air filled tires and a sugar high off squeeze pops & Luigi water ice and we were gone. We rode our “Huffy” bikes to City Hall, Cheltenham Ave, Olney Ave, “Hunting” Park and back smelling like outside and just in time before our parents got home from work.  I considered myself “well traveled”. The trips were always motivated by what I could see new today?…the “clothespin” downtown, Cheltenham Mall, Temple U,  it was an adventure ever summer day.

Back then a family reunion trip to Detroit, South Carolina or Florida was a big deal as far as my travels. Packing a bag and actually riding a bus somewhere was the most exciting thing to me. I could barely sleep the night before. I allowed my eyes to consume everything possible during the ride, sleeping on the bus was not an option.

After graduating college, I landed a job with a significant increase in discretionary income. My first international trip was Jamaica but after bitten by the travel bug, what followed was Bermuda, Vegas, Belize, St. Thomas, Aruba, Amsterdamn but it didn’t stop there…Brussels, Paris, Mozambique, Puerto Rico, Morocco, Fiji.  I was no longer the same kid from North Philly. Yes, I take pride in saying, “I’m from North Philly” I do, but I can tell you about Old town San Juan or the markets in Marrakesh, the Christ the Redeemer in Brazil and the Pilanesberg Game Reserve in Africa. Every country and continent visited taught me something new about the world and, most importantly, about myself. Every destination provided me with a new facet of my identity. I can’t imagine what, where or who I would be if I had traveled as a child. Thinking back, I feel like an idiot for taking so long to purchase a $60 passport, it makes absolutely no sense.

So…my next tip with raising children is to travel with them, please! Spend the money, get the passport, airfare and expand their mind as early as possible! Go somewhere, learn a few foreign language phrases and just make a trip of it.  Trust me they will return home a different individual. Your child will talk about that place on the map for the next year. They will inquire about the next destination…they may just somehow help you pay for airfare next time. You can tell them about life, they can read things about life, but actually showing them how other people live is so vastly impactful to a child, it’s an experience that they will never forget.

Let me help you… go to https://www.travelzoo.com/  pick out a destination and see the discount deals.

Travel to change your life!

MPM

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” ~ Saint Augustine

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RAISING A MAN: Tips for single mothers AND fathers #7 of 10

I feel like over the past three decades, my experience with mentoring and different environments would allow me to glean parental lessons from different circumstances. Unfortunately, in parallel, I’ve witnessed parents and our society ill-preparing our youth by allowing children to have a very self-centered reality. That has little to do with this months tip but I thought it was something I’d share.

Anyway…I had an experience with my insurance agent years ago. It was the early 2000’s and my agent, Ginelle, a black woman, allowed customers come to her office on Saturdays to accommodate schedules. Well, a Caucasian man and his son were leaving as I was arriving. Before we began our discussion about the possibility my policy being dropped (Speeding ticket of 100+mph, mind your business, I’m just glad I didn’t get locked up), she told me that the boy, who just left, was 8 years old. She continued to explain that every so often the father would bring his son and discuss policy and costs with her while the son was allowed to ask questions about the policy and coverages.

I said, “How old is he?!” Ginelle said calmly, “He’s 8 years old. He is very aware of costs and the value of money.” I responded, “…at 8 years old?!”

“Yup”

So, my next tip is to pay bills with your child. Relate costs and bills to usage? How much things cost, what drives the bill up, who you pay, why you yell at him/her for “…letting all your A/C out”. Show him a water bill and the hot water heater. Show him the graphs on the bill and the differences over the summer. You could even make a math game out of it. I’m not saying to add anxiety to their life by showing cutoff notices…but yeah if you’re handling your bills, by all means, share the information. I don’t know at which age do you do this but maybe the sooner the better.

In my friendships, I’ve heard many stories about parents not telling children about certain things…a “culture of silence” if you will. I’m sure there’s a necessity with certain sensitive subjects but sometimes those “taboo” discussions allow or incur a psychologist invoice later in life. I’m not saying showing the bill means the child is responsible for the bill but he/she is aware of how they contribute.

MPM

The speeding ticket…

so, I was clocked at an excessive speed on my motorcycle. Ginelle, after seeing the “infraction” on the system, advised me to NOT to change ANYTHING on the policy…

don’t change addresses…

don’t miss a payment…

don’t change coverages…

don’t add a vehicle…

…NOTHING.

Point being, if I changed or modified anything on the policy, it would automatically cause a review of the policy and your latest driving history. If a review was done that latest ticket would pop up and I would be dropped.

So…I did not change anything on the policy for 2 years until after the infraction fell off the policy. Case Closed.

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