Category Archives: Life Skills

The Life Skills category establishes an understanding about the “sandbox of life”. Everyone is in the box, young men of color have to understand how to conduct themselves in it.

RAISING A MAN: Tips for single mothers AND fathers Tip #4 of 10

I’ve recently imposed a philosophy of listening first. I have two eyes, two ears and one mouth…Shut UP. This is self imposed of course. Well… that philosophy goes along with my next tip, be quick to listen and understand what your child has to say.
This is where I provide a really good example for listening but, to tell you the truth, I don’t have one. Shoot, I’m not good at it…getting better but I’m not there yet. As I said before, I don’t have any children so that’s my excuse.
Let me present another side of communication.  The scenario is… adults are talking about adult subjects, family, sex, money, etc.  A child in the next room is listening…being nosey.  He can hear the conversation, but that doesn’t mean he’s invited to the conversation.  He responds to someone in the conversation between adults and they quickly realize he’s been listening, to which they respond, “Hey…keep your ears out of this conversation, ain’t nobody talking to you.”
Now…that was me in my teenage years.  Every time my mom would talk about juicy family stuff, I was right there.
My challenge to you is the opposite of that scenario…LISTEN to your son or daughter tell you something.
I’m talking about when you are alone talking to you son, listen really LISTEN to what he’s saying. Allow him to develop his own voice and opinion, then work backwards to try to coach his thoughts…understand his process of deductive reasoning before he speaks. Work with him to understand the timing of his statements…but again, listen to him first.
If you’re upset about something, use YOUR words and talk to your son. Try not to react, talk….don’t yell…just tell him why it’s wrong or right.
Let him speak up and for himself even knowing the outcome may not be something you want to hear. What’s more important is that he trusts you enough to tell you.
I’m publishing this around the same time a family is mourning the death of their 19 or 20 year old son. His relationship had ended and he choose to commit suicide. I don’t know if listening or not listening was a contributor…I can’t even begin to understand it. I just wish I can help this family at this time, I probably can’t. My hope is that maybe listening will help someone else not lose a child…maybe. 
MPM
“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” Dalai Lama

DISCLAIMER:  I’m not a psychiatrist or even a parent. This blog is my supportive opinion, which is based on about 26 years of mentoring young boys from the age of 7 to about 18.  While mentoring, I have also received formal and informal guidance from older black men/volunteers from the DC Chapter of Concerned Black Men, Inc. I also received formal training as a volunteer with Mentors Inc. My personal development and growth from the 7th  – 12th grade includes my attendance of an all male boarding high school called Girard College. While my opinion can be applied to young women, I believe most times I have an inherent bias towards masculine issues. My lens, for good or bad, is aligned to young males and men.

1 Comment

Filed under Life Skills

RAISING A MAN: Tips for single mothers AND fathers Tip #3 of 10

Your son has hunt, fish and survive on his own.

Hold on…we’re not living in the “homestead” days any longer so I should say, educate himself, work (make money) and navigate life by making good decisions…on his own.

The most important three words in my statement is “…on his own.” My previous Tip #2 was, “Let him fail!” To let him fail, tip #3 appropriately is… STOP doing everything for him.

You can show him how to do it…but don’t do it for him.

…and please God STOP hovering over him! Tell him to do it and walk away. Five seconds after the instruction, don’t ask, “Do you need help?” You are not helping. If he needs help, let him ask for it. Don’t anticipate the “ask”…make him ask for help. Making sure he won’t mess up is not helping him to develop problem solving skills.

I was raised by my step-grandmother, I would watch her tell my cousin, her grandson, to take out the trash. You would think that such a menial task is easy to do but moments after telling him to take out the trash, she would immediately lose patience with him and start grabbing the bag or performing the task before he even began. She would start correcting him as soon as he started taking out the trash. She did this with the majority of everything he did. I mean, she ALWAYS did it. Over time, he had challenges working through the problem. I witnessed this from the age of 7 until about 13 years old. It was like he was slow or handicapped but he wasn’t…he just never developed those basic skills and started to always second guess himself. She didn’t do this to me, he was her favorite and I always had to fend for myself. In retrospect, her favoritism towards my cousin back fired because I developed the cognitive skills to problem solve, adapt, and excel at a rapid pace…faster than her grandson.

I know some of you mothers will say, “Well he’s too young to do it on his own.” You might be right but I’ll ask, “If not now, when?”  When will you know he’s ready if you’ve never tested or allowed him to understand his own capability?

As adults we want to immediately help children…I know I do.  I’ve learned to resist and ask, “Do you need help?” When they respond, “No”…I walk away with the confidence that this individual will navigate life just fine.

MPM

Be a coach because coaches coach, they don’t play.

DISCLAIMER:  I’m not a psychiatrist or even a parent. This blog is my supportive opinion, which is based on about 26 years of mentoring young boys from the age of 7 to about 18.  While mentoring, I have also received formal and informal guidance from older black men/volunteers from the DC Chapter of Concerned Black Men, Inc. I also received formal training as a volunteer with Mentors Inc. My personal development and growth from the 7th  – 12th grade includes my attendance of an all male boarding high school called Girard College. While my opinion can be applied to young women, I believe most times I have an inherent bias towards masculine issues. My lens, for good or bad, is aligned to young males and men.

Leave a comment

Filed under Life Skills

RAISING A MAN: Tips for single mothers AND fathers #2 of 10

 

 
The next tip for single mothers is probably the hardest to do.
I said it before, it’s hard for any well intended mother to not nurture, support and guide. As a man, I cannot measure exactly how incredibly hard it would be for a mother to resist when you have the best intentions for your son…especially when trying to resist doing what comes natural. 
 
You must let him fail.
 
By letting him experience his failures, he begins to problem solve. This is hard…trying not to save him from failure. If you allow him to fail, he develops the skills to get back up. He begins to make his own corrections. More importantly he doesn’t operate with a sense of a “net” is going to save him. If the hypothetical “safety net” isn’t there…then maybe he would be more careful about his decisions. 
 
It’s almost like a toddler learning to walk, if he starts to fall and you catch him…every time, he never develops balancing skills or reflexes or, more importantly, the ability to get back up. He learns to pay attention where he walks, to identify the unleveled pavers in the walkway to slow down his pace whatever the cognitive development necessary to not fall.  Even if he’s too young to let fall…when do you trust him to walk on his own?…if not now when?

Your son has to learn to survive and get back up without you. He will still be waiting for you to catch him from falling or…laying there waiting for you to pick him up.

MPM

DISCLAIMER:  I’m not a psychiatrist or even a parent. This blog is my supportive opinion, which is based on dating single mothers, mentoring young boys from the age of 7 to 18 for almost 3 decades and other various life experiences.  While mentoring, I have also received formal and informal guidance from older black men/volunteers from the DC Chapter of Concerned Black Men, Inc. I received formal training as a volunteer with Mentors Inc. Lastly, my personal development and growth from the 7th  – 12th grade includes my attendance of an all male boarding high school called Girard College. While my opinion can be applied to young women, I believe most times I have an inherent bias towards masculine issues. My lens, for good or bad, is aligned to young males becoming men.

2 Comments

Filed under Life Skills

RAISING A MAN: Tips for single mothers AND fathers #1 of 10

In this series, I’ll write in a sequence that builds on each tip from 1 to 10. My tips, I hope, will present another perspective outside of your own. In no way am I indicting any mother on her ways of raising her child. My suggestions relate to the raising and structuring of a male individual.

So let’s start there…the first of ten tips for mothers raising sons is structure.

I feel structure is the most important concept for raising a male child,

…but there has to be rules.

You build structure with a rule philosophy. The adherence to rules builds his concept of order. Young boys need structure so they could grow to be responsible men. It could start with your son is running around the dinner party acting a like he has no home training…at the same time, your friends are looking at each other embarrassed for you, cause he’s not listening to you. This is the first hint that you’re losing control of your son.

So…it starts with a concept of telling your toddler son “No”. Yes it grows to him washing the dishes before bed, homework before xbox/playstation, no cursing, no weed, whatever. Trust he may do those forbidden things when you’re not around but you have to run the house with rules. My main point is that he must learn repercussions before he becomes an adult. If he isn’t compelled to follow the rules at home, what will compel him when he becomes a legal aged adult? Structure and rules build on his ability to pay his bills on time, keep a job and even keep male friends.

Your son must live with boundaries and guidelines that align to become a law abiding, tax paying citizen. You cannot allow your son to do what he wants when he wants. If he has to take out the trash before you are home from work…it better be done. Structure builds on his concept of rules and repercussions.

Repercussions…there MUST be repercussions, no cellphone access, put up the xbox, do something. I beg you…don’t let your heart allow you be easy on him.

It’s a simple concept but I believe the hardest thing for mothers to do is to resist the urge to nurture and support your child. Nurturing is what comes natural to a mother. I say resist because you should not coddle your son into being handicap. You are not helping him when you protect him from his bad decisions. When you insulate him from the pain of a bad decision…you fortify bad habits that become his behavior and he will never learn to do the right thing. Your son grows up to believe mom will always save him or more importantly, it’s not his decision that caused his circumstance. Without repercussions…as a man; he will not keep his word, he will not obey traffic laws, he will becomes that neighbor that blast his music at 1am.

Your son is not your friend, your surrogate husband or your baby. He will be a man with habits that you’ve allowed him to think are okay. Our professional and private environments need responsible men, our communities need responsible black men. Your son will grow up with behaviors that you’ve endorsed, what traits do you see in your son that a woman… a wife would desire in her husband?

MPM

DISCLAIMER:  I’m not a psychiatrist or even a parent. This blog is my supportive opinion, which is based on dating single mothers, mentoring young boys from the age of 7 to 18 for almost 3 decades and other various life experiences.  While mentoring, I have also received formal and informal guidance from older black men/volunteers from the DC Chapter of Concerned Black Men, Inc. I received formal training as a volunteer with Mentors Inc. Lastly, my personal development and growth from the 7th  – 12th grade includes my attendance of an all male boarding high school called Girard College. While my opinion can be applied to young women, I believe most times I have an inherent bias towards masculine issues. My lens, for good or bad, is aligned to young males becoming men.

1 Comment

Filed under Life Skills