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 #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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RAISING A MAN: Tips for single mothers AND fathers #6 of 10

My friend Nadhege, a successful business owner, wife and mother sent me this tweet: “We teach our daughters independence then turn around & baby our sons creating self sufficient women & men who are ok living wit them.” Tweet by Kira J @IamKiraJ

The tweet accurately captured the sentiment of all the tips in this entire series. Nadhege didn’t stop there…she sent me a video clip that I want to share now: https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMdkqW1Us/

I have been writing this series to help parents raise their son to be a good husband to his wife. Period

When people say, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I respond with, “How can a village raise a child when the men of the village don’t know how to be men?! I’m not saying single mothers have consciously weakened this generation of young men. I’m pointing out the attack on masculinity in the black household. Whether it’s fathers not being responsible to their children, or it’s mothers coddling their sons. I’m just worried about our youth that don’t respect anything. I’m tired of the excuses we make for our children and the honest conversations that we’re scared to have with each other.

My apologies for this vein of frustration but I’m just a little tired this month.

Anyway…the tip for this month…don’t give your child everything you didn’t have.

Happy Juneteenth.

MPM

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RAISING A MAN: Tips for single mothers AND fathers #5 of 10

Tip #4 suggested listening as a great tool for communication and understanding. It seems that my last tip conjured some reactions from mothers. I heard things like, “My son doesn’t listen to me.” or “I told my son the same thing but he didn’t believe me but when you said it, he’s all ears.”

Let me say this, I believe individuals, male or female, learn or comprehend differently. I’m not going to say gender roles because the male & female gender roles have been severely dissolved or morphed. The feminine behaviors that male children are picking up from their mothers is…hmmm.

Wait, I’m drifting.

I’ll take it a step back…this tip is not about listening or talking. This tip is about allowing your son or daughter to be with other men.

Where did that come from?!

Women are in the households, they’re in the churches, they’re in the schools…where are the black men? What I’m suggesting is you, mothers, take yourself out of the equation. He sees you all the time, he hears you all the time….you’re watered down, blah blah blah….all you do is hover and nag nag nag. (Joking, not joking)

I’m exaggerating but the point I’m making is…allow your son to be with other positive men. This will allow him to learn dynamically from other men.

YOU CAN’T SHOW HIM HOW TO BE A MAN! You can discuss it, explain it, describe it but a man lives it.

Look…no one is negating your ability and efforts as a parent…I dare not do that, women hold it down. I’m definitely NOT saying a mother or father is less than the other. I’m speaking of balance, as a race we have lost priority for the balance of a male/female household. What I am saying is that unfortunately for the last 3 decades there’s been an diminishing respect or latent attack on the black male. Since the inception of welfare, a black mans presence and value in black households has been squandered.

Resisting that rabbit hole…

So…allow you son or daughter to be around positive black men. I’m not endorsing the “thug” or the homosexual male friend. I’m saying a heterosexual black male that goes to work, pays his taxes, and has some spiritual base. Let your child see that dude in action. See him put on a suit, see him as a public speaker, playing ball, fixing the car, laughing with the kids, dancing with his woman…where is that dude? Find him and allow your child to see that because the nonsense on tv, the asinine reality series, the men in drag…those images are not helping the culture. These adult themes are not going to help produce the man you hope to see in families and in communities.

…back in the rabbit hole.

If he decides as an adult to be homosexual or dress drag that’s his adult choice but don’t obfuscate his choices or alter his values because of what he’s exposed to as a child.

So…the hope that your son or daughter will validate what YOU are saying when they’re out with other people. He will think, “Mom told me that” or another person will reinforce what YOU have told him. He will respect and appreciate you as his mother by choice not by obligation. You may be superwoman but you are not a man.

MPM

“If any human being is to reach full maturity both the masculine and the feminine sides of the personality must be brought up into consciousness” Mary Ester Harding

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.

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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 your 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.

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