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!


“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?!”


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.


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…


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.


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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.


“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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