All Articles Tagged "family"

Does Your Wallet Match Your Heart? Things To Consider Before Taking A Long-Term Houseguest

May 27th, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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Throughout my life I can remember family members coming to live with my mother, sister and I. In fact, there were quite a few who all had their own reasons for doing so. Relocation was the biggest reason as an uncle of mine moved to the U.S. from Singapore and an older cousin came up to Baltimore from Atlanta. I was too young to remember why they came to our home, but always seemed to find myself without a room for a period of time — typically six months to a year.

This has also been a common practice for my husband and his family. Whether his parents took in family members’ children during their years in Panama, or allowed family to stay with them once they became established in the United States, their door was always open to those who needed help.

As wonderful as it is for people to help those in their lives who need a place to stay, it really does require some thought before saying yes. Making the decision to have a long-term houseguest shouldn’t be entered into lightly. It can oftentimes take a turn for the worst, or head in an unexpected direction. I’ve heard horror stories about folks with great intentions who no longer talk to the very people who stayed in their home.

If you’re entertaining the idea, here are a few things you might want to consider first.

Think about your space. Let’s get real here, if you live in a single-bedroom apartment, it’s probably not the best idea to take in someone with multiple children. Kudos to you if you can make it work, but you have to think about your space and whether or not you even have any to house additional people. Remember, this is going to be long term.

Think about your finances. Another important consideration before you say yes is to think about your own finances. No matter how you slice it, your household expenses are going to increase with extra people under your roof. Can you afford taking on additional financial obligations? Have you paid down your own debts to free up the necessary income? Do you have an emergency savings established in the event you lose your job or find yourself on hard times?

Consider your current household dynamic. As much as you want to jump to say yes, you also need to consider how a long-term houseguest will affect your household dynamic. For example, those with little children or someone with special needs should think about their current demands — and whether or not they can introduce extra into the mix. It’s probably not the best idea to have someone under your roof if your spouse doesn’t get along with them.

Be real about the person asking. Just because someone needs help doesn’t mean you’re the right person to assist them. Truly give some thought to the person asking for your hospitality. If you know they’re bad with money or continue making the same bad financial mistakes without care, you could be in for a rude awakening.

Prepare for longer than expected. A month can quickly turn into three. Sometimes it takes longer than expected for people to land back on their feet. It doesn’t mean they aren’t trying but you should prepare yourself to have a houseguest longer than expected.

No matter what you do, make sure you set some ground rules before anyone moves in. The last thing you need is to be on different pages when it comes to expectations and household contributions.

Mom’s Reaction To Finding Out Her Son Got A Job With Taylor Swift Is Priceless

May 16th, 2015 - By Courtney Whitaker
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Robert Green not only landed his dream job, but also made his mother’s day.

The 22-year-old shared the news with his mother that he received the dance gig of a lifetime. The news sent his mother Sylvia Watlington-Green into complete shock. You can hear her scream “I’m so proud of you…this is just the beginning…I’m so happy for you.”

Robert began to cry after hearing his mother’s excitement. Green explained, “My mother is the most enthusiastic person I have ever met. Her sincerity and genuine thrill for life is admirable. Two years ago, my mom and I packed up in my 1996 Honda and she drove me from east coast to west coast with just enough money to make it. Prior to this amazing moment…I wasn’t working as a dancer as much as I had hoped. (After a series of setbacks) I was in LA with no job, no money, no car – just the support of my mother and my faith.”

At first, Robert was unsure if he should post the moment online. However, after posting it he received tons of messages. One message came from his soon to be boss, Taylor Swift. She tweeted,

Congratulations to Robert! There’s nothing like hearing the praise of your parents. Especially when you’re in an entertainment career field.

When It Comes To Cultural Differences In A Marriage, Does Etiquette Go Out The Window?

May 11th, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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I’m all for family and think healthy bonds can have a lasting impact on future generations. When life deals us blows, you can typically rely on family to help get you through tough times.

That however doesn’t mean there aren’t boundaries to consider.

My husband and I have been together for seven and a half years (married for three). Our relationship has opened my eyes to many things including cultural differences and how they come into play when you blend families. Both of us are Black but have very different upbringings. I’m from the city (Baltimore, MD) and he is from Panama.

One of the many things I love about his family is how close they are. Yes distance can separate them, but at the end of the day, everyone knows how to come together and support one another. The meals are also tasty but that’s for a different discussion.

As you would expect with anything in life, there are certain drawbacks and theirs come in the form of etiquette–or lack thereof.

Here’s a question for you: if you wanted to go to someone’s house, would you give a heads up? In most cases, the answer would be yes, whether it was planned or last minute. Since we live very close to my in-law, I expect to see him often, especially when you consider we have a child and one on the way (he lives with his daughter who doesn’t have children). At least to me this doesn’t translate into frequent unexpected visits that last for several hours and occur on a weekly basis. I’m talking five or six days in a row. Being the planner and Virgo that I am, this can throw a monkey wrench into our own plans and routines, as well as family meals. There have been a few times (and counting) his unexpected dinner appearance made things awkward. I typically prepare enough for me, my husband and our 15-month-old (who practically eats like his daddy).

And PS: Our in-law knows how to cook so it’s not like he would be missing out on anything at home.

This makes me wonder whether or not etiquette goes out the window when it comes to family or those from different cultures.

A family friend of my husband’s lives nearby and enjoys hosting people from time to time. The wife, like me, is Black American while the husband’s family hails from Barbados (though he was born here). No matter how much she tries to get RSVPs and the proper head count to plan accordingly, like clockwork, someone (not from this country) is always bringing uninvited folks. And I’m not talking about one person, but three or five people. I have to remember to pick up my bottom lip as I see how frustrating the situation turns.

If you don’t think this is bad, the pair also get unexpected visits from his parents overseas. Rather than provide a heads up regarding their travel plans — the best they typically get is a few days’ notice — they have no issue booking open flights to stay here months on end. I’m not sure if they take care of their own expenses or expect their son and daughter-in-law to do so.

Yes there are many things Americans can learn from others about life and living, but the same goes for the international side of that coin. Things like finances are a very real thing. Many families already struggle to put food on their table. Once you start factoring others into the equation, it can get really tricky. Not to mention cause tension in a marriage.

Thankfully our situation is pretty harmless, but I can’t imagine dealing with the extreme end of this visiting family spectrum.

Mind Your Business: How To Keep Your Family Out Of Your Relationship

May 5th, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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How To Keep Your Family Out Of Your Relationship

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You love your family. You love your spouse or partner. Sooner or later you must ask yourself why it is the two parties can’t just get along.

Hopefully, it’s an easy fix as no one wants to deal with drama from their own camp. Here are some pointers or establishing healthy boundaries between your family and your relationship.

Is It Okay For Your Family To Ask A Lot Of You Because You Earn More?

May 5th, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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This is going to sound really bad but there’s a part of me that’s happy my family isn’t so close. Don’t get me wrong, it would be nice to partake in those fun family reunions, but sometimes too many people in the mix can cause unnecessary drama.

For whatever reason, certain family members of mine think because I married an engineer we’re rolling in the dough. Granted we do very well for ourselves, especially as a young family. But that doesn’t mean we’re an ATM full of unlimited resources. And contrary to popular opinion, I am a work-from-home mother but do work hard for the things I have.

My husband is Black Latino and comes from a huge family. As much as I love our get-togethers, one event still has my mind blown. Some time ago we were invited to attend one of his family member’s weddings. You’re probably thinking this is no big deal, just get a gift, send your well wishes and be done right?

Wrong.

While we couldn’t attend, our in-laws did and made the trip halfway cross country by car. Upon their arrival, they received more than a welcome. The bride-to-be also happened to be the godchild of my in-law, and the mother of the bride had no issue asking for money to help pay for the wedding… the day before the big event.

Who the heck does that?

I don’t know how folks do things in other countries, but here in the United States, that’s extremely tacky and tasteless. Why does someone think it’s okay to hit up a family member for $5,000 the day before their child walks down the aisle? That’s not their responsibility in any way–and can quickly turn what should be a sentimental occasion into an awkward one.

In case you’re wondering, my in-laws didn’t give the money. They don’t have that kind of money just sitting around, and if they did, they would more than likely invest it.

I really do feel bad for them because many of their own brothers and sisters feel if they work and live in the United States they’ve made it. Yes my in-laws have a nice single-family home and rental property, but that didn’t just fall in their lap. In fact, they struggled for many years to be able to save and provide opportunities for all three of their children to attend college. It was also their money that helped sponsor many of their relatives to move to the United States, but we won’t go into that.

At the end of the day, we don’t know a person’s income or expenses. Just because things look all put together on the outside doesn’t mean there aren’t battles happening behind closed doors. As mentioned before, some of my closest family have tried to make me feel bad about not financially supporting them when they don’t do anything to handle their own business. I’m a wife, mother of a toddler and have another child on the way. How do you think it’s okay to have me fund your life when you’re older than me, finding every excuse in the book not to work hard yourself?

If there was ever a situation where someone I loved truly needed help (and they’ve done everything to help themselves), of course I would try to assist them. This doesn’t mean I don’t have my own bills to pay or will go into debt trying to make someone else’s life easier.

How do you handle family who tries to guilt you into borrowing money you know they won’t repay?

Zero Buns In The Oven: Why Not Having Kids Can Be The Best Decision

April 14th, 2015 - By Meg Butler
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Not planning on having kids? Join the club. According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau stats, more women are realizing that not having kids is the best decision for them. Read on to find out why fewer women are having kids than ever before, and why many women are OK with it.

Wendy Williams Says “Marriage And Babies” Will Stunt Your Career Growth

April 13th, 2015 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Wendy Williams Says "Marriage And Babies"

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In a recent sit down with Forbes Lifestyle, Wendy Williams opened up about how she relates to her fans and the challenges women face in their personal lives.

She revealed she is no longer interested in being friends or having the glamorous lifestyle many of the celebrities she interviews adhere to. Williams also shared how important it is for her to maintain normalcy in her day-to-day life. For example, after airing her talk show, Williams says she does her own grocery shopping and supports her teenage son Kevin at his track practices.

After sharing her career journey, Williams gave some debatable advice on what women should expect in marriage and parenthood in her Forbes interview. She told interviewer Moira Forbes that marriage and children stunt a woman’s career development and women lose out in marriage. After noting she, herself, has been married for 17 years, Williams said:

“We can debate this all day. Every woman has a different view and there are some women who have an opinion and are scared to voice it. But I’m not afraid to voice mine— don’t throw tomatoes! I do feel it is difficult for men to accept really successful career women. Whether it be that we out-earn them or on the marquee, our names are brighter than their own. I also feel like marriage and babies stunt a woman’s growth career wise and people don’t understand once you get married and once you have kids, you cannot do all the things that you used to do while  maintaining this important precious thing you’ve built as a family. So my suggestion to women, always, is to use your entire twenties working your behind off in your career and get some ground footing, then think about meeting that guy. Even if you’ve met him at twenty-seven, don’t get engaged and don’t move to where he lives. This is about you and your career. Because we are the ones that lose in marriage. Not men!”

Do you agree with Williams’ career and dating advice?

How Far Are You Willing To Go To Ensure Your Family Is Financially Stable?

April 6th, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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I typically don’t cry when I watch an episode of The Real because, well, it’s The Real. But this revelation really spoke to my heart. Co-host Jeannie Mai shared a touching story about her upbringing and fear of not being able to provide for her family.

Her parents immigrated to the United States from Vietnam in hopes of providing better opportunities for their children. With limited funds, her father took a meeting at Jeannie’s school in order to land a janitorial position. The only catch is he wanted to work at night so his children wouldn’t see him. Throughout the week he would treat his family to takeout and would watch them eat. Whenever Jeannie asked him why he wasn’t hungry, he simply answered because he already ate. One night, she found him digging in the trash eating their family’s scraps. Telling this story brought tears to her co-host’s eyes, and mine.

Talk about sacrifice.

There’s something about becoming a mother that has opened my eyes even more to my limits and how far I would go to provide for my family. Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband, but he can take care of himself at the end of the day. I’m so thankful we’re financially stable but know–without a doubt–he would take any and every job he could to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. His parents did the same for he and his sisters in Panama, lighting the path for them to attend college and pursue their dreams. Heck my own father worked overtime as a police officer to make sure he could help pay for my higher education. Because of his line of work, I never saw him all the time, but knew he was out risking his life to make sure I had a better one.

As much as I’d like to think folks would do what’s necessary to provide for their family, I honestly don’t see it as a reality many could handle. If it came down to you having to work a blue-collar job you thought was “beneath you” to pay your bills, would you do it? Could you set your pride aside to ensure your household wouldn’t have a care you couldn’t provide for? The recession really opened my eyes to the reality of people’s financial situations and who was willing to do what it takes to keep their family afloat. I knew some people who would work nights and part-time at CVS  or Burger King while others would turn their noses to such a thought because it didn’t utilize their master’s degree. Rather than work an “in the meantime and between time” hustle until they landed a better job, they would kick back until their next interview and collect their unemployment check.

And what about the other end of the spectrum, that is, those who bend over backwards all the time for their family? Is there such a thing as doing too much? While I agree with Jeannie Mai about wanting to provide for my family, I also need to keep it “real” with myself when it comes to who and how. Unfortunately, not everyone in my immediate clan is financially savvy . They would definitely misuse any funds I provide, or make excuses as to why they no longer need to work. One close family member in particular has borrowed money from me here and there since I was 18 years old… and never paid back a cent. I had to learn to love without attaching my wallet because my “bailouts” seemed to create more financial trouble and never taught them to do things on their own.

It’s important to set some realistic guidelines when it comes to providing for your family and just how far you’d go. You have to ask yourself if the sacrifices you’re making to bring in money helps or hinders their general well-being. If someone is bad with money, should you look for financial alternatives, like an IRA that will provide for them down the road? Cut them off entirely?

What would you do?

Palliative Care And Prolonging Life: Have You Thought About Your Final Wishes?

April 1st, 2015 - By Brande Victorian
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This is going to sound weird but for some reason I really love those Colonial Penn-type life insurance commercials that feature parents talking to their kids about insurance policies and death and end-of-life wishes because they’re so real. I especially like the one with the Black girl who has the curly TWA and keeps telling her mom, “I don’t want to talk about this” as she tries to explain her plans for making sure her death isn’t a burden on the family when the time comes. Eventually, there’s a breakthrough and the daughter realizes the conversation is just precautionary planing rather than foreshadowing and I always think, if only more mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, husbands, and wives would have these talks.

This past weekend I found myself in the unfortunate situation of watching my grandfather and my dad and his three brothers attempt to decide the fate of my grandmother’s life. The Saturday before last she collapsed and went into cardiac arrest and, due to a lack of oxygen, now has very little brain activity outside of basic reflexes to pain stimuli and gagging on a ventilator. By the time I got in town, seven days had passed and her status hadn’t changed, which wasn’t necessarily good or bad. But be that as it may, it was time to make a decision. And though everyone had an opinion on what they would want for themselves and what they thought my grandmother would want, no one really knew because no one ever asked or had a conversation.

“She talked about wanting to go home” was all my grandmother’s brother had to offer in terms of last wishes and we all knew that meant she wanted to be buried back down south. That really didn’t answer the question that was trying to be decided in the moment which was, do we do everything we can to prolong her life — despite the dismal prognosis and the expectation of an even lower quality of life — or do we usher her on to rest in peace?

We had the medical opinion which told us that the likelihood of recovery after three days in a coma was slim, but that was juxtaposed with guilt over the fact that my grandmother was in this position to begin with and mounting grief over the thought that the last time each of us had with her pre-ICU would in fact be our last time together. And so, opinions continued to sway back and forth for days.

“Guess we’ll just have to wait and see” was the decision my grandfather announced when the doctor hesitantly told us it was possible — though not likely — my grandmother could wake up one day. And so the doctors moved forward with a tracheostomy to remove the ventilator that’s breathing for her and inserted a feeding tube to give her nutrients while my dad and I toured long-term acute care facilities for her to reside in after her procedure for the next three weeks to a month. Though the plan we’re currently operating under is at least some form of action, it likely doesn’t change the fact that a month from now we’ll all probably be in the same place: Deciding life or death for someone who should’ve decided for herself.

When I came back to my mom’s house and updated her on what’s going on, she told me in no uncertain terms she wouldn’t want to be in that condition, which gave me the answer that I need if, God forbid, I find myself in this same position with her. Hypocrite that I am, I didn’t share my wishes, mostly because despite all that I’ve witnessed I’m not totally certain what they are. At my age, I think I’d want my family to fight for me. But if my quality of life — namely my independence — would be strongly diminished, I’d lean more toward letting me go. Of course, all of these things are easier said than done but they are certainly worth some thought at any age or stage of life and, most importantly, absolutely worth sharing with those who will be faced with seeing to your care should the time come.

10 Affordable Ways To Celebrate The Holidays With Your Family

December 12th, 2014 - By Tanvier Peart
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The holidays have become such a consumer-driven time of year that it makes it easy to lose focus on the things that matter. Do pricey gifts matter that much—or the memories you create with loved ones? Here are some fun things you can do to celebrate the holidays with your family.