All Articles Tagged "family"
‘Communication Will Save You Half The Drama:’ Christina Milian Offers Post-Divorce Co-Parenting Advice
Since calling out ex-husband, The-Dream, as a deadbeat dad a few years ago, singer and actress Christina Milian appears to be in a much better place. So much so, that during a recent appearance on “Good Morning America,” the actress and singer offered advice for co-parenting post divorce.
“Take a second and breathe. You know, have the best intentions. Pray on it,” she explained. “I think that communication will save you half the drama. You know, it makes things so much easier. And I think I learned that. I went to therapy early on in my divorce.”
Because she’s in a much better place since overcoming the initial hurdles of co-parenting in the wake of an ugly divorce, Christina says she’s in a position to help others.
“I feel like I’m in a good place, then all the better to just put it out there and hope that it can help someone else. She added, “We all figure it out,” she said. “Sometimes, you just got to take it, take the lesson, and learn, and know that this happened for a reason.”
As for when she feels is an appropriate time to introduce your children to a new love interest, the engaged singer says definitely take your time.
“I think it’s very important to take your time when introducing a new person into your child’s life. You want to make sure this is going to work out so you’re not introducing them to a new person over and over again because you never know who is going to be the one.”
Despite the unique dynamic of their blended family, Christina says four-year-old Violet has a great understanding that she’s deeply loved by both her mother and father—even though they’re not together anymore.
“My motivation at the end of the day was making sure that my daughter had two parents that were in her life consistently, She’s a really smart girl and I think she has a healthy understanding of knowing that mommy and daddy are no longer together but we both love her.”
On February 14 my husband, James, and I welcomed our little girl, Anna James (AJ), to our family. I had lost my uterus to fibroids five years earlier, so we turned to surrogacy as a way to have our own biological child. We were already raising Parker, our spirited 12-year-old daughter from my previous marriage, and with AJ’s arrival I became a 40-year-old mom of a new-born and a tween.
The idea of balancing two children with a 12-year age gap between them, a still-young marriage and two full-time jobs (my self-titled MSNBC show in New York City and a Tulane University professorship in New Orleans) had me panicked that first night in the hospital.
But my anxiety transformed into deep sadness the next day, when, after 30 hours of deliberation, a Florida jury returned a verdict in the case of the death of Jordan Davis. The jurors found 47-year-old Michael Dunn guilty on three counts of attempted second-degree murder for shooting into an SUV full of African-American teenagers. During a dispute with the teens about loud hip-hop music at a gas station, Dunn fired ten bullets into their vehicle, killing 17-year-old Davis, who was sitting in the backseat. On the charge of first-degree murder, which was tied directly to Davis’s death, the jury was hung. Finding Dunn guilty on the attempted murder counts means that it’s likely he will spend decades in prison, but like many others who followed this case closely, I had lingering angst that Davis’s killing would not be legally recognized as murder.
I met Davis’s mother, Lucia McBath, when she appeared on my show last August. She joined me on the same day I hosted Sybrina Fulton, the mother of murdered teen Trayvon Martin, and Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of Mississippi civil rights leader Medgar Evers. I was struck by the reality that the father of Evers-Williams’s children was ripped from them by an assassin 50 years earlier, the killer of Fulton’s son was set free by another Florida jury the month before our taping and McBath was still waiting to learn if her slain son would receive justice. These women had all experienced unspeakable suffering, but were still compelled to bear witness to their tragedies.
Read more about Melissa Harris Perry’s motherhood journey at EurWeb.com
Naomi Campbell is 43 and just getting serious about having kids. That’s a long time to miss the tick.
Could your biological clock be going off? Time to recognize the signs.
Dear Dr. Sherry,
My father is very excited because I’m eight months pregnant with his first grandchild, a baby girl. He’s already making plans to babysit and spend time with her. While I appreciate his enthusiasm, my issue is that I don’t have a relationship with my stepmother—it doesn’t go beyond pleasantries whenever were see each other. My dad cheated on my mom with her and subsequently married her years later when I was a teenager. My mom passed away last year. I know of many paternal relatives who would expect me to see my stepmother as my child’s grandmother, but I just don’t feel it’s right. After all, they always told me to accept her as my own mother even when my own was alive. I don’t trust her because she and my dad caused my family so much pain. My dad will always be my dad so I must strive to maintain a relationship with him. I’d prefer my dad to interact with my child in my territory because I don’t want a bond to form between my child and his wife. If anyone will be called “grandma” on my side, it will be my maternal aunts. I don’t know how to explain this to my dad, and my husband thinks I’m being too strict. If we happen to visit my dad, his wife may interact with the child some, but I’d never want to leave my daughter with both of them because knowing their dynamic, she would provide most of the care and have influence over her. If it’s just my dad, it’s a different case.
Am I overreacting?
Protective Mother, Cautious Daughter
Read Dr.Sherry’s response at Essence.com
Lupita Nyong’o’s award-winning performance as Patsey in Steve McQueen’s “12 Years A Slave” may very well have a connection to the actress’ family lineage,according to her father Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o.
During a recent interview with British newspaper, The Independent, the senior Kenyan politician revealed details on how his family once experienced a string of abuse and torture due to their opposition from the regime of then-Kenyan president, Daniel arap Moi. The Nyong’o family’s firm stance towards the East African country’s government resulted in the attack and disappearance of Lupita’s uncle, Charles Nyong’o in 1980.
“Even now, no information has come to light. I know he was on a ferry in Mombasa and witnesses who I managed to talk to told me clearly that it was not an accident and he had been attacked and pushed off the ferry,” Peter said to the newspaper. “But the witnesses were too terrified to testify to the police… I spoke to members of the Kenyan Special Branch and someone informed me that they knew what happened. They were not willing to help in any way whatsoever because of that.”
The malicious attack prompted the 69-year-old and his wife, Dorothy, to relocate to Mexico prior to the birth of Lupita in 1983, before returning to Kenya in 1987, where the family endured more harassment from Moi’s regime.
“I was being picked up monthly and weekly. It would depend on the period,” he recalled. “It was as often as they wanted. It was mainly psychological for me, although it was physical for others. You could not wash for days, you were harassed, threatened, you couldn’t sleep and it becomes unbearable.”
Read more about The Nyong’o family at BlackVoices.com
From The Grio
Amira Ali stood nervously in the Denver International Airport, waiting to meet the daughter she hadn’t seen in 24 years.
“America saved my life,” said Ali, who arrived in the U.S. decades ago after fleeing Sudan. “I’m very happy. It’s good day for me.”
Suddenly, a shriek in the distance: her daughter Tina Deng, now 30, had spotted Ali and was running toward her. They embraced, and sobbed. Soon, Ali would also meet the grandchildren she never knew she had.
“God bless America, and God bless my kids,” Ali said, overjoyed.
Until recently, Ali thought her daughter Tina, her sister and her mother had all died in Sudan’s civil war. But when they discovered each other on Facebook, everything changed. After living separate lives for so many years, they finally reunited this week in Colorado.
“I’m so very, very happy,” said Deng as she hugged her mother. “It’s a long time, my mom is like a dream and now I see her, I can’t believe. But I’m happy.”
As a young mother, Ali had fled her southern Sudanese village during a raid by local rebels. In the chaos Ali lost track of her mother, sister, and 6-year-old daughter, Tina. After walking through the desert for four days with one of her other children, Ali finally reached a refugee camp. Her family was one of many torn apart by the war in Sudan which has killed 2 million people.
Read more about this mother and daughter story at TheGrio.com
Faheem “T-Pain” Najm admits that he’s now striving to be a better husband to his wife of 11 years, Amber Najm. But according to the rapper/singer, things weren’t always that way. In fact, he confesses to being quite the opposite just a few short years ago.
“I can’t lie: There was a time in the beginning of my career where all this stuff was going to my head and I would just go and do leisurely things and pretty much I would venture off with other women,” the Tallahassee native revealed during an interview with Sister 2 Sister.
Luckily for him, Amber stuck around long enough to allow him to transform into a better man. But it appears that this transformation didn’t take place overnight. From the looks of it, the “I’m Sprung” singer had to do plenty of soul searching.
“I saw the importance of what I had in my family and my wife—somebody that was there to love me for me and not somebody to love me because I was T-Pain.”
“All that stuff came to a standstill. I just figured out that I don’t need that anymore. It was a bad time. I was caught up in the whole “I’m a celebrity” thing. Everybody wanted to be with me.”
After coming to that eye-opening revelation, he began his quest to become a better father and husband to his family.
“I definitely wanted to be a better husband, a better father, and just better my life so that my family can live good,” he explained. “I came to a point that, even though I had so much money and even though I was doing so good, none of that stuff is going to mean anything if my family ain’t okay.”
Catch his full interview in the March 2014 issue of Sister 2 Sister.
“Are you and daddy getting divorced?”
I was four years old, sitting on the bathroom floor and chatting with my mom while she soaked in the tub, when I blurted out this question. “No, of course not!” she immediately responded. “Why would you think that?” I don’t remember what I said next, but somehow we moved on to a new topic.
Later I heard her whispering on the phone about what I’d said. She must have been thinking, How did my little girl, the one with the stay-at-home mom and Catholic upbringing, know about divorce? It’s not like my parents were screaming and slamming doors all the time. Their unhappiness wasn’t supposed to be obvious, especially not to a little girl. But somehow, even at that young age, I could sense that my parents were deeply unhappy in their marriage. Turns out they did get divorced—four years later, right around my eighth birthday. The quietly hostile relationship that my parents had when they were married bloomed into an outwardly hostile one during the split, and it stayed that way for years after the divorce papers were signed. By the time my sister and I were pre-teens, our dad had remarried and pretty much vanished from our lives.
Read more about marriage at YourTango.com
I’ve been interested in where I come from, so to speak, ever since I was about 6 years old and one of my white friends from my neighborhood asked me if I was Mexican. I don’t recall how aware of race I was at that age, but I was pretty sure Mexican I was not. Still, some years later when my grandfather griped at the dinner table about people coming up to him speaking in Spanish and asking what he was, and him telling us he proudly retorted “black,” I couldn’t help but ask, what are we really, though, since people keep asking us?
At the time I was given a generic answer of Creole and left to look up what that even was, as vague pictures of papa – my grandfather ‘s– parents were painted for me. They were born and raised in Louisiana (Lake Charles and Lafayette) and only spoke French, which my grandfather neglected to pass on to his children and had since forgotten in his old age. Aside from an aunt Marie who was still alive somewhere in Texas where my grandfather was raised along with his four brothers and a sister who died at 15, that was about all I had to go on.
My first attempt at tracing my roots was about seven or eight years ago when I was in college and we had to present our family trees as part of an ethnic studies class. At the time, I had the bare minimum and became that stereotypical African American talking about they had Indian in their family, thanks to a pension file I came across of my third great grandparents on my father’s side: Church and Ellen Tipton. The Tiptons, both mulattos according to census records, were the first real ancestors I could put a face to – literally – thanks to a photo my dad sent of them. Beyond that I also got a glimpse into the kind of people they were, with a special examiner providing this description of my great, great, great grandmother in the pension file relating to Church’s service in the U.S. Colored Troops:
“This claimant is one of the cleanest neatest negro women I nearly ever saw to be living on a farm. She is honest, reliable and is believed to be virtuous by those who know her best. The evidence herewith is deemed sufficient to show that she and the soldier were married by a ceremony, but without a license, during slavery times and lived together continuously, except the time he was in the army, until he died since which time she has not remarried.”
I wrote about the experience of finding the Tiptons before, but ever since I came across their story I’ve been eager to find more like that about my other ancestors. So, this Christmas I spent some time with my grandparents on both sides of my family, looking through old photos and asking questions about who they knew and remembered. I wasn’t expecting to learn much, but my dad’s parents turned out to be a gold mine.
My grandmother told me the names of all the ancestors of her father, who’s still alive at 91, up until the 1870s and from there I was able to use census records to go back to the 1820s. I found out that entire side of my family had basically lived in the same area of Jasper, TN, and Fackler, Jackson, and Bridgeport, AL, since our time in the United States. And thanks to some sleuthing and e-mail harassing on my part, I’ve been able to connect with a distant cousin of my great grandmother’s who has pieced together even more parts of our ancestral puzzle and was able to provide the first and only photo of my third great grandfather that I’ve ever seen. Another cousin has also connected me with all of his closest cousins and we’ve begun connecting on social media and sending each other e-mails.
My father’s father was just as helpful on this front. Though I knew Church and Ellen were the great grandparents of his mother, Cora Stewart. I didn’t know much about his father, William’s side. Now I can put names to fourth great grandparents who were born in Georgia and Alabama in the 1820s and 1840s. As I sat with my father’s parents two days after Christmas, I realized that was the first time I was actually learning who they were, and I felt kind of ashamed. In 28 years it never crossed my mind to ask where they grew up — and how — or how they met even. And here they were with a treasure trove of information just waiting to share with someone if only they asked — except when I asked my grandfather, “so what’s our background?” and he replied, “background?!” “You know racial makeup background,” I probed, and he said “Well, black, there’s some Cherokee in there and I guess Irish. McCarver (his last name) is Irish.”
I think some of the apprehension to ask my father’s parents these questions came from the response my mother’s side provided when I’d gone down this road with them years ago. I recall lots of gaps in information and timelines about their moves between Georgia and Texas and Illinois and Ohio that just didn’t add up. And then my aunt reminded me of a marriage and divorce that was left out of the story and a few other details and I realized my ancestral stories wasn’t necessarily being halted by a lack of memory but memories some didn’t want to remember. So far I haven’t cracked through that barrier with my grandfather who insists he recalls no family members outside of his parents. But from time to time he’ll lament how he wishes he knew more about his ancestors as he writes gumbo recipes for me and tries to teach me what a rue is.
Surprisingly, this time around my mom’s mother is just as invested in my project as I am, sending me pictures of my great, great grandfather, George Adams, that I never knew existed, and explaining to me what it was like to grow up in the south with little-to-no electricity and miss out on school because she had to farm, and migrate to the Midwest just have a better quality of life.
As I await the results of my DNA testing so I can finally give people a straight answer when they ask what I am since “black” is never enough, I already feel grateful for the connections I’ve made with my living relatives whose very presence in my life I’ve taken for granted. I never realized it’s not the norm to be nearly 30 years old and have both sets of your grandparents alive and even a great grandfather. I’m also anxious to finally feel a sense of belonging to a specific group of people instead of envying friends who’ve clearly been able to call themselves Jamaican or Puerto Rican or Filipino. I’m also excited to share these results with my grandparents and provide answers to questions they never thought they’d find an answer to.
As I sat in the hair salon this past weekend getting some long overdue Brazilian curly hair sewn into my head, it was only a matter of time before the hot topic of Valentine’s Day came up. One by one the stylists and their clients went around and commented on what they wanted, what they’d actually be getting and what they had been surprised with in the past. I’ve had more uneventful Valentine’s Days than amazing ones, but when I think of it some of the best ones were spent with people that many don’t typically associate with your boy Cupid: my family.
Do you remember candygrams? If not, I’m sure your school had some embarrassing system to prove just how popular someone was as they floated through their school day carrying more and more plastic roses or those disgusting candy hearts after each class. I was always the one waiting on a candygram from a crush that never came. A part of me was comforted by the fact that I was the girl who was always dating someone at another school (honestly, except that he wasn’t actually in high school at all). But I’ve never had a secret admirer, and in grade school my note always came back with “No” checked. But the one thing I could depend on for Valentine’s Day was that I would come home to little boxes of chocolates and cards spread across our dining room table courtesy of my mom. Just that little reminder that someone, somewhere thought I was special was better than a $1 store rose with a scraggly misspelled message delivered to my homeroom any day.
I hate to be in my Charlie Brown “what matters most” bag, but as I talked a manic friend down from over-analyzing and obsessing about how much to do and not do in a new relationship for Valentine’s Day, I had to remind her that it doesn’t matter how much a man does on one day, what matters most is how he acts for the other 364 days of the year. There will be men buying roses and candy for their “main” on February 14th only to spend the night with their sidepiece on February 15th. Valentine’s Day should be about the people who love you, support you and put up with you all year long. Those are the people you should be going out of your way to make feel special.
If you haven’t been doing so already, remember there are other sections in the Hallmark aisle besides “For Him”. I don’t mean to be a Valentine’s Day Grinch but let’s be honest: That big bear is eventually going to sit in the corner and get dusty while triggering your allergies all spring long, your flowers will die, and half of those candies are filled with disgusting coconut and chocolate nougat. It truly is the thought that counts. Even if you’ve been doing it all year, obsess just as much over letting your parents, your girls, your siblings and your kids know how much you love and appreciate them. You never know but you may have someone whose candygram got lost in the mail and that little box of butter creams may just make their day.
Toya Sharee is a community health educator and parenting education coordinator who has a passion for helping young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health. She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee or visit her blog, Bullets and Blessings.