All Articles Tagged "family"
Holidays are a magical time of the year. It’s a time for reflecting on the year that was, looking ahead to the months to come and cherishing the friends and family that mean the most to you. It’s also a time when any chinks in the family armor show themselves in all their dysfunctional glory. Particularly around the Thanksgiving table tempers can flare after a few glasses of vino. But to keep things civil and laid back, let us give you some helpful advice to surviving Thanksgiving with the fam.
Why are people so obsessed with what’s going on other people’s pockets? No seriously, I’d love to know if you have answers because I don’t. I’ve always heard people say that unsolicited advice and semi-rude comments from relatives are just another part of wedding planning, but I foolishly thought, “No, not my family. My folks are as cool as the other side of the pillow.” And then, Sunday happened.
The day started off great. I was exhausted from getting up at 6 a.m., but in my heart, I felt that it was all worth it. I was able to make it to my Young Women of Excellence Sunday School class on time, and it was a great lesson. My students walked away smiling and hopefully, enlightened. Morning worship had already begun by the time class let out, so I tried to tip through the sanctuary quietly greeting those who I passed as I made my way to my seat. I encountered a male relative during this time, who apparently felt that this was a good time to catch up. No problem. The praise and worship team was rocking the house, so I figured a couple of minutes wouldn’t hurt.
I had only seen him two or three times since getting engaged, and I could tell by how he broached the conversation that he had questions. This wasn’t a problem for me either. I’m an open book when it comes to my family.
“So how are things,” he paused, “with your boyfriend?”
My first thought was to correct him, but I figured it would be petty to get all huffy over semantics. So I let it go and went on to tell that things are great.
“What’s up with this wedding?” he asked. “You’re not going overboard, I hope.”
Wedding planning has been slightly more stressful than I imagined it would be because of all of the coordinating that is needed. But even with all of the effort that it takes to pull off the big day, I am so very grateful, and I try to refrain from complaining—especially when I’m asked how planning is going. So I offered a brief update that included the venue I am looking to book with and the time of year that I hope to hold the ceremony. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is when the foolishness began.
“Don’t be Big Willy at a place you can’t afford,” he advised. “You’ll do all of that and people will turn around and say ‘the chicken was nasty.’”
I’m sorry, what?
I smiled and nodded. Both my fiancé and I are well-established, fiscally responsible adults who would not place ourselves in a financial hole over a one-day celebration, but I get it. In most cases, your family wants the best for you. So even if they’re telling you something you already know, they probably mean well. However, he apparently felt that I wasn’t taking him seriously because he continued to press the issue—even though I’m sure he has no idea how much the venue charges.
“I’m serious!” he warned. “Who is helping you two pay for it?”
While I was beginning to feel that he was being slightly meddlesome, I pushed my feelings aside and told him that my parents volunteered to pitch in simply because they felt compelled to do so—not because I need them to.
“You should think of having it at that community center your aunt works at,” he suggested as if he didn’t already hear me say that I was about to book with a venue already. “It’s nice.”
More awkwardness. Then, he decided that it was time to harp on the date. Apparently, it wasn’t to his liking because it’s a time that he likes to travel with his wife.
“It’s more expensive that time of year anyway,” he said.
Of course, his comment was completely inaccurate. But still, I just let it go. Although I felt annoyed, I figured the conversation wasn’t worth getting worked up over.
I hooked up with my mom at the end of service, and by then, he had gotten to her as well. She serves on the finance team at our church, which keeps her pretty busy. But this same relative chose to badger her the entire time that she was working regarding my wedding and what he felt was an appropriate figure to spend. Did I mention that he hasn’t the first clue about wedding planning and no idea what our budget is? Still, my mother proceeded to tell me that he seemed to feel that we weren’t taking his advice to heart, while adding that she could tell he was getting worked up over the entire thing. Why? I haven’t the slightest clue.
Perhaps I could understand his frustration if we were asking him or other relatives for financial assistance, but we’re not. We’re good. However, it seems that overbearing relatives like him love to act the complete fool during these occasions. I really don’t like fighting with my family, and I’m strong believer in the “eat the meat, spit out the bones” concept when it comes to people and their advice, but I’m really not sure how many more conversations like this I will be able to tolerate—especially if people are going to be harassing my mama. The holidays are just around the corner, so I’ll definitely have to find a tactful way to deal with not-so-tactful folks by then.
Ladies, how do you handle the peanut gallery during major life events?
The holidays are swiftly approaching, which means there is ample opportunity for people’s families to act the complete fool. And one man’s family made sure they got a head start. Meet “Jared.” He’s 35 years old, and her has been with his 30-year-old girlfriend, Sammy, for over a year. He is planning to propose in a few months, and it seems that they were looking forward to spending the holiday season with his family, but that probably won’t be happening now.
You see, Sammy recently overheard Jared’s family running her down during one of their get-togethers—and it wasn’t pretty. Jared turned to the folks of Reddit hoping to get some advice regarding his situation.
Last week, I went to my parent’s house for dinner. We get together as a family a few times a month. It’s been a tradition with us for years now. Sammy usually joins us for these dinners but had work obligations. I told my family she wouldn’t be joining us that night. Halfway through dinner, I got up to go to the bathroom, and Sammy texted me that she was outside. She got off work early and came over to hang out. She would have normally walked in (which is normal) but she needed help bringing in some gifts. Sammy is leaving tomorrow for a work trip and a personal vacation to see some friends, so she won’t be back until Thanksgiving. My brother and sister (twins) have their birthday next week, and my girlfriend had gifts for them.
At this point, my family had no idea Sammy was there. We walked inside and headed to the kitchen, and we overheard my family talking.
My sister was saying that she was glad my girlfriend was gone because she couldn’t stand a family night being ruined by my girlfriend being annoying. My brother and other sister agreed about how annoying and awful my girlfriend is. My dad made a comment about how they should be nice to Sammy. And my mom chimed in with, “Sammy is nice, and all but I can’t believe Jared likes how fat she is, he can do so much better.” My family, even my dad, agreed. And my sister piped up that I was dating down because I’m still rebounding from my last girlfriend, which was five years ago.
Of course, Sammy and Jared were both upset by what they heard.
I was floored. My family has always been so nice to Sammy, and I’ve never heard them talk badly about her. I’ve never heard my family say mean things about anyone, to be honest.
Sammy walked into the kitchen and dumped the presents on the counter. She was crying and mumbled something about happy birthday and then took off out the door. My family looked shocked and a bit embarrassed.
Sammy and Jared left his family’s home together without really speaking to them. According to Jared, there were never signs that his relatives disliked Sammy, and the entire situation was especially devastating to Sammy, who doesn’t have many relatives over her own.
Now, Sammy is usually tough but family is super important to her. She has no family, aside from an alcoholic dad that she doesn’t have any contact with. My family was like her surrogate family and something she always wanted. She was overjoyed when my family welcomed her and invited her to family events. The presents she brought my sister and brother were paintings she had spent many hours working on.
Did we mention the fact that Sammy helped Jared’s brother get a job with her company and that she frequently babysits his sister’s kids? Oh yeah, with the exception of his father, Jared’s relatives refuse to apologize to Sammy directly.
All of them have reached out to me with weak apologies full of justifications. I asked my mom if she had apologized to Sammy, and my mom said I could pass on the apology.
Talk about starting off the holiday season on the wrong foot. How should Jared handle this situation?
They may not always share screen time together or collaborate on music, but these star brothers and sisters are definitely making money together. These are Hollywood’s most powerful celebrity siblings.
Family or career?
When climbing the success ladder, finding the “right” time to have children can present quite the challenge.
At 42 years old, actress Gabrielle Union says that pregnancy simply hasn’t happened yet for her and hubby, Dwyane Wade—and that many women, like herself, who choose to have children later in life are shamed because of it.
“So far, it has not happened for us. A lot of my friends deal with this,” she said in the October issue of Redbook. “There’s a certain amount of shame that is placed on women who have perhaps chosen a career over starting a family younger. The penance for being a career woman is barrenness. You feel like you’re wearing a scarlet letter.”
Thankfully, there are alternative options like IVF and egg freezing that slow down the ticking of the dreadful biological clock, but even with these options, Union adds that when career women do children, they’re presented with a set of new challenges.
“The reality is that women are discriminated against in the workplace for being mothers. As much as there are strides being made — you get pregnant, your career takes a hit,” she said. “You can’t have a bad day. Don’t you dare cry at work. Don’t raise your voice. Especially if you’re a black woman in corporate America — now you’re ‘the angry black woman.’”
Union also dished on the 10-year age difference between herself and Wade.
“His teammates, were conceived when I was, like, a senior in high school. I was in high school at the same time as their parents!” she said. “Sometimes he’ll be like, ‘Oh, my God, he’s so old!’ about someone who’s 35. But, Dwyane’s an old 33, and I’m a young 42, so it balances out.”
Some stories you just can’t make up.
My husband always warned me about “looking for trouble,” and this time, I should’ve listened to him. During the height of the whole Ashley Madison craziness, I read an article late one night about how to tell if someone you know had a subscription on the site that promoted cheating. Many women I knew were going to this Trustify website and entering in their husband’s email addresses to see if a “you’ve been compromised” alert popped up. As with any data breach, companies sometimes provide a site that informs you whether or not you could be a victim. In this case, those found compromised would more than likely become the victim of an angry spouse.
Early one morning while nursing my two-month-old son, I figured why not check out this site. It’s not that I thought my husband would participate in such foolishness (aside from being super cheap, he knows da– well I’ll jump straight to the “until death do us part” portion of our vows. Don’t play with me), I did have fun rummaging through my phone and inserting emails. I just knew someone I know would pop up and provide tea to sip on for time to come.
Well, someone in fact did have a subscription and to this day, my mouth is still on the floor. In order to protect the guilty, I’m choosing not to give away their name — or family title for that matter.
“Babe, wake up,” I said to my husband, who was not happy with my detective work. “Do you believe this bulls—?”
Once he was able to wake up a little and get a better understanding of my actions, he only had two questions to ask: Why did I go looking for something I didn’t want to find, and was I really shocked to find this family member had a subscription?
“I mean, I think it’s nasty but that’s me,” my husband told me. “People will always do what they want.”
Obviously, he was right, there will be people in this world who may or may not directly match with your moral compass. While I can’t change a person’s viewpoints (everyone is entitled to their own), does that mean that I allow my children around influences that conflict with our values?
Yes and no.
When you think about it, you can’t shield your child from craziness anymore than people with questionable behavior from time to time. Even though the subscription did bother me on a moral viewpoint, that didn’t mean I was going to hold this family member at bay with a 10 foot pole. They love my children and my children love them.
On the flip side, that doesn’t mean my husband and I will be OK with them taking our kids for the summer (just using that as an example).
You see, aside from this recent “discovery,” this family member has always been…extremely free shall we say in the relationship department. Now if you want to swerve and curve in the sheets with whomever, that’s your personal choice — but do realize that while you might not have a problem with every piece of tail coming and going through your home, I do if you plan to have my children at your pad for a period of time (don’t act like people wouldn’t try to sneak a freak in the middle of the night). One can only hope they wouldn’t allow that part of their life to interfere with family time, but hey, you never know. Plus, I don’t know who the heck they may or may not have around my kids that they met off the site (potential safety issue).
To make matters worse, I later found out this said family member not only had an Ashley Madison account, but also one on a site called Adult Friend Finder. Now if you’re a bit clueless like me, you might think that was some social media sort of thing to reconnect with people. Wrong. It’s a site to find local butt, aka one night stands.
I feel a little better after speaking with this family member but know in the back of my mind I don’t want them trying to give my kids advice on certain things. No my little ones won’t be in a bubble, but I also don’t want to have to have them around potentially crazy situations.
Have sites like Ashley Madison ever made you change how you look at someone?
When you get to a certain age and a certain stature, you begin to look forward AND backward at the same time. And clearly, you stay entrenched in the present. Forward vision is a result of the possibilities that have yet to manifest themselves. The past, for me, involves dealing with what could have been or what has already manifested itself.
Mostly, I have current-day appreciation to those that unwittingly support me as I transverse through life.
I have long wanted to write something dedicated to the women who got me through life.
Vernese Edgehill, The Center For Black Culture
So, it took me sometime to realize this, but Vernese Edgehill may have saved me from the the gaping, jagged jaws of mediocrity. I’m sure you don’t know who Vernese is, so let me explain. When I was a student in my my early 20s, Vernese acted as the head of the Center for Black Culture at the University of Delaware. Now, the CBC (also proudly my initials) was the place where all the Black students got together in solitary. Verse and Sheila (RIP), the secretary, looked out for us, taught us how to conduct ourselves in business, and acted as guidance counselors (who we actually loved and respected) as students at a majority white school.
Vernese was also a surrogate mother to a lot of us, as I was away from home and didn’t go back very much. She never chastised me for my wonderfully messy college dorm room. Now, I am certain Vernese knows that the line between genius and megalomaniac is a fine one.
Hanifa Shabazz, Owner Of The Drumbeat
A Muslim sister took me under her wing as I was being cultivated into a collegiate revolutionary. Honestly, I never loved college as an institution. I just loved the vast resources at my disposal like the Mac Room, where all the Apple computers were. I also loved the radio station, where I posted up every Friday afternoon.
I managed to link up with Hanifa, who ran a bookstore with her then-spouse Hanif. She also ran a paper called The Drumbeat. Honestly, I cannot recall how, but we connected. I loved the fact that Hanifa meant I was able to plug into a “higher power.” I was a student activist that ran the Black Student paper called The Pamoja. The Pamoja became an insert in The Drumbeat, increasing our circulation to one of the biggest in the state. More importantly, Hanifa offered many, many lessons. We were fighting on-campus racism and needed guidance on all fronts. Hanif got us ready for the bigger war…a lifetime war against injustice.
My Strong Women Friends
I want to name them all of the women who helped me through one of the toughest times in my life, my divorce, but I can’t. So here are a few: Seandra, Gina, Elon, and Holly. All of the relationships are completely platonic. However, during that period, I needed to talk my way through life. A journal wasn’t getting it and, a therapist would have broke the banks with all the time I needed to talk my way through my circumstances. So, to those ladies – I salute you. I haven’t dated too crazily, but a couple of times, I was linked to very doting women that understood my frail condition and treated me accordingly, even when it was tough love. My homeboy told me these were my “angels of mercy.” They were there for a specific time, knowing it was limited. However, they may have saved my life had they not been there.
My Daughter, The Little Teacher
People probably know this, but even before my divorce, I had issues. My daughter gave me the strength and resolve to push through everything. She’s a real life inspiration that has taught me – the father and man – how to be more loving, caring, empathetic and patient. She teaches me the value of unconditional love in adulthood.
Mom, The Master Teacher
My mother is the adult version of my daughter – a master teacher through action. For example, my mom survived my father’s death and managed to flourish like no widow I’d ever seen. She’s managed to do better for herself than even when my dad was alive, fiscally speaking. Every so often, I want to have deeper conversations, but I really play observer. Every now and then, she will speak something that I will use, but more often, I watch her moves. She was a teacher (now retired) and he continues to do so in her everyday life. There are times when I encourage my mother to write a book to share with the world, but she is happy right now just to give to her sons and grand kid, I think. Maybe one day, the whole world will learn what I have from the woman who gave me life.
These women and young ladies are the gifts that keep giving. They continue to give me life and strengthen me with their spirit on a daily basis.
Child support cases and custody battles in the United States, at one point, were very straightforward. Mothers were given custody of the child or children because they were deemed better suited to provide stability. The fathers were ordered to pay child support and provided with visitation. But more recently, the topic of child support, custody and family has become more and more complex. While many Black men continue to combat and disprove the myth that they are all abandoning their children, the narrative remains the same. On top of that, many have stepped up to reclaim and reimagine what it means to be a Black father in this country. But for some, despite such efforts, the courts are unyielding when it comes to primary custody and what’s in the best interest of the child.
A friend of mine is in the midst of a court battle to be the custodial parent of his child. He doesn’t have a good relationship with his child’s mother, which has made co-parenting arrangements extremely difficult for him. But in terms of being a great caregiver, he’s stepped up and assumed that responsibility. As a single working father, he’s provided for his child. He’s covered medical expenses, childcare services, food, and clothing. He has a beautiful relationship with his daughter, and he wants to have her with him as primary guardian. But my friend is struggling with a biased court system that believes his child should be with the mother because she has been her from the very beginning. He feels this is unfair and has pleaded his case, stating that the child’s mother has proven herself to be unfit on more than one occasion. However, his pleas have gone unheard. This story and fight are more common than you think.
In 2014, a Texas man was sentenced to six months in prison for overpaying in child support after trying to cover payments he missed due to a clerical error in the automated withdrawals for support through his job. Come to find out, the automatic withdrawals were only happening sporadically, which Clifford Hall wasn’t aware of. When he received a notice of past-due support, he paid what he owed, and provided an additional $1,000 to ensure that he would stay in the clear. But it wasn’t enough. This story sparked outrage when Hall was sentenced, despite catching up on all his payments before his court date. Hall was eventually released in July of last year on a suspended sentence and placed on probation. This very bizarre situation brings to light that even when a single Black father is doing right by his child, there are still stereotypes in place that tell a narrative of his shortcomings, and laws in place that make him out to be the villain.
According to a report done by the CDC, Black fathers are 82 percent more likely to play with their children on a daily basis. They are 67 percent more likely to talk to their children about their day on a daily basis, and they are also 40 percent more likely to provide homework help to their children on a daily basis. So with these statistics that should be celebrated, and men like Hall and my friend, why then is the prevailing belief and only stories being shared that Black men are absent in their child’s life? Who is writing their narratives and shedding light on their presence in the Black community as fathers and role models?
Over the weekend, I went to a celebration that was partially a reality check that has just set in.
Al and Margo Seabrook simultaneously celebrated 50 years of marriage, a 75th birthday and a 70th birthday all in one fell swoop. It was a glorious affair that took place in Christiana, DE. While it was glorious, there was a somber undercurrent for me.
I grew up knowing Mr. Seabrook and his family, because he was one of my father’s best friends. We all had a lot of great, funny memories until my father died suddenly in the early 1990’s. At our table was Mrs. Privot, who was the widow of their other best friend, Mr. Privot. He died suddenly a month before my father died. It was a terrible time for the family. They didn’t make it to 50.
Now, we are starting to see it again.
Sean Price, a legendary rapper, father and husband, was laid to rest this week after dying in his sleep from an undiagnosed illness. A friend of mine, Brook Stephenson, died from a heart complications over the weekend like Sean Price. Another rapper, PH, also passed suddenly. He too was a great dude that was a beloved family man. All of them were under 50, easily. All of them were supermen in their own way.
I happen to think that women are the key to men living longer and more fulfilling lives.
We simply don’t innately go to the doctor. We are invincible by nature and then our humanity creeps up on us unannounced. We deal with symptoms and pain. We try diagnosing ourselves. That’s what happened to my Dad. He began having healthy ailments stemming from his job as an industrial arts teacher. And when he was in the hospital, he realized he should have listened to my mother all along.
When I was married, my then-wife saw a weird red mark on me and forced me to go to the doctor. It was nothing. Another instance, I had continued migraines and I was forced to go get some kind of MRI-type treatment to make sure I wasn’t about to have an aneurysm. Eventually, as my will to live increased, I began to go to the doctor regularly. My key to life is my daughter, to be perfectly honest.
In death, my dad gave me the heads up, though.
Even though I loved him dearly, I knew I was taught a valuable lesson about health and mortality. According to the CDC, the leading cause of death (as of 2013) for all Black men is heart disease with cancer coming in at a close second. Now, to keep it real, ages 15-34 die more readily to homicide, but as soon as we examine beyond that (ages 35 and up), it goes back to health. Now, we know all isn’t right and environmental racism is real, but things are changing. Men are aware. Keenly aware.
My friends and I are training for a marathon. I’ve gotten deeper into veganism, vegetarianism and just eating right. I see many of my comrades living a decidedly “clean” life in general. I am not a fool. I know everybody is not living this way, but I feel the tide is changing quickly in grown men. I still see young dudes playing around with high-powered drugs and reckless lifestyles. Women are going to need to change the standard since they are the rulers of the world. Men do what their wives/partners/lovers say do, being fully transparent.
Mrs. Margo Seabrook doted over her husband Al – we happens to be a chief in Ghana. It was clear that she was his watchtower, warding off danger at every turn. Similarly, he looked out for her, but in different ways, based on what I observed. As business owners in Wilmington, Delaware, they have had a partnership of epic proportions. I was proud to be there, watching their kids and grands lovingly commemorate their milestone. Truth be told, they are clearly the standard. I am praying that they are not the exceptions for long.
Long live The Seabrooks!
Paternity Fraud: If A Man Grows Close To A Child He Finds Out Is Not His, Should He Still Provide For Them?
A statistic shared by the American Association of Blood Banks in 2012 revealed that there were reportedly 100,000 out of 300,000 men who fall victim to paternity fraud per year in this country. According to an article published on a national Nigerian news site, a significant number of men in that country are unknowingly bringing up children who are not theirs biologically. More recently, DNA experts have found that these figures have increased in Nigeria within the past year. What’s going on here?
In the United States, paternity fraud is recognized and handled as a criminal offense. It happens more often than we think and is often done in an attempt to obtain higher child support benefits than can be provided by the biological father. Or better yet, to hide infidelity. It’s a messed up situation, however, in Nigeria, cases like these are often swept under the rug and rarely result in legal action. Culturally, West African fathers often care for their children as well as children born out of wedlock, children from extramarital affairs, and children from a different father if they are in a relationship with the mother. A majority of the cases have more to do with creating a stable family for the children regardless of if he’s the real father or not. In Nigeria and other African countries, it’s also not uncommon for some women to marry for status even if they already have children, and it is also not uncommon for men to have several women with whom they have children with. As for the way things play out Stateside, it’s much different. Men and women are less likely to care financially for a child who isn’t theirs biologically. Being a key figure or positive role model in a child’s life is one thing, but being mandated by courts into child support is another, and questions fairness. But it happens all the time. Just ask the singer Ne-Yo, who was forced to pay child support for a boy his ex-girlfriend made him believe was his own–until a DNA test cleared things up:
“In the state of California, if you put yourself out there as the father, the mother can then come after you in court like you’re the biological father,” Ne-Yo told VH1. “So we settled out of court for what I thought was an ungodly amount of money. Shortly after that, Jesseca and Chimere vanished.”
Across the globe, men are falling victim to paternity fraud and are being ordered by family courts to pay child support for kids who aren’t theirs. For cases in Nigeria, many of the men accept the responsibility of being the caretaker because it is much more affordable than getting tangled in a court battle. Some men have voiced that even when a DNA test proves the impossibility of fatherhood, it is still really difficult to get out of child support once it has been established. It’s sad because they shouldn’t have to be mandated to pay it if the child isn’t their own, especially since they were initially misled. However, paternity fraud is a complicated thing.
But if by choice they want to remain a father figure in the child’s life, that doesn’t involve the legal system. And while many people don’t stick around after being misled in such a way, some do because they are the only father figure the child knows. It’s a commendable thing to do for the sake of the kid, who is innocent in all of this.
So I ask, if the tables were turned and you were a man who found out that a child you cared for wasn’t your own, would you continue to be in their life? What if the child has grown considerably close to you? Would you continue to provide for them?