All Articles Tagged "Parenting"

The Parental Shift: How Parents Can Help A Challenging Child

November 24th, 2015 - By MommyNoire Editor
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By Patrice Tartt

Tantrums, ears that won’t listen, mouths that seem to always let out loud whiny sounds, and mommies who are tired of talking to a toddler and preschool-aged challenged child, who seem to think they are the boss.

You know, the little ones who want to just simply do what they want to do?

If you are a mommy, then this may sound all too familiar, and if you happened to be lucky enough to miss this phase, then you are blessed (smile). Ages two through four can be very challenging for a lot of parents, especially when you have a child with an extremely strong personality type such as my little one who is four. For the past year or so, it seemed like once my son turned four, we were almost going backwards and in the wrong direction. There were many tears shed, many headaches, a lot of research for answers, many conversations with experts and other parents to get to the bottom of why I was experiencing this with my child. It reached a point where there were many phone calls from his daycare to his father and I about his behavior several times a week, and it reached a certain point where one particular week, it seemed like it was every day his school was calling about one behavioral issue after another. After having to leave work several times, it got to the point where I knew I had to find a solution to this and trust me, I conducted a lot of research looking for answers of how I could “fix” the behavioral issues, however I was unable to come up with the right solution that worked for my son.

One day I had an epiphany. It finally hit me that the change would have to start with me. There was a parental shift that needed to happen that had nothing to do with my son. Now, don’t get me wrong, and misconstrue what I mean by this. I don’t mean that my parenting was bad or wasn’t what my son needed. What I mean is that I had to take a few steps back, “woosah” a few times, and realize that in order to see change in my son, I had to change some things that weren’t necessarily broken in my parenting, but some things that simply weren’t working for my son. These things would have been anything that my son did not respond well to, things that were counterproductive to the betterment of his behavior.

For example, here is a scenario that we as parents grow weary of, and that is having to constantly repeat ourselves over and over simply because our children choose not to follow direction. Well, after so many times of telling our children what to do, our voice may elevate a bit, okay, fine..we may resort to raising our voice. This was one of the things that I had to change. Now, I wouldn’t get into a screaming match with him by any means, but after a while, patience is simply non-existent when you have made the same request multiple times, and that little person that stands before you, looking just like you might I add, is challenging you in a “I’m going to do what I want to do” type of ordeal. This can become extremely frustrating and cause one to lose patience, quickly. So, that is one of the things that I changed.

The next was being consistent in the consequences if he did not do as he was told, or if he had an extremely bad day at school. For example, since he loves his iPad, he wouldn’t be able to use his iPad for either a certain amount of time, or he would lose his iPad privileges for that day. Now, balance is key, therefore whenever he had a good day, he would be rewarded with what I felt was appropriate whether it was a cupcake or anything else that I know that he really likes and enjoys as far as activity. After a while I began to notice a drastic change with him and the behavioral issues started to become less and less at school. There are days in which he may have a bad day, and that is okay because we all have bad days, but it was nothing like it used to be.

Here are a few tips on how you can make a parental shift if you are experiencing reoccurring issues with your child:

  1. Assess the situation. Pay attention to your child’s behavior as well as your response to the behavior. Whatever isn’t working; eliminate it from you’re the routine of how you respond.

  2. Go above and beyond with praise and rewards when your child has a good day and let them know how much you appreciate their good behavior.

  3. If you are experiencing problems at school, be sure that you get laser focused on what the issues are at school vs. what you would see at home or vice versa, and effectively communicate a plan that you implement at home or vice versa that works, so that both the school environment and home environment are one in the same.

  4. Remember to be consistent with the consequence and explain to your child “the reason why you can’t do this is because you did not follow directions or didn’t do this” etc. so that they are fully aware of why you are not happy with their behavior.

  5. Always redirect. When your child isn’t doing what they should be doing, simply redirect them to what they should be doing. Redirecting assists in your children getting a better understanding of what they aren’t supposed to be doing and what is to be expected of them.

Merrily Blended: 7 Tips for Holiday Co-Parenting Peace

November 24th, 2015 - By MommyNoire Editor
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By Mimi Scarlett

The most wonderful time of the year is upon us. A time of the year where society inundates us with the message that everyone is full of good cheer and existing peacefully with their family and loved ones. Truth of the matter is, the holidays are a time of turmoil for some for a plethora of reasons.

Those who co-parent may often find handing their child over to the other parent during the holiday season to be an especially hard time especially when young children are involved. While others are gathering together, having to hand your child off to the non-custodial parent or having to be without your child can be very difficult.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Thanksgiving through Christmas is an exciting and amazing time for young children. It isn’t far removed to say that a parent who has been minimally active during the child’s life for a large part of the year will find ways to make themselves relevant during the holidays to win over young children who aren’t old enough to understand that gifts don’t make all things better. I would be equally remiss not to mention those minimally involved parents who find a way to disappear during the holidays to avoid any further financial obligations that comes with the season.

Not all co-parenting arrangements fall under the above scenarios; there are as many individuals have found ways to peacefully co-parent but even in this some find it hard to let their children go during the holidays as they miss those magical memories that bring a certain joy to parenthood.

Whatever situation you may fall under as a parent, here are 7 tips to help bring holiday co-parenting peace.

1. Communicate and Plan Ahead: If you are the custodial parent reluctantly handing off your child but still wants to be somewhat involved, talk over scenarios with the other parent. Share your holiday plans with the other parent far in advance to plan out a course of action that will be beneficial to both parents.  Also discuss what you want the holidays to represent for your child. If one parent believes in Santa and the other doesn’t, try to come to an agreement on what you will collectively represent to your child regarding the holiday season.

2. Utilize Technology: While you may not be able to be there in person, technologies such as Skype and Facetime will allow you to see your child open their gifts on Christmas day. This would be a great option for the child as well. Just as you are missing them, they will be missing you and seeing your face would really make their day even more special

3. Create your own tradition: While we know Thanksgiving is the last Thursday in November and December 25th is the day we recognize Christmas, you are free to create your own traditions. Recreate the special day at your home at an earlier or later date. Work with the other parent to maintain this tradition even when the child isn’t in their home at those times. Just a little something unique to give your child about the co-parenting experience.

4. Collectively Participate in Seasonal Activities: I know, this can be a farfetched idea but there are families that have blended well and are able to come together peacefully for the sake of the child(ren). Not there yet? Try talking through this with the other parent. Maybe start small with just a dinner together or a holiday outing to the skating rink or on a field trip. Collaborating on small outings throughout the year may open the door for certain holiday traditions to be shared together.

5. Be Social: If you are not in the position to be with your child during the holidays due to distance or a strained relationship, get out and be social. Children take up the majority of our time and when they are not with us it is easy to sit around and twiddle our thumbs. Take this time to reconnect with friends and family. Do some of the things you are not able to easily do parenting a child solo. While it may be hard to be without your child take the time to focus on you and refresh.

6. Create a No Compete Zone: Of course the way to a child’s heart is through lots of toys. That was sarcasm. While your finances may not allow for the purchase of the season’s hottest must have toys, but the other parent is able to do those things don’t put yourself in a financial bind. As a custodial parent you take on a far greater burden, and are there daily. Those moments are the ones that count, not the number of gifts you present during Christmas

7. Seek Legal Help: While some co-parenting relationships are productive there are others that are strained or have come to an impasse on how to proceed. If you are refusing to let your child spend time with the other parent for any reason and that parent is arguing their right, seek legal help via the court or mediation. Sometimes it is hard to put personal differences to the side for the well being of the child. While having someone order you to let your child spend time with the other parent can be just as stressful, at the very least the mandate is court appointed and must be upheld taking the stress from having to deal with the other parent year after year regarding visitation and custody.

Are You Dating Your Baby? The Appropriate Places To Take Children

November 20th, 2015 - By Clarissa Joan
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I recently took my six-month-old to an evening play. Upon entering the theater, the entire audience took note of my presence, me, woman with baby. (Insert Scary Orchestra Music Here: Da da da daa) Of course they were all smiles at the baby, but I could see in their eyes the ruminating process over whether or not a screaming infant would interrupt their night on the town.

At the end of the play, many of the audience members, and even some of the cast members, complimented me on how well behaved and engaged my baby was during the production. I appreciated their feedback, but it also made me think about my social life as a mom? Are most people not dating their babies? Where does society think babies and mommies and daddies belong?

A recent scientific study showed that parenthood decreases the happiness level of adults more than divorce and unemployment. But did you know that one of the major causes of unhappiness is a lack of social connection? Psychology Today reports that a lack of social connection is a greater detriment to health than obesitysmoking and high blood pressure. 

Be honest, as a parent, how much did your social life improve or decrease after having children? I’d guess that most of the parents reading this article stopped interacting with other adults on a regular basis after having children. I’d also bet that most parents schedule their time around household needs i.e. bills, food, and work/school more than activities just for fun and quality time. If our happiness is connected to our social lives and our social lives decrease after parenthood, how can we be happy parents raising happy children?

There are no other options. We must date our babies.

We have two daughters and they are both under the age of two. We have taken them everywhere. They’ve enjoyed 13 hour road trips, six hour plane rides, 12 hour work conferences, concerts, musical productions, cheap dinners, expensive dinners, parks, playgrounds, churches, hotels, shopping malls, the grocery store, dentist’s appointments, funerals, birthday parties, museums, movie theaters, the beach, the hair salon, the barbershop, nail salons, work meetings, and the homes of relatives.

Our children are not extra terrestrial babies who do not make noise and enjoy sitting still. They are normal little people with short attention spans and little understanding of the word “no.” I believe the difference is that we make no apologies or excuses for their presence. Where we go, our children go. And I believe, this should be the norm for all families.

I don’t think that it is fair to ostracize parents and families. As parents, most of us know the horrible feeling of being alone with our newborn baby for six weeks while everyone else is at work or elsewhere. It takes a lot of mental stamina and self-confidence to overcome the social anxiety of being alone with a baby during this transition.

I remember when our oldest daughter was born in January. Before our daughter was born, I interacted with other people every single day via work, shopping or just fun. Then when our daughter was born, I was home alone every day except for an hour to the grocery store on Mondays. That was unacceptable.

When we found out that we were pregnant again, I immediately prioritized my husband being home and available to support our growing family for more than a week. This decision was the best decision we ever made. Being able to enjoy our babies together with the freedom to come and go as we pleased improved our happiness.

Dinners with friends, manicures and pedicures, shopping, the movie theater, conferences, the spa for massage therapy, church etc. Having two children has been better than one, because we prioritized still being social adults. Now, we are a social family.

Parenthood does not have to contribute to the social death of parents. Date your baby, and ignore the haters. The appropriate place for your child to be is where ever you both are happy.


Clarissa Joan is a spiritual life coach and editor-in-chief of The Clarissa Joan Experience. She resides in Philadelphia, Pa with her Husband, their two girls, and a yorkie named Ace. Clarissa is also an expert in impact investing. She is the Communications Associate at Impact America Fund.

Is It Wrong To Deny Your Birth Child The Opportunity To Meet You After They’ve Been Adopted?

November 9th, 2015 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Thanks to Lifetime, many of us have been privy to see how adopted children fictionally heal from their abandonment issues. Usually in these made-for-television films, adopted children magically reunite with their birth parents, gain a new set of siblings and live happily ever after, if they’re lucky. In the real world, an adopted child’s luck may not stretch as far.

Last week, Maggie Geimer wrote a poignant piece for XOJane about her birth mother who didn’t want to meet her. Before readers got into the details about her birth mother’s sting of rejection, Geimer allowed them to enter her world where her supportive adoptive parents gave her nothing but honesty, love and care. They told her she was not their biological child since she was a toddler through fairy tales: “Once upon a time there was a king and a queen who wanted a baby more than anything. They were very sad that they didn’t have a baby so they went to a magical place called an adoption agency, where there was a little princess. The princess came home with the king and queen and they lived happily ever after. And do you know what? That little princess is you!”

As Geimer transitioned into her teenage years, angst began to fill her once she felt she was not entirely understood by her parents. Like most teens who believe those outside their immediate family understand them better, Geimer began to fantasize about life with her biological mother and how it may be better than with her adoptive parents. She revealed in her piece, “I knew her extremely common name, the fact she was short like me and that she was talkative, also like me. An overactive imagination took over from there and created the perfect parent.” As Geimer became older, she shifted her focus on entering college and new relationships, though thoughts of meeting her birth mother mounted.

Since Geimer had a closed adoption, she had to wait until she was 21 to receive her original birth certificate. When she did receive it, she immediately tried all channels to search for her birth mother, eventually finding her on Facebook. She decided to send her a message and also found a counselor from her adoption agency to help her with the process. Unfortunately, Geimer’s search was cut short with a letter her birth mother sent the adoption agency, detailing her medical history and a note explaining she would not like to be contacted by Geimer. The news broke Geimer’s heart but also freed her from feeling guilty about searching for her mother— a turmoil most adoptive children face because they feel like they have to choose between their biological and adoptive families.

Although Geimer received her own epiphanies about her birth mother, as a reader I was stunned and deeply disappointed. Geimer’s mother’s personal issues became the deciding factor in why she didn’t want to connect with her daughter, though a fraction of me feels it’s a sad excuse. I understand the decision to have a closed adoption but I also believe adoptive children are owed the opportunity to meet their birth parents and extended family and the opportunity it offers to feel “whole,” especially when many feel  like an outsider within their adoptive families. I have two cousins who were adopted and behaved irrationally prior to being introduced to their birth families. I am sure if they never received the opportunity to create those bonds with them, their lives and even mental health would have taken a turn for the worse.

Although each family’s story is different and birth parents are not fully responsible for their children’s emotions as they navigate life, should they be mandated to at least met with them when they’re adults?

What Is Instagram? Everything Parents Need To Know

November 6th, 2015 - By MommyNoire Editor
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by Jessa Barron

Facebook is still one of the most popular social media platforms around, but as more and more adults are joining it, teens are opting for newer channels to share selfies and photos with friends. One of those channels is the Facebook-owned Instagram, which is a popular photo and video-sharing app available on most smartphones and tablets. With more than 50 percent of American teens using Instagram, it’s an app that parents should not only understand, but also make sure their teens are using safely. To help parents get a better grasp on how Instagram works, we’ve highlighted everything you need to know about the app.

What is Instagram?

Instagram launched a little over five years ago and currently has over 400 million users worldwide, according to the company. It started as a photo-sharing app, but has since grown to include videos and a private messaging feature as well. Here’s how it works: users upload photos or videos from their smartphones and publish it on their profile for anyone who “follows” them to see. If a user doesn’t opt to make their profile private, anyone who has an account with app can see what they’re sharing on the platform by searching for their username or a hashtag they attached to a photo.

Unlike Snapchat, the app is available on more than iOS and Android devices. It can also be used on Windows phones, and there is a limited web version available, which doesn’t allow users to post anything, but they can still log in and see what their followers are posting. This also means that anyone with an Instagram account can see what your child is posting (if their account is public). It should be noted that public accounts can also be found using a search engine — meaning if someone searches for your child’s name and “Instagram,” they can find the account.

Is there any reason to be concerned with my kids using Instagram?

As previously mentioned, public Instagram accounts can essentially be viewed by anyone with an Internet-enabled device; you don’t need an Instagram account to see what others are posting. This might cause some concern for parents, especially those with younger children who aren’t fully aware of how public their Instagram photos and videos are.

Additionally, the apps messaging feature could also be of concern to parents. Much like Twitter’s direct messaging options, when Instagram first unrolled this feature, it only allowed users to send and receive messages from mutual followers — both you and the user had to follow each other in order to send or receive messages. Now, however, anyone can send a direct message to any user — regardless of if they are following them back or not. As such, parents have no control over who is trying to contact their child.

Another aspect that parents should take note of is Instagram’s terms of use, which states that “you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service … including but not limited to sections 3 (“Sharing of Your Information”), 4 (“How We Store Your Information”), and 5 (“Your Choices About Your Information”).” This essentially means Instagram has the legal right to use or share anything you post on the app. By simply downloading the app and creating an account, you will be required to agree to these terms of use, which you can read in full here.

How can I make sure my kids are being safe on Instagram?

Because Instagram does offer users the option to make profiles private, you should make sure that your child has this feature enabled. While there is no way to keep anything online completely private these days, this can be a helpful safeguard to keep your child’s profile away from unwanted eyes. To do this, log into your child’s profile using their smartphone and click on the three vertical dots on the top right corner — this will bring you to the Options page. From there, you click on the toggle button next to Private Account (as shown in the photo below), select OK and you’re all set.

Instagram safety


In addition, you should also speak with your children about the importance of keeping their photos and videos just between their friends and people they know in real life. Let them know that they can come talk to you should a stranger try to contact or follow them using any social media platform (not only Instagram). Keeping an open line of communication when it comes to social media is a great way to let your child know you’re there to help them in these situations.

Looking for an extra level of monitoring? A parental control software may be a big help, especially Net Nanny’s software. Its standard parental control license only monitors Facebook, however its add-on, Net Nanny Social, monitors your child’s friends list/followers, pictures and posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+ and LinkedIn. With Net Nanny Social, parents can keep track of activity on all these platforms at all times — even when their child is away at school — as it also monitors these networks on a variety of Internet access points, including 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi, home network and hot spot connections. Read our Net Nanny review to learn more about the top-rated software.

Also, follow our parental controls blog to get more tips on how you can protect your children from cyberbullying and other online threats.

Reprinted with permission from Next Advisor.

The Importance Of Crying

November 3rd, 2015 - By Clarissa Joan
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"crying baby pf"


When our oldest daughter was born, I always responded to her cries. Any time she became unsettled, I immediately prioritized understanding why she was upset, and then I assisted her with stabilizing her feelings. A lot of people would communicate to me that this was not a good practice and that I was spoiling my child. I ignored them.

Prior to birthing our children into this world, I read a lot of research on happy babies, child development and parenting.  Why? Because I believe that wisdom is our greatest teacher.

There are two ways to learn something: you can either be taught in a safe environment, or you can learn on your own accord that may or may not be safe. Funny enough, most experts will tell you that safety is the brains number one priority and without it one has trouble processing any thing else.

For example, have you ever been really hungry and not able to think until you finally ate? This is because without food we cannot survive. Knowing this, our brains shut down to remind us to eat.

In the book, Brain Rules for Babies, brain scientist, John Medina puts it like this:

“If you want a well-educated child, you must create an environment of safety. When the brain’s safety needs are met, it will allow its neurons to moonlight in algebra classes.”

In other words, if one feels unsafe, they have a hard time functioning in this world.

I did not know this information prior to motherhood, but my infant child’s screams were enough to keep me on high alert in response to all her needs. If crying is the only method of communication an infant knows, how could I let my child cry without response?  Also, if feeling safe is a requirement for learning, I could not expect my child to advance her communication skills beyond crying if I ignored her.  

This brings me to the modern day taboo about crying and being vulnerable. On the one hand we have the “cry it out” parenting method. Then as children mature, we respond to their crying with the infamous or not, “You betta not cry!”

It is my belief, and according to experts in the parenting realm, that ignoring your child’s cries and/or shaming their vulnerability causes more harm than good.

I have heard over and over again this response to crying, “she just wants attention.”  The tone of this statement normally implies that attention is something wrong to want and/or have.

But what is crying and what is the need for attention?

”Crying is a natural emotional response to certain feelings, usually sadness and hurt. But then people [also] cry under other circumstances and occasions,” says Stephen Sideroff, PhD, a staff psychologist at Santa Monica–University of California Los Angeles & Orthopedic in the WebMD article titled, “Why We Cry: The Truth About Tearing Up.”  

Translation: Crying indicates how we feel, thus the response to our cries indicates how others feel about us.  This truth suggests that ignoring the cries of each other births insecurities and unhealthy relationships. It makes sense now that lots of people have a hard time, even as adults, communicating with their feelings. They are use to being ignored and/or falsely pacified. Hint hint: Pacifier…

If we are taught not to cry or share our feelings, then we are simultaneously taught that no one cares about how we feel and that we should pretend as if nothing is wrong with us even though it is.

How, then, do we learn how to relate to one another if we lack the capacity to communicate our own truth?  We don’t!

We are taught that if someone is crying, run away and leave them alone to figure it out. Or if someone is crying, blame him or her for making us feel bad. Or if someone is crying, feed him or her. If you are an emotional eater, this is quite possibly what happened to you as a child. Whenever you were upset instead of hugging you and teaching you how to communicate your feelings, they fed you until you fell asleep.

This needs to stop. We have created a culture where not crying means that you are tough, but in reality it means the opposite. Not crying means you lack the courage and ability to be honest about how you feel and to address your discomfort.

As a child we are taught emotional stability or instability from our primary caretakers. I am not pointing fingers. I am just being honest. I know both ends of the spectrum. I was taught not to cry as a child. Then as an adult, I developed anxiety from not being able to properly process my own feelings. Now as a mother, I have learned from my past dysfunction and I am using my wisdom to teach my children otherwise.

Crying is healthy. “It’s a signal you need to address something.” says Jodi DeLuca, PhD, a neuropsychologist at Tampa General Hospital in the WebMD article titled, “Why We Cry: The Truth About Tearing Up.”  

I must admit that evolving into a person who embraces vulnerability for the sake of her children’s welfare has not been easy. I have had many internal battles where I question my sanity for being overly sensitive. However, the rewards of my emotional awareness are priceless.

The other night, I found myself crying while watching “Titantic” on cable. When my daughter noticed my demeanor, she immediately came to my aid. First, she climbed into my lap. Then she put my head on her chest, wrapped her arms around me, and patted my back. At that point, my tears then turned into sobs. Funny, I know!

But, the fact that she returned to me the same attentiveness I have struggled to teach her is worth every criticism and doubt I ever plagued myself with over crying.

Why Do Parents Dress Their Kids In Ridiculous Costumes On Halloween?

November 2nd, 2015 - By Chuck Creekmur
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I’m a big kid at heart, despite my reputation as a genius, billionaire, playboy and philanthropist. Laugh if you will, but I’ve always been into comic books, creativity, day dreaming and other forms of self-generated, introverted mental stimulation.

So, I have always been fond of the great pagan holiday Halloween, because it allows me to dress up as something cool and also see children express their creative, all for a couple pieces of diabetes inducing treats. I get it. This year I was The Incredible Hulk and I committed to the character by tearing up some old clothing I could have donated to somebody in need. But, I wanted to go in. Dedication.

As I perused over social media, I noticed that other parents were committed in other ways with their kids. I saw a number of “costumes” that were inappropriate, ignorant and dumb, however entertaining they came across on the Facebook feed. The one that drove me over the edge was a parent that dressed kids up as Kevin Hart and his fiancée Eniko Parrish. In the original image of celebrity couple, they are dressed up with Eniko in a plunging neckline. The parents replicated the picture and dress the girl with cleavage to have her look as much like Eniko as possible.

Cleavage, fam? And since when was Kevin Hart and his fiancée worthy of a Halloween costume anyway? I’ll answer that in a bit.

That wasn’t the only one. I and others griped about the mass movement (there were several) to dress kids up like Cookie of the hit show “Empire.” I saw small children dressed up as Niggaz With Attitude – N.W.A. Nice. I also saw others that were less offensive, but just dumb. Ok, so I chuckled at Lil’ Katt Williams, but why? Are you not entertained?

Sexualizing kids. What the hell is wrong with parents? Kids don’t even know who they are dressing up as. And if they do, that’s an even bigger issue. This means, there’s a double wrong happening. If your children watch “Empire,” Katt Williams specials or listen to N.W.A. we have a major issue. So why do it?

katt william halloween costume

Social media. Attention. I can only assume that a parent, being a fan of Kevin Hart, dresses their kids like him in hopes that he/she will get noticed by the super star  comedian. Then, Kevin retweets to millions of follows and viral sensation ensues. Right? The kids are now famous! Yay. Perhaps I am taking this too far. Maybe not. This is how people are raising their kids and we wonder why our communities are messed up. Historically, Black parents would pull out a switch if their kids did some dumb mess like that, but now today’s parents are the ones perpetuating it. Low values. No self-respect. Whoring for attention. At any cost.

Grow up. Let kids be kids. Join in on the fun. Part of the reason why I like Halloween so much is because I fondly remember making my costumes with my dad, the creative king of that era. My brother, my dad and me. One year I was Super Chucky. And we made a sword, a shield and armor. I was my own super hero. Who are the heroes now? Cookie? Sure, I didn’t see any “Cookies” as I gave out candy this year (which I have not done in over a decade, because I generally refuse to contribute to the sugar addiction that ravages our communities), but social media pushed me to see plenty of inappropriate costumes.

While it may not be an epidemic, its definitely problematic. Why? Because nobody thinks there’s anything wrong.

How many ridiculous costumes did you see this year?

Have The AIDS Talk With Your Kids, Because Alicia Keys Said So

November 2nd, 2015 - By Clarissa Joan
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Alicia Keys

Splash News

Human Immunodeficiency Virus infection  (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) are a spectrum of conditions that affect over 35 million people worldwide. According to the Center for Disease Control, African Americans have the most severe burden of all racial/ethnic groups by accounting for 44 percent of new cases. Also known as HIV/AIDS, these conditions destroy the body’s immune system’s ability to protect its self against harmful bacteria and other illnesses.

In 2003, Grammy award winning superstar, Alicia Keys, co-founded the Keep A Child Alive organization to realize the end of HIV/AIDS. Now, 12 years later, she believes its time for parents to talk to their kids about the impact of HIV/AIDS. PEOPLE magazine interviewed Keys about her thoughts on the subject as it relates to parenting.

“It’s important to talk to our kids about having compassion and not ostracizing people who are infected or affected by AIDS. We must understand this is something we still are fighting and we can make tremendous strives if we keep this at the top of our list. We’ve come so far, and it would be such a shame not to take it all the way. My dream – the dream we all have – is to know we have created an AIDS-free generation. And we can do that. I hope that people who read this will be inspired to join us, learn more and be part of the end.”

This coming November 5, 2015, Keys and her staff at Keep A Child Alive will be hosting their annual fundraising gala, The Black Ball at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. Last year alone the event raised $2.4 million for the organization. In it’s 12 year long history fighting the epidemic worldwide, KCA has served over 300,000 people and they have witnessed improvements in the lifestyles of those living with disease. Medications now exist that make it 96 percent less likely that a person with the conditions will pass it on to a partner or loved one.

But what does all of this have to do with you and your child? Is it Alicia Keys’ business, how you communicate social issues in your home, and why does she care?

When Keys was young, her mother’s good friend passed away from HIV/AIDS.

“My mother’s friend passed from AIDS,” the singer, 34, told PEOPLE. “I think I was eight or nine-years-old. I was old enough to know that he wasn’t there anymore and to ask for him. My mother, of course, couldn’t really explain to me what it meant.” 

In the PEOPLE interview Keys, now a mother herself, shares how she speaks to her own children about her work with Keep A Child Alive,

My oldest is only five, so I definitely talk to him about being compassionate for people in different circumstances. When I leave, he’ll say, “Mommy, where are you going?” or “When are you coming back?” I’ll tell him, “I’m helping some kids who are just like you and they need us to help them because they’d be really sick if we didn’t.”

She acknowledges that her toddler children are too young to understand the complexities of the illnesses, but that laying the foundation for compassion and understanding is still a priority of hers.

All children are different and they process new information on their own accord no matter what similarities they may have in age or grade level. With that being said, when should we speak to our children about death, sickness, poverty, illnesses, and common concerns about the preservation and the dignity of human life?

Are you ready to talk to your kids about HIV/AIDS? Do you believe this conversation will make a difference in their lives?

We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Clarissa Joan is a spiritual life coach and editor-in-chief of The Clarissa Joan Experience. She resides in Philadelphia, Pa with her Husband, their two girls, and a yorkie named Ace. Clarissa is also an expert in impact investing. She is the Communications Associate at Impact America Fund.


Pop Mom Daily: China Ends Its One-Child Policy, So Why Aren’t Some Chinese Women Happy?

October 30th, 2015 - By Erickka Sy Savane
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Yesterday China announced that it’s ending its One-Child Policy–which limited the number of children a family could have to one–which had been in place since 1979. Under the new policy, couples will be allowed to have two kids. While that isn’t a huge increase, if you’re a woman who has been affected by this rule, it’s a huge step. Under the old policy, women were forced to have abortions, hide their pregnancies, not report births, plus face outrageous fines that they couldn’t afford –it was crazy. Though I’m not a woman living in China, I kinda feel the same excitement that I felt when Germany brought down the Berlin Wall. I picture Chinese women multiplying like bunnies, having babies in elevators and cabs, making up for lost time.

New siblings for everyone!

So the next thing you know, I’m on the phone with my girlfriend Lee, whose kid goes to school with my kid.

“Hi Lee, I heard about China lifting the one-child policy. That’s great news!”

I’m waiting for her to come back with a high-five over the phone, but she’s lukewarm.

“Lee, what’s up?”

She goes on to say that it’s good news, but it’s not likely to change much of anything. “It’s expensive to have kids in China, she explains.

‘Yea, but it’s expensive here too,” I tell her. “Haven’t you ever heard the saying, ‘Every kid comes with his own loaf of bread?’”

She tells me that I don’t understand. People in China put a lot of investment into that one kid. He goes to the best schools and they spend a lot of money to make sure he succeeds because that’s all they have. People can’t just turn away from that way of thinking. It’s one of the consequences of having the rule.

Whoa. That makes sense. This kid is a family’s whole legacy in one shot. It makes me think about the pressure I always hear about Chinese parents putting on their kids in terms of education. It’s no joke.

She went on, “And a lot of women are resentful of the government for taking away their reproductive rights. Can you imagine how it would feel if the government decided that you could only have one child for the rest of your life? I understand that the population was getting out of hand, we are a billion plus in China, but it’s still not right.”

Indeed. I have two kids and everyday that I see a baby I start getting all tingly inside. As human beings, animals even, we’re here to procreate. That’s how we’re wired. I can’t imagine the government stepping in and deciding that it’s time for me to close up shop.

“And now that things have changed, now that they have an issue with too many old people and not enough young people to take care of them, they want us to start having more babies. They’re thinking about China’s future and wondering who is going to be there. Sorry, we’re not robots here to boost the government’s numbers at will. We’re human beings,” says Lee, getting upset.

I tell her that I’ll talk to her later.

After we get off the phone, I’m thinking about how we hear about things like a one-child policy over here and we have no idea how deep it gets. As a mom myself, I’m hoping that China can figure this out. I don’t know, maybe the government can offer some financial incentives to families who are thinking of having a second child. Or perhaps they could plaster happy families of four all over the country, make bigger families look fun, do anything to get people reproducing again.

I think about my own two kids and how much joy they bring and a part of me wants that for them- bump the government. Having babies is for us. Or at least it should be.

What do you think about the One-Child Policy ending?


Erickka Sy Savané is a freelance writer and creator of THE BREW, a left-leaning social commentary blog. Check out her daily column, Pop Mom Daily, right here on Madamenoire. Before Erickka began writing she was a model/actress/MTV VJ. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Jersey City. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.


Can A Child Choose Heaven Over The Hospital?

October 28th, 2015 - By Clarissa Joan
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Do not resuscitate (DNR), or no code, is a legal order written either in the hospital or on a legal form to withhold cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or advanced cardiac life support (ACLS), in respect of the wishes of a patient in case their heart were to stop or they were to stop breathing.

Each year more than 100,000 people are given the choice to refuse medical treatment in the event they become ill and cannot breathe on their own or their heart stops working. In most cases, the option of DNR is given to patients who painfully suffer from terminal illnesses, are above the age of 65, and the chance of regaining an optimal quality of life is slim.

A DNR patient chooses to die peacefully at home with their family or in a palliative care/hospice facility where their comfort and cleanliness while dying is the only attended concern. Families across America have conversations with ill loved ones every day to determine their status on receiving medical treatment. It is a hard conversation to have, but what if you had to have this conversation not with your elderly parent or adult spouse, but your young child?

Meet Julianna Snow (Insert Pic)

Julianna is a five-year-old girl with a severe case of an incurable neurodegenerative illness called Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. CMT, is a group of inherited disorders that affect the peripheral nerves, which are the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord. CMT is just one kind of neuropathy (also called peripheral neuropathy), meaning simply that the peripheral nerves are damaged. It affects about 2.8 million people worldwide, of all races and ethnic groups.

This is an excerpt from a letter Michelle, Julianna’s mother, sent to their family and friends on October 28, 2014.

“Dear Friends,

 You may or may not know that Julianna was hospitalized almost 3 weeks ago for another respiratory problem. She is better now and will come home tomorrow.

 In 2014, Julianna spent 66 days in the hospital. This was her third PICU [Pediatric Intensive Care Unit] admission in ten months. We tried so hard to keep her out of the hospital, but it seemed like nothing was working…

Julianna turned 4 in August. She is a bright, kind, funny and amazing girl who happens to have an awful, debilitating neuromuscular disease. The worst part of her disease is that it affects her breathing and swallowing – these are the things that ultimately shorten lifespan in people with neuromuscular disease… 

We don’t know how much time we have with her – it could be months, it could be years.”


Julianna has been lucky. Most children with her condition do not live to see their second birthday. She has made it to age five. However, it has not been an easy fight to stay alive. From the age of two, her muscles have been getting severely weaker and the slightest sickness i.e. your common cold ushers her to the hospital where she cannot be sedated but must painfully endure NT, Nasotracheal suctioning, the process of extracting mucus from the lungs with tubes through the nose.

Julianna cannot swallow so she is also fed through a tube in her stomach. She wears a breathing mask 24/7, and she is bound to a electrical wheel chair that her hand muscles are too weak to operate.

Last October, doctors told the family Julianna’s chances of survival post another infection were highly unlikely especially with any level of quality living. It was then that the family began to consider if any further painful medical treatment was worth it.

Mom Michelle shared the conversation they had with Julianna on her blog.

Michelle: Julianna, if you get sick again, do you want to go to the hospital again or stay home?

Julianna: Not the hospital.

Michelle: Even if that means that you will go to heaven if you stay home?

Julianna: Yes.

Michelle: And you know that mommy and daddy won’t come with you right away? You’ll go by yourself first.

Julianna: Don’t worry. God will take care of me.

Michelle: And if you go to the hospital, it may help you get better and let you come home again and spend more time with us. I need to make sure that you understand that. Hospital may let you have more time with mommy and daddy.

Julianna: I understand.

Michelle: (crying) – I’m sorry, Julianna. I know you don’t like it when I cry. It’s just that I will miss you so much.

Julianna: That’s OK. God will take care of me. He’s in my heart.


This is every parents worst nightmare. No one is suppose to bury their child. For most it happens suddenly without choice or consideration, but for this family it is happening painfully and slowly. Are they doing the right thing? Should a child be allowed to make decisions about his or her own quality of life and medical treatment?

The Snow family has chosen to honor their daughter’s wishes and not subject her to any further hospitalization should she get sick. They believe that Julianna is well aware of her own suffering and what options she has in the after life as well as those on earth. The next time Julianna gets sick, what happens next will be up to God, not a doctor.

Can a child choose heaven over the hospital? Would you let your child make that decision?


For more information on The Snow Family’s Story see CNN’s series coverage “Heaven or Hospital.”

Clarissa Joan is a spiritual life coach and editor-in-chief of The Clarissa Joan Experience. She resides in Philadelphia, Pa with her Husband, their two girls, and a yorkie named Ace. Clarissa is also an expert in impact investing. She is the Communications Associate at Impact America Fund.