All Articles Tagged "Parenting"

How Channelling My Inner Comedian Helps Me Parent My Child

May 25th, 2015 - By Kendra Koger
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Source: Shutterstock

People say that there’s no other job like being a parent, and they’re right.  However, there is one profession that I found has a few similarities and I was shocked when I realized it.

It all started when my mother, my daughter and I went shopping at a department store with shopping carts. (It just helps to lessen the opportunity for my babe to go running).  So there we were between the yoga mats and the blouses when my daughter picked up a toy from one of the stands in the aisle that held miscellaneous items.

Determined that I wasn’t going to raise a brat, I put my foot down and said:  “No, put it down.”  That’s when my daughter put her foot down and started to scream and cry.  While my mother also tried to calm her down, I tried one of the oldest tricks in the book: pointing and saying:  “Look over there!”  The moment she turned her head, I grabbed the item and quickly put it back.

I was expecting to hear her screaming and crying some more; but when I turned back to her, she was laughing. So hard.

Now, I’m not saying I’m an expert, I haven’t done any open mics since college, but there is a slight correlation between parenting and being a comedian.

First, the start is very rocky. For anyone who has followed the early trials of some popular comedians/comediennes, you know that their paths were littered with no’s, false starts and poverty.  That’s how parenting is.  You might have started off thinking about how amazing you were going to rise to each and every challenge; but when those daydreams become a reality, it can be very overwhelming.  Most things are never as initially great as we imagine them to be, especially when you start.  Jokes that you thought were going to kill lead to you getting heckled, and parenting tips that you memorized were greeted with tantrums and the feeling of failure.

Second, it teaches you how to handle negative energy and turn it into something positive.  While you’re handling the throws of heckling or tantrums, as you continue to mature in your chosen field you learn how to harness that energy.  You need to look no further than Dave Chappelle’s  brilliant turn around on the rude audience member who threw that banana peel at him on stage.

The most important thing in both fields is to not get overwhelmed with the energy that’s thrown at you, but redirect it to make things flow in the direction you want.

Third, it’s a very underrated field.  Yes, we have Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and there are some comedians/comediennes that make millions, but there tends to be people who overlook the hard work that comes with each position.

I once saw an interview that Phylicia Rashad gave that made her initially choose the field of comedy over drama.  Her college professor expressed to her that while drama focuses on emotion, comedy focuses on intellect.

You have to be, perceptive, and turn normal mundane things into something that is effectively poignant to be good at comedy.

In the same vein, parenting is a lot more than physically and financially providing for your child.  Its being there emotionally, giving each moment your all.  It’s a lot more than what some people think.

Fourth, variation is going to get you far.  If you look at some of your favorite comedians they have a strong comedic voice or expertise, but it’s their ability to add variations to their repertoire that leads to enduring success.  Though Jerry Seinfeld was comfortable with writing his own jokes and performing alone on stage, it was when he teamed up with Larry David and wrote a pilot that turned him from a successful comedian to a media mogul.

It’s the same with parenting.  I realized that I couldn’t tackle all of my daughter’s behaviors in the exact same manner.  I realized that by utilizing different approaches have helped me to engage her in ways that I didn’t realize would be successful.

Success comes from being open to changes and successfully going with the ebbs and flows of life and refusing to be capsized by the current.

Finally, hard work will pay off.  Jerry Seinfeld wouldn’t be where he is now if he gave up.  Neither would Kevin Hart, all of the Wayans, Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Mo’Nique, and any other prominent figure in comedy.

That’s the same with parenting.  The end result is a direct correlation of how hard you work.  Raising a well-adjusted child means no shortcuts, and being as fully engaged as you can be with your child.

So at the end, it’s up to you if your name is flashing in lights, or you’re still performing in front of a brick wall.  Either way, your results are your own doing, so make sure that each move you make is better than the other.

Did Y’all See? The Fix His Plate Debate And Parental Public Shaming

May 22nd, 2015 - By Brande Victorian
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This week on “Did Y’all See?” we’re debating motherly/wifely duties as we discuss the age-old fix his plate debate and the mother who publicly disciplined her 13-year-old daughter on Facebook for claiming to be a freak. Is it a woman’s job to cater to her man because if she doesn’t another woman will? Was the Facebook mom just doing what she had to do to stop her daughter from going down the wrong path or did she take public shaming too far? Watch as the editors debate these issues along with Janelle Monae’s classy curve toward Tyrese. Weigh in with your own thoughts below.

 

Are Millennials Depending On Their Parents Too Often For Financial Assistance?

May 18th, 2015 - By Tanvier Peart
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You know, I used to get so excited about the idea of being a part of the millennial generation. Aside from the name sounding pretty groovy, to me, it represented a group of young professionals who were going to change the game. Not only are we more technologically savvy but have such promise to impact society — and mold it into the change we wish to see.

While I’m certain fellow millennials still have this mindset, it’s pretty sad to hear some statistics.

Even though we’re the biggest generation in the workforce, we struggle in so many areas related to personal finance. Most of us carry high debt when it comes to credit cards and keep on using them, have trouble paying back student loans and delay common goals like homeownership.

Things on the work front don’t sound too dreamy either as millennials have the highest employee turnover rate that has bosses and managers calling us too “expensive.” We’re even labeled as the “me, me, me” generation that focuses on what others need to do for us instead of what we can do for ourselves.

All of this can get kind of depressing.

On one hand, we have so much promise — and purpose — to do something big. On the other end of the spectrum are tons of setbacks that seem to cast a negative light on who we are and what we’re about.

Even if some of us experience hard times, does that mean we point the finger to others and have them bail us out?

I was a little shocked to read 40 percent of millennials still receive financial assistance from their parents. I’ve heard of young professionals and college graduates moving back into their parents’ home in order to save money and get out of debt, but nothing like this.

From the look of things it appears parents are picking up the tab for cell phone bills, which is pretty harmless for the most part. If you have a good family plan you might decide to share the wealth. What’s interesting are the other areas where millennials receive financial assistance that include car insurance, gym memberships and extra money that functions as an allowance.

Are the hardships many of us millennials face an excuse to have our parents pay some, most or all of our bills?

Personally, I think the answer is no. It’s one thing if you’re doing everything you can to make a way for yourself, but a completely different story if you do the bare minimum and expect some bailout package from your family. There are friends of mind who work two jobs in order to get themselves out of debt and pay their bills. I also know of people who don’t mind living off their parents as they feel they’re the ones to blame for their mess. My parents never taught me the importance of saving and investing. While tips would’ve been nice, I had to research things on my own that have helped me realize how to get to my financial goals.

If you need help, you need help. Hopefully you’re doing everything you can to get yourself out the hole as there is a level of comfort that comes when you rely on a parent.

But how much assistance is too much?

Well This Is Pretty Cool: Toy Company Designs Dolls With Scars and Hearing Aids

May 17th, 2015 - By Courtney Whitaker
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Makies

Makies

Well this is something we love hearing.

The toy company Makies has designed a set of dolls that have scars, hearing aids, birth marks and walking sticks. The 3D printed dolls will have multiple accessories to highlight various disabilities. The company is also working on a new set of dolls that will come made-to-order with birthmarks.

Makies was inspired by the #ToylifeMe Campaign taking place on social media. The campaign calls for toys to be more inclusive for all of the different types of young girls.

The dolls currently retail at $108. Go Makies!

Dual-Earning Homes Share The Housework Equally… Until The First Baby Comes

May 11th, 2015 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Shutterstock

Dual-earner couples, according to a new study, live in a paradise of equally-shared household chores — well — at least before the first baby arrives. According to a new study, with that new bundle of joy, housework becomes a lot more one-sided, Newsweek reports.

Newsweek followed 182 dual-earning families who became parents for the first time. The lead investigator discovered that men generally did less chores and became less involved in child care after the first baby arrived.

This is despite the fact that both men and women, before and after the baby, worked the same amount of hours at their jobs — 40 hours per week.

Parenthood adds 15 hours of household work per week for men, which includes 10 hours of physical child care or the “less-fun” parts of parenting (e.g. changing diapers and bathing the baby) and five hours of enjoyable engagement (e.g. playing peek-a-boo). For women, on the other hand, they must shoulder an added 21 hours per week, which includes 15 hours of physical child care and six of hours of engagement.

After the baby, men cut down their housework hours by five hours a week while women only cutback by one hour.

How could one cute little ol’ baby cause such a lopsided division of labor in the household? Newsweek delves into it:

It is at this point that dual-career, college-educated couples stop sharing the work of the family equally and, we believe, fall back on what they observed in their own homes as children. They are also more likely to adopt societal norms that dictate what mothers and fathers should do: housework and child care as the domain of moms, with dads acting as supportive partners.

Interestingly, men don’t even notice that they’re slacking off after the arrival of the baby. When Newsweek asked the men how many hours they put into the housework, they believed they devoted 30 hours a week in chores. But Newsweek’s study, as stated earlier, calculated a much smaller contribution from the male side.

Newsweek suggests the obvious: Men need to take the initiative to help around the house a lot more. However, the magazine adds that women are not likely to demand a more equal share of chores because societal norms teach women to be primarily responsible for childcare and housework.

“Men ought to learn how to take on roles and duties as dads that they never engaged in growing up,” Newsweek concludes.

Having An Open Mind: My Experience Dating Men With Children After Being Against It

April 30th, 2015 - By Deja Jones
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When I was younger, during my college days, my friends and I swore that we would never date a man with children. This was mainly because growing up in my neighborhood, we were only accustomed to one type of single dad, and that was one who was barely present in his child’s life–an irresponsible dead beat. I also felt this way because I believed that when I finally shared parenting responsibilities with a man, I wanted it to be a first experience for the both of us.

I felt this way until I met a guy I really liked, only to find out that he had kids.

We met on the web and exchanged numbers. We talked every day through phone calls and text messages. We even FaceTimed each other. I was happy to see that we had a lot in common. Like me, he was interested in making healthy lifestyle choices. He was also an educated man who loved and looked fantastic in a good suit. We exchanged account names for social media, and I learned through his Instagram that he had a daughter. A four-year-old.

I thought about what I had said when I was in college: A man with kids is a no-no. I don’t want the drama. I don’t want to be groomed to be a child’s stepmother.

But then I had to think about dating from the perspective of a parent. He was still a person, and I would feel bad if I didn’t give him a chance just because he had a kid. I liked him, so I tried to have an open mind.

However, I learned there was another child later on, an infant only six months old. I had to do the math because something wasn’t adding up. Again, while I liked him, I learned that he was not an upfront person, and that was the deal breaker for me. How did two kids pop up out of nowhere? I felt like there was more to him than he was revealing, so I ceased communication with him.

Still, I learned a lot from that situation. Even though my friends and I swore that we would never date men with children, I’m learning that having kids doesn’t automatically make you unsuitable for dating. You can still date someone with children, but there is a way to be responsible without affecting the child. It is important to remember that you are dating him, not his kids. They have a mother. If it’s just a casual situation or the beginning stages where the two of you are still trying to figure each other out, there’s no need to stress or obsess over his responsibilities.

But he should be upfront about his children. For those of you dating with kids, I understand that sometimes you don’t disclose that information because you want to have a social life and would like to keep certain things separate, but honestly, everything will eventually overlap once things pick up with the person you are dating. It’s only fair to be straightforward instead of dropping bombs later because some people may not really be okay with dating people with children.

When dating a guy with kids, find out what kind of package deal he comes with. If he has a child, what type of dealings does he have with the child’s mother? What is their relationship like? How would that potentially affect you in terms of dating? If avoiding drama with the mother doesn’t seem doable, then run for the hills and never look back. You will never fully get to experience or enjoy your relationship if there’s always a third party stirring the pot.

It is also important to set boundaries with him involving his child. For example, unless things are getting serious between the two of you, you shouldn’t feel obligated to spend time with his child. If it’s just casual dating, then you need to remember that you are just dating him. Plus, the child’s mother may not be happy about a complete stranger being around their child so closely.

Also, be sure to observe what type of father he is. Is he responsible with his child? Does he make being a father a full-time job or is he a part-time dad? Is he a provider? When you see what type of father he is, it allows you to see him in a different light. You can tell when someone knows how to handle their business and when someone doesn’t. Would you want to be with someone who doesn’t treat being a father as if it were a precious gift? Someone who isn’t responsible?

If you’re an individual who demands a lot of attention, you may also want to be honest with yourself about whether or not you are okay with being second in a man’s life. Don’t expect him to have loads of time on his hands. If he’s a responsible dad and works hard to provide for his child, you can’t fault him for it, but also don’t think that you have to settle for a lack of time together if it’s not something you’re comfortable with. He will make time for you if he’s truly invested in getting to know you. But NEVER think it’s okay to put him in a position where he has to choose between spending time with his kid or quality time with you. If things get serious and he lets you into that part of his life, then great! You can get to know his child and have outings and do fun things together. But until then, accept that his child is his first priority.

Dating a guy with kids definitely gave me a different perspective when it comes to my preferences. Dating a man with children is always a delicate situation, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. But you should consider these things before you dive in too deep.

Could You Turn Your Child In To Police If He/She Committed A Heinous Crime?

April 27th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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Could You Turn Your Child In To Police

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With law enforcement killing innocent or unarmed Black people with alarming frequency, many of us can’t imagine willingly turning our relatives in to the police.

But that’s exactly what one Chicago-area woman did. According to NBC Chicago, after seeing surveillance photographs of her 15-year-old son on the news, she turned him in to the Maywood Police station.

The boy, who’s name has been released to the media despite his status as a minor, allegedly took $2,000 from his victim and used it to pay for his graduation fees, friends, junk food and Air Jordan track suits, last Monday, April 20.

But it wasn’t just robbery.

Prosecutors said the middle school student dragged his victim, a 41-year-old woman by her hair, punching her repeatedly before sitting on her head. When she was lying on the ground of the train, in the fetal position, he thrust himself against her and placed his hands inside of her pants, sexually assaulting her. He also groped her on the outside of her clothes and slapped her buttocks.

No one was on the train at the time, so he dragged her to another enclosed area where he pushed her face down and allegedly kept punching, kicking and stomping all over her body demanding cash.

He eventually took the money from her purse and picked up her iPhone from off the ground. He told the woman not to move until he left. When the doors closed and the train started to move again, she pulled the emergency button and was assisted by a Chicago Transit Authority employee.

The woman, who said she planned to wire the cash to relatives, suffered concussions and cuts all over her body. And days after the attack, was still vomiting as a result of her injuries.

Once his mother turned him in, the boy told authorities that he got onto another train traveling in the opposite direction. He threw the woman’s phone in a puddle.

He allegedly wrote a handwritten confession and gave Chicago police a recorded statement of his criminal actions. He told police where he threw the phone and it was recovered along with the jacket he wore on the day of the assault and the clothes he later purchased with the woman’s money.

Though the boy’s mother, whose name has not been reported, was the one to turn him in, she was still visibly upset when the State Attorney spoke to the media after the boy’s bond hearing.

According to the Chicago Tribune, she screamed, “Don’t talk that (expletive) about my child. Quit talking all of that (expletive) on the (expletive) news.” A sheriff’s deputy eventually asked her to leave.

As if this story weren’t tragic enough, the boy who had also been found delinquent as a juvenile back in November, was charged as an adult. Since the city decided to pursue adult charges, both his name and picture have been released in first the local, and now national media.

While this young man’s actions were particularly heinous and worthy of legal punishment, certainly time in jail or a juvenile detention center; I wonder if there is any opportunity for rehabilitation? In my mind, that’s always a possibility, but I wonder if law enforcement shares that sentiment when they look at this clearly disturbed child.

Frankly, I commend this boy’s mother for turning her child in to law enforcement. His victim suffered, and is likely still suffering tremendously because of his actions. And she likely saved some other people, particularly women, from undergoing a similar scenario. With the ability to protect her son completely stripped away from her, a lot of women would not have been so brave.

Still, I wonder if she could have made some type of arrangement or deal to ensure that in addition to whatever punishment he receives that he’s also required to undergo therapy and treatment.

This is devastating; still, with the right type of reformation, it doesn’t seem too late for a better ending than beginning.

Ladies, particularly the mothers out there, what would you do in this situation? Do you think this boy should have been charged as an adult, with his name and picture released to the media? Would you turn your son in to the police?

On Annika McKenzie, Adults Reprimanding Other People’s Kids And Teaching Children Respect

April 24th, 2015 - By Opal Stacie
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Hempstead Police

Hempstead Police

Annika McKenzie is the Hempstead, New York mother who beat a 22-year veteran middle school teacher unconscious this past week. According to reports, McKenzie claimed that the teacher “put her hands” on McKenzie’s daughter earlier in the day and the agitated parent went to the school to retaliate.

The details surrounding the incident between the student and teacher are still unclear, but folks are adamant about justifying McKenzie’s actions based on the allegations made by the 12-year-old student. Basically, people are saying that if you put your hands on another person’s child then you should be prepared for things to get ugly. I understand the idea that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, but whatever happened to “the village” concept of raising children?

Like a mama bear protecting her cub from hungry lions at dinner time, parents turn to basic instinct, bypassing all logic when they suspect that their child is being mistreated. This is expected. Ask any parent to what extent they would be willing to go to protect their children and the answer will probably “to the ends of the earth” and “to the death.” I am in total agreement with that as a parent.  

However, I do not have any respect for a parent who turns a blind eye to their child’s bad behavior and focuses solely on the action of the village, in this case, the actions of the teacher. Most of us wouldn’t have served the teacher with a brutal beating, but even still, how many times have you gone to your kid’s school with your mouth all twisted up saying, “Who did what to my baby and why?” Maybe not in those exact words, but really, how many times have you been convinced (mostly by your child) that a teacher, principal, school security guard, aunt, big cousin or whoever they pinpointed, had it out for your child?How many times have you forgone disciplining your kid and instead reprimanded the adult who had the audacity to put your misbehaving child in line?

I’ve never really had to say it out loud, but I remember thinking to myself, don’t put your hands on my kid as my much older nephew lightly spanked my 2-year-old during a tantrum he had very recently. My kid was acting the fool, but I was more concerned with why my nephew thought he could say or do something about it. It was at that moment that I realized it would be silly of me to continue to believe that I can raise respectable children at home without any reinforcement from the environment in which they will grow up.

What I’m saying is, each time you tell an adult they do not have the authority to put your kid in place, even when the situation calls for a light reprimand, you are teaching that child to only have respect for their parents. If you are raising your children in an isolated area where the population is made up of all the members of your family, this reasoning is feasible, but in real life this is dangerous, especially for Black youth.

At the rate in which Black youth are being incarcerated and/or gunned down by police, we should be grateful that our extended family and school teachers are the ones helping our children curb bad behavior before prison or a trigger-happy police officer does it first. By no means do I expect parents to allow strangers to pull their kids to the side and begin spanking them in the street for misbehaving. Never. But the truth is no matter how much we teach them at home, none of our little angels are beyond reproach and it is time we accept that.

Whether you set boundaries for your kid or not, there are rules in this society and the people of this society will hold your child accountable for their actions. It is also important to note that in a situation where your child’s behavior is in question, correcting the action of the adult checking your kid isn’t as important as correcting the action of your child. Parents can’t be there to deflect all negative encounters those in the village will have with their child. But wouldn’t it be a great feeling to know that there are people in the village who are not afraid to keep the kid you are grooming for excellence respectfully reminded of the high standards that you hold them to?

We still don’t know what happened in the classroom between McKenzie’s daughter and her teacher, but McKenzie missed a golden opportunity to teach her child a valuable lesson about respect and conflict resolution and to report the alleged actions of the teacher. Instead, her child will navigate the world convinced that she can do no wrong and the people in her village better not tell her (or her mother for that matter) any different.

 

 

My Daughter’s Autism Diagnosis And Getting Past The “Why?”

April 20th, 2015 - By Kendra Koger
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I vaguely remember the first time someone brought to my attention that they had concerns about my daughter’s development. Most of the time, I have razor-sharp, almost photographic memory, but for these moments, in particular, everything was hazy.

Maybe it’s because, for a long time, I was in denial. But when the word “autism” was used on a regular basis by her pediatrician, speech therapist, behavioral therapist, and occupational therapist, I knew that I couldn’t ignore it anymore.

I remember looking at her, asking her questions and trying to prove to any and everyone that “My daughter’s smart! She’s not autistic!”

That’s when I learned three things.

First, I had to get past my negative connotation of what autism is.  For such a long time, people used that word interchangeably with the common term for intellectual disability and mental retardation when they’re not the same. I knew that. But still, with all of my reading, studying and asking professionals questions, it was hard to shake that definition for a very long time.

My daughter, who was always very social, could count to high numbers, knew her alphabet way before she started school, and easily identified colors and shapes, seemed too advanced for to me to ever be okay with admitting that she had any disability. But the fact of the matter was, and is, that autism is an issue all on its own.

Second, I learned about the spectrum.  Autism isn’t like a light switch, where it can only be in an on or off position.  It’s a spectrum, sort of a like a dimmer switch. And an initial diagnosis doesn’t mean that my daughter, or any other child, can’t go on to live happy, successful lives. Some people grow out of the spectrum, some stay in it, but all can live completely fulfilled lives.

The final thing I learned is that I had to get over myself and stop asking, “Why did this happen?”  For a long time, I blamed myself.  I sat there and dissected every single moment of my pregnancy and the first year of her life, wondering, What did I do wrong? Was there a genetic problem with me that she inherited? Why? 

However, I realized that by pondering what went wrong, I wasn’t proactive in what could be the best direction for my daughter.  When you’re stuck trying to figure out “why” things happen, that’s when you’re ignoring the solution, and only focusing on the past.  I knew I was doing a disservice to my daughter by not focusing on her potential for progress.

So, I got over asking why and started thinking,  What now?  With that, I was able to get her into multiple programs and a regular school where she continues to excel. They also have a special program to help her with her speech.

All these things began to become second nature as I found the right programs to meet her location on the spectrum and to help her grow into the successful adult I’m trying to raise her to be.

So when one of my sisters shared that her daughter was also diagnosed on the autism spectrum, we started encouraging each other, keeping each other abreast of the programs, schools, our daughters, and just being a support system to each other.

Through all of this, we’ve both been able to help pull each other out of any mental slump that we may fall into when we begin to wonder  “Why?” because it does sometimes happen.

My note to you, dear readers, is that there are going to be moments in your life that are going to shock you, disappoint you, feel like a setback, or just make you feel down.  However, staying in that moment of “Why?” is a disservice to yourself.

True momentum comes when you begin to move forward.  Using that moment as ammunition to move toward a solution instead of dwelling on the problem is when progress happens.

The fact of the matter is, all setbacks are only as strong as you allow them to be.  There’s a spectrum of happiness, and in order to move toward the light, you must get over the dark hump of asking “Why?”

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

April 14th, 2015 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

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