The Gift of Encouraging My Children to Participate in Creating Their Life Story by Chellyz View

This Thing Called Parenting

After watching one of my favorite shows yesterday, “This Is Us,” and having a chat with my Spiritual Sister, I began reminiscing about myself and my story. As my mind wanders off, I began to think about the story my son and daughter will create and how they will contribute and leave a footprint on this place called Earth. The theme “Story” played in my mind like uncertain rhythms swaying to and fro. I can hear the thoughts flowing melodically in my ears saying: “Allow your children to participate in creating their life story!” My reply, “Say what?”

Parenting and fulfilling the role of attempting to be an exceptional parent can get stressful. Caring parents want what’s best for their child(ren). However, as parents, caregivers, and guardians, we can become overbearing. Please don’t get me wrong boundaries must be set. Certain expectations need to be met. Also, when we see their errs may cause more harm than good, we must intervene and offer direction so that they can see what is correct. Nurturing and guiding the children of the future is a heavy responsibility. It would be easy if all children were designed to act and think the same, but each child is blessed with their personality, gifts, strengths, and weaknesses. Every day I am learning because there is no Netflix or Prime Time special with all the answers that we can Binge watch to become the perfect parent or guardian. With that being said, I just wanted to share a few quick lessons I have learned. I have a thousand more, but let’s start here.

The Open Door of Communication

I encourage my children to share their thoughts or experiences whether I want to hear them or not. In a respectful manner, of course.  Believe me, all of the stories or feelings they convey to me won’t be pleasant. However, I want to ensure that they know there is no unique code or key to use when expressing themselves to their Momma. We already have come to terms that I won’t be the “Amen Queen” and agree with everything they say or do, but they shouldn’t be afraid to talk to me when facing a stressful problem or situation.

Finding Balance When It’s My Dream, Not their’s!

Oh yeah, I remember a time when I wanted my daughter to continue ballet classes. I um well hmmm let me umm yeah tell you I sort of made her take dance classes for over three years because that was my dream. I wanted to be a professional ballet dancer. By the time I reached my teenaged years, I stopped taking dance. I wanted to sashay on the stage on my tippy toes in high school, but I faced rejection too many times.  For that reason, I was too afraid to audition. So, with my daughter, I encouraged….to be honest, I told her, “You are going to take dance whether you like it or not.” Eventually, I came to my senses and apologized. I was living my dream through my daughter. I had to realize that was my dream, not hers. Even with my son, I wanted him to enjoy football, baseball, soccer, name a sport!  Oh, he was going to be a pro. Well, I made him play soccer, but I had to realize that once again, I was projecting my dreams and aspirations on my children. Yes, I still motivate them to try something new and complete the class or course until the season is over. However, if they are not passionate about it, I let it go. They will discover their niche or talent in due time.  

Now there are days I feel the need to bond with my children and I have them participate in activities that will lead them to taking a break from that phone and let loose of the video games. For example, the other night we enjoyed the “Painting with a Bliss”  Facebook Live Pre-Valentine’s Day Activity sponsored by Prayer Temple of Love Cathedral.  They weren’t pleased at first but in the end, we enjoyed creating precious moments!!!

Setting the Example

Now, chile Imma be truthful! Not only do we have to tell our children to be and do their best, but hell, as parents, we must be accountable also. We must take a look at ourselves even when we don’t want to.

There were times when I have not led by example. Becoming a parent or guardian does not make us natural-born leaders. However, if we want to authentically be the best parent we can be, we must not only offer correction but learn to self-correct.

Pressures of Perfection

I can’t believe I am still writing about COVID-19, but here we are about a year later annnndddd…. It’s still here like Gorilla glue stuck on that laid-back ponytail that you can’t remove.  I keep hearing horror stories of students learning virtually from home. Many scholars that were on the honor roll have fallen off the grid! I wanted my children to be top scholars at all times, but I had to ask myself a few questions. Was I good in all subjects? Did I have moments where I did better than others? As a child, did my Momma and I have to thrive through a pandemic? I was getting angry at myself and my children. I felt like a failure, but I had to remember I can’t expect perfection in an imperfect world. Academics are important, but mental health is just as important. Instead of adding pressure in our household, we are collectively exploring tools and methods to help us all cope and relieve the stress of this mess.

“When it’s All Said and Done”

Oh yeah, I can hear the elders saying, “When it’s all said and done.” We can offer wisdom, direction, a listening ear, encouragement, a place to call home, financial assistance, prayer, and a host of other gems in this thing called the “Circle of Life.” Often, I might yell too much, cuss a tad bit too much, get frustrated a little bit too much because I love them that much. But I have to recognize when I am doing more harm than good. As the years progress, I am learning to allow my children to actively participate in helping them shape and create their life story. Our children will evolve into a whole grown person making their own decisions.  Maybe one day, they will raise and/or mentor a child or children. They will have to figure out how to welcome their youngsters to become active contributors to their life story. Hopefully, they will reminisce and remember how as parents or guardians we offered what we could through the perils of life, believing with faith they will do well for themselves and humankind.

-Let your heart be full of new ventures that will lead you to the possibilities of limitless conversations!

References

https://www.facebook.com/prayertempleoflove

This is Us. (2021) WDIV, 9 February.

“A Flawed System” by Butch Ford

Young black father playing with daughter in the sitting room

“A Flawed System” by Butch Ford

Today’s topic may be a little touchy for some.  But it’s been MY reality for the better part of two decades and it’s a story I’d like to share.  It’s the story of the flawed Child Support System.  It’s known by a plethora of names nationwide, but here in Michigan it’s called Friend of The Court.  As a black man living in a major metropolis in Today’s Amerikkka, I have questions regarding the system’s infrastructure.  For instance…How are the financial parameters established?   What equations are they based on?  Are the rulings even FAIR for all parties involved?  Let’s delve into it a bit, shall we?  Remember…I can only speak about my own experience with FOC (Friend of The Court).  So, this is an isolated instance and doesn’t reflect the hundreds of thousands of cases still currently open locally and afar.

I am a proud father of a college freshman at an HBCU.  She’s a beautiful young lady and an honor student with a bright future ahead.  But it was a struggle financially throughout her childhood, adolescent and teen years working to support her at only a fraction of my earnings.  Her custodial parent was awarded a substantial amount of money to support my daughter, as ordered by the FOC.  In addition to that, I was delegated as to when I could and couldn’t see her.  i.e….every other weekend, alternating holidays, etc.  WAS THAT FAIR TO ANYONE?

Sadly, on several of my designated weekends I had to pick up extra shifts and work overtime to supplement my income due to the monies that were allocated to the custodial parent.  I had responsibilities in my own household which robbed us of valuable, quality time together.  WAS THIS FAIR TO ANYONE?  Her custodial parent is a public educator and has always earned more than I have professionally.  So that’s where my questions regarding the financial parameters of the system stem from.  There were also times when I couldn’t buy that toy, go see that new movie or purchase that certain article of clothing for her…due to the support order and what was being deducted from my earnings.  WAS THAT FAIR TO ANYONE?

Fathers and Children

It’s degrading for a man to work hard on a daily basis and not be able to reliably provide for his offspring.  However, I made sure to instill positive values and morals in her.  Teaching her that life isn’t about monetary gain.  But more about your character and how you represent yourself as a proud, respectful and dignified African American Queen.  These lessons helped shape her into the productive young lady she has become.   She just recently turned eighteen and my case through FOC has been closed.  It was a long, emotional and often grueling journey that saw me pay well over 100K to her custodial parent.  WAS THAT FAIR TO ANYONE?

But who benefited from all of this?  And who suffered from it?  What changes could/should be made to fix this obvious flawed system?  Because changes are needed.  Why does it even take a third party to dictate this process?  And who stands to gain the most from the third party’s involvement?  FOC received thousands of dollars in fees for “mediating” or meddling (whichever way you choose to look at it).  These questions are rhetorical…of course.  And the narrative isn’t about deadbeat parents or those types of situations…but more about hardworking people who simply want what’s best for their child(ren) in a co-parenting partnership.  In my opinion, The Friend of The Court ain’t nobody’s f***in’ friend!  It should be scrapped and overhauled.

 

Butch Ford