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 Match Made in Heaven” by Butch Ford

 

Friendship

“A Match Made in Heaven” by Butch Ford

There was a hodge-podge group of people I met back in the fall of 1982.  I was the new kid and essentially “a fish out of water.”  I didn’t live in the area and had no history with any of them to speak of.  I would just observe and take mental notes until I felt more comfortable with things.

KB was the first one I met. She was a sweet, quiet, and shy young lady who was really kind to me but was always about her business.  YB was the “cutie” in the designer jeans.  She had long flowing hair and always seemed to turn heads whenever she would strut past you.  RR was this fast-talking, loud chick who always appeared angry to me.  You would hear her coming long before you’d actually see her.  She was an acquired taste, in my opinion.  DD was a bright, charismatic, intellectual sista who was simply brilliant.  And she knew it too.  A precursor of things to come, perhaps?

Double J. was the “around the way girl” who knew everybody and vibed with everyone she came in contact with.  LS and BS were the laid back biological sisters who you could barely tell apart.  They had million-dollar smiles and were sweet as pie.  They had a younger sibling LS, who was a little rough around the edges and wasn’t one to play with.  But we got along great.

DM and NP were best friends from way back. They were a bit hard for me to assess.  Probably because I didn’t see them very often.  According to the brothas, NP flaunted the physique of a grown-ass woman much older than her actual teenaged years.  A “traffic stopper” if you will.  And DM was a lady in every sense of the word who carried herself with a quiet and sneaky confidence…like she was hiding something.  JE was the athlete.  She played every sport…and excelled at each one of them.  She was smart, as well.

KM was a quiet brother who resembled someone from the DeBarge family. He barely spoke above a whisper.  SS and OP were down-to-earth, cool individuals that were unassuming and mostly played the background.  But they were loved by all.  And then there was me.

None of us really hung out together.  And we all seemed to run in different crowds.  I’d later discover that the majority of them did indeed have a history with each other.  As they attended elementary and middle school together years prior.  But at that time, everyone was trying to find themselves and carving their own niche in the world.  It’s called growing up.

Today…35 years later: Kecia, Yolanda, Rita, Dionne, Joycelyn, Linda, Brenda, Lisa, Dianne, Nichelle, Jacqueline, Keith, Sylvia, Onza, La’Tricia, Patricia and my cousin Freda share the tightest and most incredible bond.  They are more than just my friends.  They are my family.  Although It’s hard to put into words what they truly mean to me.  If you were to sit them down and ask them about it… I’m sure they’d tell you something similar to what I’m trying to describe to you right now.  It’s special.

Life is so short and nothing is guaranteed.  Love one another.  Be good to each other.  We never know where life will take us or what God has planned for us.  I couldn’t have foreseen the closeness I would eventually share with these people.  None of us saw this coming.  But it’s here and we’ve embraced it.  I can’t imagine what my life would be like without any of them.  We’re all still very different, but that’s what makes it all work.  Truly a match made in heaven.

 

Butch

 

“We Reminisce Over You” by Butch Ford

thinking back

 

“We Reminisce Over You” by Butch Ford

The title of this entry was inspired by a 90’s hip hop classic from Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth.  The thought behind it are feelings of love, loss, gratitude and pride mixed with a little bit of selfishness and some sadness sprinkled in too.  We’ve all lost loved ones at some point in our lives and admittedly…it hurts.

I remember watching my grandmother beam with pride and joy.  She loved family; her mother, sisters, aunts & uncles, daughters and most assuredly her grandson(s).  Holiday gatherings and family get-togethers meant everything to her.  I would marvel at the outpouring of love displayed at these functions.  It’s difficult to put it into words.  It was just simply incredible.  Boy…I really miss those days.  And then…the unthinkable began to happen.  We started losing our older relatives slowly but surely.

Now we’re the grandparents, the great aunts & uncles, the matriarchs & patriarchs of our families.  But times have changed.  Things are very different now.  The world just ain’t the same anymore.  Don’t get me wrong…we’re all blessed to still be among the living, but it’s sad watching the day to day occurrences in these dark and scary times we live in.  We gotta stay prayed up and watch out for one another.  Hopefully better days are ahead.  As the song says, “A change gon come.”  We need a change…BAD!!!

Thinking back on how my grandmother loved on all of us…that smile, those hugs and the loving, nurturing words of encouragement…makes me wonder if she missed her parents, grandparents, great aunts & uncles as much as I miss her?  If she did, she didn’t show it.  But gauging the void in my heart…how could she not?  Her focus was obviously on everyone else’s happiness.

I still smile when I think of my grandmother’s strength and courage.  The way she held everything together was nothing less than amazing.  Her memory still lives on today.  Mainly because my mother stepped up in her absence and filled those shoes remarkably.  I’m just expressing myself, but I know there are others with similar stories, right?  The message today is simple.  It’s for our loved ones who have gone on to glory…to continue watching over us while we reminisce over you.

Butch

What the World Needs Now by Butch Ford

 

World needs now

What the World Needs Now by Butch Ford

As I look at the state of the world today, I can’t help but think about how things used to be.  When we respected our elders, education was paramount and there was unity and structure among families.  The neighborhoods and communities policed themselves.  Peace and harmony were a way of life.  But things are very different now.  And it’s difficult to watch how far we’ve fallen as a People (African Americans).  It’s deeply concerning.  Our Civil Rights Pioneers are probably rolling over in their graves.

We’re so accepting of mediocrity and underachievement.  What happened to the once proud, determined race who were driven by Faith?  A lot has changed since those days.  Currently, that’s too lengthy of a discussion.  But sadly, we lack direction.  And it’s going to take a lot of hard work, a change of philosophy/focus and some positive leadership to restore our purpose.  Radio, television and video games are poisoning a whole generation.

Today…in the social media era, people are more concerned with likes, followers and views…more so than they are with morals, values and self-respect.  The world is extremely selfish and monetarily driven.  Our role models have dissolved…or just refuse to lead by example.  The love of money is the root of all evil.  And it’s killing us.

Controversy surrounding a sandwich from a fast food establishment, females twerking on video and the recording of physical altercations in public have trumped the more serious issues in our community…i.e.: the kidnapping of our black women and children for the purpose of sex and illegal black-market organ trafficking.  This shit is real.  And we are in danger.  I haven’t even mentioned the resurgence of The Klan yet.

We must find a way to take back control of our communities.  And it starts in our homes.  Parents…we must do a better job of preparing our youth for the real world.  Teach them right from wrong.  They are our offspring…not our equals.  They are products of their environment who mimic what they see…unless we show them a different way.  We must also allow our educators to effectively do their jobs unapologetically, without stress or worries.  We must hold our children accountable!  Use tough love and discipline!   They yearn for it.

Activities such as: Team Sports, Mentorship Programs and Church Involvement, will help us rebuild decades of hardship and blight that has robbed us of who we are and who we’re meant to be.  Bring back Home Economics, Art, Music and Workshop in schools. Our youth need an outlet.  Allow them to use their minds creatively and utilize these skills to excel.  The trap has been set.  The path has been laid out.  But we can’t continue to fall victim anymore.  This should motivate, and not hinder us anymore.  We must rise above others’ expectations of us.  Let’s do better.

Let’s be more than we’re expected to be.  We are still those same proud, strong and determined people.   What the world needs now is a lot of love and compassion mixed in with a little guidance and direction.

 

Butch Ford

 

MOTOWN: Yo Town & My Town by Butch Ford

motown

MOTOWN: Yo Town & My Town by Butch Ford

What is Motown?  Now that’s a loaded question.  And we’d probably hear several dozen responses of varied degree, I suppose.  Some may agree that it’s a majestic little white house at 2648 W. Grand Blvd. on the west side of Detroit.  While others may take the “hit making factory” approach.  If you answered either way, you’re definitely not wrong.  But that’s not the narrative this time.  The journey for me started towards the latter part of the 60’s, continued throughout the 70’s and was nurtured in the 80’s.  These were times where society put emphasis on family, love and unity.  Churches, schools, neighborhoods and community centers all had a hand in our upbringing.

“It takes a village” right?  Maybe it was a naive perspective, on my part?  Or was I just looking at things through rose colored lenses?  But something happened.  In fact…several things happened.  We could talk for hours about the collapse of the African American family, the failed education system, or the lack of pride and self-respect as “a people.”  But I’m more interested in solutions to these problems.  What can we do to right these wrongs?  Where do we even begin?

I don’t like to speak on politics or religion publicly.  My grandmother Mattie Mae taught me that at a young age.  But something has to change.  And I’m sure I don’t just speak for myself here.  It’s going to take a village AGAIN…if we want our pride back.  If we want our self-respect back.  If we want our dignity back.  And if we want our Motown back!  Let’s make a change my people!