A Family is Only As Good As its Parts, or Members

Ok, for starters, let’s be clear…the theme of all of our discussions is “reclaiming” the Black family, as opposed to restore or rebuild.  Reclaim is to “….demand the return or restoration of, as a right..” (as defined by www.dictionary.com).  This was an intentional effort, on my part, to incite action from each of us to do something, to take affirmative action, to be emphatic about our stance, to invoke our right to have the foundation of family intact.  But these feats may be difficult to accomplish if many of us are oblivious to what makes up family, particularly Black family.  In the Black family, specifically, each of us usually have a particular role we play and the other family members accept, appreciate and respect those roles, while they maintain their respective roles.

In your family, what role do you play?  In your immediate family, your own family or your adopted family, which hat(s) do you wear?  Traditionally, in Black families, the father/husband was the provider, the authoritarian, the spiritual leader, the protector  and the one who taught his sons how to be men.   The mother/wife, on the other hand, is typically viewed as the nurturer, homemaker, the disciplinarian and the one who made the household run smoothly. The offspring have roles too, the eldest son’s being to help his father preparing to fill his shoes and the eldest daughter the same with regards to the mother.  These roles were, for the most part, clearly defined and adhered to unless a need for adjustment was warranted by loss.  Even during slavery, where the slave master dictated the dynamics of the Black family, within the family these roles were pretty much intransigent until the slave master ravaged it by selling off or trading its members.

As an aside, I recently came across an “expert” trying to answer a query about the roles of  African-American families.  Here is the exchange: (visit http://en.allexperts.com/q/Family-Relations-1514/Family-roles-african-american.htm to read the credentials of the “expert” that provided this response)

Question:     I need to know what roles each family member plays and how they communicate.

Answer:  Cheryl;

Thank you for writing.  This is really a broad area to cover.  I am not african american so my answer will be based on my work with the african american culture over these 20+ years.

The head of the household is generally the oldest female – such as a grandmother/aunt.  She is generally the person who controls the living arrangements in the household and the finances.  If there is no “grandmother”, then generally the next oldest female is the head of the household.

If a couple is married, the male may be seen as the head of the household but this is usually only true if the couple is married.  If they are co-habitating, the female again is the head of the household and determines if the male remains a part of the family. This is determined by his fidelity to the female and economics for the household.

African American males generally do not have a strong role in the family. The males are basically used for procreation and financial support.  Once children are produced, the male can easily be displaced from the household – particularly if he provides no means of support.  African American males can be considered as “endangered” as they tend to display hostility to one another and the murder rate among black males is high.

Communication depends on the role of the person in the household.  Again, the dominant female makes the decisions for the household and there is little input from other members of the family. In a marital situation, the male can be the decision maker, but again this depends on the amount of power that the female has in the relationship.

I’m not sure if this is what you were looking for or not but if you want to ask something more specific, I will attempt to provide you with some information.  You may also wish to visit some websites about African American culture to obtain more information.

Rebecca

With each member having a clear understanding,  great appreciation and unconditional respect for roles, the family functioned and did so constructively.  Boundaries are not crossed, authority is not usurped, egos are not challenged nor is respect loss, which is pretty much the way many Fortune 500 companies operate, and so so rather proficient.  The contention arises when mother is trying to be the authoritarian while concomitantly trying to be nurturing, not they these roles cannot co-exist but they cause a problem when one of these clearly belongs to another member of the family.  That is what is common these days, with the single parent households making up more than half of the Black families, with more than half of those being led by the mother.  And although Black women tend to miraculously hold the family down despite the help of the Black man, this is not the ideal way to maintain a family.  Families, like institutions, tend to run much more efficiently where tasks are delegated, based on the role or position each person has.  So when mother has to both nurture and provide for the family, roles overlap which leads to stress, which ends up causing a breakdown.

Many of us are disillusioned, believing that roles are not as important as some indicate.  This is farthest from the truth, structure, discipline and authority are essential to a strong family and thinking that one person can do it all within the family is a misconception.

Listen Up Brother, You Are Man Enough!

I am not a big Steve Harvey fan, well of his comedy anyway, but I admire his dedication to being an example of a Black man, the kind that other Black men should be replicating.   Whether you are a fan or not, if you have any concern about the plight of our young Black boys and men, then you must admit that he is one of the most vociferous when it comes to getting the word out.   Steve, as I like to call him, was never really on my radar until I started to actually listen to him when he talks about manhood, his or anyone else’s.  It first started when I heard him mention his annual event, Steve Harvey Mentoring Weekend for Young Men, where he invite 100 Black boys to spend some time with him down in Texas,  to learn how to become emotionally, politically and economically stronger.  I instantly thought, “Wow! if I were a man, this is exactly what I would do!”  And regardless of what you think of him, or what you think a role model for young Black men should look like, no one is doing this, NO ONE! 

Well, just a few days ago I just happened to catch the last few minutes of his radio show here in NYC and I heard him implore each and every Black man to take just one Black boy under his wing, to show him what being a man is about.  Not a church leader, or a school teacher, or lawyer, or doctor, just a Black man!  His thinking is this:  for every Black boy out there that  has no clue, no knowledge of how to tie a tie, or how to dress for an interview, or merely how to change a tire, any man regardless of what he does for a living or how well he does at least have some insight on how to do these things.   Many times, many Black men think they are not good enough, not good enough to be the provider, not good enough to be the leader, not good enough to teach a young boy anything about life.  These limitations are not random, they become a sort of “learned thinking”  the result of racism, violence and emasculation….very little to do with the actual lack of ability or skill.  This ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ only stifles Black men which in turn stumps the growth of those young Black men around them.  This needs to be exorcised, each and every man has experiences, if nothing else, that can help a Black boy in his own journey to manhood.

I persistently beseech Black men to do something, no matter how big or small, to guide a Black boy or young man in their journey to becoming.  I routinely remind the men that I know, that they have one up or me and every other Black woman, that is that they know what it is like to be a Black man.  I always talk to young boys and young men about my travels, mainly professional, and the things I experience along the way.  I do this as a means to encourage, uplift and inspire them to want to do good.  But at the end of the day, I know that how they relate to me is limited by the difference in our biological makeup, I can never be nor will ever experience things the way the do.  I think that they hold the key to reclaiming the Black family, which restores the Black community! So we should all be a Steve Harvey, or a Stephanie Harvey, and incite every Black man to do more.

Should We Allow Our History to Dictate Our Future

It is no almost undebatable that African-American history is unique and has had significant impact on the psyche of Black men and women, on the economics of the Black community and the structure (or lack thereof in the eyes of many) on the Black family.  And although many scholars, historians and everyone who has an opinion, differ on the facts of our history, the fact that we can all agree on is that no other race has had such a remarkable history.  The problem with ascertaining the verity of facts or confirming many of the stories being disseminated, is that records to support any of our history is shoddy, if not downright non-existent.  Since our African ancestors were considered “less than a whole” or “property” of the White slave owner, the need to keep birth records, marriage certificates, and the like, was considered futile.  So be it based on anecdotes, the paucity of records or an analysis of other available data, those who study African-American history have managed to give us all a sense of what occurred in the past 400+ years.

The question often raised, however, is what do we do with this information?  How and to what extent should our history affect our decisions, behaviors and beliefs…particularly when it comes to the Black family.  Depending on which source you refer to, the history of  the Black family (specifically the slave family) directly correlates to the state of the modern day Black family  or has some tangential connection to how the Black family is being destroyed.  In The Willie Lynch Letter, for instance, Willie Lynch, a formidable slave owner, wrote about and portended what we are currently experiencing and cleverly constructed this annihilation of the Black family from day one.  And whether any of us believe in the legitimacy of the letter, the parallels in the letter to what we are witnessing today, is very difficult to dispute.  On the other hand, many who refute the causal connection, do so based on the fact that chattel slavery ended  many generations ago,  and thus, the passage of time contributed to the dilution of the mental, psychological and spiritual effects on today’s Black community.  Many are of the mindset that, we should not harp on those facts and allow them to pervade our will to forge ahead in all respects.  Young and old, take the position that our history is just that, that we have the ability to see our future shaped as we would like it to if we stop allowing those negative accounts from the past determine how we perceive our economic, familial or psychological state.

The way I see it is this: we have a history that not one of us can deny no matter what has been confirmed.  I think it is essential to know exactly who we are to give each of us a clearer understanding and appreciation of who we would like to be.  So when it comes to the Black family, I do think that our confidence pervades each of us on some level and that is partly because a lot of us have no clue about our history.  I think that when you have no trust in yourself, it is difficult to have trust in a spouse, partner, paramour, brother/sister or family.  Many of us walk around today looking externally for some understanding, satisfaction and self-worth and this, in turn, extends to how we view family.  So our collective past does serve as guidance for the future, but self-determination, will and commitment can only be found in the present day.  I am always proactive and believe in taking action, and since knowing, understanding and appreciating our history can ignite us into doing something, I think if nothing else it should serve that purpose.

Family Business is Just That, No One Else Needs to Know

My mother always chided us for “talking too much”.  Her biggest pet peeve was when someone repeated something that we told them, usually something we had no business talking about.  She always felt that family business was just that, family business and no one else needed to know things that happened in our house.   Well, I certainly understand that now.  I realize that when you chat about things that are supposed to be private, regardless of the intent, you sort of set the family up for destruction (trust me, no exaggeration).  This is not productive for a family intent on growing and bonding amongst its members, it certainly does not benefit anyone (of course unless there is some inappropriate behavior or egregious conduct that warrants intervention).

As I matured, I truly started to appreciate the significance of keeping some things hush when it comes to family.  One of the most valued principles, but unfortunately eroded this day and age,  of most families (both intact and separated) is loyalty.  When a family can depend on its members to keep its most sensitive issues within the confines of the family’s dwelling, they tend to be more open, honest and close-knit which should be the universal objective.  I used to just freely rap about things like a fight amongst my siblings, whether one of my sisters was wearing a hand me down or if my brother got a lashing from my mother for breaking curfew.  I did not think anything of what I was doing, thought only that I was gaining popularity by entertaining my friends with the lowdown of family’s antics. It did not register that this was all at the expense of my family, the same people whom I vowed I die for.  In retrospect, what I see I was doing was creating a divide, somewhat of a chasm within my family that we are paying for til this day.  Don’t get me wrong, my family is civil to each other, in most respects, and we all have love for each other.  However, I know that if we each held these principles to heart, we would make more of an effort to be there for one another at even the most mundane events.

Especially within my own family, which currently consists of myself and my SO, I can certainly appreciate the need to keep our business between us.  Opinions about either his or my behaviors, suggestions about how to handle disagreements or outright directives concerning our relationship are not highly favored when it comes to my family.  I have learned that no two relationships are alike and thus there is no “one size fits all” solution for discord or disagreement within it.  No one can strongly recommend or slightly hint how I should address an issue within my home, not unless they are directly involved.  For most relationships, however, outside unsolicited advice is rampant when you publicize your business amongst outsiders.  Many folks forget, conveniently, that when they endured the same or similar situation they responded differently.  They can impart objectivity when it comes to someone else but when it is them they lose all sight of impartiality, which for the most part minimizes their credibility.  I do strategically and carefully choose what I reveal and to whom I reveal it to, and in turn accept what they have to say in response.  But for the most part, the most critical things are between us and we prefer it that way.

The “Marriage = Anti-Poverty” Campaign, It Goes Deeper than That

I don’t know about you but everywhere I turn there are these headlines, editorials, campaigns, etc. about beating poverty by encouraging marriage.  Again, I have nothing against marriage I think it’s one the most treasured and sacred bonds we as humans can establish.  This is the problem, people hear and/or see this and think, “hmmm! let’s get married so we’re not maintaining two separate residences”, with the mindset that they  can free up much more of their disposable income for other things.  This is not ideal, for several reasons:  1) marriages based solely on this premise ( the economics) usually end in divorce and can be some of the most contentious divorces and 2) freeing up disposable income does not mean that the parties will save more, invest more or budget wisely, which in turns does not change the economic state for the family.  On the other hand, parents who think about the future and well-being of their children, whether married or not, will typically take measures to ensure that they do that regardless.

The studies conducted by the Pew Research, the Heritage Foundation, the Brookings Institute, and several others, all emphasize some facts that many of us know- children are less likely to live in poverty when they are living in a household with both parents.  Single parent households make up more than 35% of families with children living in poverty, while married parents comprise under 10%. (According to data in Marriage: America’s Greatest Weapon Against Child Poverty, published in the Backgrounder, by the Heritage Foundation.)  The Institute of American Values, too, has released several articles where they report studies that indicate that children fare much better, economically, physiologically and intellectually when both parents are in the home.  However, any marriage, like those established for the sake of economics, does not suffice.  Absolutely not, being in the home where  the parents have a contentious marriage or high conflict marriage can have much more destructive effects overall.  Championing marriage should not be done in a vacuum, the focus should be on promoting strong, healthy marriages!  Divorce, too, can do just as much damage, having as much of a negative financial impact as living in a single parent home.  Black children are more likely than White children to go into poverty when their parents divorce, almost twice as much according to some sources. (http://social.jrank.org/pages/20/African-American-Children-Family-Structure.html)

Not to mention, the divorce rate in this country has soared since the 1960’s, particularly for Black couples with some believing it is as high as 50%.  The contributing factors that caused the huge increase in divorce range from the change in societal acceptance to the lax laws that most states have adopted.  However, the one factor that many, especially the “marriage as prevention to child poverty” protagonists, fail to mention is that one of the major causes of divorce  is the finance/economics circumstances of the family. (Read the “Married and Poor: Basic Characteristics of Economically Disadvantaged Couples in the US” by David Fein. http://www.mdrc.org/publications/393/workpaper.html) In other words, the economic positions the parties are in when they marry, causes them to experience more stress, which leads to divorce which results in children living in poverty.  A study conducted to assess the impact of one’s profession on divorce supports this, the result:  the most stressful jobs/occupations tend to have the highest divorce rates.  (Read the article here).  on the professions that many are in when they marry in the first place.

Furthermore, the answer to poverty is not necessarily more money or more resources, we should have all learned that by the recent debacle that landed us in this current economic state we are in.  The answer to ending poverty, especially within the household, is financial literacy, education and employability.  Improving the economic state before we marry seems to a surefire way to prevent divorce.  Budgeting, investing, saving, job training, education-all of these things are what keeps the family on the path to prosperity.  If we want our children to have an advantage, in every sense, it is not enough for us to to say “I do” we have to work collectively to avail ourselves of the knowledge and information on how to build and sustain wealth.

The Spotlight on Poverty has several articles on the topic, visit their website at http://www.spotlightonpoverty.org.

Thinking “Family” Can Have Dramatic Changes on Your Life

Many of us, as little girls particularly, fantasized about our weddings and the man that would be at the altar exchanging those vows with us.  Even up to now, when I tell my friends that I don’t plan on having a wedding or that I never dreamed of one they look at me in astonishment and retort “Why not”.   Well, for some odd reason I always thought more about my role as a nurturer and mother than I did the actual wedding and the fact that I would be someone’s wife.  I mean family always, well particularly as I get older, meant more to me than the titles I would be acquiring.  As a child I always thought of myself as the nurturer of my sisters and brothers ( although most of them are older than me), and that image and those ideals became more profound as I got older.  I seriously always had ideas in my head of what my mother should be doing to be a better nurturer, a better disciplinarian, a better example or  role model for my siblings so that the family legacy was carried throughout the generations to come ( I got in a lot of trouble too, because my mother did not take too kindly to me, a child, telling her how to be the matriarch).

Having convictions about the concept of  family goes far beyond the husband-wife dichotomy, and although I do believe that the bond between spouses plays an integral part of “family”, it is more a part of the whole.   Thinking family is more a state of being, spiritually, mentally and emotionally, while the union between man and woman is typically a situation, circumstance or for some, a status.  Think about it, a marriage can, and often times does, end in divorce with both parties severing all ties with each other upon the dissolution.  However, if the mindset of the parties was “family” from the onset, then first off, the chances of divorce diminishes and second, a civil or cordial rapport have a better chance to survive once the parties have parted ways.  And especially in cases where children are involved, having an amicable relationship is not an arduous task but an absolute MUST.

Not to mention, family, in the traditional or unconventional sense, can have much more longstanding and positive effects than marriage.  But if we take that family state of mind and imbue it when we enter the marital union, then only greater things are likely to happen.   Let’s look at marriage realistically, it is a decision between a man and woman to share their lives together, many of whom don’t or can’t fathom sharing the rest of their lives together. The most they share these days is just as much as they can bear until someone else comes along or something else more exciting entices them.  (This is briefly discussed in a recent NY Times article, where the percentage of Black marriages lasting more than years is far less than those of say, Hispanic marriages.  Read it http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/03/us/03marry.html)

Let me be clear, I am not endorsing foregoing marriage, not at all. On the contrary, I am emphasizing the fact that if we broaden our horizons and see the forest from the trees, that we may be more inclined to get married and to hang in there with our marriage instead of running for cover when turbulence hits.  When I am representing either party in a divorce, where the marriage was thirty years or more, after I inquire many of them explain to me (and it is evident by how the rest of the family actively participates in the divorce proceeding) that they stayed so long for the sake of their family.  At some point it was no longer about what he or she wanted for themselves, self interests fell to the wayside from a mutual perspective because they had that family mindset from day one.

It’s not difficult nor impossible, we just need to see beyond today.  We need to reach back to our parents, grandparents and beyond and try to incorporate those values they taught us into our way of thinking today.  From the moment we exchange that first  glance with a prospective, we should be thinking of how and if he or she can assume an active role of our family.

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Too Far From the Tree?

In my daily travels, I often see people with their children and I wonder who the child takes after when I observe the way they interact with others, the way they respond to their environment, or the way they adhere to rules or commands.  Then I gaze at the parent, or whom I assume to be the parent, and try to relegate or label them based on their appearance, their demeanor or merely by picking up any energy I sense.  Believe it or not, just watching the child can oftentimes give me some insight into the parenting of the mother, father or both.  Why do I do this, primarily to prepare myself in the event our interaction goes beyond a cursory or fleeting one.  I tend to tailor my countenance, my body language and even my reception to another by the observation I make of them, their offspring, then them again.  I can be really jovial and welcoming when I see a well-mannered but equally vivacious kid.  But if I notice an irreverent child, who is too rambunctious for even his or her parent, well then I give off this “don’t even think about coming anywhere near me” expression.

We have all heard the saying that “the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree” particularly when we are talking negatively  about someone’s child or adult child.  The funny thing is that I usually hear this aphorism with regards to a father and his son or a mother and her daughter, as if only boys imitate their fathers  and vice versa.  While it is obvious that a son who watches his father live an unremarkable life or engage in sociopathic behavior will be more likely to mimic that, or daughter for that matter, how do we explain when this is not the case.  Should we attribute a boy who has grown up to be an upstanding member of society to sheer luck when his father was no choir boy.  Or should we credit that father in taking efforts in ensuring that his son did not grow up to be anything like him, leading down a more favorable path.  Well, there is no set answer.  In my travels, as an attorney, counselor, etc. I met young boys who were habitual troublemakers, and I automatically assumed that either his  father was not in his life or that his father was confined to state prison.  But after being wrong on a number of occasions, I had to accept and appreciate, that it has little do with the example of a man he had in his life.  No, more often than not it had to do with how that child felt about himself.   As parents we contribute or have significant impact on how our children value themselves but overall there are other factors that contribute to the type of person they grow up to be.

This woman I met recently told me that as she raised her five children, that she lived a model life for them choosing to forego or refrain from partaking in certain activities.  She maintained the life that she wanted her children to live, being exemplary of  a strong and purposeful individual.  I believe that we should all revert to this way of being too, but unfortunately it does not result in any guarantees.  You can live a pristine life, raise your child to be the same way and the child still grows into being a social misfit.  We must

Apples on a Tree

be mindful, the apple can fall anywhere, it is our job to catch if before it rots!

The Government and Black Family

I recently attended a Father’s Conference and a lot of things came up as a result.  The main thing that became crystal clear as I watched, listened and took it all in that I witnessed, Big Brother’s interest in the Black family does in fact exist.  Yes, believe it or not the federal government has taken, which continues to date, efforts to address the issues that run rampant in the Black community, the destruction of the family being one of them.   It obviously makes sense to devise a plan to address issues such as childhood poverty, illiteracy and unemployment, the economic impact of allowing them to run amok is asinine.  However, getting to the root of or the impetus for these , however, makes much more sense.

The U.S. Dept. of Health, Administration of Children and Families is the agency responsible for researching, promoting and funding healthy families.  The Healthy Marriage initiative has been in place for more than a decade.  The African American Healthy Marriage Initiative (www.aahmi.net) is the component of ACF that aims at promoting marriage, responsible fatherhood and strong families in the Black community.  And although the original objective of ACF’s Healthy Marriage initiative, which arose out of Congress’ findings that marriage is fundamental to a healthy society, was to promote and strengthen marriage, the Obama administration deviated somewhat.  In 2005 the Deficit Reduction Act was enacted, this directed that $150 million each year for the research, training and programs that promoted marriage, fatherhood and families.  Consequently, the Bush administration allotted $100 million of those funds to marriage and the remaining $50 million to fatherhood programs.  Obama, on the other hand, increased the allotted amount to $500 million, but he designated that half of that budget be used to fund fatherhood programs, with a “marriage component” while the other half go to programs that will improve the lives of children by helping their parents to get jobs.  Obama does not minimize the importance of marriage, on the contrary, what his goal is is to broaden the legislation’s base by focusing on families.   As it stands, there are more single parent households in the Black community than married ones, there is no debating this.  So putting emphasis on fatherhood programs certainly widens the reach of the funds for many Black families, by eliminating the requirement of marriage.  Some argue that this only perpetuates the Black community’s stance on families, only supporting our belief that we don’t need to be married to have a family.  While others think that he merely took a more realistic and pragmatic approach to a very critical predicament.  Although I promote marriage, I think ignoring where we are today can have a much more deleterious effect than trying to affect change prospectively.  An ideal program will encourage fathers to consider marriage as a viable option to eliminating poverty, improving  their relationship with their child and even ameliorating their economic predicament, and not just focus on being a good or better father.

Great Husband or Better Dad, If You Had to Choose

Of course I had a discussion with a friend of mine about this, that is typically the source of my blog entries.  So yes, a girlfriend and myself had this exchange when we were talking about potential mates for both of us.  And of course many of us would opt for a better husband because after all, it is all about our happiness.   But after forcing her to give it some real thought, she slowly changed positions and thought maybe if and when she had children, they would benefit more if they had a great father than she would if she had a great husband.  This is not to say that the two cannot mutually exist, but if we had to choose then….

My take on the issue is one of not self-preservation, but community preservation.  You see, I can live a great, meaningful and fulfilled life even with a mediocre mate.  My existence is not compromised any by foregoing a great husband, nor is my purpose thwarted by the fact that my partner does not excel  in the “husband” department.  I will still strive to be the best that I can be, still welcome opportunities for growth, still live a passion-filled life whether my husband is above average in companionship, love and romance or not.   However, this does not minimize or ignore the importance of having a supportive, open-heart & open-minded and grounded partner to complement me on my journey.  No on the contrary, I believe for any union to thrive these attributes are very important for both parties, particularly if they want to last.  It’s just that he does not have to be exceptional at all (or any) of these qualities for me to continue to move onward and upward.

Being a great father, though, is something entirely different.   I believe the purpose for each of us is to ensure that children blossom and flourish to the be spiritually, emotionally and psychologically grounded.  Our focus of most of our actions, beliefs and thoughts should be to guide children in the right direction, this holds true particularly for parents.  Mothers and fathers play different roles in facilitating this, neither of which can completely replace the other.   It is no mystery that the presence of fathers impact the self-esteem, self-worth and value system of children.  So a great father will only heighten the probability that the child will grow up to not only value his or herself, but will more than likely have respect and appreciation for others.   This, in turns, means  that they will probably be more loyal, reverent and reliable.   Again, not that a undistiguished father is insignificant or that he can not nurture a productive member of society, not hardly.   These days I say that a half decent father is better than no father at all.  But my point is that if I had to choose between a better husband or better father, I would opt for the latter because of the long-term effects on our community as a whole.

What does a great father look like you ask, well just look at the father that provides for his child, not just financially either.   I am referring to the father that ensures that his child is safe, happy and healthy despite his circumstances.  For example, I recently represented  two fathers in court on child support and/or child custody matters.  Father #1 fought to have his children returned to New York after the mother (his ex-wife) absconded to Georgia without his knowledge or consent.  He fought diligently to locate his children, to facilitate their return and to maintain some contact with them.  He spent thousands  in this process, despite the fact that he was no longer working.  To many, he was to be commended because he did whatever he needed to ensure their safe return because he loved his children and wanted to be a part of their lives.  Father #2, however, was involved in his son’s life since birth.  He accompanied the mother to prenatal visits, bought separate nursery items for when the child spent time at his home and even tried to forge a relationship with the mother for the sake of their son.  Which one did I think was a good father, #1.  But #2, was a great father, his actions supported his concern for his son’s safety, happiness and well-being as opposed to #1 who loved his children but had little concern for their safety or happiness by the methods he used.

If you are a parent, look at your child(ren), what sort of person do you foresee them growing up to become?  Is the father, if he is in their life, a good or great one?  If you are married, is your husband (or are you) a good or great one? Of the two, which one do you see playing a greater role in that person you would like your child(ren) to be?

We Know Sticks and Stones Break Bones, But Do Words Really Not Hurt?

        It seems to have been the topic of conversation lately, telling my SO to “shut up” when he’s speaking words that have little value, what is that called gibberish right?  Well, right or wrong my SO has no problem with that, (it’s other things I say that irk him) because he knows I mean no disrespect to him.  But when I mentioned this to a few of my girlfriends over the weekend, they looked at me in astonishment.  The irony is that in the beginning of our courtship, I made it clear that certain verbiage would not be tolerated by me, and that was one of them.

      Let me take a moment to explain the significance of how we communicate with each other.   I was raised by a somewhat liberal Southern woman, who was the matriarch in my family, and absolutely forbade some things and while others went unsanctioned.  My mother was not the ideal example of what a wife should be, because her role in that capacity was fleeting.  So my ideas of how to treat a man and how I should be treated by one came from friends, pop culture and past experiences which work (my clients always remind of what not to do.)  What I surmised is that, at least in my head, is that if he spoke to me to me a certain fashion that he would be predisposed to going over the edge and trying to physically abuse.  So “shut up” was a precursor to a blackened eye or a busted lip, something that was always on my list of “oh Hell no”. 

         The thing is in each relationship, what is acceptable or unacceptable is or at least should be something that is discussed and agreed upon by the parties.  My “shut up” is uttered with love and affection and is said with no intention of ill will.  Seriously though, my SO does not have an issue with that, he jokes a lot and in response I blurt my oft-spoken response.  The thing that I am precarious about is the tone we use when we communicate because that seems to have a much more piercing effect.  We constantly talk about what we want our children to be exposed to, so we try to be mindful of expressions, communications, behaviors, etc.  Children do what they see, and although we don’t have any yet there is nothing wrong or futile about getting in the practice right now.   

        So hopefully by the time the children come I will have found another much more constructive way to hint that what my SO was asinine.  But for right now “shut up” is not proscribed.

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