Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category

I was watching the “Amber Rose Show” just recently.  In all honesty, I was watching the show for all of the wrong reasons.  I just think that Amber Rose is smoking hot, so I decided to tune in.  But the show was so awful that I know that I won’t be watching it again.

The entire show was basically Amber Rose asking women questions about sex.  Women were disclosing everything from how many side dudes they’ve had to being on top during sex.  Some people call it “women empowerment” and other people call it “women being promiscuous”.  Whatever you want to call it is totally dependent on your upbringing.

As for my upbringing, I was taught that sex was something sacred.  You didn’t share what you did with everyone.  It was deemed disrespectful to your partner to discuss your sexual experiences with them to someone else.

Fast forward to today and everyone is doing it.  People are getting on TV, radio, and social media and discussing their sex lives like they’re talking about their day at work or something.  I watched Amber Rose talk about sex for her entire show except for the last segment (which was only a couple of minutes long).  She “interviewed” rapper, T.I., and asked him his favorite sex position, the craziest place he’s had sex, and if he masturbated.

I was thinking to myself, “how in the world are kids going to not be teen parents if all they see on TV is how much fun sex is?”

I guarantee you that there are a ton of kids under 18 years old watching Amber’s show and shows like hers.  It’s not like parents pay attention to what their children watch.  A ton of the girls watching probably want to be Amber Rose and a ton of boys want a girl like her.  She has a glamorous lifestyle and makes a lot of money for basically doing nothing truly talented.  Who wouldn’t want that life?

But, back to the topic… Sex isn’t sacred any more.  People will tell you all of their business without any thoughts to how you feel about it or how their partner would feel if they found out.  And if you feel awkward discussing it with them, then you’re looked at as someone abnormal.  A conversation that may have been reserved to close friends and siblings is now something you can get from a coworker you barely know.

In roughly 30 years, the United States has done a 180 degree turn around in morals.  Sex is “empowering” and not something kept private.  Cursing is simply just talking and not something done out of the public’s earshot.  Being reckless with your life is no longer scolded, but it is praised by everyone for you “expressing yourself” (and sometimes rewarded with money and fame).

Nothing is sacred any more.  TV has dumbed down in 30 years what took hundreds of years to create.  The end result is me watching Amber Rose ask a woman if she has a side dude (actually, “dude” wasn’t the d-word that she used) and this young lady must have named 10+ guys.  She was applauded for it.

To each their own, I guess.  It makes me wonder what conversations are parents having in households across the U.S. with their children?  Is this type of thing even being discussed?  Based on what I’m seeing on TV, it is being discussed.  Just by celebrities instead of parents.


Black parents need to teach their kids not just how to survive, but how to thrive.

I come across a lot of Facebook videos over the course of a day, but one recent clip I came across really stuck with me.  It was a video of three black men sitting around a tree discussing why black people have difficulties succeeding.

To hear them break down the plight of my race seemed basic.  How can our problems seem so simple, yet take such a Herculean effort to attempt to correct?  One guy in particular spoke so many truths that I couldn’t keep up.  It made me wonder why we don’t seem to be able to have the success that other races have.  Whites had a head start, so I won’t compare blacks to them.  But Asians, Indians, Middle Eastern, and other races are arriving to this country after us and are transitioning quite well in some cases.

Why is it that black people appear to be stuck in the mud?

Then I heard it in the video.  The mention of the word “wealth.”  So many of us black people have spent most of our adult lives wanting to be “rich” because no one taught us how to focus on being “wealthy.”  There’s a difference.  We need to teach our kids how to leave something behind other than a burial debt owed to the funeral home.

Is it the YOLO life style that keeps us focused on today and not tomorrow?  To a certain extent, it is, but there’s more to it than that.  Black families just simply need to focus and teach.  That’s all.  It’s that simple, but we just won’t do it.  Some of us would rather be seen in public than heard by our children.  Think about that.  So many black people would rather spend their time entertaining themselves than raising their children.

How do we fix it?  In my opinion, it starts with the men.  We’re the key to all of it.  It’s not to say that women don’t contribute, because they do in a mighty way.  But black men are the starting points to the success of black people.  We need to teach our sons how to handle their business.  We need to teach them that there’s a time and a place for everything!  You can have fun like a baller and still be a financially stable child of God in the process.

But it takes FOCUS!

Keep your eye on the prize!  Don’t let a pair of $200 shoes cause you to ignore your power bill.  Don’t let a disagreement with the mother of your kid prevent you from being a father to your child.  Don’t let something as trendy as tattoos affect your earning potential in the workplace.  Focus!

Black people spend more money on fashion and entertainment than probably any other race, but what do we have to show for it?  When you die, what will you leave your children?  Nikes?  Bottles of Ciroc?  What?

You deal with life just like you deal with emergencies: make sure that your loved ones are safe first and then take care of yourself.

  • Make sure that you have life insurance and plenty of it.  A lot of millionaires came up on what their parents left them in life insurance policies. 
  • Make an effort to own property if given the opportunity to invest.  It’s one of the best legacies that you can ever leave your child. 
  • Lastly, and it’s probably the most important: make sure you condition your child’s mind to do the same for their children.

The difference between black culture and other cultures is that we don’t always prepare our kids properly.  Black parents need to teach their kids not just how to survive, but how to thrive.  We get so caught up in day-to-day, check-to-check things that we fail to teach our kids that they can do better than what we did.  We owe it to them to give them a little boost when possible.  Leave them with something to build upon so they can leave that and more for their children.

Don’t send your kids into the world without a weapon.  Arm them with knowledge and opportunity by focusing on their futures.  Only then will your job as a parent be complete.

Father’s Day has come and gone and my dad just celebrated his 74th birthday.  I’m so thankful for the positive influences that he’s had on my life.  I firmly believe that my father was put on this earth for two things.  And those two things are all he’s done his entire life. He seems to only get enjoyment out of seeing everything and everyone taken care of. Well, I take that back. He also gets enjoyment out of his occasional afternoon naps.
However, his main purposes in life is to be a provider and a protector. Is that old school way of thinking dead to us now?

I remember when I was in 1st grade and my mom would wake me up for school, I’d hear my father walking through the house and getting ready for work. He didn’t have to be there until 7 AM, but he was usually out of the house shortly after 6 AM despite it only being a 15 minute drive. He didn’t believe in being late for anything. He would take cold cuts and crackers for his lunch because he didn’t require much. He brought his paycheck home to my mom to take care of the household and kept very little for himself. He only needed gas for his truck and enough to buy something to eat to hold him over until dinner time.

After working in a factory from 7 AM – 4 PM, I can remember hearing his truck driving across the railroad tracks as he entered the neighborhood. Our dogs would start barking because they knew the sound of his truck. They also knew that it was time for them to eat as well. My older brother and I would be sitting on the floor doing homework or watching cartoons by the time he got home. He would sometimes come into the house, drop his keys on the couch near the door and would just start dancing. My father’s dancing style was (and still is) very similar to a one “George Jefferson” from the popular 70’s sitcom “The Jeffersons.” As he would dance, he would say, “Work it out, Pop!” I’m not sure where that saying came from, but it ultimately became the reason my brother and I have called him “Pop” for as long as we can remember.

After his performance, I would grab my shoes while he was taking time to greet my mom. She was usually putting the finishing touches on dinner when he got home. If she had to work late then my grandmother (on my mom’s side) would be finishing up dinner for all of us. Before settling down to eat, Pop would go back outside to feed the dogs and I was right behind him as he walked out of the house. After a long day of work, he could have easily gotten fed up with a 6 year old following his every movement. In fact, that’s kind of how I got the childhood nickname “Shadow.”

But he never ran me off. I’d watch him feed the dogs and refill their water dishes. Afterwards, he would do one of many things that may have been needed around the house from changing the oil in the vehicles to working in my grandmother’s garden where she grew vegetables year around. Despite a day that started out at 6 AM, Pop would work until it got dark outside on most days. His reward? A full stomach from a delicious dinner and watching TV until after the news went off.

He did this for 20+ years for sometimes six days a week. Going to work for Challenger Electric/GTE wasn’t Pop’s job. Being “Pop” was his job. And he took it seriously.

But he was (and still is) more than just “Pop”. He is also “Uncle Leroy” or “Mr. Leroy” to kids in the neighborhood. Everyone in the neighborhood knows my father. He’s the one who will give you a popsicle in the summertime when you’re a good kid, but will also chastise you for being a disrespectful kid. You have to say “yes or no, sir” when addressing him. You have to say “thank you” when receiving something from him. Any sign of disrespect will pretty much get you banned from the property regardless of your age.

Pop believes in a natural order to things and that includes a kid knowing his/her place. Step out of line around adults and you’ll quickly get reminded that you are a kid. Another thing that makes Pop an icon in the neighborhood is that despite his generosity and willingness to help, he has a temper. Not necessarily a fly-off-the-handle type of temper, but a temper nonetheless. His tolerance for foolishness is extremely low.  He does not tolerate anyone messing with his family.

My brother and I took different paths from a lot of the other kids in my neighborhood. My neighborhood has turned out drug dealers, rapists, and even a murderer or two. But, none of those guys every brought that mess to our house. Because they knew what Pop would do to them if they did anything to negatively influence or harm me or my brother. No police force would be able to stop him from getting to that person. He made that known to the small-time criminals who were once my friends that they were no longer welcomed at our house.

I once thought that they developed other interests and stopped coming around because of that, but as I got into my teens I realized that they stopped coming around because of Pop. They knew that if they attempted to get me ormy brother caught up in their lifestyles that Pop would come after them. However, he didn’t just want to save me and my brother from that element, he also wanted to save them as well. I remember as a 10 year old that a friend of mine from around the corner came by to play. He’d recently gotten in trouble for stealing a pair of skates from the nearby skating rink. Pop was aware of the incident and when he came home from work and saw us outside playing he was upset with the boy. He asked him if he stole the skates and the boy admitted that he did. Pop scolded him about stealing and gave him a firm lecture while I watched uncomfortably. He told him how thieves ended up in jail or shot while trying to take someone’s property. He told him that he needed to get his life together, but until then, thieves weren’t welcomed in his yard.  The boy left and ultimately never came back. He eventually got sent to prison a couple of years later and someone killed him in jail when he was in his late teens.

So, the bad elements simply stayed away from our house and my friends eventually changed. The guys that he couldn’t talk any sense into got older, but they never lost respect for Pop. Many houses got broken into in our neighborhood, but never ours. Many kids got “jumped” by so-called “gang members,” but never me or my brother. Many arugments and fights took place in my neighborhood, but they were never in front of our house.

At 74 years old, Pop is still the same as he was when I was a kid. He’s a taxi for my 92 year old grandmother (mom’s side) to make sure she makes it to all of doctor’s appointments and to church. He’s always the one that people in the neighborhood call when they have car trouble. He’s the one that a 3rd generation of kids refer to as “Uncle Leroy” when they want a popsicle on a hot day. And despite living by himself, when he’s away from home for long periods of time, nearby neighbors (some with criminal records) watch his home to ensure that nothing happens to it.

My father has his flaws and he’s far from perfect. Like many of us, he’s made some mistakes in his life that he undoubtedly regrets. But, although I am self-sufficient and living my own life just a few miles away from the old neighborhood, he would be there if I ever needed him for anything. He’s still a provider and a protector. It’s what keeps him going. And even at 43 years old, I’m still hoping to be just like my Pop.

I lost my mom on June 5th, 2012. She was 69 years old. I remember leaving the hospital room with an empty feeling. I didn’t know what to do. I felt as if I should accompany the body to the morgue because I didn’t want to leave her alone.  I remember how distraught that I was at the funeral and how it hit me that I would never hear her call my name again.

But, like most things in life, you get stronger as time passes. Now almost three years later I don’t have the same outlook on her passing. I smile with pride every time I hear any mention of her because I know that I was lucky to have her as a mother. A majority of us should feel the same way. 

Fortunately enough for me I had the opportunity to enjoy my mom for 40 years before she was called home. That’s a lot more than some people can say. For that I am thankful. There are a lot of people who didn’t get much time with their mom for whatever reason and I realize that.

I thank God every night for my mom because of her influence in making me who I am today. She did what any good parent should do: taught me right from wrong and she taught me how to be a leader and not a follower.

I miss going over to my parents house on Mother’s Day to give her a card.  I miss taking her to breakfast the Saturday before Mother’s Day.  I miss giving her a hug when I walked in her kitchen.  She’s gone, but she’s definitely not forgotten.

To all of you who still have your mothers, remember that you only get one.  Maximize the time that you have with her and hug her as often as you can.

“There is nothing more special in life than someone who can give it.” -Q

All About Self

Posted: December 25, 2014 in gen x, parenting, selfish

The mindset of this country has shifted so much over the past few years.  Everyone is not only out for self, but they’re only focused on self.  Why do I walk through life feeling as if I’m one of few people who actually cares about others?  Here it is Christmas Day and I’m doing a blog post on exactly the opposite of what today means.  I witnessed countless examples of selfishness on yesterday just from a trip to a store to get a last-second gift for someone.

I can’t figure it out for the life of me.  On a daily basis I see so many examples of people being consumed with their own little worlds without giving one thought to the fact that others live in it.  An example of that is a Christmas card that I received from a friend of mine.  I received it on Monday and I called her that evening to thank her for the card.  She told me that she sent five cards to people and that I was the only one who called to thank her.  She said another person did send a text, but she’s heard nothing from the others.

Most people don’t send cards any more, so you would think someone who puts forth an effort would at least get a call to say “thanks.”  Not these days.  Maybe if the card contained a gift card would someone feel more grateful, but not for a card that only contains seasons greetings.

Why is it so hard to say “thank you” for someone’s efforts?  Kids are obviously not being taught to appreciate the efforts of others because their (Gen X) parents don’t seem to know any better.  Wait.  I take that back.  They know better.  They just don’t care.

I’m a giver.  That’s just part of my nature.  I’ve even been criticized for it (by selfish people, of course).  From being cordial to ex-girlfriends to loaning $5 to someone who already owes me $10.  I’ve been called out for showing compassion for others.  By no means am I a sucker, but I choose to do things on a case-by-case basis.  And I will continue to do so despite the chirping of a few miserable people who wonder how I continue to give and keep smiling in the process.

I have extremely tough skin so the criticism doesn’t bother me.  I actually think that it’s sad people criticize someone for doing something for others.  It’s also sad that people think that you can’t do something for someone without expecting something in return other than a “thank you.”  Do it because you want to be helpful.  Not because you have expectations of a return on your “investment.”  A “thank you” should be payment enough.

This country is slowly imploding.  The media is working double-time to create a war between minorities and the police.  Politicians perpetuate fights between members of the middle class.  We slowly piss off every country overseas from invading their country to making comedy movies about their leaders.  All of this could be avoided if people simply considered others before speaking or doing.

But, nope.  We’re all about self.  So, as I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, I will leave you with this thought: starting today I want you to do something nice for someone “just because.”  I challenge you to make at least one person smile every day.  If they looked surprised when you make a gesture then don’t be alarmed by it.  I often find that people are confused by acts of kindness because good deeds are not expected without strings attached.  I’ve even had people question me on why I did something for them as if they weren’t worthy of it or maybe I was up to something.  That’s sad.

Mother Teresa most famously said, 
“People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. 
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. 
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway. 
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway. 
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway. 
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway. 
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway. 
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

Maya Angelou, 1928 – 2014
Remember when there were certain things you didn’t do simply because you were taught to respect it? Yeah, some of you probably don’t. My generation is the blame for that. My generation is the one that decided to let kids raise themselves. We are the generation that decided that schools should be solely responsible for teaching our kids because we’re too tired. We give them smartphones/tablets to allow kids to be in their own world because we don’t want them disrupting ours.

Because of that, nothing is sacred.

To let you get an idea of how far our level of respect for almost anything has declined, I’ll use the following example that most kids born 1975 and earlier (especially minorities) may be familiar with: in my house when I was a child we had furniture in a certain room that we were not allowed to use. There was a couch in the living room that my parents said was for “company only.” I wasn’t even allowed in the room without a good reason. That couch was deemed sacred and I don’t recall ever setting my butt on it before it got older and was given away to a needy family. I respected it because my parents taught me to respect it. Regardless of how silly it may have been it taught me something.  It taught me restraint.  It taught me to respect something that was not necessarily important to my life simply because someone else had an appreciation for it.

Over time and due to the lack of actual parenting, more things have lost its sacredness. Elders are no longer respected. Presidents are no longer respected. Religions are no longer respected. But, the one thing that I always thought would remain sacred can be added to that list: speaking ill or making fun of the dead.

At one time people only felt comfortable with criticizing or insulting the dead based on either how long ago the person died (hence the phrase “too soon?”) or if the person died doing something illegal or stupid (Darwin Awards). Now there are no moral restrictions on insulting or criticizing any one regardless of when they died, cause of death, or even the stature of the person who died.

Today I read quite a few disrespectful memes and jokes on the death of author / motivational speaker, Maya Angelou. I even came across a columnist who trashed Maya Angelou as a person on a blog site.

As a blogger, I can’t tell people not to have an opinion simply because it differs from mine. I want people to speak their minds because some things just need to be said. But, why just hours after her death? Why post jokes almost immediately? Why demonize her (or anyone else for that matter) when the grieving has just started?

I’ll tell you why: because it’s more satisfying (to some) to be funny and/or popular than it is respectful.

Social media entices people to do things that will make other people take notice. All of us with strong opinions push the envelope or cross the line at some point. I’ve crossed the line myself on many topics, I’m sure. Maybe not maliciously, but it’s still crossing the line to get a reader’s attention.

But I never posted a meme or a blog post insulting or criticizing someone who died. Because to me that would be the equivalent of putting muddy shoes on my mom’s couch in that living room I mentioned earlier.  There are still some things in this world that I will deem as “sacred” even if no one else will.  And a person’s death is one of them.

What do you think about the level of disrespect you see online all for the sake of being funny/popular?

As seen on IG

Will and Jada are under investigation by child protective services?  Who would have guessed it?  Actually, as sarcastic as I’m being with that statement, I didn’t actually expect it.  Mainly because I don’t expect anything along the lines of discipline when it comes to celebrities.

Will and Jada give their children the freedom to choose.  Some people actually think that it’s good parenting, but I think that a majority of people don’t like it.  Regardless, they have the right to do whatever it is they want to do (or don’t want to do) when it comes to their kids.  Well, at least until Child Protective Services shows up.  They tend to frown upon 13 year olds laying in bed with shirtless 20 year olds.

There have countless incidents that have made people buzz on Twitter and ask the question, “what are Will and Jada doing?”  Personally, I don’t know, but it’s not the way that I would consider raising my kids if I had any.

There’s a reason that people have to be a certain age to do things like drive, vote, enlist in the military, drink, or even get a hotel room or a rental car.  It’s because with age comes maturity.  Sure, some kids mature faster than others, but realistically, you really don’t see the real world until you’re out of your parents home and supporting yourself.  That’s when adult life lessons begin.

The Smith Kids, Willow and Jaden, are probably bright and worldly kids.  But, they are still kids.  Despite the fact that they’ve made more money than me in their young lives doesn’t make them smart.  It makes them fortunate enough to have rich and connected parents to go with that budding talent.

I hope for the best as far as the outcome of the CPS investigation, but I also hope that it’s a wake up call for Will and Jada.  Parent your kids like you want, but keep that stuff in-house.  Don’t let Instagram be the undoing of your household.  That would just be plain stupid.

Oh, yeah, and to the guy, Moises Arias, in the photo with Willow: you may get a knock at your door, too.  Not from CPS, but from COPS.  They frown upon 13 year olds laying in bed with shirtless 20 year olds, too.  “17 will get you 20,” but 13, dude?

Do you believe that kids should have free will to make their own decisions?