Spare or Spoil?

It’s been a while beautiful people. Work has been crazy, and I’m cheating a little because I am prepping this very piece while on the clock. But our 13th story is in the works and a timeless subject has been brought up.

DISCIPLINE.

In the age of video phones and instant uploads making everything a must-capture moment, we need not do much accept type “bad” in YouTube’s search bar and be flooded with cursing tots, sagging teens, and the reckless transit antics of our youth.

The question I pose; how do we stop it at home? Parents cannot control their child’s EVERY action and influence, but they can instill and reinforce how they expect them to behave and conduct themselves outside of the home.

I received pops and beatings as a child. I’m not anymore prone to violence than the next educated, law-abiding citizen. Growing up, I learned there were consequences to my actions. If I didn’t want to get popped, I wouldn’t do the action I got popped for.

I do believe in teaching moments, but simply taking away a material object or a privilege doesn’t seem to work in this day and age. Kids just get their rocks of somewhere else. “I got caught cursing out my teacher, so my dad cut off my 4G. I’ll just make a video cursing the same teacher out over wi-fi so my friends KNOW it’s real in these streets.”

I ask you parents and caregivers, how should we discipline our kids to prevent Tom Foolery such as this:

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Savage(s)!

Hurt. Disgusted. Sickened. Baffled. Ashamed. Appalled. Hurt. On the brink of tears.

I woke up and turned on the news. Bad mistake. Two cops shot in Ferguson, one cop shot in NYC. So I turned and took to social media for some morning humor.

Came across a NY Daily News headline for March 12, 2015.

disgusting

SAVAGE! A picture of young African American girls with the longest headline in history and the most eye-catching word is SAVAGE!. They labeled these girls’ (actions) savage.

Quick back story. High school girls have beef. It escalated and exploded in a McDonald’s in Brooklyn. But, because we are in Generation Punk-Ass, they did not shoot a fair one. It was one girl against five and she held her own for as long as possible. She was taken down and badly injured after. Once it was clear she was down, she was still kicked and berated. And the other students…filming until they have enough footage to get likes and hits. Only one adult stepped in when it was too late. Cops were called twice within six minutes but showed up after the fight was over.

Fuck you New York Daily News. There is plenty of blood on cops hands. Men and women fatally shot because a trained individual was scared. In the aforementioned news reports, they did not release the name of the cops as the investigation is ongoing. They’re handling it very delicately. That blue line must be a blessing. Cops associated with unjust killings get to RESIGN with benefits or are suspended with pay. YET LET’S PASTE THESE GIRLS ON THE FRONT OF A CITY-WIDE NEWSPAPER AND LABEL THEM SAVAGES.

Grant it, the story’s goal is to point out that we live in an age where people would rather film than help. That’s disgusting. And I know they did not DIRECTLY call the girls savage, but instead was highlighting their violence and the audience’s indulgence/encouragement; but the juxtaposition is painfully obvious. Law enforcement, those who have the tag line of, “Courtesy, Professionalism, Respect“, are the POSTER CHILDREN for corruption. They wrote the book on how to get away with murder. Rural kids riot over pumpkins. Yet we are savage.

NYPD slogan

Those girls should not have been fighting. Their parents should be held accountable. The (lack of) action of the bystanders is incredibly insulting to the credibility of the human race. But many other adjectives could have been used on this front page story. Tragic. Unfortunate. Sad. Horrible. But you choose “Savage”. You choose a word which has been used to insult people of color by many generations. You choose to use a word that equates us to wild animals. Please believe, there is a long history of savagery and it doesn’t start with us; but almost always ends with us losing….

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It Takes A Village

My sister’s father (God rest his soul) told me a long time ago that he has eyes everywhere and people know who I am in relation to him. I shrugged it off. Surely enough, days later, he was able to tell me what park I was in, around what time, and which direction I went when I left. TRUE STORY.

I don’t just hold young, naive, ignorant parents accountable; I don’t just put the weight on the single parent who refuses to mature and realize the gravity of raising a child;

but it’s on the family as well. I watch the young, dumb uncle around the children and the discovered independence of the young aunt. I understand, it was your sibling’s choice to have a child and you do not have DIRECT responsibility for them. But if you have to/ choose to be around them, you need to watch your actions. A child between the ages of 3 and 9 should not

  • know the words to IDFWU
  • know how to use the N word
  • should not know how to gyrate a damn thing
  • scream Worldstar when anything ratchet happens
  • should not be aware of what ratchet happenings are
  • should not be able to curse around you, but not AT you,

and the list goes on.

I know it is common for children to grow up in imperfect households, but it is common sense not to bring adult habits around young children. If Big Sis needs you to watch Jr. while she is out providing, your weed head friends cannot come over that day. Aunt J shouldn’t be watching fight videos or twerk tutorials with Little Missy in her lap while Dad is doing a double. It’s all cute and viral until you have an open ACS/CPS case because your child’s teacher has been cursed at all week and all you can do is say, “I know. He does the same thing at home. That’s just him.” No. It’s just YOU, doing just enough, to just get by.

Poverty, absent parents, lack of resources; these are just some of the things that cause some of our youth to grow up too fast. But filters are not just for coffee and Instagram. Teaching starts in the home. We need to teach our children age appropriate behavior so they know when to avoid something that will mar their character before they have the chance to create it themselves. We can’t protect them from the world, but we can still put a shield in their hand. And every person of influence in the child’s life should be on the same page on how that child is to be raised.

If I hear your 2nd grader talking about popping bottles, or popping off on someone, I just might pop them in their mouth. We need children to be children for as long as possible. And it still takes a village to raise a child.

Pregnancy Scare #7; Fearless Mom: Jane Smith

Jane Smith

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Name: Anonymous
Age: 16
Year you graduated high school: Still in high school
Year you found out you were pregnant: 2012
Number of children: 1

The Uh Oh Moment: I was 15 when I found out I was pregnant. I was at school with an old friend in the bathroom; she had brought me the test. [I thought], “This cant be real.” I started laughing because I seriously thought it was a joke.

The Mom Moment: I had a hard time “connecting,” if you will, with the baby while I was pregnant. I had heard so many women talking about how they read to their bellies and how they would feel such a connection and what not. Sad to admit, but I did not feel as if I loved my baby during my pregnancy. There were many reasons for this, but overall it was hard for me to enjoy pregnancy. I never thought of myself as a mom. It wasn’t until the moment I held my son for the first time that I thought “Wow, I’m a mom.” That was the moment it all became real for me.

***Any man can be a father. It takes a real man to be a dad.***

Father/Dad: There is no relationship whatsoever with my son’s father. No contact.

He was supportive. We were trying to work things out in the beginning (we had broken up almost 3 months before I found out I was pregnant. I found out very late). It didn’t work out, but we stayed in touch and talked once in a while. A month before my son was born he decided he would rather choose drugs and partying over seeing his son. So, once the baby came he only saw him a few times for a quick visit and we have had no contact; besides recently dealing with mediation and soon, court.

Them vs. You: I do some things the same as I was raised, but I do many things differently. My son is very much like me, so things that didn’t work with me, I do not do with him (example: spanking) and things that worked with me, I do with him. I appreciate the fact that my parents raised me in the church. I am raising him in the church. He just got dedicated a few weeks ago 🙂 (this past Mother’s Day).

My parents never said anything that was hurtful or harsh. They were very supportive. It helped me greatly that they never said anything negative, because I was hard enough on myself.

Fearful Moment: My lowest moment(s) was the first few months of my son’s life. He was very fussy and never slept. It was very stressful and I was very sick, so it was hard to enjoy my time with my baby, but that didn’t change the love I had for him.

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Fearless Moment: His first step; just because my son was so dependent on me for everything. It made me so proud to see him starting to do something on his own. Before, he wouldn’t even sit down to play with a toy. He was always in my arms.

Support System: My closest friend was shocked, but one of the first things she said was “WE will get through this.” That meant, and stills means the world to me, knowing she will always be by my side through this journey.

We talk all the time and she still tells me the same thing, quite often. She is the person I go to for everything. images

I find my strength in the Lord. Some days it is so hard for me to do anything, but I know that the Lord will carry me through, because he always has. I also find my strength in my son. Everything I do is for him. When I feel like I can’t go on, I think about him and I know I have to finish school and work hard for my baby.

Final thoughts….
Parenting (especially being a single parent, and being this young) is tremendously hard. But it is so rewarding. I have been through a lot and I have completely turned myself around for my son. I am thankful the Lord gave me my boy, because without him I wouldn’t be who I am today. He saved me.

J. Smith hopes to graduate early by the end of this year and plans to go to community college for 2 years and then go on to law school.

Jane Smith; P.S. #7

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Before becoming a parent, up until eighth grade, I valued my parents’ rules for the most part. I didn’t really do anything “bad” so to say. It was freshman year when that all ended. I had gone through some things and I started acting out because of it. Everything my parents said, I went against. Me being reckless resulted in pregnancy by the summer of my freshman year; I was just a baby myself.  My dad had always told me, “All boys are the same, they all only want one thing when they are a teenager.” But I refused to listen because I thought this boy (my baby’s  father) was different. Eventually I figured out that in fact, he did only want one thing.
Once becoming a parent, everything they told me made more sense. I value their rules much more now.

Full story coming soon.

Pregnancy Scare #6; Fearless Mom: Lyndsey Battiste

Name: Lyndsey Battiste

Lyndsey

Age: 27
Year you graduated high school: 2005
Year you found out you were pregnant: 2007
Number of children: 1

The Uh Oh Moment: I was 20. I was at a friend’s house (too scared to take the test alone). My first thought was, “My mother is going to kill me.

The Mom Moment: I became a mom in January 2008 but it happened a couple of days after Sydney was born. After all the visitors stopped coming to help and there we’re no more nurses…and her “father” decided to go out instead of being home with us…we had our first night alone together. She cried all night and wouldn’t eat. I tried everything to make her stop; even put her in her car seat on top of the dryer (on low) hoping the motion would help (Google, lol). But nothing worked. We both cried all night. Then all of a sudden she held my pinky, latched on to the breast, and just looked at me. That’s when it got real; the moment I realized I couldn’t give her back lol. She was mine and I promised to do any and everything for her 1st!

Lyndsey Performance 2

          ***Any man can be a father. It takes a real man to be a dad.***

Father/Dad: There is no relationship [with Sydney’s father]. He moved away when my daughter was 3 months old and didn’t come back until her 1st birthday. We wouldn’t hear from him at months at a time until finally, the calls completely stopped.

He was extremely excited when I told him and very supportive during the pregnancy. He was there for the birth but things changed after she was born. I guess reality hit him.

Them vs. You: My parents play a major role in my daughter’s life and help me tremendously with raising her.

The harshest thing wasn’t what they said it was what they did. My Dad didn’t speak to me for a couple of days and that completely broke my heart. It hurt. I felt like I let him down.

Fearful Moment: My scariest moment was when my daughter had to have surgery when she was 1. Although it was only a simple outpatient procedure, the thought of my little girl having surgery was horrifying.

Fearless Moment: . I think my favorite moments are always seeing her perform on stage. I’m a dance teacher and I own my own dance company so knowing that my child shares the same passion that I do is amazing! She’s a little show stopper and is a natural at performing.

I find my strength from [Sydney]!

Sydney
“The apples are still on the tree… she’s my mini me.”

Knowing that I have a little girl looking up to me and watching every move I make forces me to push and be a better woman. I can’t let her down

Support System: [Tiffany] was extremely supportive! She was at almost every doctors appointment, at the hospital every chance she got once I went into labor, and she was there for every birthday.

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Tiffany and Sydney, all smiles.
Lyndsey Performance
Lyndsey and Sydney connecting on and off stage.

She’s my daughter’s Godmother! Although we aren’t in the same city and she has started a family of her own, she stills checks on my daughter and is there to support as much as she can.

Lyndsey Battiste is the owner/director/choreographer of the the Live.Love.Dance. Performing Arts Company, LLC; founded 3 years ago after her grandmother lost her life to pancreatic cancer. Their Instagram and Twitter is @WeLiveLoveDance. Search her name on YouTube to see videos. The Facebook is Facebook.com/LLD.DanceCompany.

Pregnancy Scare #5; Fearless Mom: Julia Olatunji

Name: Julia Olatunji

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Age: 24
Year you graduated high school: 2007
Year you found out you were pregnant: 2010
Number of children: 1

The Uh Oh Moment: I found out I was pregnant 2 weeks before Mother’s Day of 2010. I was 20 years old and I went to the gynecologist to confirm my pregnancy. I was with the father of my child. When the doctor told me congratulations, I was excited because we actually planned to get pregnant. I told him via text message when I took an at home pregnancy test. His exact words were, “Riiiight.” We planned to go get a test done at my gynecologist. 72013_1782485406973_5967930_n

The Mom Moment: I became a mother the first time I felt her kick me. What kicked me into mom mode was when I first heard her heart beat at 80bmp. I teared and promised her that I will do all in my power to give her a good life.

          Any man can be a father. It takes a real man to be a dad.

Father/Dad: Currently he’s a father. As of now Trinity’s father and I are not together. I want to co-parent but it seems I’m a single parent. During my pregnancy he was not as invested as I was. I wanted what every pregnant woman wants; foot massages, belly rubs, personal time, etc. But that was out because he wanted to live his life. After she came into the world he helped out a lot; still out there enjoying his life…but when he came home he helped.

This has been tough for us for a while, but I thought that when he got himself together he would start being a dad. Unfortunately I was way wrong.

Julia and Trinity
” I realized that I had a roof over my head and my child and I were always fed.”

Them vs. You: I feel like education, routine, and discipline are key to life. That is exactly how my great grandmother raised me until she passed in 2001. I parent like my great grandmother lol. I actually flash back to my memories of living with her to help me parent. I remember only watching age appropriate shows and that is exactly what I do with my daughter. She only watches preschool shows and only listens to kid friendly music.

I was so scared to tell my grandmother about my pregnancy because there were already people in my family having children and she had it in her mind that I’d get “baby fever”. So I called her on the phone and she called me stupid and then asked me, “Do you think this is a game?” Then she hung up. After that I got in the house and we had a sit down. She asked me about my plans and next steps.

I was sad at first because I truly did not think it over, but then again, in my mind, love will get me pass everything, plus my child’s father had a job. Where can I go wrong?

I feel like education, routine, and discipline are key to life.
“I feel like education, routine, and discipline are key to life.”

Fearful Moment: Lowest moment of my parenthood was not having a job and my own place to live. After applying for jobs and not getting the response I wanted, I felt like a failure. My baby needed things and I wanted to get it but couldn’t.

I started a job training program by the name of STRIVE. They are great. While in there I gained my confidence back. They were the best support system because there are a variety of people there with a variety of different problems. I thought to myself if they can overcome their obstacles then so can I. I realized that I had a roof over my head and my child and I were always fed. A lot of people don’t have the support system I do and I am blessed.

Fearless Moment: My favorite first is when my daughter looked me in my eyes and she said, “Mommy, I love you.” For the first time I got butterflies and started tearing. That made me feel like everything in the world.

My strength is and will always be me. Everything I do is for my daughter of course, but how can you take care of someone else without taking care of you first.

Julia Prego 2

Support System: My friends are a great support system. They never left my side and they are always there when I need them.

I only have 6 real friends and they were happy for me. Of course this meant my partying days were over, but as time went on my closest friend out of the 6, Muffin, would say, “I can’t believe you’re having a baby.” And as of today she says, “I can’t believe you have a child.”

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Julia and Muffin

Final thoughts…. I went into parenthood immaturely. I thought love was the key, but now I know that love is just one ingredient. You also need patience, your sanity, morals, confidence, goals, and a support system. I had an idea of what kind of mother I wanted to be but without all of those things I would not be the mother I have become. Parenting is a constant struggle that I am going to have to battle with for the rest of my life but I am strong enough to battle it and meet it head on.

DAD

This man of color, this DAD, is talking to me about his teenage son and what he needs. He goes, “WE’RE not doing too well in math. WE’RE at a 60 right now. WE actually went down a little bit.”

I had to stop him and have the son recognize what his father was doing. That simple use of a pronoun makes a major difference. I shook that man’s hand heartily.

I then told him I’m always taking noted from the parents around me for the day I have my own. He tells me, “Take your time!”

Noted Sir.
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Pregnancy Scare #4; Fearless Mom: Natalie Mendez

Name: Natalie Mendez
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Age: 25
Year you graduated high school: 2006
Year you found out you were pregnant: 2006
Number of children: 3

The Uh Oh Moment: The day I found out I was pregnant…I remember it like it was yesterday. I was 18, just finished high school, and living in an over priced efficiency apartment with my at the time boyfriend Justin. I remember who was there for each test. Each reaction was different.

The Mom Moment: For my first son, I was so in love with his father. When I saw positive on the test I cried my first tears of pure joy! I thought, “Oh dang, it just got real.” It was perfect. When Jaedin (my oldest) came into this world summer of 2007, I thought instantly, “I’m a mom.” Then came Adrian the following year, and Cameron this past year.

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Jaedin and Adrian maxin’ and relaxin’…until the cameras are on!
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The third cub added to the pride, Cameron.

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***Any man can be a father. It takes a real man to be a dad.***

 Father/Dad: My relationship with my children’s fathers was always so up and down. Of course after we split is when ish really hits the fan. Men are worried about “baby momma drama” well trust me, baby daddy drama does exist! It seemed their fathers would do things sometimes just out of spite, just to make me miserable; knock me down. And it worked sometimes. But we all grow up at some point and I like to think we have good relationships as parents. I’ve even maintain a friendship with one. Which is what kids need to see; good role models.

It seemed like through each pregnancy it was something. Each one seemed stressful and never ending. It seemed as if that’s when the majority of our issues began. And after pregnancy, it just got harder. Arguments got worse, love was lost. As far as our relationship as parents, we don’t always agree, but I like to believe now since we are older, we are able to put our differences aside.

But my children’s fathers are definitely dads. They may get on my nerves, do dumb things, and fight with me about any and everything, but that doesn’t take from being a good dad! 🙂

Them vs. You: I’ve been told I’m like my mother! I wasn’t raised by my father. My mom was a single mother and also had children with different fathers. It wasn’t till I was 9 that she found my step dad…the best step dad a girl could ask for! He treated us all like his own!

I feel the way I was raised made me who I am; respectful, strong, kind, gentle-hearted, etc. I think I turned out okay so I think my boys are headed in the same direction. So far I’m proud to say I have wonderful boys…young men…and they have so much more life to go to make me even prouder. 🙂

The harshest thing I was told? I honestly can’t recall any negativity. I do know they said before, “Haven’t [I] learned how to use birth control?” But it was all in fun. Everyone was always excited!

Fearful Moment: I’ve had a few low moments as a parent. I’ve been away from my oldest because his father took him from me, and through the court system with my middle against his father because he just didn’t want him to be with me since I moved out of state. It seemed like their fathers were so against me and I couldn’t understand why. But later on I heard “I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking.”

Fearless Moment: My favorite moment is when my children said “I love you” with meaning, not just because I was saying it. At that moment, as a parent, you know you must be doing something right! Seems like an “I love you mom” makes a grey day totally brighten up, and all the negative is washed away!

Support System: Honestly, I don’t think my friends cared either way if I was pregnant or not. [They were] happy for me I suppose. Ha! But of course when you become pregnant, your “friends” become distant because you can no longer do the things they want to do and you’re always tired and just want to sleep whenever you can!

"...I also enjoy cuddling in bed with my kids, watching kid movies, parks, the zoo; anything for the kids."
“…I also enjoy cuddling in bed with my kids, watching kid movies, parks, the zoo; anything for the kids.”

Final thoughts….
My boys are my world. I’m a young single mother. Yes I enjoy me time here and there but I also enjoy cuddling in bed with my kids, watching kid movies, parks, the zoo; anything for the kids. I wouldn’t trade my life as a parent for anything. Its one…well 3 of my greatest accomplishments.