Maintaining family traditions; stability in a world that often isn’t.

holding-hands-1My son and daughter are five years apart. My favorite picture of the two of them was taken the day my daughter was born. My son had taken a big brother class at the hospital and understood that she would look up to him and follow him as the older sibling. The first time they met, she gazed up into his eyes and I’m so grateful my sister-in-law captured it on film. He loved being my helper, getting her diaper or toys when I asked and I tried to give him all of the quality time I could when she was napping or down for the night.

Even after the separation, as a solo parent I would still be conscious of the attention that she naturally received as the baby of the family. I made sure they were treated equally regarding chores and rules and would let him stay up to watch television or play a game with me after I tucked her in at night. What I refer to as our night-time snuggle hour (it was cute then, not so much now that he’s a teenager) is a tradition now and even though he won’t admit it, I know he looks forward to it at least once or twice a week. Now that my son is a teenager and my daughter a tween, both are going through emotional and physical changes which naturally distances them. As an introvert, he spends a lot of time in his room and she commands my time and all of the rest of the space in the house with her creative endeavors. I understand that they need the space to develop in their own way but I have to admit it’s been difficult as a parent watching powerless, as age difference, school and puberty send them to their separate corners of the world.

I must admit I had given up on our family rituals. Running a household, business and caring for two school aged children is more than a full-time job. I’m usually ready to go to bed before they do, and I felt that they had grown out of our summer vacations, back to school gifts, end of school dinner celebration, church service (twice a month if we can), midnight or early morning movies in our pajamas, Friday pizza and movie nights and other traditions until recently. For the first time in close to a year we watched a movie together last night sharing pizza and the same couch! I almost always order pizza and this past year I would be the only one sitting on the couch watching the movie or most likely it would be just my daughter and I. Last night was different. I ordered the pizza and made plans to go out to a local fundraiser when I expected the kids would be retired to their rooms; but as usual when I make plans, God laughs! After the pizza was demolished I turned on The Dark Knight and invited my son to sit and watch it with me. Years ago he was fascinated by all of the Marvel and DC Comics but gave it up when he got the message from peers that enjoying action figures was childish. I walked out of the room and was floored when I saw him actually reclining on the couch waiting for me. My daughter, not to be outdone fought for her spot on the couch too. I had to play referee once or twice but we watched the entire movie together as a family. I was waiting for them both the bail mid-movie but they didn’t. I silently apologized to my conscience for missing the fundraiser so I could be present, enjoying the snuggle and bonding time with my children instead. I went to bed hopeful and determined to slowly reinstate the not so typical family traditions that we have created over the years. At a time when so much in their lives is changing, the ability to rely on mom’s sometimes quirky traditions offers the nurturing and stability they so desperately need. I am aware that every night may not have a fairy tale ending and that traditions may continue to be tested, yet I remain encouraged. Pizza and move night was a reminder that consistency is important and not to give up until the miracle happens.

What are some of the non-traditional traditions that bring your family together? Feel free to share in the comments below or email us at africanamericanparenting@gmail.com.

~African American Parenting

#FREE Criminal Record Expungement Clinic, September 23rd, Philadelphia!

Sept 23 expungement 2017

Presenting Little Love Stories; Vol 2. & Happy Hour Friday, September 8th!

 

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Join Love Now Media for Happy Hour , Friday September 8th, 5-7pm at Booker’s Restaurant to celebrate the release of our seasonal publication: Little Love Stories!

Love Now Media of CultureTrust is a non-profit social enterprise with a mission to tell stories through media production and communications initiatives that lean towards justice, wellness, and equity.

Volume 2 is edited by Jasmine Combs and features 4 Love Stories.

Now She Dances: the healing power of love by Tonita Austin
Love Loved Loving Me by Prentice Bush
A love story by Alexis Walker
My Sister’s Keeper by Jos Duncan

Copies will be available at the event. Purchase in advance when you register for your FREE ticket to the event at Ticketleap.

*Happy Hour Menu*

Buffalo Cauliflower, $4
Deviled Eggs, $2
Pulled Pork Buscuit, $4
Draft Beers, $3
Sangria, $3
House Wine, $5

This is will be a fun, relaxed and creative atmosphere for you to enjoy after work, before the weekend begins where you can let your hair down and support the creative talents of local artists at the same time. I hope to see you there!

#loveistheanswer

Philadelphia Jazz,Blues & Theatre at its best! See the Art of I Am, September 15th, one show only!

Nikki Powerhouse is a phenomenal poet, writer, performer and her one woman stage show “The Art of I AM” is an experience you will not want to miss. She takes you on a journey through her life and those who have come to make her the soul-filled artist that she continues to reveal on stage. The Venice Island Performing Arts Theater acoustics are incredible, and there is not a bad seat in the house. This is a show you don’t want to miss. Hope to see you there!

The ARt of I AM sept 15th

The Daddy Daughter Dance; it’s not just a party it’s an investment in her emotional well being.

TODAY, June 17th is the eighth annual Daddy Daughter Dance. It takes place again this year in Philadelphia at the Hilton Hotel  from 6-pm. The event started as the idea of the founder of Daddy UniverseCity who recognized the significance of the bond between father and daughter. With all of the bullying, school stress and social media influence in our young girls lives our daughters can easily fall victim to anxiety, depression, school suspension and low self-esteem without a strong father or father figure for support.

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Educator caught on tape belittling a young female student

I volunteer every year not just to support DaddyUniverseCity and their vision to support and educate fathers, but because of the beautiful stories that I see walking through the door. I’ve seen fathers with disabled daughters, grandfathers attending with their daughter and granddaughter, men with infants and diaper bags on their shoulder and young girls dancing with their little feet on top of their father’s for guidance. I’ve seen tears in the eyes of grown men and grown women alike and it’s obvious that it’s the first time they have spent this type of quality time with their father or child. There is not simply music, good food and tiaras but there is genuine healing of families and relationships happening after the tickets are purchased and the couples are seated. I see it in their eyes, I hear the conversations and feedback as they pour out of the ballroom drenched with joy. I am always filled with hope and fulfillment and while I wish I had the chance to attend once with my own Dad, I am ever so grateful that my daughter is sitting at the table every year with hers.

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The event started eight years ago with 50, last year over 500 were in attendance. If you don’t have your ticket, there may still be time but I wouldn’t wait much longer. Miracles are waiting.

www.dance8.eventbrite.com

Oh yes and Happy Father’s Day!

 

 

Fatherhood advice via new website for Daddy University

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Re-post of the January 8, 2017 article about Daddy University, a Fatherhood support resource, in the Philadelphia Tribune:

The leadership team at Daddy University has started off the new year with a brand new website to help guide fathers of all ages through parenthood.

Located at daddyuniv.com, the website offers a baby supplies checklist for new fathers, legal information and a place for fathers to share their story of challenge or triumph.

While the website is new, the male parenting education company Daddy University has helped fathers in the Philadelphia area since 2004.

For eight months out of the year, fathers come to the West Philadelphia YMCA to meet with President and CEO Joel Austin and discuss topics ranging from how to communicate with a rebellious teen to how to braid their daughter’s hair.

Austin, a father of four, was inspired to create Daddy University after taking his eldest son to a Big Brother/Big Sister class at a nearby hospital. While hospital staff taught his son how to change a diaper and help out mom and dad, Austin realized he needed to take notes too.

“I am now the head of my household, and the only one who has had no training in taking care of children,” Austin said. “Even my five-year old has had a better class than me.”

He decided enough was enough. First, Austin started researching lessons on childcare online. Most of his results were from maternity websites. Next, he and co-founder Edward McGee started meeting with focus groups. After those took off in popularity, Austin and McGee then launched the Fathers Club with a full class curriculum.

“It’s not about fatherhood over motherhood, it’s about having two educated parents to raise a child,” Austin said.

In the past, people have joined the Fathers Club through word-of-mouth or recommendations from social services. Attendance ranges from 50 to 100 people, from teen fathers to grandparents caring for their grandchildren.

One of the first lessons Austin teaches is personal responsibility. Instead of referring to the child’s mother by name, he tells the men in his class to use the phrase, “the woman I chose.” Austin also teaches parents how to communicate with their children. His solution-based lessons help parents create more time between reacting and responding to an issue.

“The biggest problem I have in my class is that many of my men are not taught conflict resolution,” Austin said. “The thing is, everybody can actually win.”

The Fathers Club classes cover the time between a child is born to adulthood. With his oldest children in their early 20’s, Austin says he doesn’t believe in 18 being the magic number.

“So you were dumb at 17-and-a-half, but for some reason at 18 you’re supposed to be given this miraculous gift from the heavens of knowledge?” he said. “Instead, he works with parents to develop an exit strategy so children can be successful after they leave the home.

“None of them are raising children,” Austin added. “They are raising somebody’s future husband, wife, mother or father.”

Other than weekly classes, Daddy University also offers a fatherhood conference, young male Conference, mother and son dance and a daddy and daughter dance. The daddy and daughter dance takes the form of a debutante ball, and ticket sales help fund Daddy University. About 50 people showed up to the first dance. Seven years later, more than 650 fathers took their daughters to dance.

“We didn’t realize that a lot of adult women would be bringing their dads as well,” Austin said. “Now, the ages of the event are three years old all the way up to 60 or 70.”

With the website now active, the leaders at Daddy University are now looking towards advocacy for parenting rights and expanding the Fathers Club to the South Philadelphia YMCA. Austin plans to continue guiding dads in parenthood.

“I want people to have fun with parenting,” he said. “Crawl on the floor as much as you can.”

Information and ways to donate to Daddy University are available online at daddyuniv.com.

mearls@phillytrib.com

(215) 893-5732

Teachable Moments; 6 things I wish I knew before my daughter’s brain injury

wp-1483807802159.jpgLife can change in a blink of an eye. It’s a phrase you hear often and never really “get” until it happens. One day my nine-year old was walking, reading Harry Potter novels repeatedly, running after her friends and swimming like a fish and it all ceased within the seconds that passed when she slipped on wet leaves, fell forward onto a wooden beam on the ground and injured her head. We have both gone through the difficult phases of grief and as a parent it’s just natural to wonder if there was something I could have done differently or sooner to help her heal. What I’ve learned with the help of my dear friends (and some strangers) who allowed me to release my fears and frustrations into their ears was that I had no control over this accident nor could I change the way I navigated my way  through the health care matrix to find the appropriate care for her. What I can do however, is share my experience so that another parent is better informed about brain injury in children than I was when this accident occurred so here goes…

6 Things I wish I knew before my child’s head injury:

  1. Keep them home from school the following day.

    Luckily her accident happened the day before a holiday and she was able to rest for three days before she returned to school. Some of her concussion symptoms did not present themselves until close to a week later but if I was aware of the protocol for children who fell and hit their head I would have taken her to the doctor the next day.

  2. Get an incident report

    In my daughter’s case no one saw her fall and I was at work and unable to see her until an hour or so after the incident. We all had to take her word for what happened. It’s best for insurance documentation to get an incident report from the school (or organization if your child is at day care, summer camp or sports). Most child care organizations are required to fill out a report and should give you a copy. If they don’t, ask for it.

  3. Even if your child has only one symptom, take him/her to the pediatrician for evaluation

    Refer to #1 above for the list of concussion signs and symptoms from the Center for Disease Control. I’ve learned that not every child exhibits symptoms in the same time frame and severity and it’s best to proceed on the side of caution and take them to the pediatrician for evaluation even if they complain of only a headache. Your doctor may tell you that protocol is to wait a week but I would insist on having your child seen anyway.

  4. Seek out a pediatric concussion specialist in your area.

    Not every neurologist or hospital ER has a wealth of experience with every age range and not every pediatrician specializes in brain medicine. It took almost a month of going to doctors and emergency rooms before I found a doctor that best suited my daughter’s needs. I am not sure why but her first doctor did not seem to have compassion for her and her immediate needs. I asked neighbors and friends in the medical field until I received a few referrals for her specialty. My next step was to check to see which were covered under our insurance which narrowed the list down further. We are located in Pennsylvania, but the Brain Injury Association in your area can provide a list of service providers. I have also learned that sometimes to connect with the right doctor, you have to be willing travel. Don’t be afraid to seek a second opinion. Our second doctor was the best fit for her.

  5. Contact your school district and county for resources

    It wasn’t until I sought out a second opinion, six weeks post injury that I was informed there was a school re-entry program specifically for children with brain injury. This consulting division of our county’s Intermediary Unit serves as a liaison between the school and families and provides you with the resources and support you need to transition your child back to school. Brainsteps, the consulting program in Pennsylvania is fully funded by the state. My daughter’s case manager has visited our home and provided such encouragement for my daughter and myself!

  6. Make self-care a priority; ask for help and don’t be too proud to accept it!

I had no idea how exhausting and stressful it would be mentally and physically to manage a household, business (I’m self-employed) and my daughter’s care after her brain injury. Luckily I have a “village” of friends who knew it would drain me and immediately offered to help. I didn’t want to bother anyone because I knew they all had families to support but my friend reminded me that there’s enough compassion in this world for everyone. She asked if she could set up a meal train which allows neighbors to sign up and bring home cooked meals to your family. I didn’t realize how much time I spent on preparing and cooking our meals until I didn’t have to! Other friends have come to visit, helped with laundry and housecleaning or sat with my children so I could go out to the movies or just sit still with a cup of coffee or have a glass of wine with a good friend. You have to find time for yourself away from the stress and strain where you can relax and release. The help is available but you have to ask for and allow yourself to receive the help. Genuine help is there ; you are better able to care for your child when you take the time to care for yourself.

You may have experienced brain injury, be a medical professional or have a young child who may one day be diagnosed with a concussion; either way I hope this has been helpful to you.

Feel free to share and comment here if this was helpful and please take a moment to become a friend on our Facebook Page for African American Parenting.

Thank you for visiting. Make today great!