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

Habari Gani? Imani! (Faith)

Kwanzaa kinara--Virgin IslandsHappy New Year! Heri Za Kwanzaa (Happy Kwanzaa) ! Wishing you an abundance of joy, love and all things positive in the coming year. It has been a while since African-American Parenting has posted and I am committed to sharing on a more consistent basis in 2017. The past year has been tumultuous and we have been watching the community struggle, fight and bravely stand up for the preservation of our families, children and neighborhoods. There have been a lot of innocent lives lost yet it is promising to see the eruption of organizations and movements committed to fighting against brutality, inequality and institutionalized racism.

Our focus at African-American Parenting is to not only inform but to be a place of support and resource for those families, parents and community organizations to gather, share stories and find comfort and unity. Please feel free to email us at africanamericanparenting@gmail.com if you would like to submit a story, essay to the blog. Also if you have an idea, question, problem or anything you would like to see addressed or published on the blog, feel free to leave it in the comment section below.

Please  visit and become a “friend” of our Facebook page for African American Parenting which is often updated with local (tri-state area of NJ, PA, DE) and sometimes national events that support and educate the African-American community.

By no coincidence, on the seventh and final day of Kwanzaa, Imani (Faith) our family prepares for a Karamu (feast) where we break bread and share libations, review the Nguzo Saba (seven principles) and symbols of Kwanzaa, honor our ancestors and enjoy the love and accomplishments of both elders and youth.

Following in this tradition, it is for us then a time to ask and answer soberly and humbly the three Kawaida questions: Who am I; am I really who I say I am; and am I all I ought to be? And it is, of necessity, a time to recommit ourselves to our highest ideals, in a word, to the best of what it means to be both African and human in the fullest sense. ~ From The Official Kwanzaa Website

It is the best way for us to bring in the new year. In the spirit of Imani, we call upon our ancestors for their wisdom and strength and use the energy of the day and the collective village to sustain and increase our faith. With the uncertainties of the coming year it is the most important weapon in my humble opinion.

Wishing you an abundant new year!