Parent's Notebook

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The formula “input plus process equals output” is used in monitoring everything from baking cakes to managing corporations. It’s also a valid formula for rearing children. When a cake turns out too hard or too soggy we know that something went wrong, either in the mixing of the ingredients or in the process (in the case of baking – time or temperature). It’s pretty straightforward. Bakers know to check the ingredients and the time/temperature relationship. They don’t defend the ruined cake. Neither do they blame or punish it. They simply go back to the recipe and the oven to find where the change is needed. When a gardener buys a plant, he finds out what type of soil, the amount of light and water the plant needs. Should the plant die the gardener would rarely have to guess the cause. The answer lies within the realm of soil, water and light, the same as when used for house plants.

I’m sure that many who would not dispute the soundness of the formula when used in the examples given here will frown skeptically on the suggestion of its value in rearing children. The formula works but it requires understanding of the important role emotional well-being plays in our lives. Where are we told that parents, teachers, family members are shaping the future chances are when we look at financial status, achievements and the like and adopt those as the norm and determine the goals to aim for. Where do we examine or learn the values of the African villages and the contributions made by all villagers including the children? We could then observe the behaviors formed as a result of the brutal practices of slavery – practices that instilled competition and disunity, lack of trust and severe feelings of inferiority. And ultimately, when do we realize and take responsibility for transforming a system where material wealth (possessions of objects) defines success. While we have adapted African names and attire, traveled to the continent and participate in African religions, where are we told of the importance of the lessons learned in the home and in schools – lessons that impact the child’s sense of self and emotional well-being.

Today is the time to rescue ourselves and our children from this system whose highest-held value is possession of objects (remember, slaves filled a need at the time for producing wealth for the masters). As technology fulfills that need we witness other countries being invaded, human life destroyed. Our youth are filling positions for the profit-motivated capitalist available before being replaced by immigrants who’ll work for lower wages or happening more frequently move the site of production to a country where lower wages are paid. In the final analysis, the path leads ultimately to profit , no different than our ancestors who were taken from African villages, stripped of fulfilling their purpose in life by contributing to villages in which their needs were met, living their lives with a purpose and that resulted in the dismal statistics witnessed today. Do we want to pass this on to the next generation?

The 3Rs standing for Reading wRiting and aRithmetic were synonymous with the foundation of schools and education. If you’re looking for a platform to revolutionize parenting in the African-American community, that’s a good place to start. Just add: Responsibility, Relationship and Resources. Responsibility is necessary for any endeavor to succeed. Having a goal and choosing actions that moves toward the goal and taking responsibility for choices already made. Remember, we’re always choosing. Talking about the problem, pointing finger of blame, etc. are choices. We’ve been trained in not taking responsibility for fear of blame. In the coming weeks we’ll be moving into building our children’s relationship with self and others, we’ll set the agenda for home.

PN Alerts!!
***Banking on Youth Competition for youth 13-22 years old showcasing ideas for benefiting society and creating positive social change. Entry until March 15 for the chance to win one of thirty $1,000 seed money prizes, and two grand prizes of $5,000 and $15,000. Visit www.bankingonyouth.org
*** Winter/Spring Internships (credit and noncredit) at WBAI radio – in audio engineering, marketing, accounting, graphic design, social media networking, and event
Planning, general station support and business organization. E-mail resume, days/hours of availability and areas of interest to internship@wbai.org
*** Sat., Feb. 23 – Last Chance for teens 13-19 to audition for Vy Higgensen’s Gospel for Teens Free Program, 149 W. 126th St., Harlem. For further info call 212-280-1045.