MontVerde Academy, Florida held its 100th high school graduation May 18th. Dakari Johnson, my fifth grandchild to graduate high school and 172 other students from 27 other countries speaking 20 different languages received their diplomas and added their choices of colleges totaling 219 for the Academy. This event fueled my vision of creating families, communities and ultimately a world where differences are accepted – where individuals from birth are appreciated in anticipation of what they individually bring to make dynamic families, communities, nation and world. During this month dedicated to Mothers the PN ask that mothers , grand and great grandmothers join us in taking responsibility for our children’s freedom and success, empowering them to create a different world.
Whether the topic is poor performance in school or juvenile crime, the issues of “no father in the home, teenage mothers , grandparent as guardian, foster care immediately surface. The composition of today’s families become the focus rather than the needs of the individual child.
Given all the possible appearances of today’s families, in principle its job remains the same. From the beginning of time the family has been the foundation of society, being its smallest unit. A child is nurtured in the family. Moral, spiritual, educational and social development occurs here. Relationships with family last a lifetime regardless of quality.
The role nor the importance of family has not changed. The statistics that institutions publicize as theirs, whether it be schools, prisons or foster care agencies, are really statistics on the effectiveness of families. While the role of the family has not changed, our practice has. Adults spend more time at work, work related activities, affiliations, personal leisure time activities and less time with their children. The appearance of families documents the social revolution of our culture. High divorce rates that create one-parent homes or homes with step parents, single women birthing and raising children alone, same sex partners, large numbers of children in foster care all contribute to the changes in a family’s composition. Add to these the fact that today more mothers are employed (if lucky) outside the home, possibly altering the effectiveness of the tr additional two-parent home.
While there may be legitimate reasons for giving parenting a lower priority the challenge is to arrange your life, however it looks, so that the children in your care get what they need in order to thrive. We have become resigned to reading statistics as if they actually belong to the institution issuing them. Therein lies the danger of diminishing the importance of family. When institutions , especially those under capitalist control, become responsible for the education and socialization of our children, failure is the only predictable outcome. If the family and community abdicate their responsibility, children become the fodder for the maintenance and expansion of governmental businesses, i.e. extended school days/years, special education, foster care, jails. While agency statistics are just that – numbers, the family and the community are intimately affected by the plight of the human being behind the statistic.
Children (humans for that matter) have needs and unless those needs are met, we can expect behaviors ranging from inappropriate to low achieving to destructive. Children need food, shelter, physical and emotional security, love, a sense of belonging, and values in order to thrive. They also need to develop skills in order to become self-reliant, productive members of society. These needs are non-negotiable. The first step in parents regaining their place of influence is establishing and maintaining consistent practice of recovering and developing self esteem in all members of the family by recognizing and placing emphasis on their worth. Contact Parents Notebook@firstname.lastname@example.org.
***June 9th – 2pm – Dr. Glory’s Youth Theatre: FREE family event – “Everything is a Part of Everything!” an artistic, modern day dramatic musical that debates the role and responsibility of the Family in Global Warming and Earth Sustainability. Location: The Riverside Theatre – 91 Claremont Ave. bet. 120th and 122nd St. FREE. RSVP by calling 212-870-6784.
*** Clinton Hill Branch of the BPL will be closed this summer for Renovations.
*** A Suggestion from Bro. Ogundipe: Check with your neighborhood libraries to see how they dispose of books for whatever reason. Some librarians are willing to hold them for member selections.