The Parent’s Notebook

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Returning Home for Healing
In case you missed it, the November 16, 2005 issue of Our Time Press is must reading for parents.  Dr. Joy DeGruy Leary’s ‘s work on Post- traumatic Slave Syndrome and the reprint of a 1998 lecture by Professor Amos Wilson combine as a commanding call to African-Americans.   Dr. Leary makes clear the case for the effect of emotional trauma inflicted during slavery that continues in various behaviors today.   She calls on us to,  “Let the healing begin.” In his lecture, Professor Wilson cautions that without a good concept to guide behavior, we’re always reacting to what other people are doing.   He counsels that our consciousness creates our world, thereby giving us responsibility and power in the matter.  “If we transform ourselves, they (whites) will be transformed automatically.”
The transformation of a nation begins in the homes of its people is the Parent’s Notebook slogan.  The work with parents is totally geared toward shifting the focus from being a victim and power struggles to discovering and unleashing potential in us and our children.    We engage parents in transforming themselves in order to transform their family.  In a safe space, free of competitiveness and demoralizing attitudes, parents are accepted, acknowledged and appreciated, creating space for them to nurture their children.  And most significantly, in this era of outsourcing responsibility and power, we’re reinstating home as the major influence in the lives of children.
Shifting our consciousness regarding home we discover an exciting living lab.  The slower days of summer are a good time for a makeover. There are key elements for the transformation.   Self-esteem is the fundamental one.
Dr. Leary’s work clearly illustrates the damage wreaked on the African American’s sense of self-worth.  The good news is the self is still intact – it’s just a matter of removing the debris that has accumulated over time.  The bad news is that too often we can’t summon the courage to acknowledge we’re affected.  We’re caught up in this culture’s looking good syndrome.  Incidents of emotionally damaging acts are not addressed within our families or in organizations.
Physical, sexual or verbal abuse can no longer be rationalized, justified or ignored.  Making statements that blame, shame, label or ridicule children indicates the presence of debris.  It is a behavior that contributes to the dismal statistics on our young people. The logical place to start is within the smallest unit, the home. We can no longer send emotionally damaged children into a world that we say is dominated by a powerful enemy.
Boosting self-esteem involves listening and acknowledging feelings.  If emotions can be faced and accepted, they move on, otherwise ,they become baggage – preventing total self-expression.  If we can confront and accept our fears and hurts, we create space for our children to do the same.  Don’t brush off upsets.  Listen, asking questions in order to understand the feelings and the child’s point of view.  What happened is not as important as what your child feels about what happened.
Show respect to children as you would to an adult, saying “please”, “thank you”, “excuse me”.  Find things to compliment quick and often.  Understand that adults and young people make mistakes.  Say “I’m sorry” when the mistake is yours.  Honor the unique abilities and personalities of each child. Don’t compare them to anyone else, not even a sibling.   Let them know it’s all right to be different.   Encourage them to pursue what they’re good at, not what you wish they were good at.
Organizing a home that boosts self-esteem would also include assigning responsibilities in maintaining the home commonly referred to and avoided as chores.  Chores teach responsibility for one’s environment and experience in doing a task well.  Of course, acknowledgements of the performance is necessary.  If it’s appreciated, the child gets that s/he is a worthwhile contributor, otherwise, it’s slave labor.
In Home Works! parents discover their children’s innate intelligences and organize compatible tasks and activities at home and in the community that further develops them.  The parent becomes the primary advocate for the child’s self-expression, an area our schools with its standardized assessments fail miserably.  As we take responsibility for unleashing our children’s greatness, we honor the ancestors and take charge of our destiny.  For info on multiple intelligences in laymen terms, e-mail the parentsnotebook@yahoo.com or call 718-783-4432.