The Parent’s Notebook

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By Aminisha Black

Sharing Examples and Experiences
  Parents are special people and as quietly as it’s kept, they literally shape the future.  If we make choices that protect our children’s emotional, mental and physical health, they will be armed with the inner strength to make responsible and constructive choices in their own lives and live cooperatively with others. 
   Examples of special parents include NBA player Derek Fisher, The Utah Jazz point guard who requested a release from his $20.6 million contract because his one- year- old daughter, Tatum, suffers from a rare cancer of the eye that’s usually treated by removal of the eye.  Fisher chose to move to a city to get the care that might save her eye.  Also, Angie Filomeno, a single mother of four daughters, of which her youngest; Jessenia, was diagnosed with lupus at the age of eight.  Jessenia, who endures bouts of illnesses and heavy amounts of medication graduated from Pratt University’s School of Architecture.   The Filomeno family founded a Back-to-School scholarship program for students of their low-to moderate-income apartment complex in Brooklyn.  The message she says she wants to give them is “No matter where you live or how little money you have, even if you’re sick, if you set your mind you can do it”.
These parents inspire others to lead by example. When children commit crimes, fail in school or act out their emotional needs in other ways parents are often blamed. Often, to assuage our guilt we make our children wrong.   The programming that prevents us from taking responsibility, when things go awry has us place the responsibility, and consequently the power, with others.  How can we create new possibilities for ourselves, our children and our community? Perhaps by spotlighting choices like Derek Fisher’s and Angie Filomeno’s bold and charitable actions and asking parents of adult children to share lessons they learned in life’s classroom called parenting.  Here I share a few of the lessons that I’ve learned:
ú Self-discovery – In retrospect, I would have started the process of self-discovery earlier. Growing up in a household where alcohol and threatened violence was a weekend occurrence, I gave birth before I knew who I was.  I was later led to disciplines that helped me heal emotionally and experience the inner peace necessary for harmonious, supportive relationships. Fortunately, it’s never too late to take the journey to selfhood and miraculously my children not only survived the before version of their mother – they continue to evolve and thrive.
ú Forgiveness – I would have practiced forgiveness earlier.  I’ve forgiven both my parents for any wrong I thought they did.  I learned to focus on the occasions where love was shown and most importantly, I understand that they did the best they could given their own personal histories.  Forgiveness transforms complaints into creativity, bringing a freedom of expression and increased energy to implement change.
ú Balance – I would have balanced roles more. While my children learned valuable lessons from growing up in a cultural, activist community, I could have limited my activities more to those that included them or simply cut down on those that took me away.
ú Self-development – I would have taken adolescent workshops before they became teens.   No one told me that I needed to parent teens differently than when they were eight or nine.  Thanks to my independence declaring teens, I scurried to find workshops to guide me through the maze. We survived without stifling their quest for independence, and with my sanity pretty much intact.
ú Recording their creations – I can now appreciate the unique qualities of each child.  They are as distinct as their fingerprints.  On their 18th birthday, I presented each of them with: a portfolio containing photos, report cards, certificates and other items relating to their journey from birth to 18.  In retrospect, I would have also kept a book for each that recorded personal goals and results over the years.
Parenting really can be an exciting experience.  Share your experiences with us at parentsnotebook@yahoo.com
PN Alert!
*Aug. 2 – 27 – Lincoln Center Out of Doors – Free Music, Dance and Special Events
Visit LincolnCenter.org or call 212-LINCOLN for daily program listings.
*Aug. 18- 10AM to 3PM -From the Cradle to College Parent Empowerment Seminar, sponsored by NYS Senator Eric L. Adams at Medgar Evers College, 1650 Bedford Ave.
* Fall Session of Baby and Me (free activities from newborn to 4 years) is accepting registrations.  Call 718-574-8289 for more information.