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Extending Family And Community Involvement

by Aminisha Black

The extended family has traditionally provided continuity in values, tradition and knowledge.  There was ready access to elders who had traveled the road before.  The statistics on the plight of our youth today demand that we change the way we do things.  We still have elders either by experience or training.  We can ask for and accept coaching in areas that aren’t working for us. To do that we must destroy the myth that if we don’t have all the answers, we’re worthless and asking for someone’s support means they’re better than we are.    When we adults, family members recognize that we ALL have areas of strength and those with less, we can begin to complement and support each other.  Currently, we work hard at hiding perceived weaknesses and competing with others.   As community, we can and must function as an extended family for our benefit as parents and most importantly, to ensure the survival and success of our children.

Much has been said about problems caused by the disruption of the extended family.  While we can’t create aunts, uncles or grandparents, we can analyze the function they served and as community provide for them in other ways.  One function of the extended family was that love and attention was available from many sources.  Given today’s mother-father breakups, adults working (if lucky enough to have jobs) long hours, gun violence, stop-and-frisk and the rest  there’s a dire need to re-create the village.  As this school year begins, I suggest that we, the community commit to creating ways that the self-esteem of our young (biologically and not) is rescued.  The Multiple Intelligence Inventory allows adults to discover what activities inspire the youth.    And we do want inspired youth to aspire to their innate greatness.

In this country we are taught what to think instead of how to think and as a result pay a huge price for the ignorance.   While most of us won’t take Logic 101, we can master rational thinking and pass that skill along to our children.  Their lives and our future depends on it.

As parents and caretakers, we’re obligated to teach our children survival skills.  Observe the animals.  They don’t stay in the nests longer than necessary to learn the lessons of survival.  Our children, in this modern age of technology, are an endangered species.  Let’s examine a few opportunities to involve youth in exploring opportunities to examine issues that affect your lives and arrive at actions that resolve current issues and leave lessons for the future.


Create Family Projects that Impacts Learning

The Primary Election results provide an opportunity to introduce and involve youngsters from elementary through high school in the political arena.  Prior to Election Day, leaflets are distributed and campaign promises are made.  In too many cases, they aren’t kept but who holds them responsible? While there are debates during campaigns where promises are made, who keeps a report card once the election has been held?  Why not a project – monitoring the promises made by a politician?   This will require the student to contact a chosen representative’s office to get updates on activities; have name and e-mail or mail address added to list.  Of course, the elected official chosen should be representing the family’s district.  Introducing your student to this project will bring more meaning to Election Day and it provides student with an opportunity to “Grade” their elected officials as they are graded by their teachers in school.  In fact, this project is one parents and adults should take on to have campaigns be more meaningful and voters showing up with their own report cards would send a message to the candidates that their constituents are following their actions or lack thereof.

Registered voters received a Voter’s Guide for the Sept. 10 Primary.  Save or obtain a copy and share with your child.   All candidates answered three questions:  1.  What is the most important issue in the city you would address if elected? 2.  What other important issues would you address if elected?  3. What makes you the best candidate for this office?  The answers cited gives your family members the areas to follow during the official’s terms.  Visit www.nyccfb.info/voterguide to obtain booklet for your district.

For copy of the Multiple Intelligence Inventory with suggested activities for each intelligence e-mail

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