Friday, December 29, 2006

From our kids: Do parents go to far?

By Iyana E. (age 12.5)
Parents love you, parents care for you, and parents also butt into your business.

We all know parents only want to protect us. However sometimes they go too far. Digging in are stuff is bad. Listening to phone calls, and reading your diary is worst. Say for example,say the mother of a 14 year old daugter, the daughter has a new boyfriend, however mom doesn't trust him, so she listens to their calls. one day while mom was listening, and she heard somthing about a party she wasn't suppose to know about. Then mom grounds her and tells her that she cannot talk to her boyfriend anymore. Later she comes to find out her daugher and the boy were just planning a surprise birthday party for mom.Some times situations like this occur, and even the best parents end up embarassing them selves.

In my opinion, parents just need to talk to their kids. Just because kids aren't telling you something, it doesn't mean thier doing anything wrong. My mom and I always talk, if we need to. If she does need to know something, she just asks me, before jumping to conclusions. I usually just go ahead and tell her what's going on. If I don't she understands that it is somthing that I am not ready to talk about or no big deal and she leaves me alone. I usually tell her eventually, because I trust her and she trusts me.

I'm not Dr.phil or oprah, but sometimes parents just need to leave their kids alone, and trust that thier kids are not dumb. If their is a problem or a situation, your kids will talk to you when their ready. Kids and parents just need to learn how to trust each other. That's the bottom line

- what do you think?

Monday, December 11, 2006

What I Know About: Doing it on your own

By Jennifer Texada

I had been married about three months when I started to see the warning signs that I might not be in a healthy relationship. I had been fighting the drama for about a year and a half before I had the courage to step away from this dysfunctional relationship for the first time. I came back about 6 months later, but only to endure about 9 more months of lying and stealing before separation number 2 began. I moved with the responsibility of supporting our two children and he checked himself into an addiction treatment facility. The letters, calls and promises piled up and gave fuel to my fear of moving on. Six months later he was back “home”. This time it took two years before I discovered that not much had changed. I am not sure if he got better at hiding it or if I had gotten better at pretending it did not exist.

Part of the reason that I kept going back is that I wanted my marriage to work. I wanted to honor the vows I took in front of God and our families. I wanted my children to be raised with both their mother and father. The other part of why I kept trying was pure fear. It was the fear that I would not “make it” on my own. On top of the fear, there was this idea that my children could never be whole if I did not press on despite his destructive behavior.

At some point during all of this I decided I was going to stop living in fear. When I finally stepped out on faith and trusted God to take me through this he did exactly that, and all of the obstacles fell out of my way. In facing my fear I learned a few things that helped me to more confidently do it on my own.

1. I can do anything I put my mind to. I used to stay home instead of go to church without my husband, or take a vacation. I used to go months without an oil change or new tires because I felt uncomfortable in auto shops alone. During my times of fear I believed that I needed to keep what I had, because how would I ever manage without it. I realized that it was only fear that was fueling those thoughts. There was no reason that I could not go to church without him. They were just as happy to see me as they were to see us there. So far I have been sold tires, gone on vacation with my friends, brought in my own groceries, called the yard guy to mow the lawn, the list of all of the things I have done on my own is endless. Not only can I do them, I can do them faster. I don’t have to wait for him to decide that my needs are important enough. If I can do it, anyone can.

2. I am enough. I am a child of God and in Him I am sufficient. Having a significant other does not make me any more whole or healthy. Striving for health and wholeness is what makes me healthy and whole. Yes in a perfect world the union of man and woman is blessed, and children thrive with both parents. However, in theory people are also more productive with 2 legs. But what if one of those legs is gangrenous? Should we keep it despite the fact that its existence could devour the entire body? Or remove it, mourn its loss and find wholeness in your life without it? I know that this example is a little harsh but I think it illustrates my point. I know lots of people with 2 legs that never go anywhere. While the few people I know with one leg, live every day to the fullest, and I dare you to tell them they are not whole.

3. I am not alone. I have some wonderful friends and family. I am blessed with so many people who have helped to support myself, and my children through this journey. Before I went through this, I often felt that I could not lean on anyone. I was such and “independent woman” I could do it all. What I soon discovered is that these people love me and are happy to be my rock in time of need. I am not in good spirits every day. When those days come I make a call, and I am encouraged or soothed or listened to. If you feel like you don’t have these people go find them. Join a church, take a class or group counseling session, reconnect with the people you used to know, chances are they are still there and still love you.

I have been through quite a journey. However I feel I am successful in my single-hood. My children are doing well; my ex and I are friends and co-parenting. I have a great job, and making enough to buy MY family a new house. I have a fun and busy life; I do exactly what I want to do, when I want to do it.

I am often asked if I miss the relationship, the companionship? Sometimes, but I don’t miss the fear, pain and uncertainty of the former relationship. Plus, I am so in love with my new life, and I am satisfied with what I have been blessed with today and choose not to be consumed with what I may or may not be lacking.

Friday, December 8, 2006

I Think: Having a Baby vs. Being a Parent

By: Mia Black

When I decided to have my daughter, it wasn’t so much that I wanted to have a baby, but I knew I was ready to become a parent (as ready as one can be). I knew that parenthood was the next step I wanted to take in my life. I had the college degree, a job, my own place; a family was my next move. When my daughter came, I was prepared for the sleepless nights, the throw up on my clothes, juggling my budget to now accommodate diapers, daycare and formula, and buckling down to spend time at home with my new baby. I got exactly what I expected. I walked around like a zombie from lack of sleep, wanted to scream when I discovered the foul smelly white goo running down the side of my arm, and half the time didn’t know where the money was going to come from, but nothing could keep me from being with babygirl.

Now let’s examine these two statements:
1) I want to be a parent,
2) I want to have a baby.

They seem to say the same thing, but when examined the meanings are very different.

For me, becoming a parent meant that my life was about to come second to the needs of my child. Hanging out until all hours of the night or going out whenever I felt like it, those times were going to be few and far in between. Hunting for the job that would have me out of the office by five was my new mission. My point being, I was ready to put the party times behind me because I had been there and done that. And if I had to make the career change so that my child wouldn’t be putting in ten-hour days at daycare, so be it. I had already formulated in my mind what kind of parent I wanted to be, before I had my child.

Then there are the people that fit the baby around their lives. The partying doesn’t stop; they put their needs above those of their child; it often gets to the point where the child is calling the daycare provider mommy. They become dependant on babysitters, other siblings, the grandparents, and friends, to take care of this child so they may continue on with the conveniences of their life. They have fulfilled the want of having a baby, but the role of parent has become the responsibility of everyone else.

The most interesting part of this “just have a baby” phenomenon is that it crosses all races, economic classes, and age groups. The obvious example is that of the young teen that gets pregnant, or gets someone pregnant and continues running the streets, and extended family takes on the role of substitute parents. But are they so different from the corporate executives that continue to work the sixty-hour workweek, and depend on everyone else to pick the baby up from daycare.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying don’t go out, don’t have a career, or forsake your entire life. That is absolutely ridiculous. What I’m saying is having a baby comes with the automatic responsibility of becoming a parent. In my opinion, you should want both before your child is here.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I Think: Wants-vs-Needs

By Mia Black
You gently rub the bridge of your nose as you ponder how you’re going to stretch your paycheck over the stack of bills piled in front of you. Number one priority is groceries. And now that you’ve put that off for so long, a quarter of your check will be dedicated to feeding the family. Well you know you won’t be able to pay anything in full, so you opt to just short-pay everyone. This moment no longer brings you to tears because you’ve struggled paycheck-to-paycheck for so long.

As you write the last check; your 16 year-old daughter walks in the front door. She is listening to her 80GB i-Pod with one ear and talking on her Nextel i930 with the other. She places her Inspiron notebook case on the couch, before coming over to kiss you. You give her a pat on the hand. She walks over and opens the refrigerator. Before she can complain that there is nothing to eat, you tell her you are going grocery shopping tomorrow.

Hold up! Rewind! Do you not see anything wrong with this picture? Before you sympathize with this situation, ask yourself the question, why is this teenager walking around with close to $1,000 worth of electronic toys and there is no food in the refrigerator? How do you short-pay the electric and gas bill, but continue to pay the cell phone bill for your daughter?

I hate to sound like an old person, but back in my day when you bought a “toy” its expense ended at the purchase, not like “must-have” toys of today. An i-Pod by itself will do nothing, you must continually purchase music. A cell phone has its monthly commitment, contracts, and don’t leave out the overpriced pretty little gadgets to decorate them. Let’s not forget the monthly obligation you must keep so your daughter can communicate wirelessly with her friends on her laptop. And because the parent has made the adult decision to purchase these toys, the paycheck is going to have to stretch a little farther each month.

For many parents not grasping the idea that being able to buy the toys versus actually being able to afford the toys, has forced many a household to run on a paycheck-to-paycheck budget. It is not just sad that this child has the top of the line cell phone and nothing to eat, but I believe this financially irresponsible characteristic can be passed down to this child. I’m not saying “financially irresponsible” in a malicious manner, because I believe in the dream of trying to give your child the world. But there is nothing wrong with the disposable camera dream if the disposable camera dream is what you can afford. Because instead of giving them the $300 digital camera, you have given them a life lesson of live within your means. You are doing your child no favors by giving them the world but not teaching them how to survive in it.

Friday, November 17, 2006

What I Know About: Stepping out on Faith

By Jennifer Texada
A friend of mine came back from a business trip only to discover that she had no home to come back to. Her condo had been damaged extensively in a flood triggered by a broken pipe. Despite the dismal situation, I had to ask myself: Is this just a leaky pipe, or has God taken all excuses away from my friend so she can move on?

Let me rewind. My friend is 36, never married, has no children, recently broke up with her boyfriend of 3 years, and now her company is about to close and lay everyone off. She has been harboring a secret desire to pack up and move down south away from the snow, high prices and the slim selection of quality black men for a few years now but has yet to do anything but complain about what her life lacks.

Until recently she has always had an excuse. The big one was her boyfriend, he wouldn’t move, so she couldn’t move. But about a year later he decides that he didn’t want to do anything that she wanted to do and they broke up. Then it was her job, it was easy and stable, until they announced they were closing and moving the office to Canada. Next it was the condo and she always thought she could get more if she hung on to it for a little longer. Now she is going to have to invest into it just to get out and hopefully break even. I mean she even tried to tell me once, that she had to stay for her parent's sake, who are now enjoying their winters in sunny Florida. Did all of these obstacles magically disappear or is this Divine intervention?

My last conversation with her drove me to frustration and I exploded with, “JUST GO! Stop whining and move. I mean you can't move forward if you are standing still.” I may not sound too “friend-ish”, but I refuse to I listen to her complain about this for another year!

Do I empathize with her situation? Yes, I know what it is to have fears, but I choose not to let them dictate my life. Whenever I don't like my situation, I do what it takes to get myself into a better one. I have moved about 4 times in the last 7 years. It seems like a lot right? But what if I told you in these 7 years I have accomplished almost all of the goals on my “Life to-do List” would you say the same? I don’t regret a single move, because I know that I am far beyond where I would have been if I stayed in the same spot.

I truly believe in following your heart and pursuing your goals despite all challenges. But what both of these bold moves require is faith. Knowing that you are a part of God’s plan and he will provide a way for you even when you can’t see it. To some, I may look like an unstable nut, but I am a happy nut, pursuing her bliss. I think people are generally afraid to move forward because of a fear of the unknown. They question, What if I do "ABC" and it doesn't work? But when you step out on faith your only focus should be, what if it does?

I want to encourage my friend, and every woman who is striving to make fearless decisions in their lives, keep these two principles in mind: #1 through great risk comes great reward, and #2 God will move you through anything if you just trust in Him.

I Think: When she is dressed like that who's to blame?

By. Mia Black

She’s got that big ole’ ghetto booty, tight lycra jeans (low enough to show off that hot pink thong), and oh how that belly shirt shows off her D-cup. Damn!!! Girlfriend is all that and then some! Although girlfriend my have it going on, she is only fourteen. That’s right, fourteen.

Was it like this when I was growing up in the eighties? Maybe it was, but even the tight jeans were not this tight. I grew up in time where mostly baggy jeans and backwards clothes were the style, but today it is all about showing everything you got, panties and all. I look at some of the clothes our teenager girls are wearing and I wonder how they squeezed their overly mature bodies into them.

Now there were fashion controversies in the eighties: skin-tight denim and the mini skirts. But I lived in a home where my mother whipped out the measuring tape before I left for school just to make sure the skirt hovered right above my knees. And don’t get me started on the pinch test, to see if I had enough breathing room in my jeans. Today’s purpose of a measuring tape is to tell you if the waistline is no more than an inch below your navel! Unless you’re a plumber, I don’t want to see your crack, your panties…nothing!!

And that is no longer toilet paper or socks in that bra. Push-up, padded, and water-filled bras rule the market. Now combine that with the fourteen year-old cleavage and a low V-neck lycra shirt, and there is nothing left to the imagination. That’s right, it’s not just the jeans, lycra has found a friend in cotton too. Now if the shirt isn’t riding down the front of her chest, then it’s doing little at the bottom to even cover her belly button. Or it may just be providing an unwanted view of the top and bottom.

Now here’s the tricky part, who do I blame for the fact that I cannot go out in public with out full few of the private parts of every teen and pre-teen girl in the place? Is it the fourteen year-old, who is only dressing like her friends and the girls on TV? The parent(s), who allow her to walk out of the house like this? Maybe I should blame clothing manufacturers that make these clothes, then market them to teens? Or the teen stores that buy only the most revealing clothes.

I have got to go with the parents, hands down. The fourteen year-old will only buy what she’s allowed to buy. The clothes manufacturer will only sell what’s being bought. I mean, in all honesty, most fourteen year-olds can’t support their wardrobes.

True, it is the parents’ right to allow their child to wear whatever she wants. If the parent doesn’t have a problem with it, what can you do? You can’t tell a parent how to dress their own kid.

So are there any solutions? Or must we remain subject to not having to guess what color panties are teenage girls are wearing?