Posts Tagged ‘mother’


Family

There is still immeasurable value in a photo album and framed family portrait.  Not the photo albums of old, with the sticky back and the plastic film flap that protects the photos…photo albums are graphically designed and laid out to perfection.

Imagine this…what if we lost all power or internet connectivity and we no longer had access to the photos on our phones, computers, or clouds? An ever more common occurrence, what if we lost our phone or the hard drive on our computer crashes?  (Rent the movie Book of Eil…it will help you imagine and it is a good movie)

I recall when my son was just 2 years old, he would sit in from of my laptop for 20-30mins at a time, enjoying all of the pictures that rotated, flipped, faded, or dissolved onto the screen.  My screensaver was set to display all of the pictures stored on my laptop.  Initially, I thought he was simply fascinated with the variation by which the images popped up on the screen.  It was not until a year or so later that I realized, he was taking in the memories of the moments, recalling the emotions he felt in those photos.

As a new dad…I tried to capture every single moment I could of my son.  I was a proud papa!  I would capture all of the special moments, like our first trip to Disney World.  I did not take my first trip to Disney World until I was almost 30.  He had been 2 times before his 6th birthday.

Years later, he would talk about moments in those pictures, outside of the moments captured by the camera.  It was as if he was able to relive the snapshot of time over and over again by watching the pictures on my screensaver. Recently, I walked into his bedroom, he is 10 now, and he was looking through his 2nd grade yearbook, recalling memories of his classmates. He really values the memories that are captured through photos.

For families, pictures are very important and are worth so much more than 1000 words.  What I realized early on is that I was always the picture taker, but very seldom in the picture. Many people and families fail to take pictures, because of their own self image. Then I realized, pictures are really not for or about me.  Pictures help my son recount all of the loving memories of his childhood, times with his family, more specifically, quality time with his mom and memorable moments with his dad.  Memories happen without warning.

Again…Imagine if we, somehow, lost all of the data on our devices.  I know you’re thinking, “That will never happen, ’cause the thingy is backed up to the jigga-ma-bob, and the virtual cloud will kick in…I said imagine! …or watch Book of Eli!  

What if “later” never comes and your family does not have any photos of you or the entire family “together” to recount the lasting memories of YOU? Capturing, or better yet creating special moments, because ‘you don’t like to take pictures!’

Pictures are not about You!  I realized, I sometimes masked my uneasiness of taking pictures with always being the one behind the camera.  In the same way my son was able to spend so much time looking at images of himself, he should be able to reminisce about our family time together. #legacy

My wife loves a great family photo and she encourages us to take advantage of the opportunity every chance we get. Ugh! 🙂   We recently had a photoshoot with ImagesByMarcAnthouny.com  At Images By Marc Anthony, their slogan is “Capturing the Essence of You!” The images they took, truly embodies who we are as a family.  This is the first time I have experienced an emotion when looking at images of my family.  Images By Marc Anthony captured candids and staged poses that were natural as we simply enjoyed time together as a family.  It was like we were out enjoying a walk in the park.

My 10 year old son actually exclaimed, “Aawwwwww!” the first time he saw the images because Images by Marc Anthony “captured our essence” as a family.  We can now display images that represent who we are, not on social media, but on the walls of our home.  For generations, on walls of my son’s home and even his children will be able to see the love and joy their father and grandparents experienced as a family.

There is still immeasurable value in a photo album and framed family portrait.  I know we are in a digital age, but I can tell you first hand, this experience and quality time with family was a priceless investment whose returns will last beyond my lifetime.

Invest in your family.  It will live Beyond the Selfie Stick.

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I did a Facebook poll a couple weeks ago where I asked my “Friends”, “Mom vs. Dad: Who has the hardest role?”  Instantly, they began to answer Mom…Mom, MOM (no question), Mom!  I even challenged them to really think about it before answering, but it did not appear that anyone had to ponder long.  After a couple post, a few people responded Dad, then the answer that I was looking for sprinkled into the conversation. BOTH!

I was raised in a single parent home, by my mom.  I did not meet my father until I was about 4 years old (he was in prison).  I watched first hand the struggles my mother endured to ensure that all of my needs and wants were met.  Without thinking, I could easily determine that a mothers role is much more difficult than a fathers, but then I became one.

I understand that perspective has everything to do with how a person answers this question, which is why I wanted to challenge everyone to reconsider who has the more difficult task of raising a child.  The gravity of the responsibility, I believe, is one of the reasons why some fathers run instead of embracing it.  If more men embraced their role, we would not experience the many societal ills that plague our communities.

According to the Father’s Manifesto, statistics show that:

  • 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes
  • 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes
  • 80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger come from fatherless homes
  • 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes
  • 85% of youth in prisons grew up in fatherless homes
  • 75% of all adolescent patients in drug treatment centers come from fatherless homes

Children from fatherless homes are:

  • 5 Times more likely to commit suicide
  • 32 times more likely to run away
  • 20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders
  • 14 times more likely to commit rape
  • 9 times more likely to drop out of school
  • 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substance
  • 9 times more likely to end up in a state-operated institution
  • 20 times more likely to end up in prison

My goal is not to paint a doom and gloom picture.  Scores of single moms do an amazing job raising their children.  My mom did.  I am fortunate to say that I am not ANY of the statistics above.  However, considering the statistics should give you some indication of how important the role of a father is, because, without it, the wheels seem to fall off.

To know the purpose of a thing you have to go back to when it was originally created.  We can not judge who’s role is hardest based on our perception of that role.  Societies subjective view of fathers has caused us to demonize, forget and even minimize the relevance that fathers have.

And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction. – Malachi 4:6

A father’s role is to Guide, Guard, and Govern the family:

Guide

When you are lost, a compass can be instrumental in helping you navigate to your destination.  A GPS is helpful, but only when you know where you are going.  A father’s role is to, first, help their children determine where they are, so that they can have an understanding of which direction they are trying to go.  Not just physically, but instilling a moral compass provides a foundation which helps the child(ren) make good decisions when their parents are not around.  (Read Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

Guard

Generally speaking, God made men physically larger and stronger than women.  Instinctively, men embrace the role to protect and guard their family.  However, threats come from many directions. Men buy guns and home security systems to protect their homes, but many of the things that we should guard against were walked in by our kids.  Whatever influences our children’s thoughts determines who they become, which impacts their behavior.  Men, we must be gatekeepers and watchmen of our homes to prevent anything from invading the minds of anyone within our household.  The music they listen to, the TV shows they watch, the websites and social media sites they surf, the video games they play, should not have a greater influence than our words and the behaviors we model. Being on guard against the unseen may be more important than guarding against who is trying to sneak up behind you…at least you can see and hear them coming.  (Read Ephesians 6:12)

Govern

Learning to respect authority begins at home.  Although, as of late, I do not agree with the actions of law enforcement, I will continue to teach my son to adhere to the laws and even demands of a police officer.  Properly disciplining him and reinforcing what his mother says teaches him to love, honor, and respect women, not only his mother.  Without these lessons at home, children develop a trigger that causes them to challenge authority, not because the authority is wrong, but because it is not what they want to do in that moment.  Fathers should not abuse the authority given to them, instead govern their household in a way that everyone develops a healthy respect for all authority.  (Read Ephesians 6:4)

I invite you to think and evaluate parenting outside of our circumstances and consider the true role of a mother and father.  When each role is fulfilled as intended, I think that it is difficult or even impossible to say that one is harder than the other.  Both are needed and required to help children maximize their potential and fully develop into who God intended them to be.

“Mothers teach children HOW to love, but Fathers teach them WHO to love.” – Pastor Smokie Norful

When the mother or the father is absent,  the child will either know how to love, but never find the right person or know who to love, but never realize the benefits, because they do not know how.

For The Single Mothers: Some of you may take exception to this blog.  In no way is this intended to minimize the exceptional role you have played as a single mom.  As I stated above, I am a product of one.  If you have been forced to parent alone, my heart goes out to you.  However, I would like you to objectively imagine how different your life would be if you had someone, a true partner, like I described above. It is possible! Perhaps not with the one you chose to be the father of your children, but it is possible.  Click Here and read another blog that I wrote about that very topic.  My prayer is that it will liberate you and empower you to keep going.


protect and serve

“Hi Mr. Police Officer!” I recall my son saying when we walked into the Wendy’s on Telegraph and 5 mile. #Detroit Two police officers were enjoying their lunch. I remember the surprised look on their faces when they saw a little black boy cheerfully greet them. A few moments later, I also remember the joy I felt when I realized that my son had not yet developed a bias for the very ones who are called to “protect and serve.” The two cops engaged my son and I allowed him to approached them and talk, because he had nothing to be afraid of. Although I struggled as I had flashbacks on the 1….2…3…4…5…6…7…numerous times when I was pulled over and confronted by police since I began to drive at 16, I will still teach my son the importance of respecting authority.

Below are a few instances that I recall:

1. As recent as 4th of July weekend of this year (2014), I announced and warned the officer prior to reaching for the glove compartment to get my insurance papers, in fear of making a sudden move…All while my other hand stayed perched on the steering wheel making sure it remained in plain view. Many of my precautions have become second nature to me because I have learned from my “experience”, stories of others and news reports. Be cautious.

2. I recall another instance of helicopters over head and a 12 gauge in my face. “Get out of the car now!” I refused, keeping my hands held high, with a look of wonder, only to be snatched out and slammed against the car, handcuffed, car searched and trashed. I over hear one cop say, “this is not him”, but the one cop refusing to give up and continues to press against me and question me. In the end, with no apology, they simply let me go and refused to give an explanation as to why I was treated so. They realized I was only guilty of being a second year college student at the Michigan State University, who was driving a nice rental car. #mistakenidentity

3. I recall a time being pulled over because my “windows were down and it was cold outside.” #brokenwindow?

4. I recall being pulled over because my “headlights were on and it was daytime.” #nowstandard

5. I recall being detained and demanded to searched because “they assumed that we were trying to steal the car…this is a nice car.” Well, sorry to disappoint, we are friends who were wrestling because I we all wanted to sit in the front seat. Our reply, “now that you see that it is our car, not stolen, tell me why you are requesting to search it again?” We knew our rights, so we refused. They let us go. #havingfun

6. I recall being pulled over because I was trying to “avoid a traffic signal” but I was going to Office Depot. #ineededpaper

7. I recall a time with my wife at my side and my son in the back, while they approached with hands on the guns screaming to “stay in the car.” No worries, my hands will remain visible at all times. “Next time wear your seatbelt and do not place your GPS on the windshield.” I replied, “Mr. Officer, were do you suggest I place it…and I always wear my seatbelt.” #Wheaton,IL …I could go on and these are just a few that I recall.

Reminiscing brings back the feelings of betrayal, disgust, confusion, and anger that cycled through me back then, because I was never really told “why” or their motive for pulling me over. Instead, I was given an excuse to justify what I believe was in their heart. It is unfortunate, but there will come a day when I will have to school my son on the protocol and precautions that are required for him to minimize the chances of those who are supposed to “protect and serve”, saying that he provoked them to take actions that could harm him, embarrass him, or even end his life. Although I will not pass down any bias or cast dispersion on the whole because of a few, as a parent, father, black man in America, I feel that is it my duty to prepare him for what he may encounter.

It does not feel fair or right, but unless you are “me” you can not relate or understand the pressure I still feel as a Black Man. Unfortunately, they do not take the time to realize that I am a God Fearing, educated, gentle, kind-hearted, polite, well mannered, son, husband, father, HUMAN BEING, that is Black.

My heart cries out for the the families of ALL the young men who did nothing to cause their demise. #praying Police have procedures to follow and levels of protocol and progressions that should be adhered to, EVERY TIME. I respect them for putting their lives on the line everyday, to “Protect & Serve.” However, we must not tolerate negligent and even blatant disregard for life.

Does the shot have to be a fatal one? Especially when no weapons are found on the individual?

The Internet and social media has allowed us to witness and contrast the way officers detain and arrest minorities vs. Whites. Example, in Aurora, Colorado James Holmes was “arrested” after killing 15 people and wounding 50. Arrested, not killed. He proved he was a threat, however, the polices reaction was not fatal one.

Media must stop being bias and even silencing their own when it does not benefit their “corporate interest” and “political agendas”. We can not tolerate the slaughter of a community and crippling of family structure. I understand that all cops are not bad, but we must look deeper to determine why the “fatal shot” is becoming all to common.

Saddened and troubled because it is far deeper than what we see. If we do not get to the root and continue to treat the symptoms, it will be just like rubbing alcohol on an open cut to cure Cancer….action that is painful, but has not a solution.

The Original Mentor


spank

“Black-ish” is a new series about a black family in American, who is a has matriculated the finest universities and assimilated into a upper class neighborhood, but grew up in the culture of the inner city. They are now faced with choices within their new culture that collide with the culture they were exposed to while growing up. This dynamic has challenged them to create a new normal for them and their children. During the show, we are able to watch them discuss and ponder the effects of parenting based on what they know or adjusting to what they now feel is feel is the best. Last night the father (Dre) played by Anthony Anderson had to make a decision on whether or not to spank his youngest son for the practical jokes that they continuously told him to stop doing. Dre spent the entire episode being judged by his father who called him “soft” for not “whopping” his son, to his co-workers who were appalled at the very thought of “someone” else whopping their child…even though they thought it was ok to spank their own. Ultimately he decided to do what worked best for his son and his family, however, it was interesting to watch him and his wife Rainbow, played by Tracey Ellis Ross, consider the consequences “To Spank or Not To Spank”?

Spanking has always been a hot topic and has resurfaced, due to recent studies and the case against NFL superstar Adrien Petterson. The grand debate and academic study is centered around if it is really beneficial to spank your child(ren) or are they harmful by teaching that “the stronger person is right; hitting models hitting; hitting leads to abuse; spanking devalues the child; etc.”  

First of all, I did not get spankings, I got WHOPPINGS!!!  Although I got whoppings with a little blue patent leather belt and other times I had to go outside and pluck the leaves off the “tree branch” that I was going to be beaten with, I am now a very loving husband and father.  I was raised by a very young single mom, who always disciplined me in love. I was spanked and I turned out alright, so that means that it is alright for me to do the same to my son…right?

Truth is, my son is now 9 years old and besides an occasional thumb to the chest when he was younger, he has never ever had a whooping (spanking…whatever you call it).  However, if you were around when he was deserving of any form of discipline, the way he cowards when I approach (or a simple snap of my fingers) would make you think that I beat him on a regular basis. He has a respect for me and his mother that did not have to be obtained by spanking him every time he did something that we did not approve of.

I really believe in spanking (at least I think so). Although, as I said, I have never had to actually spank my son. I was not driven by the notion that just because “I turned out ok,” that spanking was the correct way to discipline him.  He is his own person and spanking him could have a drastically different impact on him than it had on me. Instead, we used positive reinforcement by rewarding the behavior we desired, explaining “why” certain behaviors were not acceptable, and by modeling the proper behavior. Besides, the undesirable behaviors all came with natural consequences. Helping him understand the principle of cause and effect prevented him from making the same mistakes twice (most of the time).

The societal norm seems to have shifted to the opinion that spanking is not acceptable and that parents should resort to other forms of discipline.  However, when a person is unruly, we accept it and even encourage it when law enforcement uses force to bring order.  I would much rather a parent spank a child, in love, to prevent them from having an encounter with the billy club of an officer.  I believe if the appropriate level of discipline is given at home we could minimize a number of encounters needed by police.

“Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” Proverbs 13:24 (NIV).  I believe that parenting is intentional…thus being “careful.” Parents must be in tuned with the consistent forms of discipline required to cause their children to be obedient. As I stated, I was a child that received whoopings and even preferred them over loosing privileges.  When my mother gave me a choice between a spanking and not being able to play outside, I always chose the spanking.  Spankings were over in 5mins. Whereas a “punishment” lasted weeks.  Eventually she caught on, especially when she realized that whoopings did not even hurt me anymore. 

About a week ago, in New York, Appellate Division said there was insufficient evidence to uphold that charge, and gave him a pass on the spanking.

“The father’s open-handed spanking of the child as a form of discipline after he heard the child curse at an adult was a reasonable use of force and, under the circumstances presented here, did not constitute excessive corporal punishment,” the four-judge panel ruled in a unanimous decision.  Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/court-parents-spank-kids-article-1.1874088#ixzz38hvJMwx0

I am happy to see that the court left the power of parenting in the rightful hands of the parents.  Although, I do understand that regulations are required to ensure that parents do not cross the lines to abuse.  For this reason, I believe that parents and politicians will continuously debate what is to be appropriate, by generally imposing their own parenting style on others, instead of objectively evaluating each situation to determine what was a reasonable use of force.

What do you think?  Is spanking good or bad? 


Parenting is daily steps that take you on a journey and leads your children in the way that they should go.  After a little while, your children will learn the directions and begin to see the destination.  Problems arises when parents take steps that are contrary to the direction that they are “telling” their children to go in.  When the parents walk does not align with their verbal instructions, it confuses the child(ren). The first couple times,  they may still do what you tell them.  Eventually, they will chose their own path, or begin to do what you do, thus abandoning the way you intended to lead them.

Parenting is intentional. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

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fresh-prince-00-jpgbrady bunchleave-it-to-beaver-family

CS-cosby-castLittle House on the Prairie


The Picture Perfect F.A.M.I.L.Y.

Many of us grew up watching one of the above T.V. shows and imagined what our families would look like.  In our minds we saw the Picture Perfect F.A.M.I.L.Y., but no one explained that it would take lots of hard work to build it.  It is unfortunate (and quite scary actually) that the image of family that is currently portrayed looks quite different from when the above shows were airing on television.

Some would argue that times have changed and that my views are a bit old fashion.  They would argue that the values from the family in the black and white picture are no longer realistic.  I believe that it is not a reality only because we do not do what is required to build ourselves, thus not being the examples that are necessary to build what we saw on TV.

This weekend my family and I went to St. Pauls, North Carolina.  It is a small town outside of Fayetteville, NC.  The area was so remote that cell phone towers could not provide signal.  I observed 3-4 generations talking, laughing, loving, playing, and braking bread with one another. I listened to stories of family traditions being passed down and lessons being taught by simply spending time together.

This experience made me reflect on what is needed to build a healthy and whole F.A.M.I.L.Y. with traditions that last beyond 4-5 generations.  The love, values, and positive energy that permeated the weekend was refreshing, peaceful, and yet stimulating to my heart and imagination.

What would it take for more families to live in the unity that I experienced this 4th of July weekend?  I have used F.A.M.I.L.Y. as an acronym to describe what I think it takes to build the “picture perfect” F.A.M.I.L.Y..  The dynamics of your family does not matter.  You can be married, single, parents, or empty nesters…building a family that will last generations transcends whatever we view a typical household to look like. 

FUNCTION

  • To have a picture perfect family you must start with setting clear expectations.  What do you value?  What are the rules of the house (nice to haves…clean room daily, etc.)?  What are the laws of the house (must haves…no lying, etc.)? Write them down. Everyone in the family / household has a role and should have duties assigned accordingly. If a person is a member of the household and does not know and understand their role, thus not performing their assigned duties, they become dysfunctional. Roles may be outside of the home (i.e. If you don’t WORK, you don’t eat). A family must ensure that all parts or members of the household are in good working condition and understand how each part / member work together to make up the whole. This must begin early!  When members of the household understand their function early on and how it impacts the whole, I believe, they are less likely deviate to far from their role.  This is not to say that they will never stray. Standard “maintenance” is always required to make sure that all parts are in good working condition. 
  • Action: This is a proactive step that must be taken.  Assess your household to ensure that every member is functional.  Post the laws and rules.  Assign numbers to them so that they are easily referenced. Ensure that every member understands their role and that they know how to perform the duties associated with their role.  Once expectations are set, each member must take ownership and proactively carry out the duties assigned to them.  When any new members are added to the household, initiate this step, so that expectations are clear.  All members of the household should be present.

AFFINITY

  • To have affinity, is to have a natural liking for someone.  It is very difficult to be on the same team with someone and not like them.  Your household is a team!  Affinity should magnetically draw you closer to one another.  Affinity comes through building a relationship. Good communication is vital. Actively listen and follow through on what you heard to prove that you heard them and understand. Getting an understanding of likes and dislikes and catering to one anothers needs is a great way to build an affinity for one another. Everyone may not be the same and that is ok, but having mutual respect for one anothers differences allows each person to be an individual.  When this happens, a friendship is created and you genuinely “like” each other.
  • Action: Make a list of your likes vs. dislikes.  It could be items that you currently do or things that you would like to do in the future (or stop doing).  Compare the list to see what you have in common.  Do those things regularly!  However, each of you must make it a habit of picking an item on each others list that you dislike and DO IT REGULARLY!  Have Fun Doing It!  Enjoy the fact that they are happy and that you are spending time with them. Stop focusing on you and focus on them.  They will appreciate you more and your affinity for one another will grow.

MATURE

  • “Anything that does not grow is either dead, dying, or artificial.” Pastor E.N. Jennings.  We should want all members of our household to not only be alive, but to be lively and well.  To be well is to thrive.  We must influence and challenge the people in our households to realize their dreams by discovering the gifts and passions that are locked inside of them. Imagine living in a household where everyone understands their purpose and is living it! The thought alone is EXCITING!!!  If we want our F.A.M.I.L.Y. to function at its highest capacity, we must be intentional about helping each member mature into who they were born to become.  Never mistake getting older as maturity.  There is a big difference.
  • Action: Observe!  What are they naturally good at?  What are they passionate about? What irritates you or members of your household to the point where they must go help fix it? Harness that  energy and perfect the gifts required for that area.  Exposure!  Try new things!  Read books together!  Grow together!

INTEGRITY

  • Accountability is required within the household.  You have to build an environment of trust and honesty where members feel comfortable to tell you anything. Parents…this means that you must consider your response to every situation that your kids share.  If you “go off” and not handle a situation well, it can potentially close the door for them to ever confide in you again.  I am not saying that there should not be consequences, but they should understand that it is better to come to you and talk it though than to hide it and potentially making it worse.  Same goes for husband / wives and even roommates.  Who we are when no one else is looking, if bad, has the potential to negatively impact everyone in the household.  Therefore, this gives them the right to know and hold you accountable for what you struggle with. 
  • Action: Discuss the importance of confidentiality in your household.  Explain the consequences of breaking trust within this inner circle.  Next, confide in one another.  Share what your struggles are.  This could be difficult, especially if what you share is new to them. I encourage none of you to focus on the fact that this may be your first time hearing about it. They trusted you enough to share.  Now devise a plan for holding one another accountable. Perhaps, each of you can share on a piece of paper and exchange them at the same time (I pray that your list is not too long).  🙂 When we share with others, we become vulnerable, this begins the healing process.  Perhaps professional assistance may be required to help you get through this, but whatever it takes.  Deal with it!

LOVE

  • Love is patient.  Love is kind. Love does not envy. Love does not boast. Love is not proud. Love does not dishonor others. Love is not self-seeking. Love is not easily-angered.  Love keeps no record of wrong. Love does not delight in evil.  Love rejoices with the truth.  Love ALWAYS protects. Love ALWAYS trust. Love ALWAYS hopes. Love ALWAYS perseveres. Love Rules!  The love that you share for the people within your household should be unconditional.  When YOU follow what is listed above it significantly increases the likelihood of you building a healthy and whole family.  This does not mean that there will not be natural consequences for members who break the family covenant that is established (or being created).  Love causes individuals to heal and become whole.
  • Action: There is no question that you love the people within your household.  We may not always like them, but loving them is usually natural.  However, love is an action. Review and reflect on all of the elements of love that are listed above. Be honest with yourself about the areas that you struggle to adhere to on a regular basis.  Ask yourself, why is it so hard to follow?  Have a family meeting and discuss each element of love and agree to follow EVERY one of them.  This may take more than one meeting.  Be open and honest about why it will be difficult to follow.  Hold one another accountable for areas that they may not be able to for themselves.  

YOU 

  • By the way…there is no such thing as a “picture perfect” F.A..M.I.L.Y..  A F.A.M.I.L.Y. is made up of flawed individuals.  Therefore, the only way to improve a F.A.M.I.LY. is to improve the individuals that make up the F.A.M.I.L.Y..  Once you have healthy and whole individuals, within a household, you can then and only then, have a healthy and whole F.A.M.I.L.Y.
  • Action: “I’m starting with the man in the mirror.  I’m asking him to change his ways….If YOU want to make the world (or your household) a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change!”  Michael Jackson’s words are so powerful.  We often point the finger in every other diffection.  It is funny that pride can never see itself in the mirror.  It is most difficult to see the role that YOU play in the dysfunction of your family. It starts with YOU.  You have to want to improve your family and be willing to accept what you will discover while doing introspection as well as what others will bring to your attention.  Until you are willing to face your currently situation, you will never be able to fix it.  Hold yourself accountable to following what is outlined.  Make sure that you review the F.A.M.I.L.Y. covenant that is establish and devise a self improvement plan.  

Let’s Create a New Normal…SHARE THIS BLOG!

The current mainstream image of family is flawed and is not an accurate depiction of what many of us experience everyday.  Media simply possess the cameras and distribution power to influence us by bringing their version of “family” into our households and call it Reality TV.  THAT IS NOT MY REALITY!  

YOU have to power to make a RULE, better yet, a LAW against anything that will negatively influence the type of household that you have established.  

I know I am not the only one that enjoyed the peace, joy, and love from our family.  Let’s share what we experience so that others will know that this can become their NEW NORMAL.  It is possible to have a family affair without drama, fussing, and fighting.  

I may have missed some key components, or perhaps you would like to add to what I have written Either way, share this blog and post your comments.  Someone elses life and peace may depend on it. 


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The reality is…You Picked ‘Em!  I am not playing the blame game, but responsibility has to be taken by all parties.  Often times we forget that we had a choice in the matter when we are far removed from that initial choice.  Yeah that’s right, You Picked ‘Em!  Months, years, (sometimes only days) and 2 or 3 kids later, we agonize over the consequences and hurt that we are now experiencing, even pointed to him or her as the source of that pain, while not accepting the fact that we recognized, but ignored all of the signs.  In most cases they were not even signs, it was blatant, audible, visual billboards that told us to Stop! Don’t Pass Go, or give them that $200, cause you will regret it.

Why do we press on in spite of???  We tell ourselves or are pressured by our peers saying, “I’m just having fun” or “You only live once” or “I’m still young” “Live a little” or “He’s so cute” or “Look at her body” without us really considering the consequences or thinking about how a single decision today can forever change our tomorrow.

I have counseled and coached young men and women that I mentor as well as my friends on this “relationship cycle” that I feel is the culprit responsible for the demise of stable family structure.  When it comes to relationships, people (young and old) are making short term decisions that have long term affects on the family structure that they truly want and dream of having. They are sleeping with people who they do not even like and in their hearts have no chance or true desire of ever living happily ever after with.

I am not perfect. It is only because of God’s grace and mercy that I did not experience some of the long term consequences for choices that I made.  Therefore, I feel obligated and a sense of responsibility to share what I was delivered and spared from (now back to our scheduled program).

Below I have listed what I believe are the proper phases to having a long and prosperous marriage.  THERE ARE EXCEPTIONS! However, I believe those exceptions only happened because the people in those relationships were wise and discipline enough to do two of the phases simultaneously.

I strongly believe that if these phases are not followed in succession, it increases the chances of a dysfunctional relationship and parents who are not positioned to model the type of parental partnership that enables the child(ren) to reach their maximum potential. Perhaps unintentionally, they then plant seeds of discord in their children, which causes that cycle of dysfunctional to continue.  Again….there are always exceptions (I am one).

Phase #1: The Friend Zone

The “F” word is quite scary to some people, but I think that it is THE reason why marriages succeeds or fails.  In my experience, when people have gotten a divorce and you ask them if they still love the other person, I believe the majority of the time you would hear a resounding YES.  However, to coexist with someone, for your entire life, I believe you must be their friend.

Being a friend means that you like someone, you enjoy being around them. A true friend is honest, a good listener, is respectful, encourages you to be and do your best, is caring, is forgiving, is trustworthy, is loyal, is patient, is supportive, is fun…I can go on.

I know some of you believe in love at first sight and have actually experienced it (I think it is more like Lust at first sight)  However, if you progress to the next step without exploring and finding out if that person knows what a friend is and is capable of being one to you, it threatens the longevity of your relationship.  Remember, it takes time and situations to discover if a person truly has a quality.  You will not know simply by them saying it.

Homework:

  1. List the qualities that you deem most important for a friend to have.
  2. Highlight the qualities that are non-negotiable and do not compromise on those (you will have to compromise somewhere, but not on those).
  3. Set boundaries to ensure that the friend does not begin to get the benefits of phase 2 before you are sure

Phase #2: Boy/Girl Friend

“Friends with benefits” has become a very popular term.  Commitment is a scary thing for some, therefore, we walk the lines, lower expectations, and compromise who we are and what we want for the sake of getting along and fitting in.  Homework item #3 from phase #1 is soooo important.  One weak night can cause you to slip into this Boy/Girl Friend phase without you really intending to.

In reality, most of us expect the exact same qualities in this phase that we do from a friend.  However, when intimacy of any kind is introduced into a relationship EXPECTATIONS change.  PERIOD! Often times we begin to have expectations of someone without listing and coming to an agreement on those expectations.  In phase #1, if he/she did not answer the phone or call you back in a day or two, it was no big deal.  But let yo boy/girl friend not call you for a couple days…that will be an issue.  IJS!!!

PLEASE HEAR ME!!!  If you are not sure that this person is a good friend (Phase #1) and now you have violated homework item #3 of Phase #1…you have now slipped into Phase #2. If someone ask you who that person is to you, your response has become “It’s Complicated.” LOL  I know I may sound old fashion, but many of the “benefits” that we offer at this phase should be strictly reserved for Phase #3.  Why?  You INSTANTLY have expectations of that person and you know deep inside that they are not realistic or that they can never be the person that you truly want and desire.  Don’t be fooled into thinking you can change them.  Be patient.  If they will not wait….deuces!

Homework:

  1. List your expectations of a Boy/Girl Friend
  2. Ask “Friend” to list their expectations
  3. Trade list and discuss the expectations.  You can decide BEFORE making a decision to move into phase #2.
  4. Highlight the expectations that are non-negotiable and do not compromise on those (you will have to compromise somewhere, but not on those).

Phase #3: Marriage really is Bliss.

Marriage gets such a bad rap.  It is not easy, but it is not bad.  I believe 50% of marriages end in divorce because most do not follow this natural progression of a relationship.  When you mix benefits and expectations from the first two phases, it makes phase #3 that much harder and requires so much more work to be successful.

God knew what He was doing when He said wait until you are married to have sex.  Not sure if you were aware, but having sex is the cause of pregnancy (really…I read it on the internet).  Marriage is supposed to be forever.  If you have a baby with a person that you did not take the time to determine if you even liked them (a Friend) and did not establish and agree on the expectations for being in a relationship with them (boy/girl friend), how can you possibly think that you would be able to live in the same household and communicate in a way that would help develop and nurture a life long relationship (or nurture another life, if you have kids)?

I could go on about this phase, but I will not spend much time here.  If you are already at this phase and kinda skipped the first two, it is not too late.  You can still do the homework items above.  It will help open the lines of communication between you and your spouse.  Resetting expectations will be key for the two of you.  You can not meet expectations that you do not know exist.  In my opinion, most arguments originate here.  Do not assume that they know how you feel and what you expect from them.  Tell them!

Phase #4 – Parenting
Again…there are exceptions, but I believe when you procreate with someone who you are, first, their friends, then decide and grow into life long partners that love one another, you create an environment that is ripe for planting and growing a seed that is nurtured with love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, gentleness and self control. When a couple comes together who have no intentions on staying together long term and produce a child, it creates and environment for the child that could breed dysfunction. Without extra effort from the parents, the child becomes a product of the decisions that the parents made.

As time passes, the mother or father blames one another for the type of parent they are and the impact that it is having on the child(ren). Remember…you are partially to blame. YOU PICKED ‘EM!!!

If we can get the first two phases right, phase #3 and #4 will be easier to manage.  Unfortunately this phase has become commonly known as the meet my “Baby Mama or Baby Daddy” phases because the two parents can not stand to be in the same room for too long, so don’t even consider a life under one roof raising a child.  We now have men and women bashing one another for the others poor parenting skills and lack of care, covering, and support…each blaming one another.  Remember…”You Picked ‘Em.

You have the power and ability to chose and not compromise the qualities that you will bring you joy on the inside instead of short term feeling of happiness. You Picked ‘Em and set the expectations that will foster a relationship that proves that they love you, value you and will be loyal to you.  Just remember…You Picked ‘Em…as you stand tall and watch her walk down the aisle toward you or you catch his eyes as you are interlocked with the man I pray set the standard for how all men are suppose to love and respect you.

Morale of the Story

Don’t compromise! and don’t blame, because at the end of the day, you had (or still have) the power to chose.  Do Your Homework(see above)!  If you do not know what you like or expect, how do you expect to know “it” when you find it.  At least know what you “don’t” like so you know when to run in the other direction.  Again, when you do the “homework” listed above, do not compromise!  Be patient!  He or She is out there.

Girls…prepare yourself and wait for him to find you.  Check what you are using as bait, that could be the reason you are attracting those type of guys (that is a blog for another day).

Fellas…see is suppose to be your helpmate.  Make sure you have a vision and plan for your life that is worth her time and help.  Be the man you and leader that she is willing to submit to and you will never have to regret the fact that you picked her and she will never forget or have to wonder why she submitted to you.