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Why I Forgave $38,750 in Child Support: Revaluing Fathers This Father’s Day.

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As we celebrate the fathers and father figures who have impacted our lives, let’s also think about championing fatherhood. Not just as a holiday to buy ties and tools, but also as an opportunity to redefine and revalue fathering as important work. Last year, I made the apparently very controversial decision to forgive $38,750 amount of my ex husband’s child support arrears. Read why below in my piece on NYTimes.com, and let me know what you think..

But too often, fathers are seen as accessory parents or bumbling second rate caretakers. On the other side, our society only defines fathers as deadbeat or not, solely by financial contribution. And we lump the unwilling to pay and the unable to pay in the same prison-bound barrel, regardless of what other meaningful contributions that father may make to the child’s welfare.

Here’s my story:

Earlier this year, I spent three hours sitting on a hard, wooden bench in the Queens County Family Court, waiting for a judge to approve my petition to forgive $38,750 in child support arrears from my ex-husband.

The judge said, “Well this is a rare one,” then asked me several times if I was aware of what I was doing and if I had received legal counsel. When I told my single mom friends, they looked at me as if I had committed an act of treason. “Child support is all we have!” one friend exclaimed.

Is it?

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Procrastinator’s Special: Last Minute Mother’s Day Ideas

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Don’t worry, we won’t judge you if you waited to the last minute to order your Mother’s Day gift. We’re here to help! Just in time for Mother’s Day this Sunday we have a few last minute gift ideas. This is for those of you still searching for the right gift to show your mom how grateful you are for all she does and for everything she has done.

  1. LEAF – known as the health tracker for women, LEAF is a decorative piece of jewelry that can track daily activities including sleep exercise and meditation. The LEAF was designed to help moms develop healthy habits. Sold by Bellabeat, it costs $119-149. (Use offer code MOM16 at checkout for an exclusive 20% off and free two-day shipping on orders to the US and Canada).
          2.  Vanilla Spice Sugar Scrubs – handcrafted by Black Mermaid’s Bath & Body, the vanilla spice sugar scrubs use
               natural ingredients and healthy additives for aromatherapy to help you relax. Cost $12.99-19.99. (Rush orders
               add $20)
3.  Apple Berry Bouquet – a delightful assortment of chocolate covered fruit including apples slices in smothered in
     white chocolate and strawberries dipped in white and dark chocolate. (contains coconut, cinnamon and almonds).      Cost $40-$150, from Fresh & Fruitful.
4.  According to Giftagram 81% of millennial moms were interested in fitness trackers. There are a wide variety of
     styles for Fitbit still available on Amazon.

And don’t forget to call your mom or at the very least arrange a Skype date.

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Black Women Do Breastfeed: Yaya Alafia Posts Breastfeeding Pic on Instagram

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After the unbelievable social media dust up over NFL linebacker, Philip Wheeler’s girlfriend, Ashley Nicole posting a breastfeeding picture on Instagram, new mom Yaya DaCosta Alafia decided to post her own pics in solidarity. She wrote:

I know i’m mad late, but i haven’t been on the computer much lately. just heard about the uproar over @ash3nicole pic & had to post a copycat photo in solidarity. hope you don’t mind, beautiful sistren. i’m so proud of you and stand by you! #breastisbest#whattheyaremadefor #getoverit #mamasunite#movement. 

The 31-year-old new mom, actress and former Next Top Model runner-up gave birth to her first child, son Sakara, with husband Josh Alafia, on September 12.

We support you Yaya and Ashley!!

As we work to normalize breastfeeding in our community, we know that celebrity role models matter. So do everyday, around-the-way role models. That’s why we love to feature both on this site.

To help shift the tide for improved health outcomes for our infants and to give more black mothers the preventative health benefits of breastfeeding, including a proven reduced risk of certain cancers, we need more mothers and all mothers to share positive and supportive messages about breastfeeding.  Join in !!

Check out Yaya on Instagram.

 

 

 

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ManDay! Chris Rock to Single Moms: Stop Driving A Car With Your Feet

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I admit, Chris Rock is one of my favorite comedians. In one of his ROFL performances he talks candidly (how else would he do?) about parenting and women who think it is just fine to raise their children without the father. Here is the cleaned up version of his comments, to the best of my ability: “A bunch of girls think that you don’t need a man to raise no child. Shut up! (expletive expletive) …Yeah, you can do it without a man, but it don’t mean it’s to be done. You can drive a car with your feet if you want to, it don’t mean it’s a good (expletive) idea!”

I couldn’t agree more. Not everything that can be done, should be done. Here’s a better idea: For us to end the cycle of poor health, poverty,  under achievement in schools and irreparable emotional scars on our young boys and girls,  we need to end the dangerous narrative in our community that we don’t need our men and that our children will be just fine without their fathers. This is a lie.

Men are critically important to infant health and childhood development.  Women need the support of their male partner to give their babies the optimal nutrition from birth–breast milk. Children need their fathers from infancy, point blank.

But let’s face it from the baby showers to so-called family supportive posters with no dad to be found, men often get pushed out of the picture.  Add to this an “I got this” mentality among black women and a dangerous thinking in our community that glorifies the single moms that do it all without a father and you’ve got the makings of a serious problem–one that can impact the health outcomes for black infants.

A while ago, I (jokingly) wrote that I feared Essence magazine might cancel my subscription or ban me from the office building (I’m a former senior editor) for saying something that may sound harsh on black women but needed to be said. It was this (no joking): Black women may be unknowingly contributing to the breakdown of the black family by continuing a cultural legacy of acting like we don’t need our men.  Saying, “forget him” or that we will be just fine. This is dangerous thinking on our part (read my full post here). Yes there was a time during slavery when we couldn’t count on our men as caregivers and providers because they could be taken away from the family at any given time.  Later many of our men went North for work and women had to run the family on their own. But those days are over. But ideas that our men are unreliable and unnecessary linger like a painful scar–and our children pay the price.

Last week I was in San Antonio at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation‘s First Food Forum, an annual gathering of breastfeeding-related grantees. I had the pleasure of moderating a dynamic panel discussion on the role of male caregivers with some amazing men involved with male engagement in various ways. Here’s what I learned:

We have to stop assuming absent or distant dad’s just don’t care and allow that feelings of inadequacy (men are told to provide and protect.  If he can’t do that he may feel be has nothing to offer and just stay away), his own fears or perhaps the mothers attitude may also play a part.

A few weeks ago, I attended the screening of a documentary called Spit’in Anger, produced by the non-profit, Father’s Incorporated. The powerful film chronicles the impact of absent or distant fathers on the lives of several men of different ages. The story included the journey of Kenneth Braswell himself, the founder and executive director of Fathers Incorporated, who has spent over 23 years advocating for fathers and creating father support programs but never dealt with the impact of his own absent father .  Too many black men have grown up without present fathers and have never had a safe space to express that pain –many men at the screening opened up that night (read Kenneth’s recent letter to LeBron James). It was a powerful evening. But it became very clear to me that when it comes to fatherhood, men can be what they didn’t see.  And, more to the point, “Hurt people hurt people.”

So we need to create space for understanding black men beyond “he ain’t isht” judgments and valuing their contribution only in dollar amounts.

We have to stop saying our men “don’t care” when that is our assessment not their actual words. When I work with young moms and they say the father “doesn’t care” I always ask ‘what makes you feel that way?’  A  young mother of a two-month old in Milwaukee told me, the father showed up at the birth and that was it.  I shared that showing up at the birth sounds like someone who cares to me. After we talked she realized that after he showed up at the hospital nobody in her family spoke to him. Some members were very rude and that he might have felt pushed away.

And my good friend Kuroji Patrick, a devoted father of five and a powerful advocate for male caregivers particularly as it relates to breastfeeding support, always talks about being ignored or not addressed by doctors and nurses while actually standing next to his wife. By and large negative stereotypes about our black men affect doctors, nurses, lactation consultants and other healthcare professionals.  This has to stop.

As women we have to stop confusing our relationship with the father with the child’s relationship with the father.  Those are two separate things.  As a divorced mother, I learned this lesson myself. One has nothing to do with the other.  Neither does child support.  Whether or not my ex-husband had given me a dime has never come in between my children spending time with their father.  My children being with their dad is priceless to them (and me) and I could never equate that to money or material things.

We need a new way of being and a new mantra for the sake of our babies. It goes like this: We need our men. We need our men.  Our children need their fathers.  Breastfeeding mothers need their men.

And until we have tried everything, put aside our baggage, asked ourselves the tough questions, let go of our judgment, and opened up every opportunity for our child’s father to be in that child’s life–that we are not driving cars with our feet anymore.

In motherhood,

Kimberly Seals Allers

 

Kimberly is a Food and Community Fellow with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation increasing awareness of the first food–breast milk.  
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Poppin Bottles

A Must See: Watch This Hilarious “Poppin Bottles” Video!

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“Poppin Bottles” Video

(No, It’s Not What You Think)

 

There comes a time in every new parents  life where they realize their life will never be the same! Check out this hilarious Youtube video, “Poppin Bottles”  and enjoy the new way to celebrate parenthood…it’s a party like no other! Trust us, you will be up all night:-)

Special thanks to Ron “R.S.” Stephenson and his cute little co-star for sending us this video!

Follow Ron on social media to enjoy and share more funny videos here:

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Tips & Resources

RX for black skin

Your Rescue Guide For Black Skin During Pregnancy

There are several ways our bodies can surprise us during pregnancy but some of those changes are unwelcome. Here are a few tips from Dr. Susan Taylor to deal with the unwanted ones:   Problem I’ve got acne. It’s like I am a teenager all over again.   The Fix It’s those hormones. You may [...]

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Safe Fish for Pregnant Moms

During pregnancy most expecting moms are usually cautioned by their doctors and given a list of foods to steer clear of during their nine-month stretch.  At the top of the list are certain types of seafood like shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish because of the potential of high levels of mercury in it. In some cases, [...]

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Ready to Hit the Beach? 9 Tips for A Safe Day

It’s beach season and parents should keep in mind some steps that will keep their children safe when in or near the ocean. While most adults worry about their children being at risk in pools, a large number of drowning incidents also happen in lakes, rivers, and oceans. According to the Center for Disease Control, [...]

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Ready for Camp! 3 Items We Love

Packing for sleepaway camp can have the whole house in disarray. Between campers trying to pack their entire rooms to parents triple checking for all the essentials, it’s pretty easy to lose track of it all. Well here are 3 items that we think will make packing and camping much, much easier. 1 – Zipit [...]

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blackfamily3

Fit Family: 6 Simple Ways to Keep Your Child Healthy

by Esther Animalu, contributing reporter Between 16 and 33 percent of children, as well as adolescents, are obese. Obesity is among the easiest medical conditions to recognize but the most difficult to treat. Unhealthy weight gain due to a poor diet and lack of exercise is responsible for over 300,000 deaths each year, according to [...]

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Issues & Perspectives

motherlode-child-support-tmagArticle

Why I Forgave $38,750 in Child Support: Revaluing Fathers This Father’s Day.

As we celebrate the fathers and father figures who have impacted our lives, let’s also think about championing fatherhood. Not just as a holiday to buy ties and tools, but also as an opportunity to redefine and revalue fathering as important work. Last year, I made the apparently very controversial decision to forgive $38,750 amount [...]

Read More
twins #StopMedloac

Dear Elena Medo: You Can’t Claim to Support Black Breastfeeding and Attack Black Breastfeeding Advocates; Now Detroit Moms Have Spoken

I have been quiet long enough. Dear Ms. Medo, Nobody likes a bully. Or a hypocrite. Or someone prone to bending the truth into a version that suits their own agenda. But sadly, you are repeatedly showing yourself to be definitely a bully and clearly a hypocrite with revisionist tendencies. Let me explain. As a [...]

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black_mother

Campaign Aimed to Improve Breastfeeding rates in kansas

In 2011, Kansas ranked 42nd nationally when surveyed by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on their hospitals’ (statewide) efforts to encourage mothers to breastfeed. Dr. Robert Moser, Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary stated “We have a lot of room for improvement,” on Thursday at the Kansas Health Summit on Breastfeeding. [...]

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sears scandal

Dear Sear and Walmart: About your Breastfeeding Faus Pas, A new Pilot Project Could Save you (and other companies) millions

We all watched with shaking heads this week as a Sears security employee posted screen shots of breastfeeding mothers that he captured from Sears security cameras.  The twitterverse unleashed its fury, citing the obvious concern about violating the privacy of these unsuspecting mothers and the obvious stupidity of an employee who should know better. The [...]

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doula_main

SYSTEMIC RACISM IS KILLING BLACK BABIES IN AMERICA — BUT THERE IS SOMETHING BLACK WOMEN CAN DO ABOUT IT

By Shafia M. Monroe   The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says the U.S. infant mortality rate is the highest among selected states in the South and Midwest regions. In 2010, 13 states and the District of Columbia had infant mortality rates of 7.00–7.99, and two additional states (Mississippi and Alabama) had infant mortality rates [...]

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Stats & Studies

foreclosure

New Study Shows Black Homeowner Recovery Significantly Lags Whites; Wealth Disparity Widens

By Inga Sarda-Sorensen NEW YORK — America’s racial wealth gap increased dramatically following the recent housing market collapse, placing black homeowners at severe economic disadvantage, perhaps for generations to come. That’s the conclusion from new research released today by the American Civil Liberties Union.

” Not only were black homeowners devastated by the housing market collapse, [...]

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CDC: breastfeeding reduces risk of aggressive breast cancers in African-American women

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and new studies have shown that African-American women who breast-feed may be able to decrease their risk of developing aggressive forms of breast cancer. The study was led by researchers at Rosewell Park Cancer Institute, Boston University’s Slone Epidemiology Center and the University of North Carolina Lineberger Cancer [...]

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New Survey: Only 17 Percent of Parents Believe Reading is Top Priority

 Macy’s and Reading Is Fundamental Launch Be Book Smart Campaign June 18 to Support Children’s Literacy   During the Summer; Kids Spend Nearly Triple the Time Playing Video Games or Watching TV. Despite research that indicates the importance of summer reading in preventing children from losing literacy skills, only 17 percent of parents say reading [...]

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interviews1

“Real-World” Advice for Generation Text: 13 Workplace Communication Tips Today’s Young People Need to Know

Texting- and social media-obsessed Millennials aren’t always prepared to navigate the business world, which primarily “runs” on email and face-to-face communication. Here, author Ben Carpenter shares 13 dos and don’ts to help them communicate productively in the big leagues.           Hoboken, NJ (April 2014)—If you’re a recent college graduate or young professional, the first thing you [...]

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Pregnancy Prevention Doll 62x43_DF

African American Teen Births Drop 24%, Hispanics 34%, Says New CDC Report

According to a new CDC report released this week, the rates of teen births fell 24% among non-Hispanic black teenagers, 34% for Hispanics and 20% for non-Hispanic white teenagers. The decline among Hispanic teen births is most noteworthy since they previously had the highest teen birth rates. Eight states had declines of 30% or more [...]

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