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Life & Family

traveling family

Summer Fun!: 5 Tips to making Kid’s Summer Vacation More Educational

Whether or not your family’s summer vacation plans involve travel—by car, plane, boat or train—these 5 easy tips will help you make the most of your vacation time with your kids, while creating fun experiences that encourage reading and learning. Hooked On Phonics Editorial Director (who has two young kids) Julie Temple Stan put these tips [...]

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Taking Control of Your Finances: How to Engineer Your Financial Future in 2014

Veteran investment advisor shares 4 Tips for all wealth stages.   Financial resolutions can be the most difficult to keep. They can include minute detail, number crunching, plenty of files and discipline that can affect a person’s entire lifestyle, says veteran investment advisor Paul Taylor, a member of the National Ethics Bureau. “Many folks simply are not predisposed to [...]

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SingleMom Talk: Bring Back “First Base”: Does Anyone Just Kiss Anymore?

The dating scene can be tough, especially when the rules have changed.One single mom asks, what happened to first base. By Anonymous Single Mom   Does anybody out there remember “first base,” you know when kissing was as far as it went. These days, kissing is like a lost art form and more of a [...]

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OUR STORIES: MOCHA AND IN THE MILITARY

It’s Military Appreciation Month, and to mark the occasion we’re sharing stories of some of the mocha-fabulous women featured in The Mocha Manual to Military Life and sharing some tips for military bliss. Shon Gables, Army Private  Shon Gables is an award-winning, nationally syndicated television host, and by the looks of her camera-ready appearance and [...]

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Photo Credit: www.bachollashon.org

THE CHANGING FACE OF SUMMER CAMP: IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT SWIMMING AND ARTS & CRAFTS ANYMORE

Léman Manhattan’s Director of Camp Offers Insights on Program Trends and Tips for Finding the Right Summer Camp for Your Child   When it comes to choosing a summer camp in New York City, parents will find they have as many options available as they do in their search for a private school.  Steve Levin, Director [...]

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Mother’s Day is Coming: What Moms Really Want! HINT: It’s Not What You Think

With Mother’s Day rapidly approaching, many find themselves stumped deciding the perfect gift or gesture to their show appreciation.  Sure moms love macaroni necklaces and paper tissue flowers…or do they?? This leads to the posing question: What do moms really want for their day of homage? According to the National retail Federation, most Americans will spend [...]

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A big brother's love knows no disability

African Americans and Down Syndrome: A Grandmother’s Journal: “Watching Him Shine” (Part 2)

Of all the things a mother wishes for her grown daughter–a healthy, thriving child is certainly one of them.  But when Tia Johnson of New Jersey, learned that her daughter was pregnant with a baby boy who tested positive for Down Syndrome, she experienced a whole suite of emotions. She shares the gripping details of [...]

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Dinosaur Lovers: The Mighty T-REX Roams the Newark Museum on May 3

Jurassic Park comes to the Newark Museum when the “Mighty T-Rex” headlines a day of activities at the 7thannual Dinosaur Day on Saturday, May 3 from 10 am to 4:30 pm. Dinosaur Day engages children through hands-on experiences, games, performances and presentations.  Children will meet and interact with the “Mighty T-Rex,” a 15-foot long mechanical dinosaur [...]

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

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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Credit: The Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation

Your Kid Can Apprentice with Steve Harvey! Enter Coca- Cola’s ‘Pay it Forward’ by March 15th to Win

Now through March 15, parents, relatives, friends and mentors may nominate an aspiring young person for the Coca-Cola Pay It Forward program by visiting www.coke.com/payitforward. The program is open to teens and young adults between the ages of 16-21 (as of May 1, 2014).  Nominators must be 16 years of age or older. Eligible youth also [...]

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