Founder/CEO

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Parenting; L.I.E.U.T.E.N.A.N.T.



"The Duty of the Lieutenant is to 'Teach' and also 'Train' the Private Soldier" (13/1-14)

One thing about my Parents they never co-signed or ignored anything they thought wasn’t Right and Exact. At times they’d bomb me and my siblings about something or walk us through the reason and logic of something so we can cee it for ourselves. When I was in High School one time the Police came to my house looking for one of my Brothers. Me and my Ole Earth were sitting on the front porch when they walked up. They humbly asked my Ole Earth was he here and she said, “Oh yeah, he’s right inside.” Next thing you know they were escorting my Brother out of the house and he had this “Save Me!” look on his face. What was my Ole Earth’s response? She looked dead at him, turned her head and started to sing ‘Gangsta Lean’ (“this is dedicated to my homies…”) and started to pour her coffee out on the porch like a libation. I, was, horrified! I could not believe that she could be so heartless and unaffected by the Police taking my Brother, her child, away and it took me years to understand her logic. I cried and was angry all at the same time. I was upset and Brother was going to jail and I was upset my Ole Earth sat back and didn’t do anything about it, in fact, she clowned him.

This story haunted me until I had my own children and became a Parent myself. As a Parent, I learned that there were strategies to raising children and that as they grew older I had to update many of these strategies to better address their needs. Reflecting back on my Brother being taken away, that was his own doing. My Ole Earth had consistently talked to him about various choices he was making and her words couldn’t stop him. Unfortunately, he had to put his own Theories to the test and found out for himself that there wasn’t a right way to do wrong. My Ole Earth was simply wise enough to not get in the way of him getting his comeuppance. She also had the integrity to never lead him in the wrong direction by allowing him to think that his logic wasn’t flawed. She, like my Ole Dad, always gave him, us, something to think about… Yes there were times we got an ass whuppin’ and there were many more times that it was explained, suggested or jokingly expressed to us how our choices could/would result in Life whuppin’ our ass. The older I become the more I respect my Parents ability to help prepare me (and my siblings) for the Life I’m leading today!

Teaching and Training are two entirely different things. Teaching is like direct current in electricity; it goes one way from Teacher to Student. Training is like alternating current; it goes both directions as transferring, receiving and vice versa. Teaching involves information being disseminated while Training involves hands on activities, being engaged, participation and interaction with that information. While all Training involves Teaching, not all Teaching includes Training. The emphasis on the Lieutenant’s Role within the 13/1-14 is to convey the importance that the learning the process involves not simply knowing certain information b.u.t. learning how to use it. From a Parenting Perspective, this is equivalent to letting our children know about certain information about Life and showing them how to Live. One of the Mantras my Parents lived by was, “If you’re Wrong you’re Wrong. I’m not going to support you in Wrongdoing just because you’re my child.” What this translated into is that I couldn’t depend upon my Parents to have my back and speak up for me if I was in the Wrong, especially when it was something I (and they) already knew was Wrong because we already discussed it. If what I did Wrong wasn’t previously discussed, they’d treat the results as a Lesson learned (willfully) and they’d always add-on some addendums just in case I still wasn’t convinced. Cee, in my household we actually had ‘Family Meetings’ where my Parents and 6 siblings would get together and just talk about various things. One of our favorite Games my Ole Earth introduced to us was called ‘The Book of Questions’. The Book of Questions was just that, a Book of almost 300 questions about life situations where you had to give your Perspective on what you would do in certain circumstances. For example, there might be a questions in there like, “If you had to lose one sense what would it be and why?” or “If you had 24 hours to live what 3 things would you do?” Boy that was fun and I didn’t realize until I was probably in my twenties that my Ole Earth, the Trained Psychologist and Sociologist, was using that ‘Game’ as a way to Profile us and assess our Principles and Values. It also provided many teachable moments for my Parents to address some of these ideas that would be a problem for us now and somewhere down the line. My upbringing wasn’t restricted or religious. I was raised to be aware, discerning and to take responsibility for the results of my choices.

Another valuable Parenting Methods my Parents taught me was the ability to maintain their Integrity without co-signing Bullsh*t; their ability to communicate, verbally or non-verbally, their stance on certain issues without alienating themselves from me as their child. We had our conflicts yet they did an excellent job at maintaining our Relationship. For example, in High School I came home one time itchin’ like I had fleas and my Ole Earth stopped me in the kitchen and asked me what’s wrong. I said, “Nothing” and she looked me in the eye and said, “You better be happy you ain’t get something you can’t get rid of; you could’ve got the Monster! Now I already told you about messin’ with those ‘skanks’ out in the street. When you go upstairs you better not use any of our soap, rags, towels or toilet. You better ask one of your boys do they got something for that or go to the Drugstore and get something to get rid of it.” After that incident she’d joke with me once in a while about my lack of observation skills. She, nor my Ole Dad, never put themselves on a pedestal as if they never made poor choices and still didn’t make poor choices. Most times they were very Understanding and made it clear they were here to help guide us as their children -and they made many sacrifices to do so. They didn’t just dictate what we should/shouldn’t do nor did they sit back and let us say/do whatever we wanted; they had a wise way of giving us options to do things that they could live with. And if we took it too far, they’d always leave a lifeline if we wanted to come back. Rarely did they try to ‘save us’ from ourselves, especially when they already made Knowledge Born to us about what we got ourselves into. Some of the coddling, doting and co-signing I cee Parents doing today with children who are oftentimes saying/doing things that are completely unacceptable or outright disrespectful was ‘publically’ rare when I was growing up. It was clear who the Parent and who the Child was. It was also clear who the Parent was and who was no longer a Child as they got older.

In my travels I’ve ceen and heard many Parents defend certain Principles and Values to the death yet when their own child(ren) are doing the complete opposite they change their tune... They didn’t change it because their child(ren) somehow gave them more insight into a Phenomena they previously didn’t understand. They changed their tune to make an exception or excuses because it’s their child(ren). Basically it’s not really that Wrong or Bad when “their child” is doing it so there was a biasness with “their child” that wasn’t extended to other children. I’ve ceen Parents talk about how Wrong Parents are for letting their teenage daughter get pregnant yet they’re letting their teenage son’s girlfriend spend the night over the house. I’ve heard Parents throw boys under the bus about calling females “bitches”, hear their own child saying “bitch” and they act like they don’t even hear it. Maybe these Parents don’t know how to address these contradictions, maybe they’re making exceptions/excuses because it’s their child. Maybe they honestly don’t cee the contradiction or maybe they really just don’t even care. Whatever the reasoning is, if we’re Parents that advocate certain Principles and Values yet turn around and allow our child(ren) to undermine those Principles and Values within our household, we are signaling to them that these Principles and Values aren't worthy of being honored/respected in the first place. On a very practical level, this is the wrong Attitude and Information we’re Teaching our children and Training them to take into the World. One of the main Lessons our children should learn from us is ‘Integrity’. It is those children who don’t learn this sense of fortitude (Integrity) who become most receptive to the uninhibited ways of this World… There was never a time when my Parents ignored something or turned a blind eye to something that was Wrong. If they ceen or heard it they checked it and if it wasn’t Right & Exact they weren’t co-signing it or promoting it. This is not to say my Parents were always right. There were definitely times me and my siblings had to educate them too and they weren’t always receptive either. Because they always encouraged communication, they kept a good pulse on what was going on inside our hearts and heads. We couldn’t just walk in or around the house not saying anything or keeping our thoughts and feelings to ourselves. Even if I wanted to my Parents set up specific Procedures, Traditions and Customs to keep our lives open and transparent. One of them was sitting down eating Dinner together.

The bottom line is that the ultimate support we can give our children is the Truth. If something isn’t Right & Exact then let it be known and don’t support what isn’t. Sometimes our children already know what’s up b.u.t. will present situations to us just to cee if we’ll confirm what’s Right & Exact. People do this all the time and they’re somebody’s child, so YES our children do it too! It’s better for their feelings to be hurt about what’s Right then to let them walk around feeling good about what’s Wrong. Ignorance on our part or theirs must never be an option. As a Parent, if something happened to them under those circumstances it would be hard to forgive yourself when you knew better (Ezekiel 3:18, St. Luke 12:47). Some Parents interpret this to mean, “Lock your child down” which is not what I’m saying, especially when they’ve reached their Teens and are starting to assert their Autonomy and make decisions on their own. At this stage in the Game telling them what to do and how to do it is not the most effective way to deal with them. Don’t believe me, try it and cee the results you’ll get. At this stage it’s more about our ability to negotiate, reason and walk them through the logic/illogic of their decisions. This is why I emphasized the importance of ‘Integrity’; it’s difficult to negotiate, reason and walk someone through the logic/illogic of things that we haven’t demonstrated a clear stance on. For example, it’s difficult to check a Teenager about running the streets if you’re beating them out of the door and it’s a challenge to teach your son about treating a Woman like a Queen when you really aren’t sure what a Queen is and don’t talk about or treat Men like Kings. These questions will come up and as Parents we must be prepared and know how to handle these conversations. Telling a five year old, “Because I said so” may work b.u.t. for a Teenager you probably just gave them a License To Ill. Many of the dysfunctional Relationships I cee between Parents and Children is simply because the children view us (Parents) as Bullsh*tters. Sometimes they have a legitimate reason why they think this because some of us actually are. Other times we’ve earned ourselves that Title by default simply because we refused to check our Children about some Bullsh*t they’re saying or doing.

In conclusion, if we let things slide with our Children we will slip as Parents. My Ole Earth had a very humorous way of checking me that made me think about my decisions I’ve made or she suspected I might make WITHOUT telling what to do. She trusted my ability to discern because she and my Ole Dad invested time to equip me with the proper information to correct errors. When I went away to College they drove me 8 ½ hours away from home and dropped me off. It was for Football Camp, a month before Classes started; the first time I saw this place and the first time I was that far away from home. I never felt so alone and was insecure about what to do b.u.t. my Parents obviously weren’t. They had all the confidence in the World in me to make the best decisions with my Life and strive to do what’s Right & Exact. Of course I didn’t make those decisions all the time b.u.t. I made them enough to be here doing what I’m positively doing today. Even though some of you may have had a different upbringing or weren’t able to depend upon your Parents, you can change that with your children. Regardless how we were raised and where we came from it’s important to be better for the next Generation. This starts with being impartial to the Truth. If you think Homosexuality isn’t Right & Exact then find an effective way to communicate this to your child that’s doing it. It’s Wrong to criticize others for doing it and then get quiet or defensive when your own child’s name comes up. Our children aren’t always going to do what we expect them to do, we didn’t do everything our Parents expected us to do. There comes a point in our children’s growth/development where the only Resources they’ll have from us to help them navigate and make sense of their lives is 1.) Our Experiences and 2.) Our Words echoing in the back of their Minds. As Parents, it’s important to make sure these Experiences are something we're willing to let them live with, and our Words are something we’re willing to let them die for...

Peace,
Saladin
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