Category Archives: Personal Development
My sons and I are big Dr. Seuss fans and have shared many wonderful nights reading treasured favorites such as The Cat in the Hat, Hop on Pop, Oh, the Places You’ll Go, If I Ran the Zoo and Green Eggs and Ham. While our reading pastime has given us quality time together, I hadn’t given thought to some of the life lessons we can learn from these books. Recently as I read Green Eggs and Ham with my 3 year old, I thought of all the things he could learn from the tenacious and persuasive Sam-I-Am.
1. Be Proud of Your Name
Right at the beginning, Sam I Am lets us know his full name. When meeting people in a formal setting, state your full name. Your name is your is your legacy. I taught my teen son 3 simple rules for meeting people: 1. Make eye contact. 2. Give a firm handshake. 3. Always state your full name.
2. Haters are Insignificant
The other guy in Green Eggs and Ham doesn’t even have a name, yet he lets us know right away that he does not like Sam I Am. We don’t know his name because he is not important. He doesn’t give any explanation as to why he hates Sam I Am. That guy represents people in the world who will hate on your ideas, your creativity, your fearlessness, your tenacity, and anything else they can hate. Ignore the haters.
3. Stay Focused and Be Patient
Honestly, I probably would have given up on that guy after the 4th attempt, but not Sam-I -Am. He is patient. He so believes in his creation: green eggs and ham that he is willing to wait. He knows eventually he’ll win him over. It’s just a matter of time. Sam-I-Am had one goal: To get that guy to try green eggs and ham. He never deviated from the goal. He stuck to his plan. We tend to get excited about our idea and start to lose focus and excitement when things start getting difficult. Stick to your plan!
4. Be Optimistic
Sam I Am didn’t get discouraged for 60 pages of trying to convince one guy to try green eggs and ham. He never seemed to grow tired of that guy refusing and rebuking him. He never got discouraged or complacent. He remained enthusiastic and positive.
5. Have an Open Mind
The unnamed character assumes he will not like something he’s never even tried. He doesn’t even think about trying something new. There’s something new to experience in life every day, if you’re open to it.
6. Be Inquisitive
Sam I Am wants to know why this unnamed guy doesn’t want to eat green eggs and ham. He asks questions to find out what would get him to try it. It’s good to be inquisitive in life. Don’t take everything at face value. Find out why, when, how, what, where.
7. Try Different Approaches
It finally pays off for Sam I Am. The unnamed character gives in and tries green eggs and ham. In life, we need to not give up so quickly because of challenges or adversity. You never know when the tide will turn.
What have you learned from Green Eggs and Ham or other Dr. Seuss books?
How do we address the problem of teen dating and sexual violence? A conversation with Gordon Braxton, Suzanne Casemento and Quentin Walcott about gender based violence and how to speak our sons and daughters about healthy relationships, dating and sexual violence. We’ll also address bystanders syndrome and how to empower them to speak up.
This month’s What Kind of Man Do You Want to Be topic: The Image of a Real Man was a conversation about the image of a real man and how societal and media masculine standards perpetuates male stereotyping.
Panelists for Part I: Enrique Pascal, author of What Does A Real MAN Look Like? and host of Transformation Radio and Alan Bishop, founder of The 365 Effect, producer and creator several television shows .
If you ask most parents what do they want most for their children, the response will more likely be: to raise happy, healthy and successful children. We sometimes forget that what we want for our children has to be what they want for themselves. It’s more important to raise children that have an understanding of their values and do their best to live by them. You may raise a successful child, but if he has no compassion, love or integrity, what good is his success to the world?
The key to raising better children is simple: Live your life as a better person. Yes, this is easier said than done. We are not perfect and sometimes our best isn’t good enough. Even in our challenging times, our children can learn from us and gain a better understanding of how to pick yourself up when you fall down. These five tips are a springboard for you to live life with grace.
1. Teach Your Son to Be Open to Life’s Blessings
Saying yes to life allows wonderful blessings to come to you. Say yes to new opportunities and success. Say yes to a life that you live by your standards. Say yes to making your own decisions and not seeking approval of others. Say yes to a fulfilling and rewarding career. Say yes to a relationship that energizes, supports and stimulates you. Say yes to a promising future. Say yes to living without guilt, resentment or regrets. Say yes to spending more time on your self improvement. Say yes to living an authentic life. Say yes to taking chances and freeing yourself from fear. Say yes to happiness and achievements. Say yes to a well-lived life.
2. Teach Your Son That Love is Unconditional
When was the last time you allowed love to lead? Withholding love as a means of control only leads to distrust and resentment. Loving unconditionally means loving without judgment. Free yourself from unrealistic expectations and accept the person you love for who they are. Do not expect your needs and wants to be fulfilled by someone else. Allow those you love to express themselves without fear of rejection. Do not punish yourself or loved ones for past mistakes. People use the word love very loosely, but do not stop to think of the implications of using the word. Take the time to be responsible in how you show love. Allow yourself to love and be loved.
3. Teach Your Son to Take Healthy Risks
Everything in life involves a risk. Are you allowing fear of rejection and failure to dictate your life? Fear inhibits success. Take chances and free yourself from limiting beliefs. Taking risks empowers you to take charge of your life. Be curious about life; experiment and try new things. Set goals for yourself and take action. Step out of what is safe, comfortable and familiar to you. Examine what feelings emerge when you are thinking about taking a risk. Ask yourself, “What am I afraid of?” Concealing yourself in a safe container prevents you from exploring other possibilities. Embrace the unknown and anticipate success. You will never know the outcome if you don’t take the risk.
4. Teach Your Son to Make the Most of Opportunities and Failures
It is possible to get through the difficult times in life. Learn from failures and take responsibility for your life. Listening to your inner critic can sabotage your dreams. Silence the critic by reaffirming all the things you are capable of doing. Dream big and be excited about your future. Find and release your untapped talents. Believe in your abilities and discover what you have to offer the world. Think about all the things you can’t do and try to do them. Think back to a time, when something was difficult and you were able to overcome the challenge. Continuing to live life in a safe container doesn’t help you gain anything in life. Take the necessary actions to achieve your goals. Stop assuming and start achieving!
5. Inspire Your Son to Leave a Legacy
What’s your legacy? How do you want to be remembered? The life you live defines who you are and the choices you make will determine what impact you will have on the lives of others. Never underestimate the power of your words and actions. You were uniquely created to make a contribution to the world. It is your right and your obligation to make your mark in this world. Surround yourself with people who are supportive, positive and encouraging. Show appreciation and gratitude to those around you. If you have a message to share, then share it with the world. Staying small and thinking small will not get you where you need to be in life. Starting today, have a new perspective on life. Start a new chapter in your life.
I was so upset when I overheard a single mom at the supermarket tell her friend that she didn’t need a man because her son was her husband. Granted, I should have been minding my own business, but if you talk loud enough, I’m going to listen.
I wanted to find her son and tell him to run for his life. It’s an unfair situation when mothers make their sons their surrogate husbands. These moms feel so deprived of love and attention that they turn to their sons for comfort and emotional support. These moms are either single or in a marriage that is unfulfilled or unbalanced. I’ve seen the long term effect and it can lead to these boys being incapable of having mature, loving and healthy relationships as adults. They will constantly have to support and comfort their mothers.
So how can mom divorce her son? For one, you must set boundaries in your relationship with your son. You are the adult, so be consistent with being the adult. Once you ask your son for advice about personal matters or leave him to make adult decisions, you have placed him in the position of authority. If you tell him, he’s the man of house, he will take it literally. If you try to bring in a boyfriend, it’s going to create a conflict.
You have to get a life of your own. If your relationship or marriage has troubles, do something about it. You should be able to talk and share with your significant other/spouse, not your son. If you decide to make him your marriage counselor, don’t be surprised if he starts to resent his father. You’re not a victim, ask for what you need in your marriage. Your son is the victim because you are engaging him in inappropriate conversations. If you’re single, rely on your friends and family for emotional support or get counseling if you need it.
Your son is not your handy man. Sure, it’s good to teach him to help out around the house, but if you keep calling on him like he’s Schneider the handyman, eventually he’s going to get tired of fixing things. Do yourself a favor and sign up for Angie’s List.
Stop asking your son to attend events with you. I don’t mean having an occasional fun evening with your son, I mean having him cancel his plans to hang out with you because you’re lonely. Not cool. Get a hobby or find some new friends on Meetup.com. Let your son live his life.
Understand your son is not your equal. He’s not your support system, you are his support. When you turn him into an emotional partner, the dynamics of the mother-son relationship are skewed and your son will carry this unbalance into his adult relationships.
I think of Dave Chappelle’s skits, When “Keeping It Real” Goes Wrong when I see someone get themselves in trouble in the name of “keeping it real”. The truth is most people are copying someone else and doing a poor job of it. In our over-saturated society of media whores, reality stars and fake “rich people”, it’s easy to pretend that you are bigger, badder, richer, happier and more successful than you really are. People try too hard to be edgy, funny, snarky and end up failing miserably.
I overhear so many young people use acerbic wit as keeping it real. Yet, when you engage them in a conversation, you realize that they’re masking some kind of insecurity. They’re just regurgitating wheat they’ve heard from someone. So much for keeping it real. There’s also this misconception that keeping it real implies that you can be rude and obnoxious to people without any recourse. Trolls hide behind anonymous identities and spew their venom at unsuspecting people online just because they feel the need to be real. Parents use social media to shame their kids in the name of keeping it real. Kids record fights in the name of keeping it real. People write blog posts to demean others in the name of keeping it real.
But what is real? We talk to our kids about realness but how many of us live by those words. Kids are like surveillance cameras and they are surveying our behaviors and actions even when we’re unaware of it. When we tell them one thing and do another, they see through our hypocrisy.
It’s imperative that kids understand that keeping it real does not mean keeping up with appearances. Yet, we tell our kids one thing and do something different.
As parents, we have to be consistent and clear with our message. We can’t tell kids that they shouldn’t care what people think and then post something on social media so our friends can think we’re cool. If we’re not being authentic, how can we expect the same from our children? Once we start keeping it real, our children will do the same.
Are you keeping it real?
They say when the student is ready, the teacher arrives. This saying definitely can apply to parenting. As a mom, I often get caught up in wanting to teach my sons important life skills and instill core values that I miss my own learning opportunity.
The problem is that I become so distracted with wanting to make sure my sons are a happy, healthy and successful, that I miss opportunities to just enjoy them. There are days I am so busy balancing my business and personal life, that my life resembles a sitcom without a laugh track. That’s when I wish that conflicts could be resolved in 22 minutes and kids would learn a valuable lesson in less than 20 minutes.
Some nights, I am so tired, that I can’t even remember what happened during the day. It is on those nights, that I beat myself up and doubt my parenting skills. I think about how my toddler has tantrums in public and my teen son has moody days and wonder am I really raising great men?
My sons are not a brand, they’re kids. Imperfect kids who help me to see life through their eyes. My sons just want to spend time with me. My little one just wants me to read bedtime stories, dance to Yo Gabba Gabba and play with his Thomas the Tank Engine trains. My teen just wants me to listen and engage in a conversation when he’s ready to talk. It’s the simple things that mean a lot to them. While looking for life changing moments, I may miss life affirming moments because of my preoccupation with being a “good mom” and raising “good kids”.
Being a parent means you learn just as much as you teach. Parenting is more than life lessons and teachable moments. Parenting is receiving hugs and kisses unexpectedly. Parenting is watching your child sleep and you feeling so much love for them, it overwhelms you. Parenting is sticky fingers and fart jokes. Parenting is love in action.
As a parent, I’ve learned not to take people, time or opportunities for granted. My children remind me of this daily.
The other day I saw an image on a Facebook page in which a mom and her daughter stated “I don’t need a man” with a shadow of a man leaving the house in the background. The picture represents one of the most celebrated statements uttered by women. I have to be honest and say that I hear this most often from black women than any other group of women.
Some women use this statement as a defense mechanism to explain being single or express their disappointment or distrust of men. Where does that leave boys and men? In the effort to raise girls to be strong and independent, women are conveying the wrong message by telling girls that they don’t need men. First of all, we should teach all children to be independent and self-sufficient. People shouldn’t need other people. However, we were created for human relationships. By nature, we are social creatures and benefit from connecting and interacting with others.
Stating “I don’t need a man” doesn’t help girls or women become strong, confident, and independent. I get it, we want to ensure girls and young women understand that they don’t need a man to be or feel complete. What we really should be telling girls is:
- You don’t need a man who’ll disrespect you
- You don’t need a man who doesn’t appreciate your efforts and contribution
- You don’t need a man who is too insecure to let you own your greatness
- You don’t need a man who only sees you as a sexual object
My mother taught my brother and I life skills so that we can care for ourselves and not rely on anyone for our financial, emotional, spiritual or physical well-being. She never stated to me “You don’t need a man”. When I was a child, I never doubted my mother’s confidence, power or strength. She didn’t depend on my father to make her feel whole. I understood the difference between “want” and “need”.
Also, let’s think about what this statement tells boys. If our sons overhear us saying this, what are they learning about themselves as men?
We don’t want to undermine the roles that boys and men play in our lives. If we want to raise a generation of empowered women and compassionate men, we must begin to change our what we say. It’s not about needing anyone, it’s about being true to yourself,
practicing self-care and maintaining your individuality, even when
you’re in a relationship. Let’s not dismiss boys and men as an inconvenience in our lives.
“If you’re going to have childhood dreams you should have great
parents who let you pursue them and express your creativity”– Randy Pausch
Do you ever think about your son’s dreams? Do you take the time to talk to him about what he wants to do with his future?
The beauty of childhood is our ability to dream and believe in unlimited possibilities. We see ourselves changing the world and being integral in solving mysteries, finding cures, saving lives, writing bestsellers and overall conquering the world. Unfortunately, some adults interfere with childhood dreams and burst those happy little dream bubbles. We don’t want to do that to our sons.
Our job as parents is to nurture, support and encourage our sons to dream BIG. We are not to laugh at or dismiss our son’s dream. We want him to know and believe that there is nothing to stop him from being the man God created him to be. It requires us to constantly communicate with our son about his vision and create a supportive learning environment.
We want to be one of the people on the sidelines cheering our sons on, not those protesting and blocking them from living their dreams.
Talk to your son about his dreams and tell him that you are here to guide him, pick him up when he stumbles and lift him up when he gets discouraged. Let him know that no matter how outrageous his dream is, you have his back.
How are you supporting your son’s dream?