I have not been blessed with the honor of having children. I would love nothing more than to be a mother and I’ve given my love to two wonderful young ladies who mean to the world to me in the role of mentor. A young lady asked me some days ago if I would share my comments about what would it take to raise a healthy child today. I hesitated because I don’t have children and, quite frankly, I wasn’t interested in getting all the hate mail I would get from people who disagreed with what I have to say. I think I need to put my feelings on virtual paper because there is a huge problem with raising our children and it affects us as a community. First of all, I would say that this whole continued insistence that, “race doesn’t matter” when dealing with raising children is nothing but complete and utter bull****. To quote my esteemed colleague, Cornel West, “RACE MATTERS.” Black children have a different history that has created a different cultural mindset, a different set of life challenges and obstacles, and Black children have a different way of learning than white children. It’s terribly uniformed and dangerous to assert that raising our children in the same way that white people raise their children is in any way healthy. We are different. We should celebrate those differences, not try to deny them, and not try to conform to a standard that is unhealthy for us as a people. Saying we are different and saying we are inferior are two vastly different things. Black people would rather be like white people and conform to their dysfunctional standards as opposed to saying that we are different and equal and we have patterns and behaviors that are unique to us that are just as valid. To be very honest with you, I’ve not met many good parents in my lifetime. In fact, I can’t say that I’ve met any really good parents in my lifetime, I’ve met some who are doing better than others but the instances of that are extremely, extremely rare. To be a healthy parent, you must first be a healthy individual. That doesn’t happen in this society. People don’t heal themselves of their own issues before they become parents. People don’t establish themselves as whole and complete individuals before they have children. People hold on to the patterns and behaviors they have and justify them and pass those dysfunctional beliefs on to their children as if they are award-winning parents. I know a woman who is raising a single child. She yells and screams at her child, calls her names, and beats her. Never mind that her child is being damaged because of her abusive treatment. This same woman goes into serious bouts of depression during which time; her child has to become the parent, caring for her mother’s emotional well-being. The mother is in and out of two-week fuckships with different men at least once a month. She is severely overweight and probably the most slovenly, nasty housekeeper I’ve ever seen. The child has no healthy male role model in her life. The mother doesn’t budget her money for bills, rather she buys clothes and shoes for both herself and her child because she wants to feel attractive. She allows the child to live in filth and never holds her accountable. She treats her child like an adult, talking to her as if she is an equal. She SWEARS up and down that she is a GREAT, FANTASTIC, WONDERFUL mother because her child gets straight A’s in school. If she had dealt with her issues of abandonment, if she had dealt with her issues of depression, if she had dealt with her own mother’s unhealthy parenting skills before having a child, she would be a much better parent. She didn’t however so she sees her mothering skills as perfect. She became a mother without dealing with her own issues first and she has emotionally scarred her child for life who will grow up raising her child in the same dysfunctional way and claiming to be a great mother as well. I’m sure everyone who took the time to read that is saying, “Yeah, she’s a horrible mother.” It’s easy to point the finger at other people when the example seems so blatant. Everyone can look at that example and say, “well, I’m a good housekeeper, so I’m a good parent. I’m married, so I’m a good parent. I’m a republican with money in the bank and send my kids to private school so I’m definitely a good parent. I’m not like that at all, I’m a good parent.” The truly good parent could look at that and say, “I’m guilty of repeating behaviors that my parents inflicted upon me and I’m working desperately to confront those issues.” There aren’t many people who can do that. Have you dealt with being called Black and ugly in the third grade and how it hurt you and shaped your self-esteem? Have you dealt with the child molestation you were subjected to or are you continually saying, “It doesn’t matter, it was my fault?” Healing ourselves takes a lot of work and it hurts like hell. People don’t do that before becoming parents. People pass on their hurt, dysfunction, disappointments, and dramas to our children and claim it’s good parenting because “that’s the way I was raised.” If I’m ever blessed with the opportunity to have children, I will make very concerted efforts to raise them with standards and principles that I feel are healthy. They include 1. Discipline, not beating. Black people swear by the belief that if you spare the rod, you spoil the child. I couldn’t disagree more. Beating a child doesn’t do anything but instill fear, anger, teach aggression and emotionally scar the child. It teaches the child that the person who is responsible for caring for you is going to hurt you. Discipline is teaching your child to be accountable for their actions, that there are repercussions for bad behavior, and that they can be assured that their parents will not stop loving them but demand better behavior without abuse. I will administer discipline to my children with restrictions, punishments, and restitution. Teaching a child to make amends for their wrong doing is a much better lesson for them to learn than beating them with a belt until whelps form on their legs. 2. Developing a sense of community. It is imperative for my children to know that their world exists beyond their bedroom. Teaching a child to give unselfishly to others will help them become a well-rounded adult. My children will volunteer at the senior citizen home, will clean up the inner city abandoned lot to make a garden, they will work with the homeless. They can only benefit exponentially by seeing the humanity in other people not like them and growing from the interpersonal relationships with others. 3. Developing imagination. There will be little or no television in my home. If there is, it will be severely restricted to one hour a day at most and I will control the content until they are at least 14 years old. Stimulating different areas of the brain are essential for raising intelligent children. Doing puzzles, arts and crafts, speaking at least one other language, extensive reading, playing musical instruments, and putting on plays will all be required for my children to ensure that they can use logic and reason to figure out situations and not be subjected to linear thinking. They will no see images of violence or sexuality in my home and at all and my husband and I will talk to them about every single instance of it that they are exposed to when they are out in the world. 4. Honesty. I learned a long time ago that it’s very hard to tell the truth to a child. My niece was an inquisitive little girl. She would ask some of the most difficult questions and the inclination of her mother and grandmother was to lie to her. She would figure out eventually that they were lying and that has a tremendous effect on the psyche of a child. I swore I would never do that to my children. Being honest takes a lot of work. It’s admitting that you have flaws; it’s admitting that you aren’t perfect. It’s showing yourself to your child in a very human and frail light. Being honest with your child teaches your child to be honest. It teaches them how to navigate through life with integrity. Being honest about sex, being honest about drugs, being honest about the pitfalls of life enables a child to make informed choices when difficult situations come their way. 5. Holistic, healthy living. Children today have so many diseases, so many health concerns, I will make it my priority to have my children have a diet based on fruits, vegetables, and organic food. We will have a set mealtime and they will not eat fast food, processed food, or microwaved food. Food will be prepared together as a family. Meditation will be a daily part of our life together as a family. Meditation is the single most important part in raising a spiritually healthy individual. Exercise, fresh air, and lots of water will be essential for us as a family. 6. Structure. It is essential if children are to develop into healthy adults to have structure, dependability, and routine. There will be a set bedtime, chores that they must do every week, and consistency in their lives. They will know that they will always have a roof over their heads, that they don’t have to move from place to place, that there won’t be a string of different men in and out of their lives, that there will people to come to that aren’t flighty, unstable, or undependable. 7. Raising children to be beautiful inside, not outside. In this beauty-obsessed culture, we raise our girl children to be beautiful. We put them in pageants, we dress them up in clothes that are miniature sizes of adult clothing, we reinforce how pretty they are, we in essence reinforce that their self worth comes from their straight hair, their fingernails, their butts. We raise out sons to seek the external beauty of women as a reflection of their manhood. We teach them that they are more of a man if the woman they have on their arm who is coveted by other men. In my home, our children will not wear expensive designer clothing, reinforcing that clothes make the person. They will be made to judge people on the content of their character and not their attractiveness to the eye. They will be rewarded when they are kind, compassionate, honest, and genuinely concerned about the welfare of other people. They will be told daily how beautiful they are with their naturally nappy hair, how beautiful their thick nose and wide lips, I will reinforce to them that dark, ebony skin is beautiful and that there is no need to chemically or surgically alter their bodies to be beautiful. They will be raised that material possessions are superficial and have nothing to do with a person’s value. 8. Respecting them as individuals, not replicas. My mother doesn’t like me because I’m not like her. She wants a miniature version of herself and if I have other thoughts, other ideas, other ideologies, she wants nothing to do with me. I will honor and respect my children’s choices if they are made logically, with reason, and they can validate their choices as not being harmful to themselves or others. I will make a vow to have humility and communicate with my child and not judge them based on my values, but the values they form as citizens of the world. 9. Being the best me I can be. My growth as a human being, as a spiritual being doesn’t end with the birth of my child. I will make a commitment to my children and my husband to continue to heal my issues, to challenge myself to grow as a person, to admit my mistakes. I will continue to learn from others, to expand my horizons, and to hold a higher vision of myself up to the light so that I will not become complacent. I will continue to pray that I will have the chance to share my life with a partner and raise happy, healthy, well-rounded, Afrocentric children. I will continue to pray that I will have the strength and the endurance to keep them safe from harm. I will pray that I can give them the foundation to grow up to be intelligent, compassionate, grounded adults. Copyright 2006 Scottie Lowe [email protected] Tired of seeing black women being portrayed as *******, freaks and whores, and black men as thugs, dogs, and pimps, she decided it was time to show black people in a positive sexual light. Ms. Lowe is the sole owner and founder of AfroerotiK, a company dedicated to eradicating the negative and stereotypical depictions of Black sexuality and providing customized, personalized erotic stories for and about people of color from an Afrocentric perspective. Her website blossomed out of relative obscurity with her relentless commitment to spread her gospel of erotic enlightenment by word of mouth and grass roots efforts of self-promotion. The AfroerotiK online community has grown to almost 18,000 members and serves as a very active and outspoken forum for members of very diverse opinions to share their perspectives on many controversial and taboo subjects. Ms. Lowe has a strong sense of commitment and cultural perspective that drives her to question the status quo and to fight to dismantle the vestiges of oppression, racism, and discrimination that exist today. Academically trained in African and African American Studies with a concentration in psychology, Scottie Lowe writes extensively about issues that affect the Black community. Scottie Lowe is a very poised, articulate, outspoken advocate who brings an unapologetic and unique perspective to the discussion of Black sexuality.