parenting

Destiny’s Child: A Letter To Young Women

It takes strength, determination and commitment, as a young woman, to get up from under the thumb of Society’s expectations and burdens.  We’re raised to believe we need to put others before us in a way that goes beyond simple altruism. A woman is to carry her family, her friends, her neighbours and society at large on her back and do it gracefully. 

But who thinks of the woman’s needs?  Who thinks of her dreams and aspirations?

Society’s taken strides to encourage independence in women but I’ve found, whether in a bid to keep us realistic or simply because a lot of people still feel that way internally, their encouragement always has a limit. 

A glass ceiling. 

How many of our own parents have encouraged us as young women to truly be independent?

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No one seems to discuss the fact that a degree doesn’t guarantee that.  Nor does money or a car, although they might make your life a bit more comfortable. 

Independence starts from within.  It, like knowledge, is something no one can take away from you without your consent. 

As one grows, one experiences loss.  We lose friends, partners, family, mindsets and assets. In fact one might say the only constants in your life right now, truly, are yourself, and change. 

But when was the last time you thought about your goals and aspirations? Without the little voice in your head reminding you of what everyone else expects of you. 

When last? 

To quote the author  Paulo Coehlo  “To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation.” 

It sounds a bit unrealistic, granted, but the older you get, the more important this message will become.  There will never be a shortage of people who want you to do what they want you to do, and everyone seems to know what’s best for the next person while never taking their own advice.  

As much as I don’t know anyone else’s destiny, I can tell you this, it’s never to become somebody else’s project/puppet.  Your separate existence as an entity is so for a reason.  You have a life and you have choices. 

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Independence also requires a lot of self love.  

You need to love yourself enough to want the best for yourself, by your standards. But desire is not enough, you must also love yourself enough to seek it out.  This will mean endless hours of self actualization, some of which may be rather tedious. You may become the boring [read: focused] one, and you WILL face quite a few hurdles, but the adversity faced will seem rather minuscule once you achieve your goals. 

There is no specific mold to the perfect life.  No one has the blueprint and therefore, no one can truly tell you you’re wrong to follow your passions. 

A woman is capable of so much, far more than we can ever imagine.  

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Why not achieve it all? 

Put yourself first for a change. Put your dreams first. 

Put your Life first. 

“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.” 
― Paulo Coelho, Alchemist

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Spare The Rod, Spoil The Brat

At some point in time it was decided that children had so many rights that parents were only entitled to one: The right to appease them.  The child had the right to happiness, so spoil them, don’t discipline them, and shift the whole balance of power around to the point where all lines are blurred.  As a result a lot of parents ended up practicing what some refer to as Passive Parenting.  

Despite the fact that my brother and I aren’t what I deem that far apart in age, we’ve been raised completely different.  It’s said that the first child is always the Experiment. Parents try out what they’ve learned over the years on you, sometimes they coddle you other times they neglect you. Sometimes they appease you, other times they shame you for even having any desires. Honestly, the First Child gets it all and if you don’t end up as a basket case, I’m proud of you. 

The Second Child [Which in this case, is my brother, and the last] gets it much easier. See, by this time, Dr Phil and some magazine advice column have told your parents the “right” way to raise children. The right way entails more “communication” than action. More “bonding” than raising and guiding. Frankly, more talk than action. 

As it tends to happen with lines from the Bible, someone decided “Spare the rod, spoil the child” meant just that: Be your child’s bitch, and as it often happens again, everyone followed blindly. 

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All too often I find myself in the middle of arguments between my mother and my brother.  My 11 year old brother yelling at my 50 year old mother to keep quiet and let him speak as I count the number of times I would have slapped him for every single wayward comment he makes. 

I intervene. 

I put him in his place.

I remind him to respect his elders.

I discipline him.

I explain things to him.

And I’m disgusted.

They’re raising a little asshole.

I believe parenting is more raising an adult than raising a child. You don’t coddle an idiot, breed unsavory behaviour then think one day when they get a college degree it will change. 

You don’t raise an entitled, disrespectful control freak then think one day he’ll be a decent human being. 

You cannot raise a tiny douchebag and expect him to be a Prince.

And my mother tells me she doesn’t believe in hitting children so what else is there?

Being quick to raise your hand when your child messes up isn’t always the solution but it’s not the Evil deed it’s been made to seem either.

Hitting your child once in a while will not lead to you paying for counselling sessions in the future and nor will it turn them into a serial killer. We were hit and we turned out just fine. [Kind of, but, you know..Our problems don’t stem from being disciplined “too much”.]

My mother didn’t have to hit me for me to respect her.

She didn’t terrorize me. 

Contrary to popular belief, Black parents aren’t irrational tyrants who keep us all in line with belts and cuss words. 

I respected her as a provider, as a care taker, as my mother, as someone who knew more than I did. It was only when I became a teenager that I started talking back and engaging in dialogue with her and even then, it was to understand things. [Of course teenage angst played a part in me trying to come for my mother’s wig sometimes but..hey..It happens.] 

I didn’t respect my parents out of fear, I respected them because I understood the contribution that they made to my Life. I also respected them because they wouldn’t expect anything less from me.

Now? Not so much.

When did our parents start raising full out unapologetic brats and why?

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Was it when people started using half baked psychological knowledge to explain their wayward behaviour?

Did the stories of serial killers whose mothers physically abused them scare ours into believing every single slap would make your child a psychopath?

Who do you blame when your child knows you’re afraid of them and so takes advantage? Who do you get mad at?

Who’s at fault when you were so busy out buying books from people who don’t know your family, some of which have no kids themselves, that you built no relationship with your child?

Who do you blame when you realize by the time they’re a teen, you can’t really do much?

What are you going to do when you realize you’re not really a parent and are now merely someone to finance their lifestyle and teach them how to be a dick?

On bad parenting. [Excuse my French.]

As a child, you learn, maybe, to accept the fact that your parents are people too, in order to shield yourself from all the disappointment.  By telling yourself “They’re people too, they’ll fuck up” the things they do don’t hurt so bad.  Sometimes however, they just don’t give a fuck.  They take your maturity for granted and use it as an excuse to shrug off parental obligations.

 People tend to think kids are the needy, deceitful, manipulative ones.. You haven’t met some of these parents hey.  Some parents will shamelessly rob their kids of the beauty of youth. Teach them to hate, to belittle..pass their venom onto them.  Use them for their own selfish bullshit.

 

Oh but let the child attempt to get out of it..To stop being a pawn..To no longer carry them.. The child is “ungrateful”, “doesn’t understand”, is getting involved in things that “aren’t their business”.

 There’re a few things that I hate about this family shit, and I hardly ever use the word “hate”.  

I don’t like that these people feel like you owe them your time, energy..And that they think they can take it and it’s whatever. That you’re somehow indebted to them simply because of a surname/DNA/your gender etc

I don’t like the expectation.

I don’t like the forced bonds.

I don’t like that sometimes, you can’t do anything about anything, for whatever reason.

I don’t want it. I don’t want to have relationships forced on to me.

I don’t like cooking when I’m not hungry. You’re hungry, fix that.

The “has your father eaten?” question like he isn’t able bodied. I don’t know.

The fact that the men will sit, the whole day on a couch, waiting. For food, for attention..anything..Just waiting. And it’s fine.

The “You can’t do that/act that way, you’re a woman” shit.

But most of all..

That everyone, everyone wants to create you for their own personal, selfish reasons.

Man, I hate this shit.

They also don’t know how to leave people alone. They smother you with their mess and call it love.

I hate always having to tell people where I am or where I’m going..It doesn’t matter. I’m gonna lie anyway.

“Where were you?” Does it matter? Am I dead?

These people that you’re born with aren’t always your “family”. Fuck around and end up trying to learn to love toxic people.

They don’t go away, they don’t leave you alone, they don’t let you grow [into what you wanna be].

I am mad as shit at shit I never discuss. Seething.

 

– Courtesy of my Twitter timeline. A bit crude, I know. But I was rather bothered. 

The kids aren’t alright

As the car passes, I look out the window and see a little girl clad in uniform. Green. She looks about 6 or 7. She has no shoes on. Understandable, we too used to throw them off once the teachers were gone and school was out. She walks for a bit. Stops. Bends over and looks up her dress,concentrating. The look on her face gives nothing away, she’s merely observing, intently.

It’s then I notice the three little boys under a tree, watching her walk away. They’re age mates. They’re young. But what’s going on. Why is she looking at herself that way, in public, after leaving those boys?

I wonder if I think too much, then remember the world we live in.

What do we teach kids about sex?

It’s only for Mummies and Daddies?

It should only occur when you’re in love? Only after marriage?

Or is it still a taboo topic, never to be brought up? “Dirty things”..Sinful acts.

A month or so ago on the BW Government Facebook page there was a post about how young girls are engaging in sexual acts with both their age mates and those slightly older. It went on to say the girls sometimes have more than one “partner” and they were looking into programs to do something about these “shocking” cases.

My response was: “Does it make sense to act shocked when pupils engage in unsafe sexual activities when there are no Sex Ed classes in schools and all they know about it is from Biology, Facebook groups, movies and peers? But then it being this country, even if there WERE such, they’d preach the same shit, the ABC’s, inter-generational relationships being bad and such, without bothering to focus on what’s REALLY going on in the kids’ minds and what would benefit and help them.”

I still feel the same way.

We’ll teach girls not to take money from older men, but neglect to mention not to take abuse from their peers. We’ll teach them they have a right to say “No” but not that sometimes your “No” will fall on deaf ears and you have to protect yourself. Well teach them that boys will like them, but not that sometimes these boys will lie. We forget to teach that their bodies are their own and even though they may mature early, this does not mean they should be used.  That physical maturity does not equate to mental maturity and sex isn’t just about spreading your legs.

We’ll teach the boys about where the penis goes, but not that no girl HAS to give them sex. That just because they have pubic hair, or even before that, just because they’re curious, doesn’t mean they NEED to discover that early. That no, sex does not make you a Man. It is not an accomplishment, even animals do it. And the idea of obtaining sex without the girls full consent should shock and disgust them. That they should be able to judge a female’s maturity and care enough, respect enough, to not take advantage.

Does it even seem fair and sensible?

That we teach girls that they can and will be taken advantage of, but boys don’t get the same lecture? We’ll teach boys about the importance of circumcision and overlook to teach the girls about how to take care of their bodies?

AIDS is not the only danger that’s associated with sex.  By not teaching the kids the negative emotional effects this may have on them, are we also teaching them that sex has no emotions involved? Which would be contrary to the “Have sex only when you’re married to the one you love” mess they’re already taught and kids pick up on hypocrisy.  Future advice would fall on deaf ears.

Often these things are swept under the rug as “They’re just kids, they don’t know what they’re doing” and I don’t know how I feel about that. It makes me nervous. It bothers me because the fact that they’re just children doesn’t mean that they’re exempt from harm.

If we overlook a girl child’s curiosity regarding sexual matters and don’t bother to explain things to her, do we still have the right to complain when teenage boys take advantage?In a way, we did not interfere nor help.So are we not partly to blame?

Does “Teach a child the way he should go” only apply to your own?

And where do we begin?

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“That Baby Don’t Look Like Me!”

Boy meets Girl. Boy tells his friends she’s a “Bad looking little bitch with a fat ass” and approaches.  Girl plays coy but exchanges numbers with him nonetheless.  Boy wakes up and sees an unknown number, remembers, and the flirting begins.

Two weeks later boy ends up at girl’s house. Boy and girl begin to do what grown folk do, except he doesn’t have a condom. He stops. She says her period ended two days ago so she’s on her “safe period”. Girl straddles him, kisses him softly, grinds on him, well aware of the fact that one often reaches a point of no return when Lust is involved, no matter how rational they may be otherwise. Boy stops her and says they can do this, but if she falls pregnant, he doesn’t care because he didn’t want to do this, she insisted. She says it’s fine.

Four rounds later, boy goes home.

Six months later, girl calls. She’s pregnant.

Boy hangs up.

What happened was, all of this. Except Boy is a Man in his late twenties and Girl her early twenties.

He told me his story proudly as we walked, on our way home.  With a crisp “No, fuck that bitch” at the end of it.

I was speechless.

He’s proudly saying that he wants nothing to do with a child that may be his because he told his mother he wouldn’t look after the child should she fall pregnant.  There’s a little boy out there with his genes, and he won’t acknowledge his existence because he simply doesn’t want to.

On the one hand, fine, let’s be honest, that Lady should have known better.  Whether or not she was on her “safe period”, she had sex with basically, a stranger, who outright told her he would not care about what happened afterward.  Why not get the morning after pill?

She called him hopeful. Thinking that knowing he had created a Life with her, he may care, may bother. He didn’t.

From what I gather, he once gave her a bit of money to take the boy to the clinic, other than that, he’s made no contribution towards the child’s well-being in any way. He proudly says “No, I don’t give a fuck, I told her” and continues to tell me how she recently called him to inform him she’s considering moving on to find a man to cater to her and her child’s needs, to which his response was…wait for it..Can you guess?

“I don’t give a fuck.”

I still don’t know how to feel about it. Two silly people met, had sex, and created a large mess they can’t be mature enough to resolve.

Why would a woman be that irresponsible?

Why would a man be that callous?

How could two parents be so  immature? So selfish? So.. Childish?

So Girl had a boy by the Boy and seems to be trying to be a Woman.

Boy remains a Boy.

A father to a boy who might just grow up to be just like him.

A little man who’ll grow up to relate a little too well to J.Ivy’s “Dear Father.”

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Why I’ll never tell my kids to Obey..

“The Bible says you must honour, respect and obey your parents..and also, all old people are your parents so just do as you’re told and God will bless you with many more years..”

Evidently this Lady had gone temporarily deaf when I told her that I am not Christian and did not choose the Bible as a manual on How To Live. No, she hadn’t heard that so I repeated it and she told me one day I’d find God. Like I needed him and my Life is a complete mess. 

But that’s not what got me in a frenzy..

It was the “…obey your parents..and also, all old people are your parents so just do as you’re told and God will bless you..”.

My immediate thought was “Do you know how much damage obeying has done to people? Kids? Society?” I understood why she said what she did. Obeying and following are all she herself knows..But how she could say that with a straight face knowing full and well that we live in the kind of society where people constantly take advantage of the malleable was beyond me.I thought she was ignorant for that. How can you still be telling kids to blindly follow knowing full and well there are more than enough people seeking to harm them?

I made a choice a while ago to never teach my kids that they have to obey anything that doesn’t resonate with their Spirit. To trust their gut instinct whether that means not getting in a car with an aunt or not writing that composition piece in the class with a bullshit title.

I decided I’d rather have a child that makes others uncomfortable because they aren’t easily influenced, and know themselves, are confident within themselves, than another one of the picture perfect kids. 

This was some time after I got tired of hearing the kids with the tragic stories and their reason for ending up in these situations being “He was older and I was scared” or “..Because I was told to.”

The servile walk into Misery and don’t even KNOW they’re there. Why bring my child into the world only to prepare them to be a victim?

I’m saying this with no child to hold..So maybe it’ll be different when I do..

But I doubt it.

Do you understand you’re teaching your child “You have no say in anything and don’t think you do because you are small..There will always be someone better than, bigger than, smarter than you..and you should remain beneath them because there is where your place lies?”

How is that even okay?

I can’t.

Anything that teaches you to NOT be proud of yourself, NOT take responsibility and NOT do as you feel, I’m against. 

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