Parenting

Form A Black Parents Association

Increased and improved parental involvement is unquestionably a crucial dimension of true education reform. As I continue to think about solutions to remedying the significant academic underachievement of Black males throughout the educational pipeline, I cannot help but think about how vital their parents are to improving their academic achievement. In every county in America, there needs to be the creation of a Black Parents Association. What do I mean by Black Parents Association? I’m referring to Black parents federate in every county to meet often about local and national issues pertaining to education, to discuss strategies for improving the academic achievement of their children, to work together to help their children with homework problems, to share resources with one another, to organize with one another to protest injustices in their local schools, and etc.

Now, there is certainly not anything wrong with this newly formed organization of Black parents joining and working with non-Black parents. Since Black male students academically underperform all students throughout the educational pipeline, Black parents are going to have to unite first to tackle this problem. After all, it’s their children who are experiencing this academic achievement problem. I think that the formation of a group like this in every county in the nation has great potential to energize Black parents and result in dramatic improvements in the academic achievement of Black students. When educators, school board members, administrators, and legislators begin to see Black parents more organized, more involved, and more committed to ameliorating the academic achievement of their children, schools will have to become more responsive to the needs of Black students.

Just like many Blacks organized to protest the Jena 6 injustice because many Blacks saw this situation as a crisis, we also have to see Black education as in crisis. Whenever you have Black male students throughout every level of the educational pipeline, including higher education, academically underperforming all students this is a real crisis. By creating a Black Parents Association, Black parents begin to become change agents and facilitators in the change we want to see in our children’s academic achievement. Our people have had a history of organizing to engender change to respond to crises. We have a crisis in Black education today and we need to respond to it.

Social media, newspapers, local publications, television, radio, word of mouth, churches, schools, local stores, and etc. can be used as vehicles for promulgating interest meetings about the construction of a local Black Parents Association. I would recommend that this new organization be guided and governed by democratic principles. Make the organization a formal organization.

Black parents, you have the power to increase wealth in the Black community by making stronger investments in your children’s education. We have to tackle the problems our children are having with their studies to bring in greater wealth into our community. We have to face it—improved academic achievement is central to ushering in more wealth into our community. Our economic and social conditions will not be meaningfully improved until we do a better job of buttressing our children’s education.

Black parents unite!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Domestic Violence Ends Where Good Parenting Begins

One of my Facebook friends and loyal readers, Ginnie Ann Daniels, inspired me to pen this present piece about how good parenting can eliminate domestic violence. Ginnie taught her children at an early age about how not to abuse others and those values have persisted throughout their lives. Children are very impressionable. What you do and say to a child can stay with him or her a lifetime. We all know that the horrible things that you say to your child can be very damaging, but we need to know that the positive things that we say to children can last them a lifetime. If we educate our female and male children that it is an abominable thing to engage in abusing others, then we can make significant progress toward ending domestic violence. You have to educate your children about not engaging in any type of violence if we are to end domestic violence. We have to teach children that violence is not simply physical, but it can be mental and emotional. You don’t have to lay your hands on a person to abuse him or her. It is important for us to communicate this to children. When they have an early understanding about abuse and the harm that it does, then the anti-violence values we place in them will be much more likely to persist throughout their adulthood.

I contend that good parenting must include education about how to be a civil person. When you abuse someone, you are not being civil. Parents have a responsibility to teach their children about how to be civil members of society.

Don’t think that just because you have girls that this excludes you from teaching them about not abusing others. Females engage in abusing males too. Don’t get it twisted! It is much less talked about and underreported. Teach your girls about how to respect other females and males.

I strongly oppose parents who rear their boys to become thugs. When you rear your boys to become thugs or to develop overly aggressive behavior, you are making them ripe candidates to be abusive to women. The overly aggressive and thuggish behavior that they develop as little children will most likely continue on into their adult lives. You have a great opportunity to train them as little boys to develop healthier behavior that is going to promote civility.

Schools need to play a stronger role in helping children to learn about and understand the different forms of violence. Our children need to have a more sophisticated understanding about what abuse and violence is. I would like to see schools that use “character education” place more emphasis on educating students about different forms of violence and abuse. I think that even History courses serve as valuable opportunities to teach students about how to avoid abuse and violence and to educate them about the consequences of abuse and violence. For instance, when discussing issues about war, this gives teachers an opportunity to tell students about how abuse and violence played an instrumental role in the causes and consequences of the war(s) being discussed.

Although I want schools to increase their efforts to educate students about abuse and violence, I want parents to place an even greater emphasis on education about abuse and violence. Don’t always look for schools to be the answer to the social, cognitive, and emotional development needs of your children.

I am not saying that you should not teach your children about self-defense, but what I am saying is that you should teach them to avoid unnecessary abuse and violence.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Thugs

Across America, many Black boys are increasingly embracing the “thug life.” Once they reach adulthood, this embracement of the thug life persists. Although I understand that in the postmodern epoch there are various notions of what a thug is, all of these notions are ultimately harmful to Black boys. From the earliest age possible, Black boys need to have greater expectations from their parents than for them to live a thug life. It’s not enough to say that you keep your boys away from hip-hop music and violent video games and movies. Those things are not really what you should primarily concern yourself with. You should concentrate more on helping them to establish a pathway for a successful life. This could mean that even before the child enters into kindergarten, you begin to stress the importance of education to him or her and you become actively involved in his or her education. As soon as possible, begin to talk to your child about going to college or getting some post-secondary training. You can teach your child to be a hustler but being a hustler does not have to have criminality attached to it. Many of the best living Black men in America are hustlers in their own right—Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, Dr. Cornel West, Jerry Rice, Bishop T.D. Jakes, President Barack Obama, John Edgar Wideman, John Legend, Richard Dean Parsons, J.C. Watts, Colin Powell, Wayne Brady, and Montel Williams. Now, I’m not saying that these men are perfect—none of us are. I’m also not saying that they did not have struggles, setbacks, and challenges because they all did.  The one thing they all had was a determination to be successful and not thugs. They all had people in their lives, including their parents, who were willing to love them enough to help them develop a mindset focused on success.

I’m not trying to tell you exactly how to rear your children—I’m not qualified to do this. What I’m doing, however, is telling you that your children deserve to have parents who are committed to their success. They need you from birth to help them to understand how to be successful and to assist them with creating a pathway to success—this I’m qualified to tell you about. Every child deserves a chance to succeed!

A number of the Black boys who I grew up with and went to school with embraced deviant behavior even in kindergarten and many of their parents would get angry with the teachers and principals for exposing their poor behavior. Instead of the parents working to improve these boys’ behavior, they simply blamed the teachers and principals for their behavior. These parents needed to face the fact that their boys were simply exhibiting poor behavior. This poor behavior persisted for many of these Black boys into their teenage years where many became involved in using and selling drugs, having babies out of wedlock, getting sent to jail or youth detention centers, dropping out of school, and etc. I have to admit that some of their parents really tried to prevent them from getting involved in these things, but the boys elected to continue on with the poor behavior that they had engaged in since they were in kindergarten. Their parents never broke the cycle of poor behavior. Their parents did not stop them then and now that they were teenagers they embraced their deviant behavior as acceptable conduct.

These same boys now venerate bling bling over education. They treasure dope over hope. Why? Because they needed parents to give them positive examples of success when they were old enough to begin to understand notions of success. They needed to benefit from parents who made a serious commitment to establish a structure in the home that was geared toward success. They needed parents who did not mind saying to them that they were not rearing thugs!

As a community, we have to take the success of all Black boys into our hands when parents are not doing even to prevent their boys from becoming thugs. We have to be willing to tell them and show them what success is. We have to be willing to model success for them. It’s not enough for you to simply walk around and criticize these Black boys. When you see a Black boy who is not demonstrating the values, principles, and actions of a burgeoning successful man, then do what you can to help the boy. This may mean that you need to go talk to his parents and express an interest in investing in his future by doing things with him that are going to facilitate a successful life for him.

It’s time for us to reclaim our Black boys from futures dominated by incarceration, disease, gang activity, dope dealing, and robbery. I have committed my life to progressing Black boys and men to be the successes they deserve to be. What are you doing, could be doing, and/or willing to do to help Black boys and men to experience more successful lives?

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Do Something Special for Your Children Today

I was just inspired to say that I think it would be really nice for you to do something special for your children today. It does not have to be something major—just do something special for them today. Our children are our greatest assets and we need to honor them as much as possible. If you don’t take that much time out to listen to your children, take a moment today just to talk to them to see how they are feeling, what may be worrying them, what they like most, and/or what is the greatest challenge they face. You may be surprised at what you discover.

If God has given you a child, He has given you the greatest blessing you can expect to receive. If you want your children to do better, then you are going to have to have the faith to believe that they can do better. Our children need our full support and unconditional love. Stop saying that your children are bad and just pray for them to improve. If you keep telling your children that they are bad, they will certainly become bad and never stop being bad, because you spoke this into their lives.

Don’t say that you don’t have the money to do something special for your children today. It does not take any money or much time to tell your children how much they mean to you and how much you love them. During this school year, try to become more involved in your children’s education. From my own experience, I know that having involved parents in my education made a significant difference in my educational experiences and outcomes throughout the K – higher education educational pipeline.

No matter the age of your children, they are still precious. God gave you the children in your lives to treasure, cherish, and protect, so please make sure you take care of them properly. Don’t let anyone come between you and your love for your children. Again, do something special for your children today!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Parents Get Your Kids Some New Clothes For School If You Can


As the new school year begins for students situated in K-12, I would like to let parents know that one of their most important priorities should be to purchase their children some new name brand clothes for the upcoming school year. Although I know that the primary concern of great parents is to make sure that their children have all the necessary supplies and books required for their academic success, I would just like you to know that your children have another barrier to their academic success: their clothing. When students come to schools, they can face serious ridicule for not having on some of the latest fashions or some name brand clothes. While I’m at it, let me go ahead and tell you to make sure that you get them some name brand shoes too.

When your children arrive at school, they do not only face the fear of being critiqued negatively by their teachers on their assignments, but also experience a fear of a harsher critique: the critique of their clothing by their peers. Now, parents you can say that this is not an important issue that you need to concerned about with your children, but I have had the opportunity to witness how children were picked at about their clothing when I was in school and even now from my interactions with various K – 12 schools. Although I was fortunate to have parents who could afford to buy me the lastest fashions and shoes, many of my classmates were not able to do so. If you don’t have that much money to buy your children a bunch of new name brand clothes, then make sure that you try to make a sacrifice and purchase them one or two namebrand outfits that will help them to make a positive statement, and this will help them to combat negative peer criticisms about their clothing.

Even here at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I have people who try to hate on me about my clothing because I have the money to dress nice whenever I feel like it, and they are mad because they work so hard to dress nicely everyday but don’t have the money to do it. Because these people lack the money to try to meet their high fashion desires for their everyday wear, for which they don’t have the money to do, they end up putting on wild and crazy stuff to get attention and to compensate for the fact that they don’t have the money to dress in high fashions everyday. When I do elect to dress nicely in expensive name brand clothing, they hate on me by saying that my clothes are average or forgettable. Lol! Now, parents just imagine if I face this as a grown man, just picture what your child goes through during their K – 12 experience.

I know that we are experiencing tremendously tough economic times, but I would encourage you to make a sacrifice for your children and try to purchase them at least one or two new name brand outfits for school. You might even just try to buy them a pair of name brand shoes so that they can at least wear them everyday. I know you are probably saying that I am focusing too much on your child’s clothing, but I can tell you that it will make a world of difference in their academic achievement if you would make some sacrifices for them to let them wear some name brand clothing. They face great peer pressure and attacks at school about many things, including what they wear. By investing in name brand clothing for them, you can make a significant difference in their lives.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Happy Father’s Day to Only the Good Fathers

 

As I was contemplating what to write about Father’s Day, I became tremendously unsettled by the reality that so many terrible fathers receive the honor of “Happy Father’s Day” from the general “Happy Father’s Day” that we shout out on this day. When I thought about this reality, I decided that it was time for someone to address this issue. We need to be more selective about who we are saying Happy Father’s Day to. Some of you sorry “fathers” or should I say “baby’s daddies” do not deserve to even hear those words uttered to you. Many of you are nothing more than sperm donors. I am truly thankful on this day that my father, Kenneth Daniels, is a great father. I am also thankful that the majority of my relatives who are fathers are great fathers too.

While Father’s Day should be a day when we celebrate our fathers, it is also necessary that we use this particular Father’s Day as a time for poor fathers to rededicate themselves to their children. Men, if you know that you are not going to be devote yourselves to the children that will emerge from sexual intercourse engaged in without a condom, then please keep your penis in your pants! Recently, rapper Slim Thug said that Black women were not “holding it down enough for their men,” but what he overlooks is the reality that many Black women are “holding down” those children that many Black men are not helping to take care of. Slim Thug, how much more do you want them to “hold down” for you? Slim Thug, don’t say no more dumb junk like that.

To President Obama, I thank you for being an excellent father to your children. You are an excellent role model for America’s fathers. I simply do not want you to keep going to Black churches and telling Black men that they need to meet their responsibilities to their women and children. How about going into some White churches with that message—they can certainly benefit from that message too, you know?

To the rappers who just generally refer to all women as “bitches” and “hoes,” I want you all to understand that you are devaluing women when you do this. We need to be the solid leaders that our women are looking for. You cannot be a true leader for your women when you refer to them in such disparaging ways. Please increase your sensitivity to the damage that such language does to women. We are here to love, protect, comfort, and support our women—not to do violence to them.

To the trifling fathers who still take care of their children but who neglect their wives and/or girlfriends, I want you to know that you still have a responsibility to be a man to your women. You should never forget the women who helped to produce the children that you cherish. While I am glad that you do take care of your children, I want you to understand that being an effective father requires more than just taking care of your children—it requires taking care of the women who carried those children for 9 months. Got me?

If you have a good father, please realize that you are blessed. Women, if you have a good man in your life who is a good father to your children, be sure that you let him know and do something special for him to appreciate him for this. Far too often, I hear many women who a quick to criticize their men for the negative stuff that they do, but will not give them any credit for the good or great things that they do. I challenge women to be more grateful for the great stuff that men do for you and your children.

Again, I would like to say Happy Father’s Day to only the good fathers! I want a novel discourse to emerge about who we are going to say Happy Father’s Day to. Let’s think about the damage we do when we send out a Happy Father’s Day to everyone without qualifying it. Again, Kenneth Daniels, thanks for being a great father.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison