All children need to be taught about responsibility. This is a skill that does not comes naturally. It starts from the time when they are little babies. We teach them that there are consequences for their actions. If they behave badly they get punished. If they show positive behavior they get rewarded. In the end they are responsible for what they do.
As a positive parent with 3 male black children these lessons are even more important. As a young man growing up in Brooklyn, New York, I became well aware of the pressures that young black men face. My dad taught my brother and I that our actions would determine what our lives would become. He drilled into our heads the necessity of staying out of trouble, getting as much education as we could and to be mindful of all of our relationships.
His lessons on staying out of trouble are self explanatory. The jails are filled with minority men and some use this experience to grow. Most are caught on a treadmill and stay stuck exactly where they are. Even though his education was very limited, he understood that knowledge is power and as these talks took place during the 1960’s and 1970’s teenage pregnancy was just as much a problem then as it is now.
Even though my dad grew up in the segregated south, I never remember him teaching us to ” hate the white man”. His emphasis was on teaching us that we were responsible for our own destinies. That meant focusing on those positive things that would make us useful members of society. In fact I only mention my ethnic background as a point of interest. These principles could be used by anyone. As the world is getting smaller I think that we’re finding out that we share many of the same problems. Although I talk about here about men, young women need to be taught about and practice responsibility as well.
These are lessons that I pass along to my kids as well as any kid that comes into my sphere of influence.
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I LOVE BEING A DAD!!