Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Race To Personal Success-What Gear Is Your Child In?


As a parent, caretaker or educator, the responsibility to provide the best opportunities for our children to succeed in life, should begin and end with us.  Although there is no right or wrong answer (for the most part) in the handbook of raising a child, being a positive role model and leading by example, should be our top priority.  Despite our best efforts, outside influences such as peer pressure, drugs and alcohol, as well as violence in schools become obstacles that our children will face.  In order for our youth to have a chance of surviving those issues that plague our communities, we must set a foundation of solid principles in which they can fall back on.  Your child is in the driver’s seat and personal success awaits them.  What gear are they in?   
     Every child has the potential to become and do great things.  As they navigate through life, it is our role to be their pit crew so to speak.  We pick them up, guide and if necessary, give a little push.  As they grow and develop, finding their identity, we sit on the side line cheering them on, waiting for the next time they might have to pull over for another tune up. 

But our hard work won’t pay off if the child is in the following gears:
*Park-lazy, unmotivated, with excuse after excuse.
*Reverse-bad behaviors, doing everything contrary of what a productive citizen of society is supposed to do.

Things work better if they have the gear shifted in:
*Neutral-transition or at the fork in the road, may need other resources to help with decisions.
*Drive-willing and ready to do what it takes to achieve their goals.

Life is so precious and tomorrow awaits no one.  We owe it to our youth to succeed in every possible way, keeping their gear in drive.  As adults, we must do a personal inventory, ensuring that we not only talk the talk but walk the walk.  Is your mind, body and soul in sync or are you stuck in park, in need of a tune up?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Bullied No More!

       As a young girl, I experienced many hurtful things that I would love to forget but somehow can't since they have been etched into my memory.  Now as an older wiser woman who is a mother and motivational speaker sharing life's experiences, I am inclined to recall these memories so that my journey in personal growth and development, can one day inspire someone else to face their deep dark secrets.  Because it exposes my countless moments of weaknesses, it is hard to admit the fact that I was the victim of bullying as a child.  If you've ever been on the receiving end of intimidation from other children, you may have experienced an overwhelming amount of emotions. Fear, anxiety, and loneliness are just a small fraction of what I went through and how it affected me as I got older.
     In grade school, I remember being approached and asked for money by a much bigger and older girl.  At the time, I didn't think a great deal of it since I was familiar with her and her family.  But shortly after, the request became frequent followed by threats if I didn't have the money to give.  I took money out of my piggy bank so I wouldn't have to deal with the consequences if I showed up to school empty handed.  It got to the point where I would wish the girl was sick and hoped she didn't show up for school or I would methodically choose areas on the playground that were out of view so that she couldn't find me.  Things finally came to a head when she took my new Mickey Mouse watch that my parents had just bought me. When I returned home without it, that's when my parents became aware that something was wrong.  My dad talked to the girl's mother, I got my watch back and eventually she left me alone.
     But this wouldn't be my last experience with bullying type behavior.  In high school there were several African American boys, but one in particular, would tease me about my thick lips which his taunting then brought on more unwanted attention from other classmates.  My self esteem was already low, but being ridiculed by a male of my own race didn't help, especially when he had the same predominant African American features.  I didn't look forward to attending that class and when I stepped foot in into the room I had to mentally prepare myself for combat.  With my pride on the line, back against the wall and tired of his name calling, I would retaliate with a barrage of foul mouth language which disrupted the class even more.  I was so angry, but deep beneath that, I was hurt and confused.  I had already felt like an ugly duckling and the fact that someone who looked like me, let alone society, portrayed my features of thick lips, dark skin and kinky hair as unattractive was a lot to bear, especially for a young girl.
     Having low self esteem and a need for approval made me susceptible to the pitfalls and games that guys played in the quest for sexual pleasure.  I wanted to believe that I was attractive to someone and so the comments and attention I would sometimes receive gave me a false sense of security therefore I gave my mind, body and heart freely.  Overall, I was naive about boys, so called friends and life in general.  I didn't realize the natural beauty that I had possessed inside and out until I was in my mid twenties at which time I began to embrace all that I didn't like about myself.  I was beginning to see myself as a swan so to speak.
     Those that struggle with self doubt and acceptance throughout their younger years may often find themselves dealing with another form of bullying which is domestic violence relationships when they get older.  Such was the case in my last relationship prior to my marriage.  In the beginning, things seemed like rainbows and lollipops, but it didn’t take long for the true colors of my ex-boyfriend to show.  The abuse was gradual and lasted five and a half years before I woke up and said no more to being his verbal and physical punching bag.  By the end of that relationship, my self esteem had plummeted and I felt like I was the ugliest thing walking the earth.  How could someone who professes their love for me, intentionally use the very same self conscious flaws that I had against me?  
     Fast forward seven years, I can say that I am in a much better place.  It has taken some time to love and nurture my past wounds but I am getting there, I am a constant work in progress.  What I realize now about the bullies in my past is that their spirit was broken and they too felt self conscious about themselves in which they then projected their pain onto others.  That’s what bullies do, they target those that are spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically weak and intimidate their will upon them.
     So parents, guardians and care takers I leave you with this challenge.  Take off the blinders, stop being self absorbed and address the issues that our young boys and girls are facing today.  Teasing, isolating, hitting amongst many other bullying tactics are not ok and are not just child behaviors that they may eventually grow out of.  Bullying or being bullied can have short or long term effects.  The topics that you and your child should have will be uncomfortable but must be discussed.  Although it should be the duty of both parents, fathers especially, have a responsibility to not just love your daughters but to nurture her self esteem as well.  Help her to be wise in the ways of the boy across the street with raging hormones.  Setting a foundation of self love will be pivotal when those young girls turn into women and face even greater challenges.  Mothers, set the example for your sons, showing them qualities of what a woman is supposed to be like.  It is these qualities that will help guide him in the pursuit of a worthwhile and fulfilling relationship.  But at the end of the day, taking a genuine interest in your child and being a role model starts at home.  Best believe if you don’t, society will and it may not be positive.