Instructors Note: Don’t skip this very powerful piece by the “Mac-N-Cheese” writing group, who elected to structure this meditation on family as a dialogue, with each team member sharing his or her story and the whole group summing up with an important lesson rooted in real-life experiences.
“If I had my child to raise over again, I’d build self-esteem first and the house later. I’d finger paint more, and point the finger less. I would do less correcting and more connecting. I’d take my eyes off my watch and watch with my eyes. I would care to know less and know to care more. I’d take more hikes and fly more kites. I’d stop playing serious and seriously play. I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars. I’d do more hugging and less tugging. I’d see the oak tree in the acorn more often. I would be firm less often and affirm much more. I’d model less about the love of power and more about the power of love.”
How a Child Spells Love
LW: As a young black male, I found that having your parents around as you grow up is a big part of how you will become when you get older. I grew up with both of my parents around me, but my dad was always working. As I got older my dad started to talk with me and my brother more, to whereas now we have a better relationship. Most kids nowadays don’t ever get to obtain what I have. Their mom or dad could be in jail or dead. They might live with their grandparents or stay with one of their parents. We need to get more parents to be active with their kids. For example, my cousin is a single women who was rising two kids on her own because their father is in jail. She couldn’t handle it so she gave her kids to her mother to take care of until she got on her feet. The kids are doing fine but don’t see their mother as much as they should. I say that more parents need to stop and think of their children and what could they do for them. More fathers need to get involved in there kids lives and stop running and hanging with the guys. If you have at least two family nights a week, it could make all the difference. Do you know how a child spells love?
BW: As a child growing up it seemed as if everything was ok, life was good that is until my mother became ill with kidney failure. At that moment my eyes were no longer blind to what was going on; I was forced to grow up. I began to worry more about my mother and her health as well as my little brother and who would be watching over him. I began to see less of my father which was when I loss respect for him. While he was at work, working day and night shifts; my brother and I were forced to stay with my aunt, living by new rules. Through he was the only source of income in my household at that time I didn’t understand as a child; I felt he should of been there to wipe our tears away.When in reality he needed someone to wipe his tears away. He was scared of losing her as much as my brother and I were, as well as the fear of possibly having to raise us on his own, so he used ‘his job” as a excuse for a getaway. My mom had a transplant and is much better now and I’ve come to realize that I have more respect for my mother than my father because my mother did for us when she couldn’t do for herself. I love both my parent and I’ve forgiven my father because he’s only human and as humans we all get scared but the thought of him not being there for us will still remain in my head. Do you know how a child spells love?
AL: Growing up I always lived with my grandmother. My mother was 19 when she had me. She was basically a teenager who wanted to still hang out and roam the streets. So as an adult my grandmother took me in and now she is my backbone. I love her so dearly. She is such a phenomenal woman, being strong in every way. Not having my mother around as much shaped me early into a strong, but young individual. I took on many responsibilities as an adult only at the age of 10. I was cooking for my younger brother and I even would iron our school clothes and get us both ready for school. I was just a very independent child growing up. Besides taking on some of the regular duties to help my grandmother out I was already planning for my future. I knew that I wanted to be the complete opposite of my mother because she was never there. I set standards for myself because I knew what I wanted my future not to be like. My mother did not attend college or graduate from high school and right now I am already living past one of her non- accomplishments and in another that she may have never thought about. Not having my mother in my life left a vacancy in my heart. Whether it is a mother or father figure you need at least one of these people in your life and I had neither but I turned out fine, in which I thank my grandmother for. Some people are not as fortunate, so they turn to the streets to fill the vacancy in their hearts. We as people need to learn to accept people and help those who need it no matter where they come from. Do you know how a child spells love?
NG: It was very hard growing up without a father and is still hard for me. Every day I wonder what is it like having a father in your life. My father disowned me before I was even born. When my mother told him that she was pregnant, he told her that the baby is not for him and he broke up with her. My mother was nineteen years old when she had me;she had no support from him. She raised me all by herself. My mom had to quit college just to raise me because that’s the only way for her to find a full time job to support us. Many times I ask my mother why he left. Many times I feel unwanted. When I see other people with their dads, I start to cry and wish it was me. I wish I had my dad in my life because my mom worked two jobs just to support us and she didnt spend that much time with me. Not having a father in my life makes me not want to trust anybody and have hatred towards men. When I have kids in the future I don’t want them to have the same thing to happen to them and I want their father in their lives. Not having a father and my mother all the time made me mature faster. Do you know how a child spells love?
Group: There comes a time when parents need to stop thinking about themselves and focus their energies on raising their own children. After a child is born into this world they need their parents there to raise them; it’s not the same being raised by someone else like a grandparent, an aunt, an uncle , by only one of your parents or not having any there at all. Not playing a part in a child early years of development will affect them for the rest of their lives; they will never be able to look at you the same. Do you know how a child spells love? T-I-M-E