My Take on Chicago’s School Closings

I am both a parent and a teacher in the Chicago Public School System. Please take a moment and read my latest post: “The Problem with Chicago’s School Closings” over at Black & Married with Kids (BMWK): http://blackandmarriedwithkids.com/2013/05/the-problem-with-chicagos-school-closings/comment-page-1/#comment-103298. Be sure to leave your comments over there and “LIKE” the post. Thank you!

HUGE NEWS!!!

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I’ve been waiting a few weeks to announce this, but I am officially a writer for Black & Married with Kids http://blackandmarriedwithkids.com/. Joining the BMWK Family is so meaningful to me because I truly believe that a healthy marriage creates a healthy family which creates a healthy community.

I will mainly be writing about fertility as I have been diagnosed with Incompetent Cervix which is a condition that makes it more difficult for me to carry a baby to full-term. My husband Che “Rhymefest” Smith and I lost our first baby at 5 months in December of 2011. This year we decided that we’re ready to try again, so I will be sharing my experiences from beginning to the birth of our first baby together over at BMWK. There will also be some extra special posts here on Analog Girl regarding women who deal with fertility issues, so join us next week for the first “Fertility Friday.”

Please do me a favor and head on over to BMWK to read my first post, “No Son, You Cannot Be a Rapper” and leave a comment. What would you do if your son (or daughter) said they were turning down a full scholarship to pursue a rap career? http://blackandmarriedwithkids.com/2013/05/no-son-you-cannot-be-a-rapper/.

Exciting Opportunity for Teens from BET!

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American Psychological Association and BET Rap It Up Campaign are working together to create a new HIV prevention campaign for youth.  They are looking for committed high school youth across the country to apply to be selected for the APA BET youth advisory board.

The deadline to apply is Friday, June 14th!

From APA/BET:

We are looking for committed youth who are passionate about serving their community, have lots of creative ideas and interested in issues related to health and well-being.

The APA/BET youth advisory board will be a group of teenagers, ranging in age from 14-18 years old, across the country that will help the American Psychological Association and BET Rap It Up Campaign to plan a new HIV/AIDS awareness campaign.

What will I be doing as part of the APA/BET Youth Advisory Board?
The APA/BET Youth Advisory Board member will serve for one year.

Meetings will be held online/calls monthly to provide feedback on the campaign.

The APA/BET Youth Advisory Board members will:
1) provide feedback on campaign ideas
2) help to develop campaign materials
3) give information about youth attitudes/behaviors

Upon selection to the APA/BET Youth Advisory Board, we will ask for parental/ caregiver permission for participation in the APA/BET Youth Advisory Board.

APA/BET Youth Advisory Board members will get leadership experience, professional development guidance and there will be some gift incentives provided to participants.

To apply click here: http://apayouthadvisoryboard.wufoo.com/forms/american-psychological-association-and-bet-rap-it/

Please spread the word to 14-18 year olds in the US!

Are You Dissing Everything Your Child Likes?

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The sun shined brighter, the ice cream tasted sweeter, and the music sounded better when you were growing up. As we age, we nostalgize the past.It’s 2013 and your kid is rocking his “Beatz” headphones… you can’t hear much but what you do hear sounds like noise. Before you tell your child to turn it off, have you actually listened to whatever they are listening to uninterrupted? Even if you don’t like the explicit lyrics, or you want to listen to it on your own so that your child doesn’t have to witness your facial expressions, consider it. Parents are natural born haters. We. hate. everything… at least that’s the way things seem to our kids.
One of my fondest moments growing up was watching my mom attempt the “Rumpshaker” (yep, Wrecks-N-Effects) lol at a slumber party with a group of my girlfriends. We were probably 11 or 12 years old and in any other context, it would have been inappropriate, but we were masters and we felt empowered to be able to show my mom how to master the new dance craze.
Even after listening to the new music and watching the (ratchet) TV show, you have to be willing to be open. Watch the TV show with your child and let your child explain why it is appealing. And one thing that my husband has taught me is when you take something away, you should replace it with something. So if you’re going to diss Big Sean, introduce him/her to LeCrae or to another artist that is currently creating music. I know you prefer your oldies, but check out iTunes and consider introducing your child to some new music.
As a High School Teacher I soak it all in… YouTubes, Love & Hip-Hop, The Kardashians, radio, dance crazes… everything. My students never know where my latest example will come from and it is reassuring to them for an adult to “speak their language.” It also helps me understand the side conversations and jokes so that I can correct inappropriate or hurtful behavior and not be TOTALLY out of the loop. If you want to see a young person excited, ask them a question about anything related to their generation and watch their facial expression perk up. “So what does ratchet mean again”?
Now of course you want to make sure that you’re keeping it age appropriate, and you don’t want your kid to think you’re trying to be his/her peer, but pop culture can be a bridge of communication between you and your child. Just call me the teen whisperer lol…

MOB: Mothering Our Babies #2

Teach them how to fight their own battles.

A lot of times its easier for us parents and faster for us to save and rescue our kids but as they get older we must teach them how to both choose their battles and fight them.

Imagine your toddler hits another child. The other child runs up to you immediately to report on the infraction. Let’s even say that you watched the entire conflict – play by play, so you know that your child was in the wrong. It can be very easy to apologize on behalf of your child or immediately make your child apologize. Instead, get down to his/her level and explain that they “hurt” another child or “its not okay to hit someone when we’re frustrated” and either have them walk over to the other child to apologize or grab their hand. It could even be useful to pull your child to the side to have a little one-on-one out of the presence of the other child, that way you are teaching your baby to handle conflict in a direct and healthy manner.

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For an older child, let’s say middle or high school, one great opportunity to teach this valuable lesson is in an academic setting. Think about how you’d feel if you found out your child:

  • Wasn’t turning in homework
  • Was upset by a grade they received that they thought was unfair
  • Had trouble working with a partner on a group assignment
  • Didn’t understand a lecture or assignment

Some children are so introverted or uncomfortable that rather than speak to a teacher about an incident, they tell their parents who then step in on their behalf. Consider coaching your child through handling one of the above scenarios. You could even role play the conversation between your child and the teacher. Come up with a good timeframe by asking your child “at what point in your day do you think it would be good to speak to your teacher?” Be sure to follow up. If the teacher is unresponsive or the situation gets out of hand, then it’s time to fly in with your cape on, until then back up and let your child learn how to notice a problem with an individual that he/she has an issue with (a teacher or even a friend), come up with possible solutions, implement those solutions and talk about what they learned from the process. That way, if you’re not around to help them at some point or when they graduate from High School and go out into the world, they are used to problem solving and can fight their battles without you.

Check out Mothering Our Babies #1: Teach Them How to Care for Something Besides Themselves here: https://donnienicole.com/2013/03/11/mob-mothering-our-babies-1/. MOB: Mothering Our Babies is a new weekly column here on Analog Girl all about parenting!

MOB: Mothering Our Babies #1

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My husband and I are in family planning mode. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how children turn out to be the adults that they become. I’ve been lucky to have some students that have left lasting impressions on my heart and on my mind. Students that even as teenagers exude unique characteristics, where you want to ask their parents “What’s the secret?” Even at the tender (and impressionable) age of 14, they have integrity… they are self-motivators… they are organized… they are studious… Now that I’m hoping to have my own baby soon, I’d like to spend some time thinking about child-rearing and as I think out loud, I hope that I can inspire others. The name of this weekly column that will be published every Monday and it’s called MOB: Mothering Our Babies. Please feel free to share your tips and experience as a teacher, parent, family member or friend.

Based on my 10 years of experience as a teacher, my 4 years of experience as a step-mother and my 15 years of experience as a baby sitter, god parent, & play Auntie, I think you can trust that my musings will be honest, open and inspire more dialogue.

#1: Teach Them To Care for Something Besides Themselves

Chicago’s violence regularly makes international news. Most of the violence is being perpetuated by older teens and young 20-somethings. I believe that most of this violence is happening because young people don’t value life… their own or other people’s. There are certain things that you can do that will strengthen a child’s ability to be compassionate, empathetic and a future humanitarian. It is also useful to have your child do community service. Whether it’s donated new or gently used clothes to a local shelter, or feeding the homeless at a local shelter, the tangible experience of dealing with those who are less fortunate will humble them and give them a new perspective.

– Get your child a pet. Even if your child is a toddler, he/she can share in the responsibility of feeding, cleaning, walking and “cuddling” an animal. If you have a cat or dog, have your child participate in filling up the feeding bowl. If you want a low-maintenance pet, buy a fish (it takes a couple of months to set it up, but once the water is right, it’s pretty low maintenance from there). Make your child feel like he/she is responsible for the care of the animal.

– Get your child a plant or teach your child to garden. Similar to a pet, nurturing a plant from seed to full-growth will teach your child patience and consistency. If the child neglect’s the plant, the plant will respond and you can have a conversation about the importance of being consistent and following instructions. Many families use gardening to inspire children to eat fruits and vegetables, as they are more likely to want to consume something they helped grow.

– Talk about your feelings in a realistic way. It’s fun to play with different emotions. If your child has a problem hitting or biting, let them know that it “hurts,” and walk them through the process of addressing the hurt. Encourage sharing by making your child take turns with toys with other children who may be nearby. Have regular play dates so that your child can develop a healthy relationship with his/her peers. Allow your child to get used to other family members by allowing them to be held & talked to by other families.

Be sure to check out the MOB Week 2: Teach Them How To Fight Their Own Battles https://donnienicole.com/2013/03/18/mob-mothering-our-babies-2/

What Sex Is Your Baby, Daddy?

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Every man looks forward to having a baby boy. Finally, he has someone to play catch with and someone to play video games with. Of course every couple wants a “healthy baby” but in our heart of hearts we internally fantasize about the benefits of giving birth to a specific gender.

This week, while talking to my husband about gender, I came to the conclusion that having a daughter has made him a more considerate, more reasonable, more sensitive man and most of all he is not only interested in “women’s issues” but an advocate for said issues. While looking into his precious baby girls eyes, he can imagine all of the women’s eyes he’s looked into – and he sees his past & future with women including women in his own family, differently. In fact, when he thinks about her dating one day, he clutches his hand over his heart (in an Arthur Dimmesdale kind of way).

There is a reason that female children have been shunned around the world… (while hyper masculinity and patriarchy are the primary culprits), I’d argue that there is something deeper going on… When a father gives birth to a daughter the faulty foundation of gender inequality shifts. His desire to protect her is sometimes clouded by the women who were not protected from him. His relationship with his wife changes as he realizes she was once “sugar and spice” and everything nice to her own father.

When Daddy’s have daughters we get the Lilly Ledbetter Act. Barack Obama often cites his own two daughters for the inspiration to do the right thing. When Daddy’s have daughters we get Title 9. We have to think that President Nixon questioned why his daughter Julie, could not be treated equally to men while learning. We have to consider that the all male Supreme Court justices were thinking about their own daughters when giving women control over the reproduction process. So as we look at the sexual violence that women are experiencing in India, and the gender issues in boardrooms and bedrooms across the world, I think we need to appeal to the natural allies of women… their daddies…