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Earlier this week, I posted something on Twitter that rings increasingly true the older my son gets. I wrote:
Keeping your child on point in school is a taxing endeavor, especially in math. Pray for me, family. I predict turbulence ahead.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am able to give my son the help he needs. He’s in the fifth grade. But my prediction about the ensuing turbulence grows out of what I consider my own shortcomings in grade school Math. While I have always had a good handle on addition and subtraction, multiplication and division, I was challenged in Algebra and Geometry in high school, Statistics in college. And now that I’m a working adult, I feel most comfortable working with numbers when my Casio calculator is by my side, or I can type formulas into an Excel spreadsheet.
As parents, we are often tasked with helping our children understand subject matter that is first introduced to them at their respective schools. The subject that I am most versed in is English Language Arts, so I feel I’m more than capable of reinforcing my son’s understanding of the different parts of speech, as well as the necessary skills for comprehending something he just read. But when it comes to helping him with his Math homework, I find myself cringing, but only slightly these days. I fear that I will offer him an explanation that confuses the issue more than clarifies it.
But remarkably, I’m finding that the more I help my son in Math at home, the more these fears dissipate. My fears are dissipating because I feel as if I’m learning as my son learns. For my son, these lessons represent the first time he has had to convert ounces to pounds, or multiply mixed fractions. But, for me, when I help him with his homework assignments, I’m receiving what I call refreshers. In short, my son’s circumstances have taken me back to school, and I feel my experiences with him at the kitchen table bode well for his academic and vocational future, and mine as well.
I know there are many parents out there who share similar concerns. Because they were C-D students in high school, and not A-B, they feel ill-equipped to providing the kind of homework assistance their children need. Consequently, their children struggle to make good grades in school because there is no one around to explain difficult subject matter to them. Some of these parents reside in low-income neighborhoods, and don’t have the funds to send their children to the Sylvan Learning Center, or Mathnasium even. However, if they opt to be neglectful in this area, their children will suffer the consequences.
It has been proven that children who struggle academically get into more trouble than those who don’t. Getting into trouble means they get suspended more (either in-school or out-of-school), and some of them even align themselves with negative peer groups. If no interventions are put into place to save the child from himself, he will develop a mindset that has him settling for mediocrity in his personal and professional endeavors rather than striving for excellence.
For this reason alone, I encourage all parents to canvass their home cities for the purpose of identifying after-school tutoring programs that help children and youths achieve academically. Programs like Sylvan and Mathnasium cost, a lot, and are really designed for parents who can afford to pay. But there are no-cost programs that are held at community centers and nonprofit organizations like the Boys & Girls Club and YMCA. For low-income parents who never attended college, there is also the federally funded TRIO Upward Bound Program for high school students. This educational access and opportunity program provides after-school tutoring, but also allows participants to take guided tours of college and university campuses.
Parents who are committed to raising their children the right way should take pride in being able to help them with their homework. They should never cast their helping in a negative light. If anything, they should perceive it as an opportunity to cultivate winning attitudes in their children and personal development in themselves.
This opportunity should be used to re-learn things we have already been taught.
This opportunity should be used to allow our children to see how vulnerable we can be.
After the smoke has cleared, you, and they, will smile,. More importantly, your children will now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are committed to helping them succeed…by any means necessary.
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As many of you know, I have been a certified parent educator with Active Parenting Publishers, Inc. since 2007. I decided to pursue certification in this area mainly because I wanted to be a better parent to my then three-year-old son. But the curriculums’ creator, Dr. Michael H. Popkin, has commissioned individuals like me – the ones who have completed his training – to take these learned lessons beyond the four walls of our homes. That’s why my To-Do List includes what I call The Strengthened Family Imperative.
I believe we are members of one big, human family, and the fact that I’m black and you’re red, yellow, brown or white should not prevent us from having each other’s backs. For me, having your backs means giving you the kind of information that will help you lead more purposeful and prosperous lives.
Right here at the outset, I confess that I’m not the perfect parent. I’ve made plenty of mistakes, and my son (and wife) will be quick to tell you what they were and when they were committed. But one thing I do know: I love my child (and my wife), and I am committed to sending him on his merry way when he turns 18. However, I consider it a privilege and an honor, as well as a great responsibility, to be his father. As one of his first teachers (my wife being the other), I have been charged with giving him the knowledge and exposure he needs to make life-altering decisions. My hope is he will use this knowledge and exposure to remain grounded, humbly keeping himself and his significant others moving forward and upward into what I call the Prosperity Zone.
The Prosperity Zone is that place where our lives are in perfect alignment with God’s will and favor. The individuals who live there have graduated from high school to attend college or trade school, enlist in the Armed Forces. More importantly, they have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. After taking hold of their degrees and certifications, or transitioning from soldier to civilian, they secure full-time jobs that pay them livable wages. Thereafter, they fall in love, and after months, years even, of courtship, they get married, ultimately being blessed with their first child. The birth of this child is their crowning achievement, second only to their nuptials. After that, their every waking hour is devoted to showing that child how to get his or her own life in alignment with God’s will and favor.
According to Dictionary.com, the word imperative means “absolutely necessary or required”. Because there is no surefire approach to raising competent, courageous and responsible children, I think it is absolutely necessary (and required) that we parents sit down and share our experiences with each other. Yes, Dr. Popkin is spot on when he draws our attention to the Think-Feel-Do Cycle (the Christian bible admonishes us to “take every thought captive,” remember?) and other research-based approaches. But when you bring groups of like-minded parents together, you essentially create a braintrust. From this braintrust, we parents draw inspiration and encouragement. Better yet, we slowly begin to realize that we’re not alone, that the solutions to our child-rearing challenges can be found in the person (or persons) sitting to our left or right, front or rear. That’s all some people need to know to make sure they secure a seat at the table.
The future of The Strengthened Family Imperative looks bright. In the coming weeks, I will embark on a quest that will have me creating forums for parents to learn, share and grow. I will approach local civic and community organizations for the purpose of making their employees aware of my services. My hope is these organizations serve parents who would be interested in registering for my video-based options – Active Parenting Now (for parents of children between the ages of 5-12) or Active Parenting of Teens (for parents of children between the ages of 12-18). And after the release of my new motivational book (Real Men Raise CHAMPIONS: Unleashing Your Inner C.O.A.C.H.) later this year, my hope is they will have fathers who would be interested in connecting with other fathers through their participation in one of my Real Men Raise CHAMPIONS Huddle Groups. The information I share with these fathers will prayerfully give them the confidence they need to responsibly assert power, authority and influence over the lives of their spouses and children.
Please know that my organization, Culturally Coded Content, is a for-profit entity, not a non-profit. I am its only employee. If you would like to contribute financially to my efforts, I ask that you purchase the products listed under the Crowdfunding Campaigns tab. Monies raised from these campaigns are directly deposited into my account, and are used to defray costs associated with activities connected to The Strengthened Family Imperative.
The deadline for purchasing a Real Men Raise CHAMPIONS t-shirt is Saturday, February 21, 2015.
Thank you in advance for increasing my capacity to help parents raise champions.
Be blessed, and continue to be blessings.
CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE YOUR “REAL MEN RAISE CHAMPIONS” T-SHIRT.
There is no surefire way to develop a platform for success. But I have learned during my 47 years on this planet that success is predicated on one’s ability to 1) regulate his thoughts, feelings and behaviors, 2) make righteous decisions, 3) surround himself with people who will inject life in them, not death, 4) display a strong, work ethic in all personal and professional endeavors, and 5) be quick to listen, slow to speak.
All of these factors played out favorably in my life. I was able to develop my own platform for success. However, because I was raised by my single-parent mother in Kingsport, Tennessee (population: about 40,000), I could have easily become a high school dropout, a drug dealer, or a teenage parent, to name only a few. Instead, I graduated from Dobyns-Bennett High School in 1986 to attend the University of Tennessee. While living in Knoxville from 1986-1998, I secured my undergraduate degree in Social Work and my graduate degree in Social Work Management and Community Practice. The very next year, 1999 to be exact, my wife and I would move to Massachusetts, representing the first time I had lived anywhere other than my native Tennessee.
What you need to understand about me is my parents separated and divorced when I was four years old. Consequently, I grew up saying I would be nothing like my father, at the time a deadbeat. I possessed a longing to be present in the lives of my future wife and children. So, rather than allow my bitter thoughts and feelings toward my father to weigh me down, I made them work for me in my pursuit of prosperity. There was no way I was going to use not having him in my life as a crutch.
But to say I wasn’t adversely impacted by my father’s lack of involvement would be an understatement. I was impacted, immensely. Because his contact with me was infrequent during my childhood years, I was robbed of opportunities to:
- Create lasting memories with my paternal grandfather and grandmother (both now deceased);
- Develop solid relationships with my paternal uncles and aunt, as well as their children and grandchildren; and
- Learn my paternal roots through osmosis (from simply living and relating).
More importantly, though, his absence robbed me of opportunities to know him.
To this day, I envy my half-brother and stepsisters for having much tighter relationships with him. But that’s on him. He opted to remain present in their lives, not mine.
But, again, I wasn’t about to use not having him in my life as a crutch. I didn’t have to. I had excellent role models on my mother’s side of the family. My maternal uncles and aunts provided the kind of guidance and encouragement I needed to look beyond my circumstances (impoverished single-parent household) to see the various paths available to me as I grew older. I learned at a very early age that I could either graduate from high school and secure full-time employment, or graduate from high school and attend a four-year college/university. There was also the option of enlisting in the military.
I still remember those family get-togethers in Rogersville and Kingsport, which usually occurred around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. On Christmas Eve, we would eat meals with all the fixings, and, afterwards, exchange gifts. While the eating and gift-exchanges were somewhat central to our being together, I now know it afforded me an opportunity to draw a clear distinction between the lives led by middle-class Americans and those being led by working class Americans.
To say I preferred the former would be an understatement. All of my middle-class uncles and aunts had full-time jobs. The salaries they earned from these jobs enabled them to purchase big homes (with basements) and nice cars. I even had an uncle who owned a mobile home, and when he took it out on the road to different campsites in the Tri-Cities area and the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, my mother, brother, sister and I always received invitations to meet up with them. We would be at these campsites all day, the adults joking and eating as they sat in lawn chairs haphazardly set up around tables alongside the mobile home. We kids, my siblings, cousins and I, would explore the parks’ wooded areas, even going down to the streams and lakes to skip rocks and phish for crawfish. These were the good ole’ days, moments that I will always cherish.
However, I also drew inspiration from my mother. While it is true my father abandoned us, never providing the financial support my mother needed to raise champions, she became a champion in her own right. There were undoubtedly moments of self-pity and doubt, depression even. But she overcame these moments by enrolling in a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) certificate program at Kingsport’s Steed College. She completed this program with honors, and when she graduated to secure her first job in the nursing profession, I beamed with pride. Granted, she still didn’t have much. But she now possessed the academic credentials she needed to add to the little she already had.
My platform for success is anchored to my 1977 acceptance of Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. At nine years of age, this acceptance also enabled me to become a member of Kingsport’s Central Baptist Church. If you’re not the religious type, your platform may be anchored to something else, and that’s perfectly fine. Please know, however, that most platforms are attached to your desire to either be selfish or selfless.
Selfishness means that everything is catered to you. You would much rather receive than give.
Selflessness, on the other hand, means that everything is catered toward others. You would much rather give than receive.
Because I consider myself a real man, I choose to be selfless. And I want this selflessness to be contagious. That’s why I’m frantically waving at the fathers out there, bidding them to meet me at the bottom of what, at times, can seem like an insurmountable mountain.
Only 26.2 more miles to go.
We got this.
Copyright 2015. Jeffery A. Faulkerson. All rights reserved.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 29, 2015
TEXAS WRITER LAUNCHES FATHER INVOLVEMENT CAMPAIGN
-Contends “Real Men Raise CHAMPIONS” and “Every CHAMPION needs a COACH”-
Dallas/Fort Worth, TX (BlackNews.com) – Writer J. A. Faulkerson is on a mission. He wants to encourage responsible fathers in their quest to raise competent, cooperative and courageous children, and subtly remind the irresponsible ones “Real Men Raise CHAMPIONS” and “Every CHAMPION needs a COACH”.
According to information posted on the National Fatherhood Initiative website (www.fatherhood.org), 24 million children in America – one out of three – live without their biological father in the home. Faulkerson believes this problem can be addressed, but first more people need to know it exists.
That is why he designed a t-shirt with these bold statements on it. He is using the t-shirt to raise funds for the publication and promotion of his soon-to-be-released motivational book Real Men Raise CHAMPIONS: Unleashing Your Inner C.O.A.C.H. Monies raised through the Real Men Raise CHAMPIONS Campaign will also increase Faulkerson’s capacity to share his insights with community and civic groups.
Faulkerson, best known for his debut novel ADINKRAHENE (available for online purchase through Amazon.com), readily admits he is nowhere close to being a master parent, even though he is the father to an 11-year-old boy. But in Real Men Raise CHAMPIONS, he draws from his experiences as a stay-at-home dad and former educational access and opportunity professional to offer fathers tips for helping their children develop platforms for success. He also shares stories from his personal life, about how he was able to achieve success in a small town in Upper East Tennessee despite being raised in a single-parent household.
To purchase t-shirts ($20) in support of J. A. Faulkerson’s Real Men Raise CHAMPIONS Campaign, visit www.booster.com/realmenraisechampions.
The deadline for placing orders is Saturday, February 21, 2015.