Michelle Obama on Dignifying Women

It has been customary for me not to post politically charged material on this site, but after hearing First Lady Michelle Obama’s powerful and profound words, I couldn’t resist. Standing in the gap for our women and children means we Real Men will never allow ourselves to be led by Fake Men who objectify women rather than dignify them.

Our champions must have high standards around common courtesy and decency.

Heart of a Champion

20150425_214734Remember that first C I told you about?

Well, it wasn’t meant to be.

My son pulled it together on his final two Math assignments to turn that C into a low B.  As a result, he is now five for five when it comes to making his new school’s A-B Honor Roll.  Quite an accomplishment, don’t you think?  But as his father, his coach, I am reminded that there will be no rest for the weary anytime soon.

Anyone who has the audacity to call himself a Real Man must realize his job is never complete.  Yes, you may receive some respite every now and then, but during your child’s primary and secondary years, you have to be fully present to help your daughter or son develop the heart of a champion.  When a child has the heart of a champion, she or he is fully prepared to do what is necessary to put herself or himself in a position to win.  But the younger they are, the more prodding they require from us parents.

As I told you before, I had a difficult time increasing my son’s understanding of the budgeting process. Something that I thought was simple was complicated to him.  He failed initially because his Mathnasium tutors and I weren’t offering explanations that situated the content in his world.  That would have required me to use the income that he receives from me for earning A’s to explain the process.  Because I didn’t do that, and his Mathnasium tutors didn’t know I paid him for A grades, I allowed a golden opportunity to offer practical life skills training to slip through my fingers.  It won’t happen again.

It won’t happen again because I am committed to using my creativity to make individual lessons come alive for him. I’d be a very rich man if I received a nickel for all the times I heard children say they don’t need Math or Science because they’re going to be (blank).  But we Real Men can’t expect them to do well in school if we miss opportunities to show them the interplay between their learning and living.  It is during times such as this that they have those Eureka moments, periods of complete calm and clarity.  Consequently, they work even harder because they now realize their good grades are the ripples that are seen before the waves.  Once the waves arrive, they will ride them to shores of opportunity and prosperity.

My son has one more six-week grading period left before his school dismisses for the summer.  I don’t know how he’s going to do in Math, or any other subject for that matter.  One thing I do know: He is developing the heart of a champion.

I have been watching him closely since we had our little talk about his poor performance in Math.  These days, after he eats his snack following a long day at school, and cleans up after himself, he pulls his planner from his book bag to review his daily To-Do List.  He then works diligently on the noted assignments.  However, because he has tunnel vision – i.e., taking care of those assignments due today and ignoring the preparation that is needed for those assignments he will face tomorrow –  I have to stay on him.  Not in a bad way but good.  Keeping information fresh in his mind ensures that he will do well on any and all upcoming assignments and tests.  And my incessant prodding of him will eventually fade away, being replaced by a self-initiated fervor to be all he can be in this life and the next.

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Turbulence Ahead: When Children Take Their Parents Back to School

Homework 3

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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.

Homework 2Parents 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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Golden Nuggets of Fatherly Advice

Father and teenage son standing outdoors

Excerpt from

J. A. Faulkerson’s

Real Men Raise CHAMPIONS: Unleashing Your Inner C.O.A.C.H.

  • Your destiny is not linked to my current situation. Hard work, dedication and discipline will put you in a position to be all you can be. (Poverty vs. Prosperity)
  • You were not designed to stand still; you were designed to move around. Make the most of each movement.  (Lazy vs. Active)
  • We should never allow ourselves to be defined by our jobs. While it is important to keep one, we should always have the freedom to pursue our one, true passion. (Unemployed vs. Employed)
  • Your body is a temple. Don’t put anything in it that will cause you to lose control of your mind, body and spirit. (Intoxication vs. Sobriety)
  • Treat people the way you want to be treated, with the utmost love, honor and respect.  You never know when you will need an ally. (Unruly vs. Compliant)
  • Sexual intercourse should never be done outside the context of marriage.  Have enough respect for yourself to just say no when approached by someone who does not hold similar beliefs.  (Promiscuous vs. Abstinent)
  • You should pursue righteousness in a selfless manner. Be a giver not a taker. (Politics vs. Civics)
  • Your solidarity should be to the human race, not a single racial/ethnic group. Push for solutions that unite rather than divide. (Racial Inequality vs. Racial Equality)

Copyright 2015. Jeffery A. Faulkerson.  All rights reserved.

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