AUTHOR CHALLENGES FATHERS TO UNLEASH THEIR INNER COACHES

 

RMRC Black PR PhotoDallas/Fort Worth, TX  – Author 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”.

In his latest book Real Men Raise CHAMPIONS: Unleashing Your Inner C.O.A.C.H., Faulkerson exhorts fathers to exert their God-given power, authority and influence to forge a brighter future for children. Faulkerson believes forces have been mobilizing against our children for generations, denying them hope for peaceful and prosperous futures.

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 the father absence problem can be eradicated, but first more adult males must be willing to acknowledge its damaging effects on families.

“Gone are the days when fathers allow their self-worth to be measured by prestigious jobs with hefty paychecks,” Faulkerson said. “Today’s challenges require fathers to take time away from their jobs to work deliberately and collaboratively through their corporate, church, community and civic organizations to help children position themselves for promotion.”

J. A. Faulkerson readily admits he is not the perfect parent to his 12-year-old son. But he has never wavered in his obligations as a husband and father. In Real Men Raise CHAMPIONS, he draws from his experiences as a stay-at-home dad and former TRIO Upward Bound director to offer fathers practical tips for helping their children develop platforms for success. He also shares stories from his personal life, about how he was able to achieve educational and vocational success despite being raised in a single-parent household.

Real Men Raise CHAMPIONS: Unleashing Your Inner C.O.A.C.H. is available for online purchase as an ebook and paperback through Amazon.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

100 BM Photo 2J. A. Faulkerson is a Nonprofit Strategist, Book Author and Motivational Speaker with Culturally Coded Content, a creative writing and strategic planning firm.  The oldest of three children raised by a once poor, single-parent mother, J. A. is passionate about facilitating educational seminars and workshops that give parenting adults the impetus they need to improve outcomes for children and youths.

For up-to-date information about J.A. Faulkerson and his Real Men Raise CHAMPIONS Campaign, follow his Real Men Raise CHAMPIONS blog at www.realmenraisechampions.wordpress.com.

Other books written by J. A. Faulkerson can be purchased through his Amazon  Author Page.

To inquire about J. A. Faulkerson’s availability for interviews and book signings, send an email to bigvoice68@gmail.com.

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GET ON THE BUS!

School BusWhen I received the letter from the bus company responsible for transporting kids in our school district to school, I had mixed emotions. The only time my 11-year-old son had ridden buses was on field trips during the summer months, when he attended camps at the YMCA. And during the 2014-2015 school year, I continued to drop him off at school in the morning and pick him up during the early afternoon. I now had to decide if it was the appropriate time for me to stop being his personal chauffeur.

After speaking with my wife, I asked him, “Would you like to ride the school bus this year?” His immediate response was no, resulting from his aversion to the wads of hardened bubble gum that he mistakenly believed would be found under the seats. But when I suggested that riding the school bus would allow him to become better acquainted with more of the kids in our neighborhood, he seemed to warm up to the idea. We have lived in Texas for a little over a year now, and his best neighborhood friend is a boy across the street who doesn’t even attend his school.

Today marks the beginning of his second full week riding the bus. To say he never looked back once he set foot on it would be an understatement. I can’t get him off it. He now balks whenever I have to pick him up from school for doctors’ appointments.

I guess I’m okay with that.

I guess.

I say I guess because for some reason I feel as if I’m about to lose something. My son and I have a great relationship. Always have; always will. And I know our multiple rides to and from school had something to do with it. During our rides together, we had conversations about life, death and everything in between. I talked with him about doing his best on classroom assignments, and asking his teachers questions when he doesn’t understand difficult subject matter. I talked with him about girls, how he should treat them with the utmost respect, behave like a gentleman whenever they are around. Moreover, he shared with me his hopes and dreams for the future, how he wants to become an animator or graphic designer. I remind him that his getting the job done in the classroom will allow him to be great at whatever he chooses to do.

Because we reside under the same roof, I know all is not lost. I am still able to influence his thoughts, feelings and actions. Most of this influence must now be exerted over dinner, on weekends, as he, my wife and I highlight the events that make our days special, offering suggestions for handling difficult people and trying situations. And during the upcoming flag football and basketball seasons, I, as his coach, will take him through drills that will help him develop the mind of a champion.

As of right now, at a time when he isn’t receiving any homework, he is developing some pretty healthy peer relationships, on and off the bus. This is a drastic change from last year, when people he thought were his friends ended up not being so friendly towards him in the end. That being said, my prayer for my son is he will finally be mature enough to remain on the A Honor Roll with minimal prompting from my wife and me. I also pray that he will use the lessons learned from his parents and others to piece together his own platform for success.

As parents, I think it is normal for us to be apprehensive about allowing our children to get on the bus that first time. I readily admit that my apprehension resulted from a genuine fear that my son’s peers would invade his highly impressionable mind with nonsensical “stuff” about academic success and male-female relationships.

When it comes to academic success, I know there are some kids who show up to school but refuse to show out. They are the ones who are content with making below average grades rather than above average.  Just being mediocre in the classroom is good enough for them.  But I have told my son time and time again that mediocrity is unacceptable in the Faulkerson household, especially when it comes to his academics.  I encourage him to strive for excellence in the classroom because it is the foundation he needs to become great.  But because misery loves company, I know these mediocre-minded kids will ridicule him for daring to be great.  I just hope he has the preparation he needs to stand strong in the midst of the storm.

My son has questioned me often about male-female relationships, the things that will happen to his body once puberty sets in.  There have even been times when I’ve had to get on him for making disparaging remarks about girls that he learned from boys at school.  I tell him that girls are people not objects.  “You should treat them the same way you want your mother to be treated,” I would add.  I believe he has received the message, but I worry about his capacity to stand strong in this area because of the curiosity surrounding his body, physical intimacy with females.

Allowing our children to get on the bus doesn’t give us a reprieve from being responsible parents.  If anything, it ups the ante.  What we do in response to this new challenge will be revealing.  If we fold our hands and do nothing, our children’s minds will be captivated by children and youths who know very little about what it means to live prosperous lives.  Our charge is to prevent this captivation from occurring by maintaining parent-child relationships built on loyalty, trust and mutual respect.  They have to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that we have their backs.

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My Harlem Renaissance

20150717_102549On June 23rd, I received an email from Max Rodriguez, founder of the Harlem Book Fair, which, in 2015, celebrated its 17th year of operation.  He advised that my debut novel, Adinkrahene: Fear of a Black Planet, had been selected as one of three finalists for a Phillis Wheatley Book Award.

To say I was elated would be an understatement.  I was overjoyed, unashamedly floating above, and well beyond, the stratosphere.  But now that this news had been shared with me, I found myself sitting on pins and needles in anticipation of being named the First Fiction Book Award winner at the July 17th awards ceremony, which was held on the campus of Columbia University.

20150717_205819I didn’t win that day.  Neither did the other finalist, Amaka Lily, for Shifting Allegiances: A Nigerian’s Story of Nigeria, America and Culture Shock.  The award went to Nigeria Lockley for her debut novel Born at Dawn.

I think my 11-year-old son took this news the hardest. When New York Times bestselling author Omar Tyree announced the winner, my son exclaimed, “Aw, man! I wanted you to win!”

20150717_211503All I could do was peer over and down at him, a smirk masking my disappointment.  “It’s okay, buddy,” I told him.  “I’m honored from just being named a finalist.”  Then, without skipping a beat, I added, “Maybe next year, we can both enter something.”

He smiled at that.

20150717_140128What my son didn’t know was our NYC weekend would be special not because I was being considered for a prestigious award – even though it would have been nice to have won it.  It would be special because I was spending it with him.  Even before we boarded the Metro train on 72nd Street for the short ride Uptown to Columbia University, we had spent the early afternoon sightseeing in Times Square and eating lunch at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company.

While walking the streets in and around Times Square, I received a peace blessing from a Chinese monk.

20150717_141903My son marveled at the sight of a woman dressed as the Statue of Liberty (standing completely still for several, long minutes), and the Naked Cowboy playing his guitar, curbside, for his adoring female fans.

And I fought, to no avail, to avert his eyes as we walked past two women clad in body paint, high heel shoes and shiny shorts that left little to the imagination.

The next day, Saturday, we walked from the Hotel Beacon to the Starbucks across the street for breakfast.  After we received our breakfast orders, I explained the game plan to him. We would catch the Metro on 72nd Street for the short ride Uptown to 135th.  Once there, we would locate our vendor booth along a street next to the Countee Cullen Library for the daylong Harlem Book Fair.  From there, we would proceed to sell our books to the hordes of readers that would be swarming around our booth.

He nodded, letting me know he was game.  But then it happened.  It started raining, cats and dogs really.  All I could do was nod my head as my heart sank.  We had flown from Dallas to New York City to sell our books, and now we were going to be forced to contend with the rain.

The two previous times I had attended the fair, rain had never been in the forecast, only sunny skies and the accompanying heat.  Lucky for us, the rain went from a torrential downpour to a sprinkle.  And by the time we emerged from the 135th Street subway station, it had stopped completely.

20150718_112620_001Selling books at the Harlem Book Fair was a transformative experience for my son and me.  As people stepped to our table to inquire about our titles, we had to dig deep to give them good reasons to purchase them.  I told them that the first book in the Adinkrahene series is all about introducing readers to a new reality, one in which a select group of Black men and women (100 total) are lower-case gods, and they mainly use their supernatural abilities to establish peace and prosperity for all, not exact vengeance upon their enemies, the Anglo-controlled (but Satarian-possessed) Corporate Cabal.

20150718_170258My son told his readers that the Leaf Knight (from his The Leaf Knight Chronicles: The Knightly Origins) is an 11-year-old boy destined to fulfill a prophecy.  And when he added that the story and illustrations were all penned and drawn by him, these same readers didn’t hesitate to reach for their wallets (and purses) and pay him for autographed copies of his book.  All this proud poppa could do was smile, because it became crystal clear to me that, on this day at least, he would be the most popular author working under the Culturally Coded Content banner.

20150718_194015We celebrated that night by going Downtown to see the Broadway play Wicked. Seeing this play had been on my to-do list since my days as Director of the Bruce Wells Scholars TRIO Upward Bound Program (2001-2005).  That was more than 10 years ago.  But as I sat there, with my son, watching actors bring novelist Gregory Maguire’s words to life, I daydreamed about what life would be like to have stage and screen actors do the same for my novels, short stories and screenplays.

Only time will tell.  My son and I just have to keep doing what is necessary to grow as writers.

When I first started this journey, my goal was not to become a hack, kicking out book projects that didn’t add value to readers’ lives.  My goal has always been to produce creative works that speak to the relationships that we humans share, both individually and collectively.  Having my debut novel selected as a finalist for the 2015 Phillis Wheatley First Fiction Book Award lets me know I’m a good writer.  I must now be about the business of becoming a great one.

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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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That First C

SupermenLike most parents, I beam with pride when my son brings home good grades.  This is a sign that he is beginning to understand the correlation between good grades, worldly success and eternal prosperity. But when he went from a low A to a low B in Math earlier this year, I thought I was going to blow a gasket.

For some strange reason, he was having a difficult time breaking word problems into logical equations.  And this comes after receiving what I perceived to be quality private school educations in North Carolina and California.  But I get it, though.  My son is in a new school, a public one, and he would rather be friends with the other kids than compete against them for top academic honors.  But with only one week left in this six-week period, it looks as if he is destined to make his first C, something he has never done since his recorded grades started to matter, when he was in the third grade.

Real Men Must Establish High Academic Standards

Please understand where I’m coming from.  I know a C is a passing grade, but I’m cut deep by the fact that my son is at risk of making one.  As a Real Man, my academic standards are much higher than those parents who allow teachers to just educate their children without holding these same teachers accountable.  C grades mean our children’s academic performances are average. And, if you’re anything like me, that’s not good enough.  Our children have one job – to make A’s and B’s in all of their classes – and the fact they aren’t making good grades should be signs they aren’t taking their jobs seriously.  We must always expect more from our children, not less.

Because my son made a very, low grade on a recent Financial Literacy test, we had to have daily sit-downs to prepare for the retake.  Our sessions lasted a little over an hour, and each time I would explain the steps he needed to take to solve each problem.  But when I typed up a sample test, which pretty much mirrored the 20-question assessment (just different numbers), and had him take it, I found myself getting miffed at the fact that the only problems he could answer correctly without my assistance were the vocabulary problems.

Real Men Are Patient and Kind

I readily admit that my tutoring sessions with my son have, at times, tried my patience.  When he started humming some song that was playing in his head, I felt my lips quivering, my left leg bouncing, because I knew my words were going in one ear and out the other.  I threatened him with consequences for not giving me his full attention, but that only caused him to lose his focus even more, especially when he started crying because I told him he no longer had the privilege of watching his cartoons during the week, playing video games on the weekend.

Failure can never be an option.  Neither can mediocrity.  As our children’s first teachers, their coaches, we must use our creativity to get them to do things they view as impossible.  For my son, it is gaining mastery and proficiency in Math.  Because he isn’t as successful in this class as he is in the others (all A’s), you can tell there is a certain amount of pent-up dread when he has to complete assignments in it.  But because I have been there, done that, I know what it’s going to take for him to have a breakthrough.

First and foremost, he must be able to identify his weaknesses and develop a plan for turning them into strengths. He’s only able to develop these skills when I force his hand.  Yes, his teacher and I must provide the instruction, but he must have the self-initiative to sit at the table with his notes in front of him so Eureka Moments can be had.  It’s all right if he has questions; that goes hand-in-hand with the learning process.  But because I will not be with him when he takes the retake, or future quizzes and tests for that matter, he must be able to settle back down after I have answered his questions, so more Eureka Moments can be had.

Real Men Explain Why Their Academic Standards Are So HighHispanic Father and Child

As Real Men, our hope should be that our children understand why our academic standards are so high.  They should know that we want them to make A’s and B’s in all of their classes because it lets others know they have strong work ethics. Individuals with strong work ethics are esteemed more highly than others, they receive access to opportunities that are often denied to individuals content with settling for the average, the mediocre.  More importantly, though, they are positioning themselves to be leaders, not followers.

I know my son is destined to become a leader, but I also know I have to do my part to set him on the right path. Yes, I had the same problems in Math that he is currently having. And, no, I wasn’t the greatest of students, at least in high school. But that doesn’t disqualify me from helping him acquire the knowledge and skills to be better than me. If anything, it’s a challenge for me, resulting from the fact that I have to shake off my past disappointments in secondary school to prevent him from making the same mistakes.  And because, as a mature, educated adult, I now have a more thorough understanding of Math and a host of other subjects and topics, I am better able to help him reach loftier standards now and in the future.

Real Men Don’t Take It Personal

Seeing that first C on my son’s report card is going to be a low moment for me.  And if I didn’t know better, I would take it personal.  But I’m not because I know he has the capacity to understand when he is free of distractions. He just needs a teacher who can explain the real-life applications of the concepts being taught, and manage classroom dynamics well.

I now find myself pushing him to advocate for himself in the classroom by posing questions to the teacher during her classroom lectures and after them. That’s the only way he’s going to gain the understanding he needs to perform well on upcoming assignments and tests, by taking ownership of his learning.  He also receives additional instruction at Mathnasium.

We Real Men tend to take our little children’s’ lack of academic success personal because it reflects badly on us, our rearing of them.  I’m not going to lie; it makes me feel good when my son brings home a report card riddled with A’s. I’m now able to brag to my friends, and anyone who will listen, that my boy is an honor roll student.  It’s almost as if I’m trying to live through him.  But brothers beware.  Our time has come, and gone.  How we performed in primary and secondary school, and even college, has no bearing on our present circumstances, and those of our significant others.  In short, it’s not about us; it’s about them.

It’s our children’s time to sink or swim.

The burden is on us, and their teachers, to teach them how to swim with a sense of urgency.

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Turbulence Ahead: When Children Take Their Parents Back to School

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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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