Writer’s Name: S. F. Hardy
Title: RAISE IT RIGHT OR WATCH IT FALL
Tap, whap, bam was all you heard when my eldest uncle hit my backside for dancing provocatively to the song Da’Butt by E.U. My friends never gave forewarning that a member of my family was coming down the street. Now, not only was my rear-end stinging, but I had to listen to Uncle preach all the way home. “Didn’t I tell you not to be dancing with your tail in the air?! That is no way for a young girl to behave! You keep playing with them fast tail girls and you gonna’ stay in trouble. Wait ‘till I tell yo momma and grandma, you going to get another whooping and I bet yo momma gonna make you watch your friends play from the living room window!” Seven years old at the time, I remember that day like it was yesterday. Even though I had to endure my friends teasing me as a result of the discipline I received, I fully appreciate the guidance and discipline I received from the adults around me.
There is a stark difference in the way most children are raised today from when I was growing up. The contrast is expansive, taking a significant toll on the African-American community collectively. The behaviors displayed today will affect how future generations interact and evolve. Sadly, it seems as if we live in an anything goes, anytime, anyplace society. There seems to be very little shame and even less discretion.
The way children are reared dictates how they will behave and what they will pass down to the following generation. Due to the early lessons I learned from my parents I always thought it was once commonplace to teach children to speak when they walk into a room where there are people.
Grandma, a southern gal and matriarch of the family, insisted, and the other adults affirmed, when addressing adults, a prefix such as Mr. or Miss. Uncle or Auntie were to precede the name. I have taken these seemingly small concepts and passed them down to the children in my family as well as those that I encounter in hopes of promoting positive behaviors that will make a big difference in the disposition in the future of the community. However, today you will find that more and more children address adults informally, falsely suggesting to children that they are equal to adults.
Appropriate attire for children is a concept that has been also been abandoned. Do you remember when young girls were prohibited from wearing red and black? I do! In fact, I don’t remember even seeing red or black items designed for children in retail stores growing up.
Although more prominent now, sagging was not always tolerated from young boys. It baffles and disgusts me at the same time when I see boys with their pants sagging. It further upsets me when the mother or guardian condones this demeaning behavior as the norm.
There was a time when children were not allowed to listen to secular music in the presence of adults. And to repeat the explicit terminology was even further unheard of. If you did and an adult heard you, you were told not to do it again. My mother would explain why certain verses weren’t to be repeated, making it easier not to do it and would also create a certain level of shame for those who did.
Disruption in the classroom was not as prevalent as it is currently. Why? One answer to a very complex situation: there was once greater parent participation. In the past, more parents were vested in children’s education; as a result they served as reinforcement to the teachers and administration. Today, parent participation is minimal. Parents and guardians make the colossal mistake of relying solely on educators to raise their children.
More and more children can be found roaming the streets and playing outside without adult supervision in the dark. What happened to children hightailing it home when the streetlights came on? My brother and I couldn’t even stay on the porch; we had to go in the house at the first sign of darkness.
With less and less children and family programming available one of the biggest impediments to raising children today is perpetuated— media. In the 80s most families only had one T.V. in the home limiting what was viewed and when. Families and extended families all watched the same program(s). Today however, one can find a television in almost every room in the house. Sadly, no matter how much one attempts to isolate their child(ren) from the television, radio, billboards etc., they will be exposed to information by interacting with other children. The best way to combat the aforementioned is to remain active and encourage children to speak openly about their experiences allowing you— the adult to be in the know of your child(ren’s) lives, what they are processing, and how they are using they information they are fed.
As a mother, I know firsthand the difficulties of raising a child today. As my husband’s granny often says, “children don’t come here with a handbook.” As such, there is no such thing as a perfect parent, but as a parent I have expectations for my child. My expectations can only be achieved if I guide him through an amalgamation of love, communication, quality time, rules and regulations. Using what was passed to me through the teachings of the village that raised me, I hope to raise a responsible well rounded individual who will help to make a difference in the world and not be a part of the chaos that disrupts it.