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Helpful Tips to Raising Young Black Men

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Follow up to Sunday Morning Live on June 9, 2013

With an educational and justice system that threatens the plight of  young black men, it has become more important than ever to develop ways to protect them.  Here are some tips that may prove to be useful.

Essential Ingredients to Raising Young Black Men

Based on Research by Teandra V. Gordon, Ph.D. Candidate, LMFT

1) Fathers Are Role Models

Though Mothers often complete daily child rearing activities i.e. transport to and from school, help with homework etc., when men talk about what influenced the Men that they became, they talk about what they learned from their FATHERS.

  • They talk about the words that their fathers spoke to them or the “lessons” that their fathers taught them
  • They discuss watching how their fathers live and the choices that their fathers make

Black Fathers should be educated about the significance of their role. Their sons learn from who their fathers are and without a father, where do their sons learn?

Divorcing parents or single mothers should understand the significance of cultivating the father-son relationship. If for whatever reason the father is not present, mothers should take purposeful intent to put their sons around positive Black male role models (Grandpa, Uncle, Coach, Pastor, Music Teacher etc.). Mothers must put their sons in an environment where they can learn to be men.

2) It Takes a Village

Men are influenced not just by fathers, but by an extended family network…Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Church Members etc. Everyone in the community should understand that even if you don’t have a biological son, chances are that you have the opportunity to influence a Black male in a positive way. Everyone must recognize that what they say and do influences the young eyes around them.

  • Extended family members contribute to the richness and perspective in young men’s lives
  • Grandparents, especially, can add guidance, encouragement, support, and a sense of history to young men’s lives

3) Exposure

Young men should purposefully be provided with exposure to experiences beyond their immediate environment.

  • Family trips, field trips, and parents’ work environments can help young men to develop a vision for their future.
  • Extracurricular activities can help children discover their passion and give them something positive to spend their free time doing.

4) Education

When young men graduate from college it is usually because their parent(s) placed a consistent focus on education that began early and persisted throughout their educational experiences.

  • The expectation for a higher education should be instilled early in life
  • Children should be provided with consistent encouragement to meet educational goals
  • Children should be placed in environments in which they can encounter role models that have achieved academic success

5) Critical Juncture

A critical juncture is a point in time when “a decision must be made.” Either young men are going to give in to negative peer influences and social stereotypes or overcome the imprudence of youth to make choices that benefit their future. Between the ages of 12-18 years old boys are in the process of becoming men. A normal part of development is for young men to challenge what mom and/or dad have told them because they are developing an internal sense of what is right and wrong. During this period of development many young men experiment with negativity including drugs, alcohol, criminal activity, or hanging out with people who do.

  • Parents should take full advantage of the formative years (0-11) before adolescence and provide their children with the necessary love, esteem, and guidance so that when they reach this critical juncture, the young man’s decisions will align with his training.
  • Parents should be forgiving and compassionate. If children mess up, remind the young man of who he is. Work to separate who he is from his current choices, and give the developing man the opportunity and encouragement to make better choices.

6) Friendship as an Added Ingredient

In order for parents to be a source of guidance, it is important for parents to purposefully maintain a nurturing relationship with their son that is based on unconditional love, communication, and mutual respect.

  • From a father, “I want to be his friend, but his parent at the same time. Some people say that you can’t do both, but I don’t believe that. I think you can be a parent and a friend. I think in certain situations you have to choose one. But I think you can do it in a way that

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