Today I want finally to discuss what I believe needs to be different, about the way we raise people.
This is a synopsis of the discussion I have when I am dealing with black children in crisis in our community. But I dare say, the proper use of insightful interpersonal communication could and should be applied universally, to all of us.
The core of this process, is to develop a direct relationship with each person. The techniques are quite contrary to those of professional therapy. Generally speaking therapists are charged with applying psychological science, prompting you to talk, ‘hearing’ your inner thoughts and feelings, rendering a diagnosis – all while remaining impartial and disconnected.
Our process involves speaking with a person. In the humanist manner, we compare and share experiences and learn from each other…. not so much therapy, but instead, proper human interaction.
Example Question: What is going on in your life, 1) that you don’t understand, 2) that you don’t agree with, 3) that is causing you(r) problems, 4) that you don’t know how to deal with?
The key to raising children that are not impeded by their surroundings, is first to explain how many of us experience turmoil at home. Young people frequently don’t realize that all people experience similar situations, everywhere.
We try to move that conversation away from the hindrances and road-blocks, to success that they may experience, by expanding their horizons. In all instances, we suggest concepts to them, that are larger and grander, than are those that young people would generally consider.
Depending on age, we talk about such things as this: 1) Have you ever given any thought to SPACE? Other planets? Would you go there if you could? 2) How do you envision your future? Will you be a good partner? A good parent? 3) What kind of things interest you? Do you plan on using your interests to create a career for yourself?
In our experience, children that are given to broad concepts and critical thinking, have no time for bad attitudes and troublesome behavior.
When children are misbehaving, we calmly discuss if they understand the consequences of their actions. We do very little in the way of discipline. Discussing issues and problems with children, and expanding their thinking process, goes a long way to showing them respect, instructing them without anger, and teaching them how to handle adulthood properly.
They see and hear things within these discussions, that are both enlightening, and instructive, and these are things that they do not learn by merely being ‘disciplined’.
When speaking with a student who is at risk, we are looking to find the issues and concerns that resonate with them. We are looking to teach them how to develop, and get the most out of their true aspirations. What's more, we are spending our time, to show that we care.
Giving them opportunities to make choices is key, but you have to be wise enough to propose choices that are constructive, appropriate, inspiring, and instructive.
We’re not telling them what to do. But instead we’re making suggestions that open new concepts and offer many directions. Children don’t always recognize, that they may have more than one course of action from which to choose.
Example Conversation: You can choose to ignore or disregard what we are asking you to do, or you could learn something about growing up and being responsible. If you disregard our request, we will not be able to trust and respect you going forward. Or you could learn and grow from what we say, in which case we will be able to give you more trust, more respect, and more freedom. Which do you prefer..?
Another very important and effective technique when raising children, involves Explaining Everything to Them. When adults explain why we want something done, we give the child more to think about, and reasons why certain behaviors and responses are necessary. And expected. Being forthcoming with young people includes them in the thinking and decision making process.
We need to do everything we can, to teach adult thinking skills.
“Because I said so!” - gives a child no direction or guidance. It shows that we are not willing to spend the time it takes to teach a child, which frequently feels as though we don’t care enough, and indeed that love is lacking.
Example Conversation: We need you to do chores around the house, so that you are aware of what it takes to run a house. We need you to participate and have certain responsibilities, so that you begin to recognize what it will take for you to be a successful and responsible adult.
I would also introduce a deeper understanding, of heritage, lineage, ancestry, and the responsibility we have, to those that came before us.
In many communities, and most especially in the black community, people died indescribable death and lived with unbearable despair, so that you and I could live a proper existence.
Example Conversation: How much do you know about your ancestors? How they got here? What they went through? How much they suffered? Do you know much about your grandparents? Do you know that your ancestors loved you without even knowing you, and that they lived and died so that you could live, be respected, and free? Do you feel what it means to be so deeply loved by someone that never met you?
Adults seem strangely overprotective of everything about a child.
We instill in our children the misguided belief that they need to be young and carefree in their youth. We project fears onto our young people that they simply do not have.
We need to protect children.
But that protection is more physical.
Intellectually we need to let them go. We need to learn to develop a life-long bond with them, we need to set strict boundaries for them, we need to inspire them.
Another important element of rearing a child, is to instill a need for information. A quest for knowledge. A global awareness. The ability to see all sides of any issue, is key to the development of a fair and decent society.
We need to learn to be brutally honest with children. We need to give them all the information that we have to give, so that children learn critical thinking and process management. From an adult.
It’s a full time job. Their minds are at their most agile. They should be given the problems of the world to solve. You rarely have behavioral issues from a child that is thinking about and planning for the future of the world.
We withhold information and shield children from what we know. What we should do is tell them everything we know.
We need to stop pampering our children. They need to understand that life is hard, and complicated. It requires hard work and preparation.
They don't learn that when we shield them from the truth, defend everything they do and say, and insist that they remain children as long as possible.
This is not working for us.
In the black community, children are angry, sullen, and hostile. The fertile mind of a child knows intrinsically, that it needs information and stimulation.
Our children, whether they know it or not, are angry and disappointed, that the adults don’t have more to offer them.
Our programs are designed to assist with the behavioral problems of the children in our community. We never have behavioral problems with the children that we endeavor to engage. We’re communicating with them properly - appropriate to their abilities, their strengths and potential. We respect and cultivate natural intelligence. We don’t get angry, we don’t judge. And importantly, we strive to expand their knowledge base, and inspire them to greatness.
A child's mind wants explanations. You tell your child that you are happy to answer every single question that they have. And you do it – honestly.
You tell your child that if you don't know the answer that the two of you will explore the concept together.
You partner with them, in their growth.
You do these things in the hope that the child wants and needs to come to you with every question they have. That's not an attempt to cut them off from the rest of the world. It's an attempt to build a lifetime relationship of trust and growth.
Talk to them about everything. Find what they need to learn about. Tell them everything you're thinking. Everything you know.
You can raise a person to be the person you want the person to be, if you start at the beginning. Set rules. They live with you, they depend on you, and you will be the only person on God’s green earth, that will care about them all the days of their lives.
If you make these things clear to these people at a young age, they will appreciate, and respect you for it. They're looking to respect you, not just love you. You need to establish that respect. And show the love.
Talk about wide-ranging topics.
Expand their thought process.
Don't just answer their question.
Inspire their world.
Finally I would say - in fact I would stress - that America Lacks Love. We do not understand the impact of telling those that are close to us, how important they are to us. Every day.
We would have ZERO problems with our children, and they would grow up much more successfully, if we knew how to show our children maximum love and support. Every day.
They need to hear and know, that the love, pride, and high expectations that we have for them, are not only coming from their family, but from their communities and neighborhoods, and very importantly, from their ancestors and forefathers. Every day.
The reason the world seems to be falling apart is because none of these things discussed here, are actually happening in society today.
We need to do the work, to raise better people.