Happy Father’s Day!!!

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June is the month that we celebrate hopefully the first significant men in our lives…..Yep, our fathers. Sadly, in this day and age, many individuals biological dads are not the first significant men in their lives. Often kids are born when the parents are still very young and young men, okay boys at this age are not equipped to see the bigger picture. The child that is easily influenced. So some men, not all but some take the easy road and become “the sperm donor” in their children’s lives.  For the men out there who are struggling to make sure their kids are taken care of….kudos to you. I have often heard the saying any man can make a baby but it takes a real man to be a father. To all the real men out there….thank you for your time, money, guidance and most importantly love. Although, it make not always be visible…..you are loved beyond measure.  My daughter absolutely adores her dad and I am so glad, I married a man who holds family values in high regards. He may not always get it right but he is present and he makes an effort.  That is all any of us can do. For all the men doing their part…..keep up the amazing work. For the men out there who have fallen short…..it is never to late to start being the wonderful father I know you can be.

 

 

What Makes a Dad
God took the strength of a mountain,
The majesty of a tree,
The warmth of a summer sun,
The calm of a quiet sea,
The generous soul of nature,
The comforting arm of night,
The wisdom of the ages,
The power of the eagle’s flight,
The joy of a morning in spring,
The faith of a mustard seed,
The patience of eternity,
The depth of a family need,
Then God combined these qualities,
When there was nothing more to add,
He knew His masterpiece was complete,
And so, He called it … Dad
Author Unknown

 

Happy Father’s Day!!!

Formation

A No Regrets Life

A No Regrets Life

Formation by definition means to get into line There seems to be a new rave around Beyoncé’s new song Formation. I really do not see what the hype is all about. I can see the significance of the Super Bowl Halftime Show and I understand that it was the anniversary of the black Panthers. I applaud the fact that she had an all-black all female background support cast and most importantly, as an African American woman, I really appreciate the use of natural hair on all the women. I thought it was BEAUTIFUL. The problem that I have comes in with the song. The song has absolutely nothing to do with anything remotely related to black power. It is just another song, to me, that Beyoncé has used as a platform to tell people off. She understands that many people do not find her husband attractive and that many have called her daughter’s hair unkempt. All these things though, are personal. Below are some of the lyrics to the song.

“Y’all haters corny with that Illuminati mess. Paparazzi, catch my fly, and my cocky fresh. I’m so reckless when I rock my Givenchy dress (stylin’). I’m so possessive so I rock his Roc necklaces. My daddy Alabama, Momma Louisiana. You mix that Negro with that Creole make a Texas bama. I like my baby hair, with baby hair and afros. I like my Negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils”.

Personally none of these lyrics make me proud to be black women nor make me want to march for a cause. In actuality the just sounds good. There are a few references in the video like the don’t shoot clip or the paper with Martin Luther King Jr. on it that have to do with ‘black power’, but for all intents and purposes the video, like the song has nothing to do with civil rights of any kind. As a matter of fact, I think it is reaching to say that the song Formation has anything to do with civil rights. Especially when there have been previous ladies such as Lauryn Hill, Angela Davis, Erykah Badu, and Nina Simone have been trying to get us as a culture (females in particular) to ‘get in formation’ for years. I also think the use of hurricane Katrina was in poor taste. I do not believe that anyone who lived through that tragedy will take comfort in the depictions that are in her video. I do though want to make it clear that I am in no way bashing Beyoncé. She is a wonderful artist and from what I hear very active in the black community with charity and time. What I am saying though is that maybe she should had rethought the video and the message that she wanted to convey through the video.

Communication Can Make or Break Families

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It has been laid on my heart to move from blogging a third person academic blog to speaking of communication in families from first hand experience with the knowledge I have gained academically and spiritually.  Family is one of the most important support systems that a person can have.  A family member can also be the most important thing the family has.

The pillar of my family was my grandfather.  He was a self made man.  Back in his day, a person could still do that without having certificates from a university saying that they are worthy of opportunity.  I was raised by my grandparents who valued integrity above all else but led by the faith of our higher power in which I choose to call God.  My grandparents believed in hard work and nothing was free.  They also believed in family.  We all knew that they valued family.  This belief was not conveyed in words but actions of support.  I now know that I needed to hear the words of love and see actions of love, not just morals and values on how to treat others outside of the home.  Lack of communication is generational in my family.

Six years ago my grandfather, at the age of 62, passed with pancreatic cancer.  It was a sudden and quick demise to death.  I was angry at God for taking the greatest person I had ever known and the one person I knew loved me unconditionally.  I would have given any of his monetary means up to have him back.  The lack of communication in my family caused huge gaps in-between each family subsystem under our patriarch.  Without his unspoken leadership, we began deteriorating as a family unit.  Thought processes were assumed by other members that where not factual but no one called the other and spoke of it.  This was steady fueling something that would soon explode.  The lack of communication allowed negativity to split our family unknowingly at the time.

On Thursday my brother called.  I have not spoken to him in a year.  Not due to any fractures between us but the fractures in our family.  He had the same question for me that I have had for all of my family.  What happened here and why?  Assumptions are dangerous and very misleading but can be doctored at the root and killed off with communication.  There is power in admitting wrongs and misgivings.  It demonstrates being humble but most importantly, that you are not putting yourself above the fracture that has occurred and you are not blaming anyone.  Lack of communication is to blame.  We often let pride and life get in our way of reaching out to those we feel wronged by.  Communicating with others allows some of the wrongs to be seen in their perspective and that wrong may not feel as wrong anymore.  My brother and I both left the conversation with a peace we had not felt in a very long time.

As I finish my education through one of the top universities in this nation, one of the greatest learning lessons I have gotten was this morning in a service by Bishop TD Jakes.  This message was about you.  It was about me.  It was about individuals taking on the power to change their life and surrounding themselves with good people.  Believing in yourself gives you power to reach out and communicate.  In his ministry, he is honoring and recognizing how important mental health is.  Jakes has made this his mental health awareness month.  He also spoke of having a team of counselors on staff because they are given the power to help with situations in your life.  My supervisor at Family First Counseling, Ms Megan Lee, told me that she is a Christian that counsels. Professional counselors can help with communication.  It is not a weakness to seek out help for you and your family.  This allows for healing and understanding to start.  We are in this field because it brings joy to our hearts to see families prosper.  Communicate with others and if that feels to intimidating, seek help to learn how to communicate.

 

Christy Ragle

 

Parenting in the Age of Entitlement

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The self-efficacy beliefs of parents and collective efficacy of teachers transcends to adolescents and their belief systems. The need for attention and recognition is a rising problem in the US culture. Adults modeling good behaviors and attitudes produce more productive results in the mimicked behaviors from the children without expectation of praise and rewards. The social environment that adolescent’s respond more correctively to are ones that are active in life activities. This cultivates in the child an interest for productivity and enabling the self-beliefs of being competent. These are seen as personal resources that allow the child to make the most of unexpected situations.

Teaching a child the value of money is important to fight the entitlement in this affluent society. Children used to have to work for what they wanted to purchase. Those children are now the parents of children. Parents have over compensated for the lack of privileges they had in their youth and have given without thought that their children are not learning how hard it is to make money needed to buy the material goods. Material goods have risen in cost and the affluent families have set standards for all socioeconomic groups. Showing adolescents how money is distributed to financial obligations that are required to pay to keep the family going and how much is left afterwards is important. Many parents have been found to hide money problems from their children so that the children do not feel less than others in their peer groups.

Children that are worried about what they want to purchase and personal gain for their selves are found to lack self-control and manners needed to maintain a healthy environment. Teaching a child manners, how to be patient, and considerate of other peoples feelings are less likely to show constant selfish behaviors. Parents from all socioeconomic groups are finding that their children can be harsh and even bullies in their peer groups. This leads to isolation for the adolescents due to losing friends and peer groups. These children are likely to be manipulative and covert instead being overtly healthy in behaviors.

Kids have been found to develop healthier schemas if they have responsibilities and limits placed on them. Parents are working long hours and gone on business trips. This partnered with the high number of extracurricular activities takes away all available family time. Contributing to the success of family in ways such as chores or taking care of siblings provides the child a sense of contribution to the family. Less activities outside of the family unit and more time spent as a cohesive productive member of a family has provided positive outcomes in research in treatment for anxiety and depression in adolescents in the US culture.

Turning off the television has been another strategy used to help fight the entitled beliefs. Commercials and reality television have set a standard above even the more affluent families. Commercials that imply a person is better with consumption of a certain product lead a child to feel they are at a disadvantage if they do not have it. Electronic devices such as phones are one of the biggest markets targeting younger populations. Reality television shows display the elite socioeconomic class or a group that is fortunate to be interesting enough to broadcast and be instantly famous.

Allowing a child to find his or her own autonomy is important. When children are ready to go off to college, it is ideal for them to be able to manage and organize their own daily lives, have the ability to prioritize, and manage social relationships. It has been found that the more affluent the family is, the more involved the parent is in planning the child’s days. Affluent parents seem to want to protect their children from failure more than other groups of parents.   This is a problem because some of the best learning and character building comes from failing and learning from the experiences.   Staying consistent in discipline teaches the child that autonomy does not mean they can do what they desire at all times. It teaches the child that there are boundaries and repercussions if those boundaries are not adhered too.

High structure parenting practices is an important strategy to help facilitate healthy developmental growth during adolescence.   Besides having regular chores and responsibilities, an adolescent should be required to sit down with the family several times a week for a meal or activity that does not require money to do. There should be limited privacy allowed instead of kids thinking that they have the same rights as adults do for privacy. This is due to the adolescents desire to be an adult but not having developed the skills to produce adult decisions. Serving the public is something the family can do together as an activity to demonstrate being humble and caring for those less fortunate.

High warmth parenting practices for adolescents has shown significant changes in a child’s belief system and self esteem. A child needs to feel that they are loved unconditionally. This needs to be demonstrated not only by words but actions. A parent being available to listen to the children without judging the experience is key for future communication and less isolation from the parents. Having opportunities to have fun together relates to the developing child that they are as important as responsibilities and pulls from outside the family structure. There are so many critical and negative voices a child will hear at this age. It is important for parents to express faith and confidence more often than the children hear the negative feedback from peers.

Christy Ragle

Cooking is Good For the Soul!!!

As a counselors we are asked to find self care methods to avoid burnout. For me, my self care is cooking. I do enjoy cooking and oddly enough, I find it quite relaxing. Baking relaxes me even more. This past holiday I was in the kitchen with my grandmother and we had a blast cooking. I like to experiment with recipes to try and make them better. I also come up with my own recipes. Now of course, my grandmother has her old schools ways, (which in most cases is the best way) and my shortcuts couldn’t possible deliver the same results…..until they do….lol.  The time we spend is absolutely amazing and then we get to share the magic with family and friends when we have our Thanksgiving dinner.  The enjoyment and laughter shared over food is the best. I suggest that both the cooking and the eating and the sharing are all good for the soul. Not only is it good for the souls but it is also therapeutic at least for me. While surfing the web, I found a few sites that agree with cooking being good for the soul.  The following is an article written by Tameka Dorsey

 15 Reasons Why Cooking is Good for My Soul!!

IN THE KITCHEN
I am Creative
I usually experiment with foods that you would never think to put together, and it tastes magical!
I Get to Eat Great Food
One of the benefits of cooking in the kitchen is enjoying some tasty foods. Sampling my dishes is the thing I look forward to the most!
I love cooking for my family and friends. When they want me to cook for them, it’s a great feeling knowing that they love my food.
I Relieve Stress
I Share Food with Loved Ones
If I’ve had a bad day, I release my stress into whipping up a good meal, and the good food absorbs my worries.
I Increase My Skills
My loved ones give me feedback on my food, and this improves my skills for the next time around.
I Am More Confident
Not only does their feedback improve my skills, but it also increases my confidence when serving others, and they compliment me on my dishes.
NO
OK
YES
EXCELLENT
KEEP CALM, I’M A BOSS IN THE KITCHEN
I Am Happy
Whenever I am in the kitchen, I am HAPPY! It always puts me in a good mood, and is my favorite place to be.
I Am Doing Something I Love
Cooking is my passion, and I would love to make a career out of it. What better way to spend my days practicing something that I love.
I Try Out New Recipes
Experimenting with new recipes adds on to my creativity in the kitchen. Once I master a dish, I add a little twist to it to make it my own.
I Know Exactly What I’m Eating!
When I cook my own food, I know where the food comes from, what it is, and exactly what goes into my meals.
I Am Eating Healthy
Cooking on my own keeps me away from fast food and eating out all the time, and allows me to choose a healthier option for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
I Am Saving Money!!!
One of the benefits of cooking is the amount of money I save. The food lasts longer, and I am getting more for my money.
I Feel Special
I love to dress up in my apron and chef hat. I feel like superwoman when I’m making magic happen in the kitchen. Who doesn’t love a woman who can cook?
This is what I wear underneath my coat!
I want this apron!
I Feel Rewarded
Being in the kitchen is very rewarding. The best feeling is knowing that I’m a good cook, and that other people enjoy my food so much.
This is how I feel when others love my food!
I Bring People Together
Food brings everyone together no matter what. The thing I enjoy the most about cooking is sharing precious moments with the ones I care about over a meal. FOOD IS GOOD FOR THE SOUL!!

 

Happy Cooking!!!

 

Change Is Overdue!!!

Change Is It Possible

Often we will hear individuals speak that change is overdue.  Last night I watched the horrific video regarding the 2014 fatal shooting of 16-year-old Laquan McDonald. Mr. McDonald was an African-American. I am at a loss for words……which if you know me is pretty much impossible. As I sat there with my husband I was absolutely speechless. There was no audio provided with the video…..I am uncertain as to why it was not provided. However, the video does tell you that police are responding to a 911 call stating that a citizen was holding a young man for breaking into cars and stealing radio parts.  According to CNN, McDonald was identified as the alleged robber.  Apparently, McDonald escaped from the citizen and was walking down the middle of the street when officers arrived.  It is also alleged that LaQuan McDonald was carrying a knife.  Jason Van Dyke, a Caucasian Chicago police officer gets out of his vehicle…..again there is no audio and appears to start shooting. Mr. McDonald is clearly wounded by a gun shot, twirls and falls to the ground. Let me repeat….he is wounded and on the ground. At this point, Officer Van Dyke continues to shot Mr. McDonald…..not once or twice more but Mr. McDonald is shot a total of 16 times. Officer Van Dyke reports that he feared for his life and the lives of his fellow officers. There were seven other officers at the scene and no one else fired their weapon. Even sadder, no one attempted to render aid to Mr. McDonald. Nor did they try to stop Officer Van Dyke.  Having a teenage son around this age has me full of emotions.  Mr. McDonald is someone’s child…..yes child.  No one deserves to be shot down like a dog in the street. Heck, if this act had happened to an animal, PETA would be all over it!!! These actions have become all to complacent in the USA. If we can not trust police officers to do their job and protect and serve….who can we trust? I know some will say Mr. McDonald was breaking the law……..yes, maybe he was but he was not caught by officers doing so and he was not found guilty in a court of law. When did police officers become judge and jury?  This is a complete tragedy…….I want to emphasize that not only do Black Lives Matter……all LIFE MATTERS!!!!

Change is definitely overdue!!!

Help be a solution to this growing problem!!!

 

http://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2015/11/25/laquan-mcdonald-chicago-shooting-dashcam-video-orig-mg.cnn/video/playlists/digital-studios-topicals/