Family Meals Create Strong Children

By Ayize Ma’at

Recently I spoke for Men’s Day about the role and responsibilities men have to their wife and children. My children were in attendance and I wanted to see if they retained the lesson and grasped the significance of the principles that I spoke on…the principles of Ma’at. Peek into a conversation at our dinner table about it…

Remember, taking the time to eat together will create the greatest opportunities for connecting in, teaching and listening to your children. Strong children are created on purpose.  Stop Playing. Start pushing.

 

Ayize Ma’at is the Co-founder of Blackloveandmarriage.com along with his wife Aiyana. Husband. Father. Brother. Son. Uncle. Philosopher. Entrepreneur. Therapist. Teacher. Speaker. Entrepreneur. Thinker. Real. Laid Back…..These are all words that have been used to describe Ayize. Ayize is a certified Functional Family Therapist & Licensed Graduate Social Worker. He is also a certified Marriage & Relationship Educator specializing in couples & family work. When Ayize is not developing creative interventions to more effectively help others he can be found kicking back watching football, catching up on the latest Youtube videos and chilling with his Queen–Aiyana and their 5 beautiful & brilliant children.

What Is Cooperative Economics and How You Can Apply It In Your Home

Habari Gani….Welcome to the 4th day of Kwanzaa

The response to Habari Gani on this day is UJAMAA (00-JAH-MAH) COOPERATIVE ECONOMICS: To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and profit from them together.

From Kwanzaaguide.wordpress.com

Out of the fundamental concepts of “African Communal Living” comes the fourth principle of Kwanzaa. In a community or family, wealth and resources should be shared. On the national level, cooperative economics can help African Americans take physical control of their own destinies. On this day, ideas should be shared and discussed for cooperative economic efforts to provide for needs as related to housing, education, food, day care, health, transportation and other goods and services.

The Ujamaa principle empowers families to come together around their collective economic interest and to see their economic strength in sharing resources and cooperative investing, buying, and selling. Moreover, the moral ties necessary to achieve and practice the Ujamaa principle obligate those who live in the community to support, care for and look out for each other and to see the interest of the each person as tied to the interest of the family and community. In a word, wealth and resources should be shared.

From NAACP.org

In 2012, The Nielsen Company released “The State of the African American Consumer”, a groundbreaking report projecting African Americans buying power at 1.1 Trillion dollars annually by 2015. To illustrate how massive this figure is, if African Americans’ purchasing power equated to a country’s GDP, we would be the 16th largest country in the world!  What does this mean?  Black consumers have more economic power than we may realize. It is important to note that the 1.1 Trillion figure may not necessarily be all cash on hand, as we may be using credit cards and loans to make certain purchases.  Also, spending power increases and/or decreases with one’s income. However, as a collective, there is enormous potential for black consumers to leverage our economic power by way of supporting black owned businesses to foster community economic development.

The NAACP and other organizations are constantly advocating for policies to create more opportunities for black owned businesses (e.g., increasing access to capital) to succeed.  But, while these organizations are affecting change at an institutional level, I want to highlight how we, as individuals, can foster an environment where more black businesses can thrive.  First, we must stop the massive “leakage” of our money out of our communities. Currently, a dollar circulates in Asian communities for a month, in Jewish communities approximately 20 days and white communities 17 days. How long does a dollar circulate in the black community? 6 hours!!! African American buying power is at 1.1 Trillion; and yet only 2 cents of every dollar an African American spends in this country goes to black owned businesses.   CLICK HERE TO READ MORE.

Simply put….Family we have to be better and do better as it pertains to patronizing our own and building for our own.  One very simple yet profound way of doing this is through the establishment of a family fund.  Have each family member contribute something no matter how small. At the end of the month, year or a designated time, decided as a family what you want to do with the money save. Everyone has a voice and choice in the decision.

 

3 Really Important Lessons Being A Wife & Mommy Have Taught Me…

By Aiyana Ma’at

Life really is nothing but a big ol’ school with all kinds of classes to take and lessons to learn. I’ll admit that I looooove a lesson. I’ve always had an appreciation for the deeper hidden meaning and purpose underneath and behind things. Ask my husband and my kids. They’ll tell you my favorite question “What’s the lesson?!” 🙂  And while I can’t deny I’m a “Ooooh….what’s the lesson? ” lover I’m not always a fan of the lessons that I’m  learning or the ones that keep showing up because my resistant ass keeps refusing to learn it. Nevertheless…..I want to grow. I want know myself better. I want to understand and accept my weak places and cultivate and embrace my strong spaces. 

And what I know is that the only way I’ll do that is by looking for, searching for, listening for, yearning for…. yup, you know it….. the lesson! So, here are 3 lessons (just 3 for now….tee hee) I’ve learned (and am learning) in my life taught to me by none other than my wonderful husband and children. 😉

#1 It’s Ok to not have it all together. With the very busy life I lead….working a full time job, working with my husband in our business, counseling couples, running groups, speaking here and there, being a wife to my hubby and raising 5 kids……shiiiii…..ain’t nobody got time for trying to be (or look) perfect. I’m too old for that and fakery just ain’t my style.

#2 It’s important to admit when you’ve messed up and even more important to say you’re sorry. This is a lesson that kept escaping me early on in my marriage but I really have worked on it and make it a point to just say “I’m sorry” when I don’t do what I said I would, when I jump to conclusions and start judging my husband, when I mess up and lose my temper and yell a little too loud or perhaps am too harsh with the kids and I see in their eyes that I really hurt their feelings. I may not see it or do it right away—but I try my best to do it as much as possible. We have to remind ourselves that no one ever died of having a bruised ego and having to confess you were wrong….it’s good for us,  it’s good for strong marriages and its good for our children to see and experience with us.  Quick tip- If you can’t say it—write it. You gotta start somewhere and in this area something really is better than nothing.

#3 Having a family is a privilege and a special place to do my work. Look…I got issues. You do too. Who doesn’t? And when we have issues there are certain things, words, tones, people and places that will trigger us, set us up, or set us off.  And it doesn’t always matter that it’s your first born child you’re dealing with or your loving husband—-everyone and every thing is fair game to push your buttons and stretch you until you’re uncomfortable as hell. I am a work in progress and I say that with pure proud joy! Because I don’t have to be making progress. Pursuing progress and growth is a CHOICE! So, i never take it for granted that God has given me 6 other beautiful souls to live with, learn from, and grow with as we all make choices day to day, hour to hour and minute to minute to do our work (Pssst…..for those who’d like a little more explanation as to what “doing your work” means…..simply put it means cleaning up your emotional shit, owning your boo boo and flushing it down the toilet so you can heal and be whole!)

I’ve learned so much more than what I’ve shared here but this is what I wanted to share today. Below are some pics of my family….the folks who demand my growth!

#Groworgohome #Stopplayingstartpushing #Marriagematters #Familiesmatter #YOUmatter!

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Ayize & Aiyana Say “Get Your Life Right!”

It’s important to make sure you’re prioritizing and handling your business. First things first…..take care of your family. Turn towards them and not away from them. With all of the demands that life has to offer us every day it can at times be easy to get lost in the day to day hustle, bustle, and details of our lives. Every now and then we all need to pause and Get Our Lives Right! Take the time today to just sit and be quiet for simply 5 minutes and ask the question out loud (find a private space so folks don’t think you’re looney. Lol) What area of my life needs some attention. Whatever comes to you first is what you need to focus on. In the meantime watch today’s video and…..don’t forget! Stop Playing. Start Pushing.

Dealing With Holidays & The In-Laws

How have you dealt with special days like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, Easter, Memorial Day, and birthdays? Most of us might think only in terms of the way we grew up, perhaps with Mom and Dad, and expect these occasions to be celebrated the same way.

 

The only problem, now that you’re married, is whose mom and dad’s celebration of the holidays you’re going to adopt. An added challenge confronts blended families, who may have a host of combinations of relationships and traditions to consider.

 

One husband and wife, like many others, found themselves in a quandary. Where should they go for Thanksgiving? In an effort to respect the desires of both sets of parents and a grandmother, they ended up rushing from house to house. The result: They didn’t enjoy the food or the time together.

 

Sometimes practical considerations minimize this conflict. If family members live far apart, the question of where to spend the holidays may be answered when travel costs are taken into account. Often, though, the solutions aren’t quite so clear.

 

Premarital counseling may be the best place to start addressing this question; it’s frequently covered in that setting. Whether you discussed this important area of family relationships before you were married or are just now beginning to deal with it, here are some key concepts that can help you decide how and where to spend your holidays:

 

Sit down with your spouse and share—orally and in writing—how each of you feels about holidays and how they’re spent. Include major national holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and other occasions that are special to you. If it’s your family’s tradition to take a drive to see the changing autumn leaves, for instance, don’t hesitate to mention it. The same goes for marking the start of fishing season, the last day of school, or the Super Bowl.

Explain how you spent the holidays as a child. Which aspects did you enjoy? Which would you like to change? If the two of you were raised in different countries or cultures, what holidays could you learn more about? For example, a spouse who grew up in England might not realize the significance of Thanksgiving and Independence Day to a mate who was raised in the U.S.

Consider how your parents and other relatives may wish to have you involved. Perhaps a Christmas Eve service together is important to the wife’s parents, while Christmas dinner is central to the husband’s. Try to be open to the desires of family members—but not controlled by them.

Agree on how you as a couple would like to establish your own holiday traditions. Work for balance and fairness. For example, you might decide to spend Christmas morning with your parents and Christmas evening with your spouse’s (if both live close by). The following year you might spend the whole day at home as a couple—or, if you have children, with them.

Be open to changing your plan as needed. Flexibility and variation can help to avoid hard feelings when the in-laws’ expectations aren’t met. For instance, you might invite relatives to gather at your place instead of agonizing over which ones to visit. You might even take a vacation during the holidays to add variety and break the cycle of expectations.

Despite the usefulness of these steps, holiday observances still can be an emotional minefield for couples and in-laws. Here are some cautions to keep in mind:

 

It may be a lot easier for you and your spouse to change what you want for the holidays than for parents to adjust what’s been important to them for many years. Share openly with them some of your ideas and hopes for holiday times, letting them know that you value being with them.

Develop realistic expectations of how the holidays should be spent. Wishful thinking generally leads to hurt feelings and disappointments. Personality differences, physical limitations, and philosophical disagreements don’t disappear just because a particular date on the calendar has arrived. On the contrary, these factors often become more pronounced under stress—and most holidays provide plenty of that.

Holiday gift-giving can be a source of conflict and hurt. While it’s better to give than receive (Acts 20:35), most people seem to prefer a balance of the two. Exchanging presents can easily get out of hand, creating hardship for family members who can’t afford the expense. Try creative options. For example, you might give Christmas or birthday gifts to immediate family members, exchange names for other relatives, or give single gifts to family units.

There may be no specific right and wrong ways for families to spend the holidays together, but there could be better ways for you to approach holiday traditions and expectations. To keep those days worth celebrating, remember these tips:

 

 

Aim to make holiday times enjoyable and memorable.

Balance the development of your own traditions with those of the homes you came from.

Keep the focus on time spent together rather than amount of money spent.

 

From Focus on the Family’s Complete Guide to the First Five Years of Marriage, published by Tyndale. 

What Happens When Boys Learn That It’s O.K. To Love

By Ayize Ma’at

Recently I was invited to a high school in the Washington D.C. area to speak to a group of 11th grade boys about what is required to make relationships work.  To my surprise the majority of the group was engaged and appeared to be fixated on what I as the speaker represented.  As I spoke to them, I watched them look at me with curiosity, hope, and comfort as I invited them into a sacred space to explore vulnerability, commitment, fear, and courage in front of their peers.  These young men opened up and shared things they’d never considered sharing with their peers.  They willingly walked with me along a journey where they learned it’s o.k. to be afraid…it’s o.k. to take risk…..it’s o.k. to let your guards down and be vulnerable……IT’S O.K. TO LOVE.

When I finished speaking….several of the young men came up to me and said thank you.  One young man in particular said, “I knew true love was possible….that’s what I’m going to have”.

I asked them how they felt after opening up and taking a risk to enter into a space of transparency.

The overwhelming majority of them said…….”STRONGER”

To schedule a session with therapists’ Ayize & Aiyana Ma’at CLICK HERE.

Finding Room For Family Time In A Fast Paced World

By Steven C.

Sometimes work schedules stretch mothers and fathers to the breaking point with little time left for the people who matter most: children. Thankfully, spending time with family is more than ticking away the hours of a dull day; it is about quality interaction between parents and children. Even though it may seem like the twenty-four hour day needs to be lengthened, it actually provides plenty of time to accomplish the most important mission of all—time with family.

Schedules, including work, travel, and possibly continued education, often seem like the enemy. They appear to rob parents of valuable time with children during their formative years. This seemingly dark cloud does have a silver lining, however. Work provides valuable resources for the family in terms of food, shelter, health insurance, and savings. Additional education enriches the parents’ lives, broadens their horizons, and can lead to more rewarding careers. Beyond the obvious, these necessary activities outside parenting provide parents with a very important reminder: Time is precious.

In parenting, as in life, it is vital to remember the value of your time varies by how you spend it. If a parent spends all day at home watching television, obviously the child is not benefiting from their presence. On the other hand, if a parent spends just fifteen minutes devoted to interaction with their child, that parent will have done wonders for their little one. Quality, not necessarily quantity, is the main feature of a healthy parent-child relationship.

Presence is more than a physical state. Love and care are involved in the selection of childcare, clothing, and feeding children. Every aspect of a child’s world exists because of the efforts put forth by the parent or caregiver. The parent sustains the life of the child. This vital role does not evaporate when the parent dons business attire and continues on their morning commute after dropping their child off at school.

Children whose parents work are not always suffering souls. Involvement in extracurricular activities and preschool as a result of parental work schedules often benefit the child. High quality, loving daycare and preschool settings enrich children’s lives and provide a solid foundation for the future. In fact, in a 1996 study entitled The Five to Seven Year Shift: The Age of Reason and Responsibility researchers found, “Children with extensive preschool experience tend to adjust to kindergarten more easily than those who spent little or no time in preschool. Children who start kindergarten with peers they know and like generally do better.”

Part of being there for a child is letting that child know they are in your thoughts; it is a matter of doing little things that show you care. Small remembrances like sending a note in your child’s lunch or bringing them a healthy snack or something to drink when picking them up at the end of a long day at school or preschool are a token of affection your young child will treasure. Older children may also appreciate hearing a retelling of a joke heard by the parent during the day, the chance to engage in a conversation about their school day, or a discussion of plans around the table in the evening. In all cases, showing that a child’s feelings matter and they are remembered even in their absence is an important part of family bonding. These small acts do not require vast amounts of time; they only require small continual acknowledgements by the parent.

In an effort to build a strong bond and fond memories, set routines can be a benefit to hurried, harried parents. The morning rush out the door can become more pleasant through planning. For younger children, getting an early start each day, with a morning book reading as the child is waking, sets a nice tone for the day and makes waking up less of a chore. Reading to children, for as little as five to fifteen minutes each day, at a young age provides children valuable skills for the future. According to Gabrielle Simcock, author of a recent study related to children and reading published by the American Psychological Association, “…research shows that very young children can learn to perform novel actions with novel objects from a brief picture-book reading interaction. This common form of interaction that takes place very early in children’s lives, may provide an important source of information to them about the world around them.”

All the way out the door and up the steps to school, through reinforcing and comforting routines, parents can work to create bonds that will set the stage for strong family ties. For example, children love to play games in the car. Younger children can enjoy play games of I-Spy and variations of the License Plate Game to pass the time on the way to class. Encouraging words from the parent as the drive goes along can help the child learn about the world and experience the affection of the parent.

Later in the day, routines can be a blessing as well, dinner at the table—even if it is a fast food meal picked up on the way home—can provide quality family time. Discussing the day’s events before dispersing for homework, housework, or bed gives families the opportunity to check in with each other and show that they care. Reading a book at night, before tucking the child into bed is a tried and true parenting routine beloved by generations of children. Time conscious parents will be happy to note that story books listing the average length of the story in minutes can be found in the children’s section of the bookstore. Some titles with this handy device include: Disney’s 5 Minute Bedtime Stories by Catherine Hapka, A Treasury of Bedtime Stories by Linda Yeatman, and Three Minute Tales: Stories to Tell When Time Is Short by Margaret Read MacDonald.

On the weekend, when more time is available, scheduling a regular family game time every other weekend-as an important meeting-gives everyone something to look forward to on the day off. Finding and collecting board games can be fun for the whole family and offer a variety of entertainment that transcends the focus on gadgets, gizmos, and time in front of the television or computer screen common in this modern life. Parents can try such classics as Clue, Sorry, Monopoly, or branch out into new realms with the family board game with such emerging classics as Khet: The Laser Game—a blend of checkers and chess that involves laser light—or Cadoo: Family Fun—an inventive game which, as the name suggests, is fun for the whole family.

There are many ways to play an active role in family life, but parents do not need an extra hours in the day to do it. All it takes is a kind word here and there, a brief remembrance, or fifteen minutes to an hour set aside in time pockets throughout the week. Children are adaptable and appreciate the time that parents give them. The only requirement is that the parent demonstrates they care and are tuned in to their child through positive interaction. Parents should also remember that quality time and parenting in general are not about perfection but about persistence.

They say your kid is a reflection of you. Visit Gagazine.com to learn how to raise a better child by raising a better parent (YOU) first.

6 Signs That Say You Have A Strong And Nurturing Family

By Judy Wright

Human beings have the longest dependency on others than any other living creature. We spend our lives in relationships, either toxic or nurturing. If the family of origin was not supportive and loving, we either repeat that pattern or look for other mentors and teachers.

Can you visualize a closed fist as opposed to an open hand? That is the difference between a closed and dysfunctional group and a learning, sharing and supportive one. The closed one is turned inward and harsh in judgment and expectations. The open one is welcoming and willing to help others as well as receive help.

Closed or Open Families

When we look at families, either of birth or deliberate connection, we admire and wish to emulate, there are usually a number of variables present in the makeup. One or more are usually absent from a closed or dysfunctional family organizations.

1.  Open communication. The members are free to express opinions and make mistakes without losing love. They talk often and freely express feelings and emotions. They look for new ways to encourage each other and don’t just do what has always been done. The family members ask for help, forgiveness and support when it is needed.

2.  A sense of “us”. A family is made up of individuals with different needs and abilities. Those individuals form a synergy where the sum of the parts is greater than each one alone. The members of the family know that someone “has their back” and will support their endeavors.

3.  Boundaries and guidance. Boundaries and rules of society are not to keep others out, but to keep us safe by understanding the limits of acceptable and unacceptable behavior.

4.  Mutual respect. Strong families provide a sense of shared history and traditions. The family actively teaches and models morals, ethics and respect for others.

5.  Affectionate and loving. Parents and families who only touch by pushing or pulling do not recognize the value of a loving and kind pat on the head, hug or kiss. Words and actions of love and acceptance are experienced daily in strong families and then radiated out to the world.

6.  A sense of optimism and hope for the future. Families that are connected are strong in good times and bad. They model positive coping strategies and recognize life lessons in occasional failures.

Can you and your family change, even if negative patterns have been established over a long period of time? The answer is a resounding yes. The more we know, the more we grow. If your family or group would like deeper assistance than is offered in articles and books and yet not as expensive as therapy, please Google the phrase “Discipline Yes Punish No.” This can assist you in your journey.

Thank You for Your Important Work

I applaud you for seeking help with improving your relationships. Enhancing the bonds of understanding between individuals is the first step in building better families, neighborhoods, communities, areas, nations and a world of peace and harmony. Isn’t that what we all want?

Artichoke Press is the home site of Judy H. Wright, family relationship coach and author of over 20 books. If your organization would like to schedule Auntie Artichoke, the storytelling trainer,
for a workshop please call 406.549.9813.  If your family is having problems or situations that need more assistance than an article or book, please go to http://www.DisciplineYesPunishNo.com for a program that will transform your family life.

 

The Power Of Having A Family “Wish List”

By Aiyana Ma’at

When we think about “wishes” we perhaps think about wishing upon a star or making a wish on our birthday….you know the cute little wishes we made when we were little.  But, what about our “grown-up” wishes? What about the visions, dreams, goals we have for ourselves, our partners, and our children?

Question: Do you talk about your goals with your spouse? Do you talk about what you most want to achieve with your children? Somebody, somewhere once said….. “YOU HAVE THE POWER TO SPEAK YOUR DREAMS INTO REALITY”.  Dreams can be enslaving or they can be empowering. When you first take the time to write down what you wish for individually and then what you wish for your family; you are literally shifting the atmosphere all around you and yours. Yup, YOU are that powerful.

So, if you haven’t written down your goals, dreams, and aspirations and haven’t shared it with your family. Do it. If you can’t speak with clarity and confidence about what your family’s wishes are, then ask.

Here are a few examples to get you started:

  • I want to return to school to get more skills for a new job and more money.
  • I want my family to own our own home.
  • I want to move to a new location for the opportunity to grow and reach beyond what I imagined I could do.
  • I want to conquer personal and health challenges.
  • I want to help others grow.
  • I want to adopt a child.
  • I want to create my own company.
  • I want to learn new technology so I have new tools for producing my art.
  • I want to add on to the house so the kids can have their own playroom.
  • I want my entire family to take a financial management course so that we can save more than we spend and begin to invest.
  • I want to eventually quit my job and begin focusing on my true purpose.

These are just some examples of wishes that can transform your entire life if you would just dare WRITE THEM DOWN, SAY THEM OUT LOUD TO YOUR FAMILY, and KEEP THEM SOME WHERE VISIBLE FOR ALL OF YOU TO SEE.

P.S. WISH BIG. 😉

Talking About The Strengths & Challenges Of The Black Family. Join Ayize & Aiyana Today At 4pm EST On WOL 1450AM’s “Trending With EZ” Show

What comes to mind for you when you hear the words—Black Family? So much comes up for so many of us–both positive and negative. We know that the Black Family has it’s challenges in a multitude of ways. But, what we don’t often hear about are the strengths of the Black Family. Today, we will talking about what’s right with the Black Family! We will also dig into some of the challenges—but we won’t leave you without solutions!

Tune in at 4pm family! If you’re in the Washington, DC metro area you can tune in to WOL 1450AM. If you’re online click the following link: http://tunein.com/program/?ProgramId=482741&StationId=21725