Do You Practice A “No Matter What” Kind Of Love With Your Children?

By Team BLAM

One of our favorite books is “The  Five Love Languages Of Children”. While we haven’t read it from beginning to end we have learned a lot about the way that children perceive the world, their parents, and the love that is shown (or not shown) to them. If someone were to ask you if you love your children unconditionally, I’m sure you would say “Of course.” And, while I believe that to be true the real question here is “Do your children believe it?”

Children need love expressed unconditionally. Regardless of what they look like, their strengths and weaknesses, regardless of what we expect them to be or how we expect them to act. The “Five Love Languages Of Children” brings this point home beautifully.

We can best define unconditional love by showing what it does. Unconditional love shows love to a child no matter what. This does not mean that we like all of her behavior. It does mean that we give and show love to our child all the time, even when her behavior is poor.

Does this sound like permissiveness? It is not. Rather, it is doing first things first. A child’s emotional tank must be filled before any effective training or discipline can take place. Some people fear that this may lead to “spoiling” a child, but that is a misconception. No child can receive too much appropriate unconditional love. A child may be “spoiled” by a lack of training or by inappropriate love that gives or trains incorrectly. True unconditional love will never spoil a child because it is impossible for parents to give too much of it.

If you have not loved your children in this way, you may find it difficult at first. But, as you practice unconditional love, you will find it has a wonderful effect, as you become a more giving and loving person in all of your relationships.

You may find it helpful to frequently remind yourself of some rather obvious things about your children:

1. They are children.

2. They will tend to act like children.

3. Much childish behavior is unpleasant.

4. If I do my part as a parent and love them, despite their childish behavior, they will mature and give up their childish ways.

5. If I love them only them when they please me (conditional love), and If I express my love to them only at those times, they will not feel genuinely loved. This will damage their self-image, make them feel insecure, and actually prevent them from moving into better self-control and more mature behavior. Therefore, their development and behavior is as much my responsibility as it is theirs.

6. If I love them only when they meet my requirements or expectations, they will feel incompetent and will believe it is pointless to do their best, since it is never enough. They will always be plagued by insecurity, anxiety, low self-esteem, and anger. To guard against this, remind yourself often of your responsibility for their total growth.

7. If I love them unconditionally and show them that love unconditionally, they will feel comfortable about themselves and will be able to control their anxiety and their behavior as they grow into adulthood.

BLAM Fam: How important do you think it is to make sure our children know that we love them unconditionally? Do you think that our children might focus more on our reactions to them at times, rather than the ever present love we have for them in our hearts?

NBA Stars & Celebrities Talk With Inmates About Fatherhood & Motivation

It’s a inspiring thing when black men reach back and educate boys about fatherhood/manhood because their socioemotional development is dependent upon what they experience in the environment and who they experience it with. Recently, former NBA baller Etan Thomas, New York Knicks star Amar’e Stoudemire and a star studded celebrity panel delivered an inspirational message to young inmates locked up in the worlds most infamous jail systems, New York’s “Rikers Island”.

Are You Raising Or Ruling Your Children?

By James Druman

Parenting is the most important leadership role the average person will take in their lifetime, but how many parents take it seriously? Many parents in modern-day America see themselves as playing more of a caretaker role than a leadership role, but being a great mother or father is much more than putting the food on the table and paying the rent. If you are considering the influence you have on your child’s life, it is a good idea to cultivate good habits for example, as leading by example is one of the most effective approaches a parent can take.

Here are four simple ways to use this subtle leadership style with your children.

1. Not Interrupting

This one seems very minor, but it is a crucial step in learning to communicate properly. Unfortunately, many parents expect their children not to interrupt but they do it themselves all the time, especially when they are interrupting their own children. This comes from a subconscious idea we have that what we say has more importance than whatever our child has to say—because we are adults, and we don’t really find interest or magnitude in the thoughts and feelings children have.

This is very damaging not only because it minimizes what your child thinks and feels but also because it teaches an unhealthy way of talking with other people. They may keep their mouth shut when you are talking, but in other situations, when they feel they are in charge, they will follow your lead.

2. Control Your Emotions

Perhaps the most important lesson by example is learning to control your emotions. Many parents have trouble with this simply because they never learned healthy ways of dealing with emotions, and if they get angry at their child they may yell or say hurtful things. Similarly, parents often lose their emotions when arguing with each other in front of the kids. While kids usually forgive these behaviors, they also learn from them. If you have problems dealing with anger and other emotions, it never hurts to speak with a therapist and discuss more positive means of emotional expression.

3. Stay Active

These days, it is more important than ever to teach your kids to be active so they can avoid the pitfalls of modern sedentary lifestyles. The best way to do this is be active yourself. Don’t sit around the house, gorging yourself on television every time you get a chance. Instead, keep busy by tending to things that need to be done in the yard or busying yourself with meaningful, productive hobbies. Go to a gym to actively care for your body, and regularly engage in recreational sports.

4. Play Fair

Finally, if you want your child to become a person with a sense of justice, you need to teach them to be fair to others. Similar to interrupting them, always using the “whatever I say goes” approach to parenting or calling authority on them is a bad example to set. You are, of course, an authority and should certainly use that for your child’s best interest—to teach them and keep them safe—but you should never wield that power just because you can.

Leading by example is effective because much of what a child learns from a parent is subconscious, and in the end, they will often follow your behaviors no matter what you say. Not to mention that by being a stable mentor and practicing what you preach, you earn their respect rather than demand it. And that is priceless.

James Druman is an author and world traveler who runs several businesses from his laptop while traveling the world. He currently offers freelance writing and a wide range of internet marketing services for offline and online businesses.

VIDEO: Dwayne Wade Discusses His New Book “A Father First” With CBS’s Gayle King

NBA player Dwyane Wade has a new book out titled “A Father First: How My Life Became Bigger Than Basketball.” He recently spoke with “CBS This Morning’s” Gayle King about his new book and also said a little something about his future with his girlfriend actress Gabriel Union. Check it out. 😉

Protecting & Preparing Our Children: Where Do We Draw The Line Between Allowing A Child To Experience Difficult Situations And Excessive Hurt?

By Hillary Spirer Leeder

We all want our children to grow up to be resilient, independent individuals, able to confront challenging situations and difficult people. But where do we draw the line between leaving a child to fend for him or herself, occasionally with some guidance, and sheltering the child under a parental wing?

Recently Tracey, a close friend of mine, made a fundamental decision regarding her daughter’s education — one that addressed this conflict and gave me insight about where I stand as a parent.

Tracey’s daughter had been going to a local nursery school since she turned two. The teachers and staff were kind and supportive and the classmates were, for the most part, friendly.

The changes started to occur during her daughter’s pre-K year. The year began uneventfully. Her husband for the most part gave her positive reports of the morning drop-offs. The only notable change from previous years was that her daughter never seemed to attach herself to any child upon arrival into the classroom. No one reached out to include her; the teacher left her daughter to make her own way.

Tracey would tell how her daughter began to come home with upsetting incidents that occurred at school. “I did not have a good day,” her daughter would say. “Brian pushed me and he didn’t say I’m sorry.”

Then the classmate criticisms extended to her daughter’s lunches. “Mommy, don’t pack me bread and butter anymore. Jayla and Sophia say that it’s gross and they tell others not to sit at my table.”

Tracey and I chalked it up to a childhood growing experience. After all, we reasoned, her daughter needed to learn how to advocate for herself and tell the teacher if something or someone was bothering her. Also, Tracey observed that it didn’t seem to bother her daughter fundamentally. Her daughter went to bed well and never refused to go to school in the morning. She was even called for play dates.

But the reports of the mean comments continued. During what was supposed to be a soothing nighttime bath, her daughter revealed that, “Fatima said that if I eat my dessert first she won’t invite me to her birthday party.”

Tracey would have endless talks with her daughter trying to boost her self-confidence and practice effective responses in such situations. She would call me all of the time to talk about how worried she was that her daughter was continually being exposed to criticism by her peers—at the ripe age of four. But she still rationalized these experiences saying, “My daughter has to learn that children will not always be nice. She has to develop the skills to respond to the challenges.”

Tracey made the teachers aware of the situation but it didn’t help. Her daughter was beginning to withdraw in her interactions with other children. .

One night, she called me, triumphant. “I did it. I pulled her out of the school.”

I was shocked. Shouldn’t her daughter stay? Even, if only to grow from these incidents with her classmates?

I was shocked. Yes her daughter did seem to be having a difficult time, but I wasn’t so sure if it warranted such a drastic decision. Shouldn’t her daughter stay, if only to grow from these occurrences?

Then Tracey told me what had been the final straw. She was listening in on a conversation that her daughter was having with a little boy around her age. The boy was talking excitedly about a neat truck he had seen. Her daughter responded with what was presumably most on her mind:

“Pinny at school said that I’m not his friend.”

“At my daughter’s age, her thoughts and conversations should be about how high her Dad pushed her on a swing or her favorite doll, not about her latest social ostracism. I didn’t realize how much these assaults were affecting her until then.”

I started to see her point.

“I realized I did not have to send her into an environment that is consistently causing her such turmoil ,” Tracey concluded. “It was doing her more harm than good.”

As a parent, I have received varying perspectives from family, friends, and society on how one should expose one’s child to reality. Most of these messages involve how I must help my young children learn to cope through adversity to get them ready for the harsh challenges of the “outside world.” Sheltering one’s child or providing something akin to a “band aid” is considered a parental error at best and a damaging transgression at worst.

I think this perspective reflects a fundamental error in our raising our children.

I think we forget that childhood is life, not merely the preparation for life.

The personal integrity of all beings, even the very smallest, demands that they be spared pain and hardship to the greatest possible extent.

Yes, it is important to allow one’s child to experience and handle difficult situations to learn important life lessons. But when does lesson learning turn into excessive hurt and suffering?

The answer depends on the extent of the difficulty and the individual child’s ability to process the circumstances.

I remember being teased in nursery school by two little girls who wore all the latest pink, frilly styles. I was mortified by my blue, boyish Osh Kosh B’Gosh pants, and the girls’ continued cliquishness and unfriendly behavior did not help my self-esteem. The adults surrounding me assured me that I was adorable with what I was already wearing, and that I did not need the approval of those girls to feel good about myself. But at the age of four, all I understood was that my blue jeans were ugly and that I was profoundly unhappy. No matter what the adults said, my conclusion was that something was wrong with me–period. These painful memories contributed to lowered self-esteem during my school years.

As parents we cannot assume that every challenge will be beneficial in strengthening our children’s abilities to cope. For many children, a blow will simply hurt.

Tracey’s daughter left that nursery school and is currently thriving in a smaller environment which allows the teachers to be aware of every student at any given part of the day. The school also has a strong focus on helping children learn how to have healthy social interactions.

In a child’s turbulent and unpredictable life, sometimes a safe shelter is just what he or she needs to weather the storm.

Editor’s Note: Names and minor details have been changed to protect the parties involved.

Hilary Spirer Leeder is a writer and a guidance counselor at the Torah School in Silver Spring, Maryland. Her articles have appeared in a number of publications. Mrs. Leeder obtained an MSW degree from NYU and a BA degree in film from Columbia University. She lives with her husband and children in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Face Fatherhood Fears

By Paul Banas
You are truly ecstatic about the impending birth of your baby. But, deep down, you are also grappling with fears regarding your new status as a father. Understandably, you are not quite comfortable discussing these issues with anyone—not even your partner. Actually, this is quite normal. It might help you to identify and evaluate your fears, and take steps to overcome or deal with them.

Financial anxiety: This is one of the most common of fears associated with fatherhood. Childbirth means more than an additional member in the family. In most households, it also means that the dad will now be the sole breadwinner. Reviewing your budget plans is one way you can overcome this fear.

Fear of mortality: There is nothing like the birth of a baby to bring home the fact of one’s own mortality. Suddenly, the realization sinks in that you are not as invincible as you used to believe. This awareness brings with it a growing sense of responsibility. Your family needs you and you cannot take your life as granted any longer.

Relationship insecurity : You may have always thought your partner loved you more than anyone else in the world. Now suddenly you find that there is danger of your special position being usurped by the baby. You also realize that your spouse shares a bond with the baby—one that you are not sure you would be able to equal. It is important for you to face your doubts and come towards an understanding that bringing up a baby is a joint responsibility between both parents. The sad fact for dad is that mom will likely no longer dote on you by making you breakfast or buying your clothes, or at least not as often. Moreover, the baby will come before time with you and even your lovemaking.

In addition, in the short run, for all your sacrifice, you’ll likely only get to hear, “I want mommy.” You have to learn not to take this personally and realize that your big role, at least from what you can discern, in their life will only start to really form after about two years of age.

Commitment anxiety: Perhaps at the back of your mind you’ve always harbored the idea that if things got really bad with your spouse, you could always consider running away. Those thoughts might be fleeting and none at all serious. However, with a baby on the way, there is no more “running away.” The baby is 24/7/365 for the rest of your life. That’s a good thing, but it is also a major change in how you view your independence.

As you go through your process give yourself some grace.  Fear is often a close companion with change.  Yes your life will be different.  Yes you will be challenged.  Yes you will be rewarded.  You are now needed like you have never been needed before.  Welcome to fatherhood.

The Impact Of Fatherhood On Men

By Candace Bagwell

New research published in the 2010 American Journal of Men’s Health shows that fatherhood can dramatically alter a man’s behavior.

The 18-month study of 230 divorced fathers of kids ages 4-11 found that father involvement led to better health choices such as drinking less alcohol.

Study results also found that the hormonal changes exhibited during fatherhood influences the decisions men make about taking risks.

“Fatherhood prompts men to be less self-centered, more giving and more outward-focused. It can prompt them to be more responsible and become more mature, especially to temper some of their risks,” says Richard Settersten Jr., professor of human development and family sciences at Oregon State University in Corvallis.

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Fatherhood Is Crucial To Society’s Survival

By Oretha Winston

Genuine fatherhood is crucial to the growth, development and social structure of our society. Unfortunately, there are too few fathers in our homes. How this happened could be blamed on a myriad of things. What we can do to correct it is definitely a heavy lift.

According to counselor Bill Glass, who has spent 25 years with men who are incarcerated, not one of the thousands of prisoners he has met has genuinely loved his dad. And Dave Simmons, author of Dad, the Family Counselor, conducted a study that said over 90% of men on death row hated their father.

And these nuggets from the Father Facts study conducted by the National Fatherhood Initiative:

  • 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (Source: U.S. D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census)
  • 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes
  • 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes (Source: Center for Disease Control)
  • 80% of rapists come from fatherless homes (Source: Criminal Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26, 1978.)
  • 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes (Source: National Principals Report on the State of High Schools .)
  • 75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes (Source: Rainbows for all God`s Children.)
  • 85% of all youths sitting in prisons grew up in a fatherless home (Source: Fulton Co. Georgia jail populations, Texas Dept. of Corrections 1992)

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Fatherhood And Discipline: 5 Tips On Balancing Being Firm And Bonding

By Auntie Artichoke

Many fathers assume discipline means yelling, threatening or spanking children when their behavior is unacceptable. However, discipline can be interpreted in many ways and dealt with differently among different fathers.

The first thing to know about discipline is the two ways it can be interpreted. Some men may be confusing discipline — which means loving guidance and teaching — with punishment. Punishment is punitive and harsh.

Their own fathers worked long hours and the mother did most of the parenting, sometimes with threats such as, “just wait till your father comes home!” Consequently, some men grew up without a strong, caring father. Those men may not be sure how to parent or how to get cooperation without punishing or yelling.

If there is a blended family, or the children are in two households, it is very important for dads to be consistent in giving kind, firm guidance and discipline. Be consistent. If one parent is permissive and the other is punitive or strict, the combined methods constitute a mixed approach. For a child, this is like living in a country where two different governments are operating simultaneously.

Children figure out quickly that the rules are different between two parents, and they learn to play one against the other. This mixed, or inconsistent, approach brings out the most extreme reactions in parents and children. So, as a dad, make a decision that your method of parenting will be consistent and respectful. Once your child knows what your expectations are, he or she will more easily rise to meet those guidelines and trust you.

With that being said, building a trusting relationship with a child is key to proper discipline. Here are five tips fathers can use to discipline a child, while also building a strong father-child bond:

1. Be firm, kind and respectful in setting boundaries.

2. Try to say yes, more often than no. “Yes, you may have a cookie … right after dinner.”

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9 Things Kids Of Divorced Parents Don’t Want To Admit

By Ms. N. Meridian

When things don’t work out between you and the person you married, you suffer internally, agonizing over a new life without each other, reminiscing about the way he once made you feel. Then, it hits you: what about your children? What happens to them?

For most, the custodial decision is practical. The children will stay with you, their mother, their nurturer, their care-giver. You are the one who kisses their feverish foreheads, who cleans up the vomit and tucks them into bed. Is Divorce Becoming a Luxury?

Beyond the financial aspects of your marriage and deciding who keeps the kids, not much is discussed, and many parents forget about the emotional turmoil their children suffer as a result of divorce. But it’s not just the parents who suffer from the failed union. Often, children of divorced couples undergo the mayhem in silence.

My parents got divorced, and so did I, and I also have a child. Here are several things I’ve learned from both of our experiences:

1. Kids feel responsible. Children may feel an overwhelming guilt about the relationship ending. Some children may feel that the marriage ended because of something they’ve said or done. Sadly, without a parent’s reassurance that the divorce had nothing to do with them or their actions, your children may harbor this and may begin to feel anxiety over losing the other parent as well.

2. Their behavior changes. Some children begin to act out in an effort to display distance from their new home life situation. To suddenly go from a secure two parent home to a one parent home can be devastating for some. For others, withdrawal seems best to avoid getting hurt further. Of course, the child who is suddenly uncomfortable in an alien environment may retreat to the safety of their fantasies, friends, school work, anything to keep from admitting that anything is wrong.

Some even act out because the only parent in their lives full-time becomes too distracted and overwhelmed by the situation and thus, avoids the children. As a result, the misbehaving children begin to hope that their new behavior will force their parents to pay attention to them. It may be the only way these children know how to cry out for help.

3. They feel a sense of loss. Losing a parent to divorce can be just as traumatic, in some cases, as losing a parent to death. Where some once seemed complacent, many may feel loss because the other parent is no longer in their lives full-time. In DK Simoneau’s book, We’re Having A Tuesday, Simoneau describes how children living with both parents, but not necessarily under the same roof, can find solutions that work for both the divorced parents and the children involved.

In the end, parents have to yet again, read between the lines, follow all the nonverbal cues their children are sending out in order to help resolve this matter. Sadly, feelings of loss may always be with your child, but there are tactics we as parents can employ to decrease these feelings over time.

4. They may resent you. Although most parents try to shield their child from the harmful effects of divorce, resentment creeps in, nonetheless. This is especially true when one parent seems to have moved on to another love, another life and eventually another family. Children can feel displaced, not knowing where, if at all, they fit into their absent parent’s life.

5. They hate when you fight. Believe it or not, your children love both of you. So bashing one, or denouncing the other isn’t showing the children you’re a hero. In their eyes, you’re making an already difficult situation unbearable. Besides, fighting will only give the absent parent a viable excuse not to visit or communicate with their children. And guess who will be the bad guy in that scenario? I can assure you, it won’t be dad.

6. They need you to listen. Getting anything more than a few words out of your children gets harder as they get older. So shut up and listen! If your child offers that rare moment for you to get into his/her world, take it. When your children ask to talk to you, oblige them. Although the last thing you want to do is relive the doomed relationship, if your children ask about dad, offer a few kinds whenever possible.

Yes, you’re still reeling from your new situation, your new debt, and the fact that you now have to start playing the field all over again. But that’s not your children’s concern. Recall a few of the good times you had together, as well as what went wrong. I’m not saying you should reopen old wounds in this case. On the contrary, keep your explanation to a minimum all while reassuring your children that the divorce had everything to do with you and your ex’s relationship, not them.

7. They aren’t adults. Your child has been through enough in regards to the divorce. So keeping a set of rules by which to live helps reestablish your child’s understanding that although you may have been thrown a curveball in life, you’’e still holding everything together. Even if you are crumbling internally, your children don’t want to know this. It only frightens them. Not to mention, your strength and flexibility shows them that they too can handle difficulties that arise in life.

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