A Connecticut Star Lost Too Soon: Our Hearts Go Out To Jimmy Greene And His Family

We at BLAM want to offer our deepest condolences to Jimmy Greene & family for the lost of his 6 yr. old daughter Ana (wearing shirt with the star in the pic) in the Connecticut mass shooting.  We cried and cried and cried some more yesterday.  We know the hurt we feel is pale in comparison to what you are going through.  Our prayers are truly with you.

From blogs.ottawacitizen.com

Tenor saxophonist Jimmy Greene, who until recently taught in the University of Manitoba’s jazz program, suffered an unimaginable loss today — his daughter was one of the 20 children killed in the Connecticut school shooting.

JazzTimes’ Jeff Tamarkin reports in thisstory that Greene’s six-year-old daughter, Ana, lost her life in the horrific attack. Greene’s son, Isaiah, was unharmed, Tamarkin reports.

CLICK HERE to read more.

Jimmy Greene wrote in response to the prayers and condolences,

“Thank you for all of your prayers and kind words of support. As we work through this nightmare, we’re reminded how much we’re loved and supported on this earth and by our Father in heaven. As much as she’s needed here and missed by her mother, brother and me, Ana beat us all to paradise. I love you sweetie girl.”

Help Your Teenager Steer Clear Of Being Influenced By “Bad” Kids

By Oretha Winston

Teenagers are a breed of their own.

Sometimes teenagers are exploring and trying to find out where they fit in. And sometimes this means sacrificing their own morals for the sake of having friends. I have taught teens for over 20 years now. I can tell you first hand that banning them , or blocking them will not help. They will just find a way around you.

Cleverly keep your child away from the influence. As parents, we have the control ultimately but I would expose my child to other kids/activities. Be very pro active in your child’s life. Try to come up with activities that would steer the child away from certain people. Eventually, your child will see they can meet other people who have a better interest in them.

There are many reasons why your child changes their social circle. One reason that parents can’t separate their child from a bad friend is that the friend often has a stronger relationship. When a child is young, his parents are the major influence in his life. As children enter adolescence a change occurs. A natural part of growing up is breaking away from parents and making bonds with peers. This is normal. If the parent child bond is healthy, children will eventually renew their ties with their parents. This happens in the late teens or early twenties.

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Mother Gave Up Daughter For Adoption Without Telling Father. Dad Now Awarded Custody. The Adults Are Getting Ready To Go At It. Let’s Not Forget THE CHILD!

There has been a lot in the press about the Utah mother who gave up her baby for adoption, only to have a judge order the little girl be returned to her biological father. There are so manyopinions out there about what should and shouldn’t be done. However, we at BLAM hope this family and all of the folks involved in this case take the time to think about 2 very important things:

#1 A biological parent should always be seriously and painstakingly considered when they are endeavoring to have a relationship with and take responsibility for their child.

 Assuming, the parent is an upstanding member of society like you and I….Why would one block this? Of course, a parent who has not been a part of a child’s life shouldn’t expect to waltz into that child’s life and just take over—that would be in the primary interest of the parent–not the best interest of the child. That leads us to point #2….

#2 Do what’s truly in the best interest of the child.

Of course, that’s easier said than done because everyone has their own idea of what’s best. However, we think this intention is often made more complicated than it needs to be. The overarching question should always be “How will this impact the child?’ Does it benefit a child to have their father in their life? What’s the impact when a child does? What’s the impact when the child doesn’t? Is it important for a child to have continuity and familiarity in their life? What’s the impact when they do? How about when they don’t? What are the far reaching and long lasting results of the decisions that are made today regarding this child??? What’s the impact? What’s the impact? What’s the impact?!

Get updated on this controversial case below BLAM Fam. What do you think?

From ABC News

A judge has ordered Utah couple Jared and Kristi Frei to return the adopted toddler to her biological father, Terry Achane, after it was revealed that Bland gave up the child without the father’s knowledge or permission.

“Her well being is all that matters to me,” Bland told ABC News referring to her child. “I want to see her successful. I want to see her in a home, a good home.”

She is sorry that her ex-husband is challenging the adoption.

“I’m hurt for the Fries,” Bland said. “They’re great people.”

The question of who will provide that home is now at the center of a contentious custody battle.


When Achane learned last year that the child, who he calls Teleah, was being raised by the Freis, he asked a court to give him custody.Achane, 31, a staff sergeant in the Army and Bland’s ex-husband, was transferred from Texas where he lived with Bland to South Carolina.

The staff sergeant claims that in 2010, without his knowledge, Bland put the child up for adoption through a Utah agency.Last month, a judge did just that. The Freis now have less than 60 days to return the 21-month-old girl, who they call Leah, to her father. But a lawyer for the Freis told ABC News earlier this week that they don’t plan to return the toddler, and will appeal the judge’s ruling.

Bland says the Freis took her in, and agreed to the adoption after Achane left Texas and moved to South Carolina with the Army. Both sides agree he knew Bland was pregnant, and that he still had to move for work.

Bland says that the she and Achane had discussed adoption, but in the end, she says, he abandoned her and that’s why she turned to the Freis.

“They cared about me and the well being of Teleah when he wasn’t there, when he didn’t care,” Bland said. “He showed no interest in me being pregnant. When he left me, he didn’t leave me with an address. I didn’t have a home address on him.”

Achane’s lawyers deny that, saying he was paying Bland’s bills, and wanted to take care of their unborn daughter.

“The judge heard [Bland’] story, and completely ruled against her. He did not find that her story was credible,” Wiser said.

Bland now says that she wants what she thinks is best for the baby.

“My heart was comfortable with her being with the Freis,” she said. “I’d rather see her with me struggling first before she goes with him.”

Achane is now thrilled with the judge’s ruling and the prospect that he will be united with his baby.

Teaching Your Child Tolerance…Yes, Black Folks Need To Do It Too.

By Cindy Jett, LICSW

Teaching your child tolerance makes moral sense, as well as economic sense. In this era of rapid globalization, it is likely that your child will grow up to interact and do business with people from vastly different cultures from different corners of the world. Helping children adapt to different peoples and cultures with genuine respect and comfort will likely expand their opportunities and success in life. Tolerance is not simply “tolerating” differences among people, but refers to a broad respect and appreciation. The following strategies will teach your child to value difference, rather than fear it.

1. It is OK to talk about differences.

Tolerance is not about pretending everybody is the same. Teach your child that it is OK to recognize and discuss differences. People have different beliefs, look differently, and have different customs. These differences aren’t good or bad, per se, they are simply different. Curiosity is fine as long it is accompanied by an attitude of respect and not judgment.

2. Expose your child to diversity.

Perhaps the best way to develop an appreciation of diversity is through exposure. Exposure to others teaches the anxious child not to fear differences. Whether it is through school, an extracurricular activity or travel, encourage your child to interact with different kinds of people, and be positive about cross cultural friendships.

3. Bear witness to the commonalities of the human condition.

People from all cultures have families, care for children, work hard, and exhibit kindness and loyalty to their loved ones. So while people vary tremendously in terms of beliefs, culture and traditions there is an underlying humanity which unites us all. Look for points of connection on this deeper level, and discuss them with your children.

4. Get to Know Individuals

Reject stereotypes and get to know people from other cultures as individuals. Recognize the tremendous variation within a culture, and don’t be presumptuous about what people are like or what they value. Let the individual show you who they are, just as you would with someone within your own culture.

5. Educate yourself and your children.

Learn about other cultures, lifestyles, and religions. This can be done through travel, movies, books and food, or simply by having your culturally different neighbors to dinner.

6. Model tolerance.

Long before you introduce your child to the concept of tolerance, he will have been observing your interactions with the world. Do you stick with your own kind or do you interact with and befriend people from diverse backgrounds? Do you demonstrate fear or reticence around people who look differently, have a different religion, or different sexual orientation? Do you get to know people for who they are, and reject stereotypes?

Cindy Jett, LICSW is a psychotherapist and author of Harry the Happy Caterpillar Grows, an acclaimed picture book that helps children adapt to change. Visit her at Harrythehappycaterpillar.com.

You Are Not Your Parents: Learn From Their Strengths & Their Shortcomings

By Aiyana Ma’at

I cannot begin to tell you how many times over the years I’ve sat with clients and talked about…….their parents and the impact that their parents (whether present or absent) are having on their lives and the life of their relationship. To truly know yourself and grow there’s no detour around your parents. Love em’ or hate em’, these two people are a significant part of your emotional make-up and why you do what you do.

I love when individuals and couples aren’t afraid to stir up the pot and examine the relationship they had and have with their parents. Why?  Because genuine emotional and mental freedom and insight lies in your ability to disentangle yourself from their worst traits and embody the best.

Who you are often reflects who your parents were. While growing up, it’s often monkey see, monkey do. For better or worse, you emulate (often without awareness) your parents strengths and faults. If your mother was anxious and always worrying, chances are you have some of that within you. If your father was an absolute optimist, that came through too. For example, my mother is one who always encourages the search for insight into self. That is very much who I am. My father was a true risk taker who believed that you can create whatever kind of life you so desire. Well, that ideal runs thick through my blood too.

Sometimes, in an attempt to be different from our parents, we may develop completely opposite emotional coping styles. For example, my mother can be quick to assess, analyze…and basically judge so it’s not a surprise to me that my motto is “There is more than one way” and that I am always emphasizing our need as people to stop judging so much. My father tended to avoid “certain conversations and situations” and today I highly value (productive) confrontation and hate having “unaddressed issues” hanging around. But, these styles also deserve examination so that instead of simply doing the opposite of what your parents did, you can find a truly authentic and balanced way to be.

The bottom line: Examining who your parents have been and are today and how their personalities and ways have shaped you can throw you light years ahead in your personal development and grow a better and more insightful you.  Your boo won’t be able to help but sing your praises because YOUR RELATIONSHIP WILL AUTOMATICALLY BE ELEVATED FROM THE WORK YOU PUT IN. Stop Playing. Start Pushing.





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When You’re Torn Between Your Marriage, Your Kids And Yourself

By Ruth Purple

Perhaps every woman dreams of having a wonderful husband, adorable children, and white picket fence house in the suburbs. A life so ideal and simple, but is it really that simple?

When a woman marries, and decides to have children, it is anything but simple. Marriage is far from easy. It is a constant struggle of give and take, of compromising. Likewise, in having children, you need to be brave and wise enough to guide your children, because their life and their future depends on your sanity. So, where do you put yourself?

It has been commonly said, that when a woman made a decision to give herself in marriage and have children, she put herself last.

I am sorry, but I have to disagree with this one. When it comes to prioritizing between marriage, children, and yourself, I strongly believe that you should prioritize yourself first, then your marriage and then your kids. This may sound selfish, but it is not. Hear me out.

Half of your union depends on you. In the first place, your husband decided to be with you for the rest of his life and made you the mother of your kids, because of “you!” So, why would you put yourself the least? You are important. Knowing this fact, you should take time to heed your needs and prioritize your growth.

Give time to nurture your soul and your spirit. Also, keep the balance within you. Your kid’s welfare depends on your emotional and mental stability. You need to have a sound mind and spirit to make wise decisions. You are their nurturer. How can you nurture, if you yourself needs nurturing? Therefore, if you love your husband, respect your union, and adore your kids, prioritize yourself.

Now you know why you need to keep yourself a top priority, what about when you are torn between your marriage and children? Who should come first? Experts have agreed that if you put your precious little ones first over your union, you are hurting them more than your union. Look at it this way, let the house be the metaphor of your kids and the foundation of that house is your marriage. If the foundation is weak, and breaks into pieces, the whole house will crumble into pieces, too. Therefore, it is safe to say that if there is instability in the foundation, there is turbulence in the house. Keeping the foundation strong, stable, and peaceful secures your children’s long-term well-being. It is unquestionable of how great the impact of divorce is to a child. Its memories always leave a lasting, and sometimes permanent fracture in the kid’s well-being. A strong marriage protects your kid’s well-being during their development into adulthood and helps them prepare for an equallystrong and stable relationship.

Let us be clear though, children’s basic and essential needs should come first. Nobody here is advocating neglecting children’s physical or emotional needs. That being said, the marriage should be prioritized over the kids. Parents sometimes go way overboard in meeting their kid’s needs. They should keep in mind that a child can thrive without piano lessons three or four times a week, but they cannot fully thrive when the family is shaky.

Ruth Purple, is a Relationship and Dating Expert. Conquer Infidelity and Experience a Happier Love Life through her New eBook. Visit her website at Relazine.com.

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?

Surviving The StepFamily

By Robert Carver

After eleven years of marriage I am a very happily married man in a “stepfamily,” otherwise known as a blended family. But to reach this point my wife and I have had the strength of our marriage tested time after time and it still continues. From the day of our wedding, I realized just how different it is living in a stepfamily.

To survive and have a successful marriage is no easy task. Stir in children from a previous marriage, ex-spouses, ex-in-laws, and the extra baggage from previous relationships and you will realize just how different the stepfamily is. Each of these ingredients can bring with it a whole set of problems themselves that need to be dealt with.

This first thing to understand about a stepfamily is that it is not the same as a “traditional” family unit. Each stepfamily has its own set of variables, whether there are intrusive ex-spouses or ex-in-laws, young stepchildren, older stepchildren, the list goes on and on.

My personal situation was that my wife had two children each from her two previous marriages and I had two children from a previous marriage. Neither of my children lived with us, though my son would stay with us for a couple of months at time. So we started out with six children between us. If that wasn’t enough to put a stress on a marriage, my wife and I had a child and then we had seven.

There are several important things that I learned during my marriage that I feel would be helpful to pass on to others who are either already a part of a step family or are planning on marrying into one.

There are three elements that are key to surviving in a step family. Two elements are communication and mutual support between the spouses. Additionally, the highest priority throughout the marriage must be the marriage itself. Remembering that at some point in time, all the children will move on to their own lives. Without all of these elements trying to survive is difficult at best.

The communication must be genuine and productive. Grip sessions almost always tend to be counter-productive – avoid them. Communication is productive when you can mutually reach a happy medium. Don’t be afraid to discuss hard issues. Avoiding them only leads to more problems.

One of the most significant issues that will need to be discussed is the disciplinary role. Whatever is decided, it will need to be agreed and actively supported by both spouses. Sometimes a spouse will put his or her own children’s interest first. It is often, because of the guilt for the experience the children had to suffer through during the divorce and its aftermath. But to do this is to put the marriage itself at risk.

Many parents want to overprotect their children instead of expressing an assurance that they will endure. Over-Indulging children will create its own set up problems for the marriage. The parent needs to convey an optimistic attitude to the children. Don’t try to rescue the children. Give them time to adjust to the stepfamily.

How well the relationship is between a stepparent and the stepchildren will depend upon everyone involved. The relationship between the stepparent and stepchildren will take time to develop. You can neither force nor rush the relationship. It will have to develop on its own. At times it will seem to go forward five steps, but at other times it will seem to go back ten. During these times you have to be prepared for numerous tests of patience and inner strength.

You may hear the words that most stepparents have heard at one time or possibly numerous times “You are not my father. I don’t need to listen to you!!” Be ready to be left out of conversations, be the “Invisible Man” (ignored), be left out of events with your stepchildren and shots taken at you just to see how you will react.

However, through all of this time there must be an ongoing mutual respect between stepparent and stepchildren. The other spouse must support the mutual respect. Through all of this the parent must be ready to do their part as a mature adult, as emotion riddled as the times may get. At all times, you will need to pay attention to the needs of the children. Again, without over-indulging the children.

It is not an easy task to build a relationship with anyone, but when you try to do it with children who may be apathetic in the best of cases or totally antagonistic on the other hand….it is truly a tough scenario.

So is it all negatives? Not necessarily. It can be heaven or hell depending upon how you deal with the issues of a step family. It takes work and sacrifice to have a happy stepfamily. But the rewards can be outstanding. I know…I am receiving those rewards now.

Robert Carver is the founder of ParentInfoGuides.com a resource for parents and stepparents.

How Gratitude Can Help Us In Our Everyday Lives As Moms

By Lori Radun

When my older son was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, my first reaction was relief – I finally knew the reason for his behavior. However, I was also overwhelmed with sadness, fear and anger. I felt sorry for my son and for myself. Like many others in similar circumstances, my question to God was “Why me?”


Through the grace of God, I am now able to focus on my gratitude. I believe God chose me to raise my son because He knew that I would give him the best I have. He will teach me to love and understand him for who he is. I am grateful that I have my son, and grateful that God chose me to be his mother.


There is power and healing in gratitude.


How can gratitude help us in our everyday lives as moms? Think about the difference you can make in your family’s life just by noticing and being thankful for all the great things they do. When you express gratitude, you show your love and appreciation. Everyone needs to feel these things every day. Sometimes as moms we feel that no one appreciates us – and it is true that moms are usually last on the list to be thanked. One way you can teach gratitude is by example. Even on the days when it seems your children or husband are doing everything wrong, find a reason to thank them. Take the time and energy to look for the good. Think about the things that your family does that deserve a thank you. You might say to your husband, “Thank you for working so hard for our family,” or, to your child, “I really appreciate your sense of humor – it feels good to laugh.” Expressing your gratitude helps family members to understand how it feels to be appreciated. And if they still don’t catch on, let them know when you feel unappreciated. You can also tell them how great it makes you feel when they do express gratitude.


Gratitude is a wonderful motivator when you need cooperation. When enlisting the help of my two year old, I praise him often and with enthusiasm. I let him know that he is a great helper. I know I am teaching him appreciation because he expresses it to me. The other day I brought a bunch of multi-colored roses home. For five days, at least once or twice a day, my son thanked me for the flowers.


Sometimes we get so busy and caught up in daily life that we forget to be grateful. We expect everyone to do their share without being asked. The only time anyone hears anything is when a chore has not been completed. This attitude, over the long haul, will develop very resentful and uncooperative family members.


When life is good, gratitude is easy. It becomes more challenging to be grateful when we are experiencing hard times. Financial hardship, long-term illness, the death of a loved one and marital strife can all be trying and difficult. It is hard to find anything to be grateful for. But while pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. We have a choice in how we view our circumstances. We can turn our hearts to God and trust that he has a plan for us. We can be thankful for the lessons we learn and the opportunities for personal growth and transformation. Look at all the people in this world who share the gifts they received during especially difficult times of their life. It is the painful times of my life that have made me stronger, wiser, and more loving today.


I recently attended a powerful seminar on the various levels of energy that a human being emanates. The presenter identified seven different levels of energy. The first level of energy is defined by feelings of apathy and thoughts of victimization. A person at a level two energy has feelings of anger and thoughts of conflict. As a person moves up the energy scale, their feelings and thoughts are more positive. At level seven, one would experience unconditional love and no judgmental thoughts. Only God radiates at level seven. The average person emits energy at a level of 2.5. To experience peace and joy, an individual must raise his energy level to 5 or 6.


So how can we raise our energy level and open our heart to joy? One powerful way is to develop an attitude of gratitude. Look at everyone with grateful eyes. Listen to your heart and the heart of your loved ones. Speak words of affirmation every day of your life. Be grateful for your life with all its lessons and blessings. The more grateful thoughts and feelings you experience and express the more instrumental you will be in healing the world. And your outlook on life will improve in the process.


Lori Radun, CEC is a certified life coach for moms. Visit her at Momnificent.com.

Exposing Your Kids 101: The Ma’at Kids Visit The CBC & Meet Congressman Danny K. Davis

By Ayize & Aiyana Ma’at

This past weekend we took our 3 oldest groaning,moaning, and complaining children to the 42nd Annual Legislative Conference of the Congressional Black Caucus. Our kids: “Where are we going?” Us: “To the Congressional Black Caucus” Kids: “What is that?” Us: “It’s an organization that helps to improve the lives of African American and other people of color. They try to bring attention to issues that are important to African Americans and stand up for…” Kids: Awwww!! Is there going to be a lot of talking?” “Do we haaave to go?!” “This is going to be boooring.”

We weren’t surprised. We just chuckled….told them our expectations for their behavior (as we do most of the time before we go somewhere…ya’ll know.) Fast forward…and we are sitting in a forum examining incarceration and the strategies that can be used to support people of color who are re-entering society after being in prison. We can’t tell you how impactful it was for our  son and daughters to see and  hear people that look like them talking about what we can do to support and help other people that look like us. And, of course, we made a beeline right on over to Representative Danny K. Davis from Illinois so that our kids could meet and see up close…the possibilities. Priceless.

Remember Fam, we have to be intentional about exposing our children to as many people and experiences as we possibly can. It is our right and our responsibility!





















You cannot fully understand your own life without knowing and thinking beyond your life, your own neighborhood, and even your own nation. ~Dr, Johnetta Cole (Former President of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro & Spelman College in Atlanta)


Ayize & Aiyana Ma’at, high school sweethearts, have been together for 18 years and married for 10. Their love and devotion has been an inspiration to many as they demonstrate their commitment to increasing the quality of relationships throughout the world. Together, they are the founders of B Intentional LLC (and this website), a Human Potential firm that exists to provide services that help people increase their self-awareness, overcome obstacles, and reach their most ridiculous goals. Through their popular web property, BlackLoveandMarriage.com. they’ve managed to help bring the power of intention and insight to more than 50,000 individuals and couples per month with their signature down to earth and “keep it real” style. Ayize & Aiyana Ma’at have been featured on Dr. Drew’s Life Changers T.V. Show, Michael Baisden Show, Roland Martin’s Washington Watch, The Matt Mcgill Show, The Oprah Winfrey Network, and many more.