Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Cloak Of Secrecy: Shame on Penn State

I'll be honest with you...I am not a football kind of gal. So, up until a few days ago, I had no idea who the heck Jerry Sandusky was. All that changed, however, in the matter of a seconds when all the sexual abuse allegations against him surfaced! Now....he will never be forgotten. The most disturbing part of this story is not that he could have done this to all those young children. I am well aware of how prevalent this crime is. (The statistics do not lie.) I am disturbed...appalled...nauseated by the allegation that so many knew about this....AND DID NOTHING TO PROTECT THE CHILDREN! (Yes, I'm yelling because I am peeved!)

I reviewed the infamous timeline that has been widely reported. In summary, it begins in 1994. In 2000, a Janitor allegedly sees Sandusky molesting a young boy. Again in 2002, a graduate assistant (Mike McQueary) allegedly witnessed Sandusky sodomizing a 10-yr-old in a locker room. A 2008 Grand Jury investigation found that 118 phone calls were made from Sandusky's phone to a victim's home after his mother reported that her son had been molested. However, it was not until October 5, 2011 that Sandusky is arrested for the alleged crimes. Siiiiiigggghhh!

The sad truth is that there are thousands of
"Sandusky's" out there. However, don't be misguided because there
are just as many "McQueary's" in the world as well!!!!! In fact,
in order for a pedophile to victimize, they need a cloak of secrecy.

Remember as well that kids often do not tell when they are being abused because the pedophile has brainwashed them into thinking that what they are doing is okay; or that no one will believe them; or that they would harm their loved ones. That is why I want each of you to know the warning signs to watch for. Here are just a few:

Masturbating excessively.
Showing unusually aggressive behavior toward family members, friends, toys, and pets.
Complaining of pain while urinating or having a bowel movement.
Exhibiting symptoms of genital infections such as offensive odors, or symptoms of a sexually transmitted disease.
Beginning wetting the bed.
Experiencing a loss of appetite or other eating problems, including unexplained gagging.
Showing unusual fear of a certain place or location.
Developing frequent unexplained health problems.
Engaging in persistent sexual play with friends, toys or pets.
Regressing to behaviors too young for the stage of development they already achieved.
Initiating sophisticated sexual behaviors.
Indicating a sudden reluctance to be alone with a certain person.
Engaging in self-mutilations, such as sticking themselves with pins or cutting themselves.
Withdrawing from previously enjoyable activities, like school or school performance change.
Asking an unusual amount of questions about human sexuality.

I also want want you to know what to do if you discover that your child has been abused. Here is a short video that offer 5 key things you should know.

An open and honest blog about what matters most.....CHILDREN AND FAMILIES!!!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I'm gonna tell my Daddy!!!

Today's guest post is from a good friend of mine who was able to perfectly capture and describe how a father's love can make a difference in a child's life. The recent Penn State scandal makes this article even more impactful. I wept as I read his recent post and asked if I could share it with all of you. So happy that he said yes!

I'm Gonna Tell My Daddy
By: Cushmeer

5 words. 5 simple words that every child deserves to have in their arsenal. Every child deserves the protection of a caring, loving and most importantly, PRESENT daddy.

Far too often, our children are left to fend for themselves because they have been abandoned by the one who is best equipped to protect them. Far too often our children are preyed upon by those who know that there is no one there to fill the void that only a father can fill.

As I sit here in my office my eyes are filling with tears because I cannot help but feel for the kids out there who can't say these words. I feel for the little girl that doesn't know her value because daddy abandoned her. I feel for the little boy who doesn't know how to respond to situations because he has no male role model to pattern himself after.

Abandonment is a weird feeling. It hides inside of you quietly and unnoticed until the moment that you need daddy. The moment that your instincts tell you to reach out for help, only to be reminded by your mind, that there is no one to reach out to. That is when the feelings of worthlessness creep in and take root in your still forming psyche. When you are watching mommy get her a** beat by her boyfriend, or when you see someone abusing your sister and you have no one to call and you don't know how to respond.

Abandonment does not have to be permanent to leave permanent scars. All it takes is a few months of not being there for life long damage to occur to your child. That little baby that you were so proud of when he or she was born. The little one that made you feel that you suddenly mattered for the first time. The one who gave you the opportunity to be better than your absentee father was to you.

Every time I look in the mirror at my shirtless torso, I am reminded of what can happen when daddy isn't around and when uncles didn't, wouldn't or couldn't step in. I also know the feeling of being all alone in the world, coming home from school to find no one home and the doors locked. Forced to stay with friends, wondering where I was going to sleep. I had plenty of family that loved me, but I didn't have a single phone number to call. Then, after a week of staying at a school mates home, I had worn out my welcome. The abandoned little boy who didn't know his father's phone number got beat up by the school mate who's home I couldn't go back to.

So there I sat, in the lobby of the empty home that my family had left. I was 12. I sat on the steps crying and hugging my skinny little doberman who had been abandoned with me. The plan that my little mind came up with that night was to put the both of us up for adoption. He was all I had in the world. Then out of the blue, the phone rang. "A-Salam-Alaikum"....It was my father. I hadn't seen him for a few months, but at that very moment, I knew that I was safe. Within a matter of an hour, my father was there to comfort me. To protect me and to replenish the self-worth that had been sucked out of me.

He didn't have a fancy house. He didn't have a car, or fancy clothes, but when I saw him that night, he was as beautiful as any movie star that anyone has ever seen. I had a hero. I had a shoulder to cry on without a single string attached. Years later, back with my mother, dad faded off into the distance again. We were in Georgia. Mom was trying to hustle to take care of my sister and I. In and out of jail she went, so my sister and I were forced to stay with strangers for weeks and months at a time. Again, with no contact information, we had to deal with the pain of abandonment again, and again, and again as our mother was in and out of jail.

During my freshman year at Frederick Douglass HS in SW Atlanta, Ga, I didn't have any clothes. I wore the same pair of pants everyday until I came up with the idea of turning them into shorts as the weather improved. After all, shorts beat highwaters. Only problem was that I didn't know the rule of "measure twice, cut once", so now my one pair of highwater pants became highwater SHORTS. :)

It was the third day of the spring semester, and Mrs. Fanning had just fronted me out for not wearing deodorant. Mom hadn't been home for a few days, and dad was who knows where at this point. Arizona I think. I noticed that the kids on the other side of the classroom, facing me, were all whispering and giggling amongst themselves. I knew that it was because the teacher had just fronted me out something fierce, but it went on for too long so I knew there was something else. I assumed that they were making fun of my off brand tennis shoes again, and when I looked down; to my horror, I saw that my teenie weenie shorts had let me down. My little nutty buddies, had somehow crept out of my short shorts. As soon as I shut my legs, that entire side of the classroom erupted into laughter. I couldn't take it, so I grabbed my books and ran all the way home to the 2 bedroom Allen Temple sh*t hole that we lived in....crying all the way.

I did not go back to school that year; cutting class by hiding in buildings from April-June. Those were some of the loneliest days of my life, sitting in those stairwells wondering why my life was the way that it was. Wondering why I was being tormented by God in this way.

Fast forward a few months to that summer and we moved to the Kinsgridge Apts near Greenbriar Mall. I got busted shoplifting by the Woolworths plain clothes security. When he saw that I was stealing underwear, I could see the anguish on is face as he tried to figure out what to do with me. Thank goodness for me that he let me go. I also joined a football team, The Buccaneers. I lied and said that I was 12 so that I could get one of the practice outfits. A pair of shorts and a Bucanners t-shirt. To me, it was a new outfit that fit, because, sad as it sounds, YES, I was still wearing those little shorts. Where was mom? Back in jail. This time for a failure to appear violation. She's been arrested so many time by this point, who could keep up with all of the court dates.

All this time that I was struggling, daddy wasn't around. Yes I knew that he loved me. Yes I knew who he was. Yes we'd had a beautiful bond at one point, but here I was, both of their son, lying and stealing for clothing, humiliated beyond imagination.

What would have happened to me if the Bucaneers coach was a Jerry Sandusky or an Eddie Long? Who was I going to turn to if I were being abused? Who did I even think cared enough to do something? Nobody. That's who. And that is what abandonment feels like.

But it can be undone in an instant.

So I am outside playing catch with my friend Ulysses. It is September and I am still wearing my E.D.O. (every day outfit). The Bucanners practice ensemble and my busted a** jeepers when the baseball we were throwing went through the neighbors window. As we stared at the window, with the tenant scolding us from the inside, I could see that I was not going to be getting any new school clothes now because that money was going to have to pay for the window. I had spent the whole summer looking at the sears catalogue in the house, wishing that I could have all of the nice clothes to wear to school and now this. Mom had just gotten out of jail a few weeks earlier and hadn't scraped up enough money except for maybe a pair of Levi's or 2.

As I sat there looking at the window a car pulled up a few yard away on the street. I didn't notice the car until the man in the passenger's seat yelled "Cushmeer!" It was my uncle Rasheed who I had not seen in years. He had just happened to be in Atlanta from Chicago, and was only in the neighborhood because the driver was dropping some money off to his kids. I cannot tell you what it felt like to hear "Cushmeer" at that moment. Only my family knew that name.

The next day, my uncle Rasheed came back to the house and took my sister and I to the Polo Store at Perimeter mall and bought us more clothes than I had even prayed for.

I remember staying up all night looking in the mirror at every outfit combination that I could think of. The impact that Rasheed's love had on me was instant and profound. Rasheed never abandoned us. He made sure that we got out of the new sh*t hole that we were living in. He made sure that we were reconnected with our family, and to this day, we have not been out of contact.

I owe my life to that day. I fear what I may have become had God not brought Rasheed to us at that moment. I was a victim waiting for a victimizer. Fortunately for me, I was rescued by a loving uncle who cared enough to fill part of the void created by my father's absence.

So I say to you, if you know of a child that is missing a father, take the time to help them, to encourage them and to love them; because if we don't, the horrors of Penn State and New Birth will continue to haunt our community for years and generations to come.

God Bless the fathers who, despite the obstacles and roadblocks find it in themselves to MAKE A WAY to be there for their children; and God bless the children who have no daddy to protect them.

Shout out to all of the fathers who stood strong and weathered the storms. Shah Salahdeen, Troy DaGraca, Patrick Hudson, Karriem Shah, WD Shah, Craig Gloster, Jihad Khayyam and Juan Pittman, through thick and thin, you stand tall for yours.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween Safety Is a Must

Hello Pundits,

Halloween in just a few days away. I know your kids are excited and eager to dress up in their cool outfits. I wanted to share some tips with you to make sure that the evening ends safe for your babes. Please watch and share:)

Happy Halloween,

An open and honest blog about what matters most...families and children!!!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Operation "Beat Dat Azz": The Only Way To Discipline Black Boys

Is it possible that parents no longer know how to discipline their children? Maybe something happened within my rather short lifetime that caused a major disconnect such that I simply cannot relate to anything I see, hear, or read.

Here’s the source of my current rant:

A week or so ago, a news report surfaced because there was an online video showing what appeared to be a young father who was so upset by his son’s misbehavior at school that he shaved the boys hair and eyebrows, spanked him with a belt, and forced him to do exhausting exercises. He filmed the entire 7 minute and 44 second clip and posted it on social media sites. The sad irony is that this parent filmed all of this, I guess, as a means of showing other parents how to properly discipline their own children. (LOL…everyone is a parenting expert;) However, all laughing aside, I was disturbed by what I heard. However, it was not until yesterday that I had the chance to actually view the clip. It is very difficult to watch, but despite the disturbing contents of the video…I have to say that it’s the nation’s reaction that shocked me most. (I’ll get to that a tad later)

The man in the video is identified as Devery Broox. He is not the boy’s father, but has been described as being his "mentor." Orlando, FL officers arrested him after learning about the video via a tip originally received by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. While the 7-year-old boy initially claimed that marks and scars on his legs were caused by a bicycle accident, he later “disclosed that Devery ‘whips’ him ‘all the time.’” The child told the police that “Devery made him tell the story about the bicycle because ‘he don’t wanna’ go to jail.’”

I am sharing the video below for you to view, but I do want to caution you that it is not safe for work or for children. It contains extremely foul language and violence.

Now....Here’s my rant:

Of the two people in the video, who do you think people are defending? The 7-year-old you say? Well, that would make too much sense. In fact, it is Broox who people are passionately defending online and at the water cooler. “A parent can’t beat their kids ass anymore without the government getting involved!” an angry listener said when she called into a radio show. Again I ask, what happened in the world that causes confusion between discipline and abuse. Those arguing in Broox’s defense say that the incarceration rate of Black men is the reason why such “discipline” is important. They go on to say that this will help young black men because it will make them successful and productive citizens. Ummm….I’m trying not to go there…but heck, here I go!

Violence begets violence…ALWAYS. Fear and intimidation does not set a healthy framework for relationships! A child is supposed to feel safest at home. A child is supposed to feel comforted by a parent’s touch. Appropriate discipline cannot occur when a parent is enraged. Leaving scars on children means that you caused them to bleed! How does that show love? Condoning “Beating a Child’s Ass” as a community effort among African Americans will only further damage our children. Don’t believe me….take stock of the current state of affairs. I honestly did not want to go there today, but my blood curdles when it comes to topics like these!

So where do you stand on this issue. Did this mentor offer appropriate discipline, and should his self-help parenting video be viewed a good training material for parents? The comments below are just some that were posted in the abuser’s defense. Do you agree with them?

When did disciplining a kid become a crime? He may have went a little overboard with the eyebrow shaving but come on, he just teaching the kid to act right or get faced with consequences...Soft world we live in.

I support the Mentor. Was it extreme? Yes. Will it leave an impression on the young boy to get his act together? Yes. All this is showing is that parents lose their rights to raise their children.

I know this guy PERSONALLY! Devery is a very nice man he is a mentor and helps boys in the community along with a group of guys I went to college with. He isn't cruel person nor evil and ten years is to the EXTREME. I am going to make sure I go to the courtroom and support Devery because he is somebody who cares about our youth and in the black community we all know that this form of discipline is 100% normal and most of us were raised this way. We are not dead and are parents are not in prison. Those whoopings we got saved many of our lives. I don't get it that you cant whoop your kid with a belt but cops can break your bones with night sticks, tazer you or shoot and kill you. What sense does that make?

if this child grows up to be a prison bird or terroize society they will look at him as another black child gone wrong. Now someone is trying to right his wrongs early on and its a crime. I hope next time it isn't made public but when this same black boy goes astray becuase he does not have a mentor you all who are against the punishment will be looking to point fingers again.
He was retarded for posting it.... That's all!

Mentor, father, caretaker...young black boys especially need someone to discipline them. This is evident by how many are winding up in juvenile facilities and the penal system in general. While I believe that whipping witha leather belt is extreme, cutting the boys' hair and maybe his eyebrows is not that extreme. Hair grows back but you can't erase a felony conviction. Making him run sprints and doing the duck walk and push ups my impress upon the boy to get his act together and straighten up in school. Parents and guardians need the support of the systems to reinforce discipline and even suggest non corporal, effective ways to turn kids around in their behaviors before it becomes too late.

See this is wats wrong with the world today....they gone punish a black man for actually giving a damn....he could not be there, and not even care...and then the child would be just another statistic...another want to b thug, in jail, 2 3 babies he not taking care of.. letting the cycle continue. Somewhere the cylce has to break with our youth. My granddaddy whooped my a*s, my uncles, my momma, even my grandma....not to make me tough to learn some damn discipline and some respect..for elders..and for people trying to teach you something..but I guess some of you rather have rappers be role models..i don't understand..somewhere in the last 10 20 years we lost have no tradition....then some of you have a nerve to complain about it....its a shame...make that boy do some push ups....sprints..cut grass all that...and then whoop his a*s.....i bet he wont go in that class room no more acting a fool...respect that man for stepping up because half of yall wouldn't even give that boy a time a shut up.

I don't have a problem with what was done. So many people come to the boys defense by saying "this poor innocent kid..." If he was so innocent, he wouldn't have been acting a fool in school. So often we as a society talk about the problems with children now a days, and so often do we forget how things were back during the times when children were better behaved. Times when most children had a basic level of respect for adults, and those that didn't were taught a lesson. There was a time in our history where teachers and other school officials were allowed to spank kids. There was a time when if a child got in trouble at school, he would get a beating from the teacher, neighbor, mailman, corner store owner and stranger before having to answer to his parents. Now a days, kids are terrorizing society with their reckless behavior.

An open and honest blog about what matter most...children and families!!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Today’s Kids Are Tomorrow’s Future

I know it’s a bit early to talk about this. But before you know it, November will be upon us. Did you know that November is National Adoption month here in the United States. Although this cause is important everyday of the year, this is the month set aside to raise awareness about the adoption of children and youth from foster care. Years ago, I worked as the Clinical Director of a foster care agency. Most days I felt overwhelmed about the swelling numbers of children for which I had to find appropriate foster homes. At times it felt like there were not enough people willing to open up their homes to children in need. I soon burned out, and left to make an impact in the lives of children in a different way. Yet, looking at the recent statistics, nothing has changed.

Currently, there are over 510,00 children in the foster care system. While blacks account for 15% of U.S. children, they make up 32% of those in foster care, according to a May 2008 report by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, a private research group. Other reports suggest that black children in foster care, especially older ones, are less likely than white ones to be adopted. Reports also suggest that Caucasian children in foster care are four times more likely to be reunified with their families than black children. This means that the majority of African American children will remain in foster care unless they are adopted by a loving family.

To address these statistics, a new federally funded ad campaign is looking to get more black foster children adopted. Television commercials will feature black parents and children in settings such as parks and schools. Similar ads will appear on radio and in newspaper. The ads were developed by the Advertising Council, which produces public service announcements and AdoptUsKids, a non-profit that helps connect foster children with adoptive families. This is the first time African-Americans have been targeted, according to project officials.

The theme for adoption month this year is, "You don't have to be perfect to be a perfect parent." I would certainly agree with this motto. I would add, however, that although you don’t have to be perfect, you have to be willing to help a child heal. Entering foster care and being removed from your parents’ custody is incredibly traumatic for children. This, I assume, is why so many people choose to adopt infants, as they assume that babies will not be cognizant of the separation. Yet, teens and younger adolescents are in desperate need of loving homes as well. So, I encourage those who are thinking if adopting to be open-minded!

Knowing how to maneuver the adoption system can be daunting. However, here are some tips on the steps you will need to take if you choose to embark on this fulfilling journey:

1. Make a Plan. One of the most significant steps you will take is to establish your general attitudes and philosophies about adoption.

2. Search for an agency in your area. Agencies typically offer free informational meetings on the type of adoption placements they offer.

3. Complete a Home Study. Once you apply to adopt a child, the laws of all states require that you undergo a homestudy. Homestudies are conducted to evaluate your desire and commitment to adopt, to explore the reasons why you want to adopt, to evaluate you as a prospective parent, and to provide education about adoption.

4. Finding a child. Once the home study is completed, you are ready to begin the placement process — the time when a specific child is identified for your family.

Deciding to adopt a child is certainly a big decision, and one that requires much introspection. You may find that you have a desire to open your home to a child who needs one. AND…you will likely discover that it is that child that brings happiness into your home!

An open and honest blog about what matters most...children and families!!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Will Your Kids Sue You?

Have you heard about Kimberly Garrity? Me neither until just a short while ago! She’s an everyday mom who recently got sued by her two adult children for emotional distress. Now, y’all know as a staff member of Peas In Their Pods, I read stories daily about bad parenting. But this is different. Let me share…

The siblings were raised in a $1.5 million home by their father, and alleged that their mother was a horrible parent because she “failed to send money for birthdays, called her daughter home early from homecoming (If midnight is considered early in your book), and threatened to call the police on her son, then 7, if he didn't buckle up in the car.” Her son also accused her of once smacking him on the head, and says that he still suffers from headaches. Oh….and there is also the complaint that Kimberly did not buy her daughter a homecoming dress.

One of the exhibits presented to the court was a birthday card that Kimberly sent to her son. Inside it read, "Son I got you this Birthday card because it's just like you ? Different from all the rest! Have a great day! Love & Hugs, Mom xoxoxo." The "evidence" was presented by the plaintiffs to prove how “inappropriate” their mom had been because the card did not include cash or a check. (I promise I’m not making this up!)

What’s worse than the travesty of having her children accuse her of such silliness…the fact that her ex-husband (Steven Miner) and children’s father served as their lawyer. Kimberly and Steven divorced in 1995. Clearly, Steven needs to find a hobby. Not surprisingly, the Illinois appeals court dismissed the case, ruling that Kimberly’s behavior wasn't "extreme or outrageous."

Well, Parenting Pundits, since suing parents for crazy things seems to be in style, I figure I’d help my kids out by starting a laundry list of things they might be able to sue me for in the future:

1. Setting a firm bedtime….EVERY NIGHT!

2. Expecting that homework is done to completion…..EVERY NIGHT!

3. Showing up to EVERY parent teacher conference….EVERY SEMESTER!

4. Expecting that they treat others as they want to be treated…EVERY DAY!

5. Not buying every material item they want but picking some…IF THEIR BEHAVIOR ALLOWS!!!

6. Making them clean their rooms…and ANY OTHER ROOM FOR THAT MATTER!!!

7. Expecting that they eat something green…EVERY DAY:)


8. Kissing and hugging them as often as I am inclined….EVERY HOUR!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

5 Tips: How To Piss Your Child's Teacher Off

 recently posted an article that shared some pet peeves that teachers have. Here are some of the highlights:

1. Not knowing the school's discipline policies, and then getting upset if they're different from yours.

2. Pressuring your child not to mess up or misplace her clothes.

3. Trying to discuss a problem during dropoff or pick-up.

4. Being late for Circle Time. a crucial part of the routine, and if your child misses it, she might feel a little lost, especially if she's the only one who isn't clued in.

I thought this article was well written, and offered valuable insights for parents. However….I would like to keep it all the way….funky dunky real. If I could have written the article, I would have titled it “5 Surefire Ways To Piss Your Child’s Teacher Off.” Here they are:

1. Don’t show up for scheduled conferences…especially the ones that they kindly scheduled before or after school…you know…the time that they have to spend with their own children.

2. Don’t ever (I mean NEVER) check their homework.

3. Do their homework for them so that they can get 100%. Even though their teacher knows that they cannot read or write but somehow managed to use the word “expeditiously" correctly.

4. Always curse at them when they call to let you know that your cutie pie was rude and/or disrespectful to staff.

5. And of course….Always buy the light up and sparkly sneakers for your child…especially if they have been diagnosed with ADHD.

So, of course you know me well enough by now to understand that I am being extremely sarcastic and tongue in cheek about this issue. However, I do want to stress that setting the framework for a successful parent/teacher relationship has to start at the beginning of the year. One of the best things that parents can do is to make themselves known to the teacher. What does that mean, g? Well, it up for the open house at the start of the year so that the teacher can put a face with the name. It’s sad to say, but there are many teachers who go through the whole year and never meet certain parents! Of course, we are all busy, and most of us don’t have the ability to be the coveted room-mom. But consistent communication between home and school is critically important for academic success. So if you want a great 2011-2012 school year, follow these tips:

1. Do meet the teacher at the start of the year, and let them know that you are invested in your child’s academic success.

2. Do establish a set homework time each afternoon/ evening to discuss and review assigned work. Let the teacher know if some of the work is a bit over your head because they willingly set up tutorial time to give individual assistance.

3. Do ask for help as soon as possible if you suspect that your son or daughter is having significant difficulty comprehending age and grade appropriate concepts. Your school system has a wealth of resources available to you and your child and early intervention is key!

4. Do make sure that your child uses a planner to document homework and project assignments. Also make sure to sign the planner each day so that the teacher knows that you are aware of daily expectations. (It’s also a great way to chart behavior concerns) Do

5. Do start your child’s academic day with a belly filling breakfast. Kids learn best when they are well rested and fed. If you are experiencing a financial hardship, you may find that your family qualifies for free and reduced school meals. It’s a wonderful program available to families. Also, School Social Workers are a fabulous resource to families, as they can link you up with helpful community programs that may ease financial hardships.

Here's To A Happy & Productive School Year,

An open and honest blog about what matters most...children and families!!!

Friday, August 12, 2011

What Would You Do?

Here in the state of Georgia, most kids have traded in their swimsuits for backpacks and new sneakers because it is back-to-school time. Despite this reminder that the summer has officially come to an end, I am still vacuuming sand from the carpet in my car. See, my family spent most of the summer lounging and playing on various beaches. As a non-swimmer (Yes, I know it’s pathetic), I have always been extremely…I mean ├╝ber paranoid of my children swimming out of my reach in the ocean. That is why the story of Charles Ostrander immediately caught my attention.

Charles, who goes by Dale, was visiting Long Beach, Washington with a church group a few days ago. Somehow he got caught in a very strong tide. Upon hearing his cries for help, a 12-year-old girl named Nicole Kissel defied her father’s objections and immediately paddled out to Dale who struggled to stay afloat. She managed to reach him, and helped him onto her boogie board. Reportedly, the two youths paddled in an attempt to reach shore. The water was extremely rough, and Nicole remembers thinking "We're going to die. I can't die like this!”

A large wave knocked them both off. Although Nicole successfully climbed back on her board, Dale disappeared into the violent waters. Nicole eventually made it back to shore, but it took some time before rescue workers found Dale’s lifeless body about two feet below the surface of the water. CPR was immediately commenced, but Dale was lifeless. As imagined, his family braced themselves for the worst. But, his pulse returned once he reached the hospital, and a day later Dale opened his eyes. He soon uttered a few words to his family. Then, again later when Nicole visited him, he spoke. According to news reports, Nicole stated that Dale was having difficulty focusing his eyes for most of the 15-minute reunion. But as she left, he made direct eye contact for the first time and said, "Thank you."

No doubt, Dale has a long recovery ahead of him, as he was underwater and without oxygen for approximately 15 minutes. I wish him the speediest recovery, and given how he has defied the expected…he most definitely has the fighter spirit needed to do so.

Nicole’s actions were so completely selfless and heroic! She acted without hesitation because she saw that someone needed help. She can serve as an inspiration to those of us who stand in the background when we witness something that we know is wrong, or when we know that someone is in harm’s way. Here is clip from the popular TV show titled What Would You Do. This particular segment shows various scenarios in which a pedophile attempts to lure away a 10-year-old girl. Do you think all the adults present intervened and reported the attempted abduction? Watch and see…..then ask yourself “What would I do?”

P.S….. I often role play with my kids and pretend to be the “tricky adult.” But, I watched this video with them so they could see someone other than mommy or daddy being the “stranger” that tries to lure them. Their reaction was very moving to me. They were fixated on the characters that tried to harm the young girl because it made it very real to them. The discussion that we had after viewing the video was so very instructional and important. So, I strongly urge you to share this with your school-aged child. You might be surprised by their definition of the word stranger.

An open and honest blog about what matters most...CHILDREN AND FAMILIES!!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Indicators of When Your Daughter Should See the Gynecologist

A relationship with a gynecologist is important to a woman’s health throughout life. When that relationship begins depends on a number of factors.

According to Women's Health Associates , a gynecologist in Columbia, MO, the leading determinant of when a daughter should see a gynecologist is whether or not she is sexually active. If a mother knows or suspects her daughter is having sex, or will be in the near future, they should see the gynecologist about birth control or contraception, and also to check for sexually transmitted diseases.

Some mothers believe that they should take their daughters in to the gynecologist as soon as they have their first period. Usually, this is not the case.

Periods are a normal part of a girl’s development, and parents should only take their daughter to see the gynecologist about their period if their daughter has the first period really late or early. Typically, anything below the age of nine is cause for concern. Having a period at nine or 10 is early but not unheard of, and mothers can use their own discretion on whether they should take their daughter to the gynecologist. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if your daughter has not experienced a period by the age of 16, a parent should bring their daughter in to have her hormone levels checked.

Other circumstances in which a period warrants a trip to the gynecologist include heavy flow for a long period of time, such as three weeks, or excessive pain from the period that is so severe it is causing your daughter to miss school.

As mentioned, sexual activity often determines when a teenager starts seeing a gynecologist. But if your daughter is not sexually active, many doctors recommend she sees the gynecologist around 17 or 18.

Women should at least see a gynecologist by the age of 21, as that is when they should have their first pap smear.

Thank you to the Women's Health Associates for providing this content for my Parenting Pundit readers!

An open and honest blog about what matters most...CHILDREN AND FAMILIES!!!

Monday, July 18, 2011

When The Law Let's You Down

Let me ask you a rhetorical question....How do you feel about the Casey Anthony verdict?  I have not met a person yet who isn't outraged by the findings, and the apparent slap on the hand of a mother, human, egg supplier who covered up the murder eh hem...accidental drowning of beautiful Caylee Anthony.  Well let me share another story with you that may very well put you over the edge.  Please make sure you're sitting down...sigh.

Weldon Marc Gilbert of Washington state is a wealthy commercial pilot acting as his own defense counsel, so he gets to personally review the evidence against him.  Not such a big deal, right.  But wait, there's more!  Gilbert is accused of child rape and molestation and the "evidence" that he is allowed to view is the 100s of pornographic material seized from his home in 2007.  Reports indicate that he lured children to his house.  Once inside, he would get them drunk, tie them down and beat them, all with the camera rolling, detectives said.

According to ABC News, authorities found a stash of pornographic videotapes and DVDs depicting 250 scenes involving 40 individuals, including one of a boy who was 12 years old. Police also allegedly found a cassette tape on which Gilbert described his spanking fantasies in addition to a variety of sex toys, paddles, blindfolds, spanking devices and two handguns.

Apparently Gilbert will be put in a private room whenever he wants to watch the researchOUR legal system allows this obscenity!  Imagine how the children and their parents must feel knowing that this pedophile gets to relive their rape and abuse as often as he wants.  Sickening!  The only rule is that he is not able to show the tapes to other inmates, and must have one person supervise him while he researches.

This travesty and the results of the Casey Anthony case are a blatant indication that we have to put pressure on lawmakers in order to protect our children.  Because , clearly the laws that are in place are wishy washy, and reward the perpetrators instead of the victims. 


An open and honest blog about what matters most...CHILDREN AND FAMILIES!!!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Who Allows Their Teen To Have Sex At Home: Lots of Parents

Hmmmmm..... What a crazy week in the news. Lindsay gets off, OJ may confess to killing Nicole and Ron to Oprah, and Bristol Palin talks about the loss stealing of her virginity.  But the one news story that had my mind imploding is the segment that Elisabeth Hasselbeck did for ABC News regarding parents allowing their teens to have sex at home.  Have you heard about it?  No...well let g fill you in (lol)!

Ok, so Elisabeth interviewed parents and teens about this issue. Of course, the adult panel was divided.  The pro argument was that kids do it anyway so why not allow them to do it in a safe and controlled environment.  The con... that the boundaries are too far blurred.  Hmmmm.... (just breath g)! 

My rant professional  opinion:

Yes, it's true that teens experiment sexually.  It's to be expected because their hormones are peaking as they are becoming young adults.  However, the argument that parents use who allow their teens to have sex at home is flawed.  Just because teens may experiment with sex....alcohol....drugs...etc.  does not mean that it has to be condoned by their parents.  What happened to the education piece.  You know...where we talk to our kids and instruct, guide, instill values and' parent.  As with any issue, we do all that we can to teach our kids right from wrong, and then expect that the foundation that we laid will inspire our kids to make the right choices.

Interestingly enough!  The teens that were interviewed indicated that it they were uncomfortable with being allowed to have sex at home.  One girl made a powerful statement when she expressed how it would make it more difficult for her to say no to her boyfriend if he knew that her parents condoned them having sex under their roof.  Sometimes children make more sense than the adults! would the whole "it's okay to have sex thing" work.  Would you need to leave the house to give the tweens some private time?  Do you let the partner stay the night while you wear earplugs to muffle the noise.  Good grief....what's for "marital toys" with your 14-yr-old?????  Puh-leeze someone tell me that I'm not the only one that feels this way!

Watch the video and share your thoughts....

An open and honest blog about what matters most....families and children!!!!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Babyland: No Place For Children

I learned something recently that really troubled me so much that I simply had to write about it. I found out that there is a place in America where babies die at a rate that would be expected in a third world or underdeveloped nation. But, it’s not Somalia, Angola, or Cambodia that I’m writing about. Nope, it’s Tennessee! Of the 23 richest countries, the United States has the highest rate of infant mortality, according to the CIA World Fact Book.

The first city health department report warning that Memphis had a problem with infant mortality was issued in 1935. Clearly, this issue has not changed because the state health department has reported that in Shelby County, a baby dies every 43 hours! Hospitals are reportedly overwhelmed with the number of single mothers who lack of prenatal care. The babies most at risk are African Americans from the most impoverished parts of town.

Every Tuesday and Thursday in Memphis, as the miniscule bodies accumulate, the Health Department takes over for the families who can't afford a funeral. The tiny bodies are buried in a cemetery referred to as Babyland. Although the name is reminiscent of an amusement park filled with exciting rides and pony rides…it is not a place you will ever want your children to go.

So what are the factors that influence child mortality? Here is a list of issues that negatively affect pregnancy and/or child health:

  • Lifestyle Choices
  • Maternal Health 
  • Alcohol and Drug/Substance Use
  • Birth Defects 
  • Poor Nutrition
  • Disease (STD)
  • Irregular Prenatal Care 
  • Infections
  • Closely spaced 
  • Psychological Stressors 
  • Poverty
  • Domestic Violence
As you can see, the majority of the issues on the list are preventable or easily treatable. However, community education is key. There are many organizations and initiatives that provide free or very affordable services that can help save the lives of babies. Here is a short list:

Healthy Start
Designed to meet community needs, the projects include outreach, case management, health education and community consortia. For more information, visit

Medicaid and SCHIP
Medicaid is a state and federal partnership that provides access to prenatal care for eligible mothers and health coverage for millions of infants from low-income families.

Toll-free prenatal care hotline
A toll-free hotline to assist pregnant women and others seeking information on prenatal care, including referrals to local clinics and physicians. Assistance is available in English at 1-800-311-BABY (2229) and in Spanish at 1-800-504-7081.

The situation in Memphis is truly saddening. However, it is my sincerest hope that sufficient intervention occurs that will help to make an impact on the trend that we are seeing. Much of this is preventable…but outreach is sorely needed.
An open and honest blog about what matters most....families and children!!!!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Staying Sane: A Parent's Tale

I recently read this poem, and wanted to share it with ALL parents (because I know you understand-lol) Being a parent is a no-joke-situation…but quite often, the stuff we have to deal with is simply funny. So here’s a reminder to remember to laugh about the “battles” we often face as parents. Yes, this post is inspired by my 6-year-old (going on 56-year-old) baby girl! She reminds me each and every day that although I AM in control….I am not always in charge.


The Toddler’s Creed

If it is on, I must turn it off.If it is off, I must turn it on.
If it is folded, I must unfold it.
If it is a liquid, it must be shaken, then spilled. If it a solid, it must be crumbled, chewed or
    smeared. If it is high, it must be reached. If it is shelved, it must be unshelved.
If it is pointed, it must be run with at top speed.
If it has leaves, they must be picked.
If it is plugged, it must be unplugged.
If it is not trash, it must be thrown away.
If it is in the trash, it must be removed, inspected, and thrown on the floor.
If it is closed, it must be opened.
If it does not open, it must be screamed at.
If it has drawers, they must be rifled.
If it is a pencil, it must write on the refrigerator, monitor, or table.
If it is full, it will be more interesting emptied.
If it is empty, it will be more interesting full.
If it is a pile of dirt, it must be laid upon.
If it is stroller, it must under no circumstances be ridden in without protest. It must be  
     pushed by me instead. If it has a flat surface, it must be banged upon.
If Mommy's hands are full, I must be carried.
If Mommy is in a hurry and wants to carry me, I must walk alone. If it is paper, it must be
If it has buttons, they must be pressed.
If the volume is low, it must go high.
If it is toilet paper, it must be unrolled on the floor.
If it is a drawer, it must be pulled upon.
If it is a toothbrush, it must be inserted into my mouth.
If it has a faucet, it must be turned on at full force.
If it is a phone, I must talk to it.
If it is a bug, it must be swallowed.
If it doesn't stay on my spoon, it must be dropped on the floor.
If it is not food, it must be tasted.
If it is food, it must not be tasted.
If it is dry, it must be made wet with drool, milk, or toilet water.
If it is a carseat, it must be protested with an arched back.
 If it is Mommy (or Daddy), it must be hugged. I am toddler! 

Happy Parenting,

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Missing All American Girl

March 28, 2011 marks the 3-month anniversary of Phylicia Barnes’ disappearance. This straight “A” and college bound student vanished on December 28, 2010 while visiting family members in Baltimore, MD. As would be expected, her parents and siblings are devastated. Since her disappearance, Phylicia’s friends and family were forced to celebrate her 17th birthday without her. Her classmates are now planning their proms, and are preparing to graduate and go on to college. Yet, Phylicia remains missing. No, she did not run away as the police initially suspected. Anyone will tell you that Phylicia is an overachieving young woman and not a troubled teen with a history of hard partying. In fact, she’s the All American Girl Next Door…with a megawatt smile.

Recently, her classmates joined me on my blogtalk radio show to share their insight about their beloved friend. They described her as loving, friendly, and bubbly. Their pain and sadness was almost tangible, as they wept when they verbalized the possibility of never seeing her again. It was a first for me. While I often talk to the family and friends of missing children, they are usually adult. This, however, was the first time that I interviewed teenage peers. Their maturity impressed me, and it was clear that this tragedy has caused them to bond together in a magnificent way. Their show of strength and unity is observed in the fact that the entire school wears bracelets with the tag “Faith, Hope, Love” in honor of their missing classmate. They have even held numerous prayer vigils and established a reward fund for Phylicia. It is clear….they love and miss their friend.

Although Phylicia’s story received some media in the weeks following her disappearance, the coverage has come to an apparent halt. In addition, the tips coming into hotline dedicated to her are reportedly dwindling. "They've slowed down,” said Homicide Major Terry McLarney, “They are coming in at probably a fraction of what it was a month ago…” However, McLarney did say that they receive flurries of calls after news reports air. Thus, pointing out what many of us know….limited media equals limited leads. Despite this, the police have a special squad of six detectives with a sergeant working the case in hopes that discovering any leads in the case.

Police believe that a tip is more than likely the only way Phylicia will be found. It’s clear that someone knows what happened to her. You may have seen something…Heard something….Or were told something. Someone knows something. That is why I, along with her classmates, family members and loved ones plead with you to call the hotline at (855)223-0033 if you might know anything at all about Phylicia’s disappearance. It's EVERYONE'S job to save our children.

This post was written for the Time's Up Blog ( which is a collection of bloggers who are champions for victims of crime. The purpose of the blog is to bring awareness to the injustices to victims and to search out solutions with an SOS to those in the capacity to make changes happen.

An open and honest blog about what matter most...children and families!!!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Divine Bodies: Pole Dancing For the Lord

Ladies get your clear platform stilettos ready because there's a new exercise/ dance phenomenon called Pole Dancing for Jesus.  That's right!  You can get your praise on and work out your glutes at the same time.  The only requirement is that you present your church bulletin to participate.   No...I'm not making this up (lol)!

Instead of Hip Hop, Christian music plays as church-going women perform routines on the poles. But don't get your panties in a bunch because the instructor and the students say it's not about sex.  For them, this is about getting closer to God. "God gives us these bodies and they are suppose to be our temples and we are suppose to take care of them and that's what we are doing," instructor Crystal Dean said.  Hmmm...Now it's easy to pass judgement on this type of (eh hem) exercise.  However, these are adult women who are not getting paid to take off their clothes for patrons.  It's a newly popular form of exercise that is taking the country by storm.  In fact, I once took a pole fitness class for a tv show that I was on and I can attest that it was a true workout!  What I'm struggling with, however, is associating it with religion.  I mean what's next Tantric Bible Study...ijs

But that's not where the story ends....did you know that you can also take a mommy-and-me pole class with your elementary school baby girl?  No, you probably won't find these classes everywhere.  But a Canadian company that operates in Vancouver and Langley, has taught students age 9 and up in regular classes and has gone as young as 5 years old in private lessons.  While the thought is distressing to many, supporters say that only adults eroticize pole dancing, and that children see the pole as something similarly found in a "firehouse, playground or circus."  Moreover, the instructors defend the classes by saying that if kids aren't taught to strip, grind, or gyrate...there's absolutely nothing wrong with it.....OR IS THERE?  I believe so.

Kids should play on monkey bars, slides, balance beams, see-saws, swings, jungle get the point.  They have a life time to be exposed to things such as stripper poles and their innuendo.... so why do so prematurely?  Of course young children don't understand the association between a silver pole and what it symbolizes.  The fact remains that there is an association and undeniable connotation.  That is why pole dancing is not child's play.  So ladies, whether you're swinging around a pole for the Lord or just for exercise, puh-leeze leave your children at home.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Saturday Morning Confessional;)

This week, my family and I (along with millions of other Christians) celebrated Ash Wednesday. For those that aren't familiar, Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the season of Lent. It's a season of soul-searching and repentance. It's also a season for taking stock of who you are, and where you are in your journey called life. I love this time of year because it's yet another reason to do some serious self-reflection. But...I think I may have overdone it this
year:( each and every year, I made a vow to sacrifice something for the 40 day Lent season.  Well...overzealous  me vowed to give up (sigh).... meat, alcohol, swearing, and feeling stressed.  I will be fasting 2 days of the week.  Yup' just water with lemon and orange zest.  What in the world was I thinking????  It's no doubt a set of lofty goals.  But here's my reasoning for abstaining from all of these things:

I, like every parent I know, gets overwhelmed with the rigors of the day.  Between working full time, volunteering, non profiting, full time mothering, full time wifey-ing, and all the other things that come up....I am both physically and mentally exhausted.  Some days I feel like I can hardly get up from the coach in order to go to bed.  That's simply not healthy. abstaining from these things, I believe that I might actually be able to attain a clearer and more sound body and mind.  I also believe that my spirituality will be further strengthened. Consequently, I will be a better mom, wife, non-profiter, community activist, and all around person.  So that's the goal.

Here's the reality!  I'm just a few days in, and I really miss chicken and bacon.  I mean, I REALLY MISS BACON!!!  And I confess that I let a couple expletives out during the afternoon rush hour traffic (If you live in Atlanta I'm sure you understand).  Then, last night I went out to celebrate my friend's birthday at a swanky downtown dinner/dance club spot.  Guess who was the DD (designated driver)???  Yup!  I had a great time....but I have another confession.  NO, I didn't have a drink (lol)!  But I found that when you're not drinking....drunk/tipsy people look absolutely crazy!!!

Any who....wish me luck and send me strength during these several weeks.  I'd love to hear whether you have given up anything that is truly difficult for you.  At least that way I'll know that I'm not suffering alone:)

Monday, March 7, 2011

What's So Funny About Charlie Sheen?

I might be the only person on this earth who is disturbed by the media frenzy surrounding Charlie Sheen's psychiatric breakdown. It seems like I can't get away from all the hoopla and jokes about his “Tiger Blood” and “Winning!” comments. ENOUGH ALREADY! Although he denies it, it is clear that he is like millions of other addicts who are in the midst of destructive cycle of drug abuse.

So why is the media wasting its time covering his nonsensical and grandiose ramblings? I guess for the same reason why networks put out many of their shows. In fact, a crop of shows have seemingly taken the country by storm....16 And Pregnant/ Teen Mom, Jersey Shore, The Housewives of Wherever, Bad Girls Club, and now...(sigh) Skins.

The Jersey Shore debuted a couple of years ago amid large amounts of controversy regarding the use of the words because of its portrayal of Italian-American stereotypes. However, all the press helped the series, as the ratings have been through the roof. Love it or hate it...The Situation, Snooki, JWOWW, Pauly D, Sammi Sweetheart, Ronni, and Vinny are celebrities. I know that statement probably annoys some of you, but it is the truth. Have you heard how much they make an episode? Add to that all the endorsement deals...these young people are rich, and in high demand.

MTV, like the Today Show...Good Morning America...Piers Morgan Tonight... "20/20"...TMZ and (to name a few) have figured out that people gravitate to salacious and scandalous "entertainment." They have also figured out a way to push the boundaries in a way that gets the attention of young America. But, at what cost? Do you ever wonder what message our adolescents are actually getting from watching Sammi "Sweetheart" punch her boyfriend in the face because she was mad? Or maybe what they think about JWoww repeatedly urinating in public and as cameras rolled...Or the endless stream of women in and out of The Situation's bed? But I digress...

Back to Charlie Sheen. Have we lowered the bar so low as a nation that we view someone's slow and emotionally tortuous demise as entertainment? Are we that vacuous that we don't believe that we have a right to expect more from those who create the shows that inundate our culture, and help to influence our children? Just how far are we willing to push the limit before we are fed up? Maybe this might help formulate your answers....Imagine that Charlie Sheen was your son. Imagine that he was that out of control, and instead of helping him… everyone enabled him just so they could get a "funny" soundbite or audio clip. Horrible, right?

Nothing is funny about what Charlie is doing and experiencing. There is also nothing entertaining about inundating children with negative imagery. Our kids deserve better, and our society needs better. So where do you draw the line?