I’d Threaten to Kick My Mom Out!

“If you say another word about how I run my house and parent my kids, I’m gonna kick you out of my house!”  I’m typically the more controlled and tolerant one out of my  mother’s three daughters.  But that particular day–I’d heard and listened to more than enough correction, criticizing, and critiquing that I was going to allow from my mother.  And yes, she was on the first quick train out of Marshall Town and I meant every single word–passionately!  Let me be very clear here–I LOVE my mother and have the utmost respect for her.  But I am a boundaries girl and I have no problem letting someone know when they have crossed mine–even my beloved mother.  As a mother, I was very clear on the how, why, when, what and where when it came down to my children and family.  I would listen or ask when I needed help or guidance but was very careful not to allow other’s opinions or advice to completely influence how I wanted to raise my children.  It’s not always easy to stand your ground when you’re dealing with women who have raised numerous children but absolutely necessary if you’re going to keep your sanity.  I kept what was important and useful information for my family and the rest went in one ear and out the other.  Set the boundaries you want for your children and stick to your guns no matter who it is.

I’m sure most parents can relate to the occasional unwanted opinions or advice from the mother and mother-in-law right!?  Well these days it seems to be relentless from not only our mothers.  But most women are subject to critics from every angle from the moment they decide to become a mother.  From the prenatal vitamins to the post-baby aftercare….dammit somebody has something to say!  What is this?  Why can’t people just be satisfied with their own motherhood journey?  Who said I have to follow in your “flawless” motherhood footsteps?  I know…they may say “I’m only trying to help!”  Sure, if you consider making someone feel that every move they make as a mom is wrong, incorrect or just plain unethical.

It used to be a little easier to escape the in-laws or your mother but nowadays, the mommy  judgment is all over the internet, the TV, parenting blogs, social media, magazines–you name it!  Mothers can’t seem to catch a break these days and people are more focused on figuring out what they’re doing wrong instead of supporting them and praising them for all of the good they’re doing.  There’s all of sudden an abundance of mommy police who obvious expect every other mother to walk around and do everything the way they’re doing it.  And who says that your way is the right way and a good way.  It may work for your children but maybe not for my children.  I’m saying all of this to say……GET A LIFE PEOPLE!  If parents aren’t killing, hurting, neglecting, or abusing their children, then why do you care if they raise them vegan or use clothe diapers.  No, really!  You need to ask yourself  “WHY DO I CARE?”  In reality, the constant judging, criticizing and critiquing only results in a negative impact on the mother in the long term when she should be finding refuge and support.  Mothers will either isolate themselves, cut off the relationship, make decisions out of pressure, become depressed or anxious in response to feeling guilty and judged as a mother for doing their best.  We need moms to know that they are appreciated, doing great, are needed today and always so they can be their best them for their children.

Here are 3 tips to empowering mothers and dealing with the mommy police and motherhood joy stealers:

3 Keys to Motherhood Empowerment:

  1.  Accept and Support:  Respect others’ decisions to parent their children the way they choose to.
  2. Be Confident:  As a mother, you know what’s best for your family and children like no other person does–you’re the expert.
  3. Community:  Identify a small circle of trusted friends you can go to for support that respect your choices as a mother even if they differ.

Our motherhood journey can be challenging enough without worrying about being the perfect mother for everyone else when our children only expect us to love them to life! This is what The Hotmoms Conference is all about and I will continue to have events, workshops, etc. where we are a beacon of hope, joy, inspiration and empowerment for mothers—we all need it at some time or another!



Violence Is Not Love!

VIOLENCE IS NOT LOVE!!  The prevalent use of corporal punishment in the black community is no secret but the overwhelming positive effects of its use has yet to be seen.  So, why as a black community do we defend even excessive use of physical discipline unless it ends in death?  Why aren’t bruises, welts and red marks enough to trigger the compassion and guilt in a parent to refrain from using this level of violence against their children?  Why do we believe that our use of harsh punishment and discipline will save our children from the brutal and cold treatment that we assume they will receive from America?  These are questions that I still ponder after 20 years of working with families in the Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice Systems.  

Now, don’t get me wrong, black people are not the only ones who use corporal punishment when it comes to disciplining their children.  About 80% of white and Hispanic parents admit that they spank their kids, too. Lots of Christians defend it as a religious practice and in 19 states it’s still legal for teachers and staff to punish children with spankings at school. (2014, Rutgers University)  However, even with that known information, today black mothers are 3 times more likely to be substantiated for child abuse than white mothers in the same circumstances and lose their children to foster care.  So, do we still think the risk is worth it?  As a black mother, early in my journey I realized that the use of corporal punishment was not the key, despite the pressure from my peers and especially those parents within the black community and being subjected to comments such as “she parents like a white mother!”  Being a mother of two black boys, I of course did not want to be accused of making them “soft” or “babying” them, so I remember giving in to the pressures.  Just to find out, that violence begets violence, anger begets anger.  Then I had to decide is this what I want—to raise an angry black man who believes that his use of violence and power will somehow help him achieve success in society.  NOPE..NOT I!!

Yes, I’ve heard black parents’ use of corporal punishment is connected to our experiences of slavery—degradation of the black family, beatings to control, separation of families, and the list goes on.  Then, I’ve heard that black parents’ use of corporal punishment is connected to our desire to protect our endangered children from the killers lurking in the bushes.  I also heard that mama them was whooped and I was whooped and I turned out ok.  (yeah right!)  And lastly, I’ve heard that black parents’ use of corporal punishment is connected to our expression of “love” for our children.  STOP IT!!  As far as I’m concerned, everything that I’ve heard thus far, although very real in someone’s perception is merely an attempt to justify something that is not beneficial with meaningless excuses.  Excuses for not really knowing what to do!  What ever happened to Loving, Nurturing, Showing Empathy, Giving Affection, and Tenderness?    

VIOLENCE IS NOT LOVE!!  It’s not love when domestic violence occurs, it’s not love when verbal abuse spills out, it’s not love when kids are bullying someone, and it’s not love when someone murders someone—VIOLENCE IS NOT LOVE!!  It doesn’t matter if they’re your children—our precious black children are no longer on the plantation and the property of the slave master and you (their parent) have to prove that you’re in control and can handle them by beating them.  You have a choice as to what your child’s outcome will be regardless of the senseless tragedies that have occurred against our young men and in our communities.  But when you as a parent contribute to the violence against your children, this is what happens:  

14% of all men in prison and 36% of women in prison in the USA were abused as children, about twice the frequency seen in the general population. 

Children who experience child abuse & neglect are about 9 times more likely to become involved in criminal activity. 

As many as two-thirds of the people in treatment for drug abuse reported being abused or neglected as children. 

In at least one study, about 80% of 21 year olds that were abused as children met criteria for at least one psychological disorder.  

About 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing the horrible cycle of abuse. (CHILD HELP)

Our children do not deserve to be treated that way, our children deserve a chance at greatness, our children deserve to feel the love of their parent and our children deserve to grow up in environments that foster love and tolerance, not power and violence!  So give it to them!  The next time, you’re thinking about using abusive corporal punishment as a consequence, think about the consequence!  

❤ Sheema

Self Care Isn’t Selfish!

Taking care of other people and making sure that your spouse, your kids, your family, your friends, your boss comes like second nature to a lot of women.  But taking care of ourselves is often put on the backburner.  From not taking care of our health to getting manicures or pedicures once a year.  This especially true for women who are mothers.  It’s like when you become a mother, your self care button is deactivated.  You become this mommy martyr and think that you have to become the sacrificial lamb for everyone.  It’s almost like mothers feel that in order to earn the title of the “good mom” they have to prove their ability to be uncannily selfish.  And some of us will do this to our detriment…like me!  In 2015, I experienced the worse health scare ever because I simply made everything and everyone else a priority which rewarded me a trip to the hospital with a 3 day stay in the intensive care unit!  

It was at this point that I realized that taking care of yourself while you’re taking care of everyone else is not being selfish.  As a matter of fact, taking care of yourself FIRST still isn’t selfish.  The real truth is that you can’t take care of anybody else if you’re not healthy–mentally or physically!

So the next timw someone invites you out to dinner, for drinks or coffee or a girls night out…GO!  Start taking care of yourself–SELF CARE IS NOT SELFISH! Its necessary❤.