May 14, 2012

Milwaukee Courier

Black Child Development Week

By Senator Lena C. Taylor

This week was BCDI-Milwaukee’s Black Child Development Week, and I believe in taking every opportunity available to speak to the manner in which we raise our children. Raising children may be the most difficult and rewarding experience we can engage in. Luckily, African Americans do not feel they have to go it alone. Instead, we can draw from the wealth of experience available in our peers and elders.

This week, and every week, try and follow a few guidelines when thinking about your children. To help you remember, try writing them down along with your own ideas. In our busy lives, it is often difficult to remember that a child’s development is complex.  While we might be excelling in addressing one aspect, we might be neglecting another. I know that I make my share of mistakes. I also know that I love and care for my son deeply, and that I can improve as a mother when I make the effort.

First, try getting more involved in your child’s education. We all know that a successful education is the first step to a successful career. I’ve always said that successful reading is the first step to a successful education. This summer, encourage your child to read. Take him or her to a Milwaukee Public Library, and help your child pick out an interesting book. Any child can love reading if he or she finds the right book. For example, some children may think they hate reading, until they find a book about dinosaurs or basketball. 

Help your child develop physically. Play with him or her. This will not only help your child, but it might help you get in shape!  Children learn from their parents, so if you are active and healthy, than your children are more likely to be active and healthy. I know from experience that it is sometimes difficult being a good role model, but it’s always worth trying!

Never neglect your child’s spirituality. Church is a fantastic opportunity to engage with the community and explore the joyful mysteries of life. If you and your child do not attend a church, mosque, or synagogue, I highly encourage you to give one a try!

Your child should have happy and calm life in order to successfully develop into a happy and calm adult. Too much stress in can affect a child’s mental health for years. Always be sure to create a sense of belonging in your home, and be positive! If a child believes he or she can accomplish anything, they will have the courage to believe in him or herself further down the road.

Finally, foster in your children a sense a responsibility for their community. We in the black community rely on each another for support. Though we are strong as individuals, we are many times stronger as a whole. So lead by example, be kind to your neighbors and help those in your community who could use a hand. A child may not know anything about fair play or good morals, but we can plant the seeds for their good citizenship by being good citizens ourselves.

These are just a few ideas to think about.  Above all, use your good judgment and your own personal skills to help the children in your life, whether they be your son or daughter, niece or nephew, grandchild or student.  Together, we can make a difference.