of the Black Child
parenting and child care is a multifaceted concept. It involves
not only the physical care and keeping of children, but the promotion
of self esteem and the provision of useful and creative channels
of gratification. "The goal of the Black Parent should be
to promote physically adept individuals who are functioning optimally
in accordance with their stage of psychogenetic, psychosocial,
emotional, adoptive and temperamental development and in keeping
with the capacities of their biological integrity and cognitive
potential, according to "Dr. Carol Leal in her monograph
entitled "Successful Parenting in the Black Community".
first responsibility in caring for Black Children begins even
before we ourselves become parents in the broadest sense. We are
all, in a larger context, the keepers of all Black Children. We
are the role models and our own state of health, our system of
values, and our own sense of self- worth have an impact on how
our Black Youth view themselves and their own prospects. Black
Children need to see a preponderance of physically and emotionally
stable Black Adults surrounding them. They need to see adults
who do not overindulge, who exercise, who participate in sports
with the goal of self improvement rather than competition, persons
who have a sense of their own self- worth, regardless of their
station or occupation. They need to see people caring for one
another, people interested in the world, politically active and
productive. They need to know that this can be the reality of
growing up Black in America.
we review the statistics, we find that those regions with higher
populations of Blacks and other minorities have the highest percentage
of infant morbidity and mortality (disease and death). The incidence
of high Black Infant morbidity and mortality is traced to the
lack of prenatal care by various studies. Black Women tend to
see a health care provider later in their pregnancy, with the
majority not seeing someone until later in their second trimester
for the first time. At this time of the pregnancy all of the most
important systems of the infant have developed and the opportunity
for teaching that is necessary for the promotion of healthy infants
is lost. Add to this the fact that a large percentage of our infants
are born to our children, a larger proportion than in any other
group, a group of women who have, statistically, more maternal
and infant complications and the problems become twofold.
than ½ of all Black Babies born in the state of Kansas in the
last decade were born outside of the bounds of matrimony.
While single parents can and do raise children effectively, statistics
show that the majority of these parents are under the age of eighteen.
So our second responsibility comes under the heading of education.
We must educate Young Black Women in the responsibility that the
giving of life entails and that it is not a responsibility to
be taken lightly. They should be taught that giving birth should
be a well thought out endeavor by a person who sees their own
self- worth and can both show that to, and instill it, in a child.
They have to know that parenting requires a certain amount of
physical and emotional maturity, that it is not a game.
must educate Young Black Women about the impact that their lifestyles
have on the developing fetus. They should know that smoking has
been proven to cause small for gestational age infants, that drinking
can cause an irreversible syndrome of mental retardation and learning
disabilities, that being in a state of optimum physical and mental
good health promotes the delivery of healthy infants. Teach them
that having a sense of bonding with an infant in the uterus is
the first step towards the establishment of a close emotional
link with their child, and that this can not be done when pregnancies
are unplanned or unwanted. Black Women need to know that an important
part of parenting begins before the moment of conception and its
name is responsibility.
rate of pregnancies to unmarried mothers in the Black Community
has to be taken out of the moral context, because when moral issues
are involved, people tend to be judgmental. Morality aside, and
while striving to change the statistics through education and
genuine caring, we must teach the responsibility of parenting
to those who will become parents. These usually young parents
must know that they can raise healthy and responsible individuals.
Their helplessness and despair can be turned around by a joint
effort of the community as a whole, a community whose main goal
is the care of the Black Child.
Black Children tend to mature faster as a whole. Once the maturation
process begins to be dependent on the environment, Blacks tend
to fall short. Our third area to consider is the promotion of
a cognitive environment. Black Children need to know their own
culture but, equally important, they need to know all of the cultures.
They need to be taught early that they are the original race,
the Human Race, and everything and anything comes from them and
hence is available to them. They need to be taught the choice
between Beethoven and Michael Jackson is theirs to make and the
choosing of Beethoven does not make them less Black. They need
to know the choice between basketball and figure skating is theirs
to make and the choice of figure skating does not make them less
Black. They need to know the choice between ballet and the electric
slide is theirs to make and the choice of ballet does not make
them less Black. The emphasis should be on the development of
self. They need to see success in order to know they can succeed.
They need to see responsible people handling success and making
responsible decisions in order to know how to deal with success.
They need to know racism exists and how to recognize it in its
subtleties and the way to handle these slurs and remove stereotypical
beliefs is to refuse to act out in self defacing ways.
are some major health issues that confront the Black Parent of
the 90's and the key to most of them is prevention. So our fourth
area of responsibility is the prevention of disease and death.
The leading cause of death of all children in America under the
age of 2 is accidents. The stress on providing a safe environment
for Black Children can not be over emphasized. Black Children
deserve to be safe wherever they are. Our homes and the homes
of persons they frequent should be scrutinized for all hazards.
Small children look at their surroundings from a height that we
do not, and with a curiosity which we do not have. The only way
a house can be made safe for a small child is when it is first
assessed from the level which they see things. Dont hesitate
to crawl around your house. The hazards are often beneath you.
enticement and a small childs feelings about things is on
a more primitive, less mature, illogical level. We have to be
able to see things which children will be drawn to on their level.
Children must have limits and must be able to see a responsible
person in control. They must be taught to avoid hazards in a way
that is conducive to learning. The decisions concerning their
safety must be yours. Children should always be in an approved
safety seat or use a seat belt, depending on their age and size.
The example to use these devises should come from the adults around
them. Statistics bear out the largest number of deaths are due
to the lack of proper restraints in a car and the greater number
of auto accidents occur within 25 miles of your home.
childrens worlds have expanded even more now than ours were
at similar ages and therefore the opportunity for danger is greater.
Children should be taught that a good part of the responsibility
for their safety rests with them. They must have a respect for
the rules that afford us the ability to live in harmony and safety
and they must be able to be aware of what is a dangerous situation.
Whether crimes against children are more publicized or not, they
certainly are on the increase and children must know how to avoid
a harmful situation. If they inadvertently find themselves in
potential danger, they must know how to conduct themselves. They
must have a sense of what is right and wrong, how to respond,
and how not to be accepting of unpleasant, distasteful, or unsafe
events. They must be taught to trust their instincts about the
unsavoriness of people and situations. They must feel so good
about themselves and their worth that they can say no to drugs,
to alcohol, to sexual advances, and they must have the confidence
in you and know they can rely on you, can talk to you.
medicine is the answer to helping to bring about the end of disease.
Smallpox no longer exists in the world today because of prevention
through immunization. Hopefully disease entities that plague us
today can be eradicated in the future through such prevention.
The childhood illnesses were once thought of as inevitable and
claimed the lives of many children, both Black and Non-Black.
The incidence and/or recurrence of the ravages of illness can
be further reduced by a concerted effort on the part of Black
well visits for primary health prevention, maintenance, and teaching
is a must. The advantages are rooted in good health sense and
good economic sense. Children can concentrate on other important
areas if they are in good health and it costs more money to cure
an illness than to work on prevention. Children should have regular
physical examinations from birth, they should receive all of their
immunizations at the scheduled times, and they should see a dentist
regularly from the age of three. Hearing and vision screening
is a necessity and school readiness examinations should be done
before children enter kindergarten.
have the responsibility to be actively involved in the responsibility
for the care of their child along with their primary care provider.
They should know what has been done and what needs to be done.
They should ask questions and demand information, and above all,
they should feel that their health care provider has their childs
best interests at heart and, more importantly, that they know
what those best interests are. Black Parents should not be accepting
of shoddy health care regardless of who is paying for it, and
their demands should be based on the intelligent desire for optimum
health for the culture as a whole. Health care providers need
to know what the leading health hazards are our children may face
and screen for them, and educating about them appropriately and
let us consider conscious awareness. We need to be consciously
aware that the future of Black youths and their care rests with
Black people and should take this job seriously. We need to be
able to guide our children in every facet of life. We need to
know what is educationally best and lead them to take the courses
which will lead them to fulfil their greatest potential. We need
to be aware of the legislation and governmental policies which
prevent all Blacks from receiving optimum health care. We can
use the power of the ballot box to ensure that we have leaders
who have our interests in mind, regardless of their race. We need
to stop thinking of teaching our children to be Black, but rather
teaching them to be proud of being Black. We need to teach them
to be human and they have, and must use, their superior intelligence
along with the full capabilities of their humanism.
Black mother and every Black father are the parents of every Black
child. We need to see this in our communities and we cant
shirk this responsibility, for if we do it has and will cost us
greatly. For when one Black child goes astray, it impacts us all.
Our Black children are too precious to waste. We can no longer
afford to sit idly by and watch our children struggle while having
children of their own, let them come out of school not knowing
how to read or write. We cant continue to have the blood
of our children spilled in the streets of our cities. We can no
longer afford to have some of our greatest minds damaged forever
with drugs and alcohol. It is the responsibility of us all to
put an end to the madness, to say its time to stop, to strive
towards raising all of tomorrows leaders.