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Parent's Notebook: Healing Relationships – A Black History Month Project

As quiet as it’s kept, it is our relationship with self and others that make our lives rewarding or “a living hell”. There are countless cases of wealthy and famous people who have fallen victim to various addictions or resolved the conflict by committing suicide. Lack of material possessions was not the culprit – the culprit was lack of relationship which depends on knowledge and acceptance of self which allows freedom to accept differences.

Relationship is the glue that holds families, communities, countries and the world together. Unity as defined today eliminates possible alliances because time and energy is spent on endless debates defending one’s position instead of identifying a common goal and collaborating in whatever ways possible instead of attacking and vilifying them.

The inability of children to have both parents in their lives, family members feuding, anti-social behavior of young adults, youth imprisonment and murders are some issues of relationship. In observing and honoring Black History Month, while remembering that the highest-held African value was relationship which allowed villages to which individuals, families contributed to and were recipients. The strength of these villages stemmed from the practice of infants being given a name based on the reading by the priest. The name became the reminder of what the child’s purpose was to parents and community and particularly the child – incurring expectations and acknowledgements from the village.

In African culture, one which emphasized the “we”, promoting that which is good for the group, the grooming for relationship was built into the very culture. In a Eurocentric culture, which emphasizes the “I” unhealthy competition is bred and the rights of others are sacrificed in order to promote the “I”. While the color of our skin has not changed, I daresay our value system has. Have we stopped to ask what we value? With the energy focused on Child Support in the form of dollars and cents, what attention is given to the child’s emotional needs, the need to have both parents contributing emotionally in their lives?

Research has shown that it takes 21 days of consistent practice to start or end a habit. In honor of our forefathers who endured and survived slavery (the most inhumane practice), let us acknowledge the disruption of our ethnic value system and begin the process of forgiving – starting with self, ex-mates, the other parent, our parents and all relatives. Beginning with self is crucial because if you can’t admit or think of some negative act, there’s extra help needed. Our children have inherited the remnants of our foreparents’ pain and ours. We can really make a giant leap towards reviving relationships in our homes and communities…one person at a time.


Our existence depends on our redefining success to mean our ability to be in nurturing and cooperative relationships first with our children. Activity for the week. Take 15 minutes for you and child or children. Provide a sheet of paper for each participant. Headings of two sections – Things I like about………., Things that bug me about….Be sure to stress and model honesty. Have each participant read aloud. Parents make a habit of finding and acknowledging child for some result or act done.
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***February 11-17 has been designated Random Acts of Kindness Week, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance. While Teaching Tolerance is geared toward classrooms, many can be adapted for home. To read topics for other weeks of Black History Month and sign up for a free subscription to the newsletter visit –

***March 4th – Applications for public school prekindergarten will be available online at elementary schools and the Department of Education. Children born in 2009 may apply.
*** Assignment for parents – Investigate your child’s school Physical Education program. It appears that city public schools with tight budgets, shared buildings and high-stakes testing are reducing or eliminating Physical Education mandated by state education. Physical well-being is a basic need and depends on diet and exercise. Overhauling systems must include the body. Don’t allow the compromise of our children’s health. For statistics and more information visit

***NYC College Line, a new Web resource provides free city-specific information on the college process.
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***Education Council Selection Process began Feb. 13 and ends March 13. Parents interested in applying to serve on a Citywide or Community Education can apply online or submit a paper application, which can be obtained at the Division of Family and Community Engagement-49 Chambers St., Room 503, Manhattan. Parents can apply online at

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