Please Don’t Call My Toddler a “Heartbreaker” — Coffee & Cacti

This is a beautifully written, very direct and eye-opening message from a mother who helps you to realize that your words do have power, that they can plant seeds of growth or destruction, and that we all must be mindful of the roles that we play in the raising up of generations of babies and young children. Everyone should read, digest, and share this message. Thank you to Coffee & Cacti for taking the time to put into words a call to action to stop the sexism that has ran rampant for far too long!

~Natasha [The Paradigm Life]

Please Don’t Call My Toddler a “Heartbreaker”

Please don’t call my toddler son a heartbreaker. Or a ladies man. Or a lady killer. Or say “watch out girls!” Or make comments about him flirting with you, when he’s just smiling. Or make any other comments about his future sexuality that is far, far from being developed. I know you mean well. I […]

via Please Don’t Call My Toddler a “Heartbreaker” — Coffee & Cacti

How Does He Fix This, Now That He’s in Office?

Our children are the most precious, innocent, valuable, and fragile things that we have in our world.

In the United States they have heard for four years, but with the greatest intensity, the last two years, that there are groups of people either inferior or superior to them simply because of their race, religion, or gender.

We’re supposed to be protecting, nurturing, guiding, and uplifting them. We’re supposed to be allowing them to spend this time as kids, before adulthood takes over and the mountain of drama tumbles in.

How now after four years of ugliness and hate can this person now right these wrongs? How can he now heal the pain he caused? How can he fix the wounds and the breaks he created? How can he unify what he intentionally divided? How can he possibly instill hope when he’s spent more than four years injecting fear into our homes and schools?

Maybe his secret weapon is Melania. She says she wants to take on bullying and specifically cyber-bullying.

It took four years to get here. Hopefully it doesn’t take that long or longer to mend, fix, and heal this disaster.

Prioritizing Marriage, Family, and Career

balance-work-family

Three years ago I ran across this Facebook post, “3 Things I Wish I Knew Before We Got Married” written by Admin khuy, and I read it, before I got married.

What is interesting is reading it three years later and my mouth kept dropping, because it felt like I was reading it for the very first time. It’s been 6 years into a relationship, three of those years have been as a married couple—and I think this is a great article for those individuals who are career driven and/or mission driven, and think they “got it handled” when it comes to marriage and family.

Today I share this post with those of you contemplating marriage, engaged to be married, newlyweds, and even those of you married 8-40 years. I share this with the married ones who place their careers before their marriage (knowingly or unknowingly), and ignorantly think there will be harmony in that arrangement.

I share this with those of you planning to start a family, currently pregnant, have a newborn, and of course to those of you with multiple children of various ages. I share this with those of you who put your children first and your marriage second, or even last. Before your first child is born, it’s just you and your spouse. When your last child leaves the nest, guess what? It will just be you and your spouse. Your partnership deserves more than being placed second or worse, last to anything and anyone.

These three things that Admin khuy writes about sound simple, but oddly enough, many couples aren’t doing these things and that’s why current statistics are showing high divorce rates by or before year 8 in the marriage. It’s not money causing divorce, it’s disconnection, and as khuy wrote, “unawareness” that is the root cause. The byproduct ends up being money, adultery, abuse, neglect, etc. But before these things took place the roots were formed by one or both people being unaware of what marriage requires, and then the two who were once connected became disconnected—and as they grew farther apart the “issues” took center stage.

Please read this husband’s post (below) and try these three things for at least one month, and see how it can positively change your life, your marriage, your family, and even your community. If you can then see the possibility, maybe then you will embrace it as your way of life.

Marriage isn’t about living happily ever after with that one person who “completes” you, it’s about the journey of transitioning into a better, more selfless you.

Read Admin khuy’ post and then share your thoughts in my comments section…

Continue reading

Are Our Daughters Coming Home?

It’s been six long, agonizing months since 300 young girls were kidnapped from their school in Nigeria by terror group, Boko Hiram. Of the 300 girls, 50 escaped early on, while the other 250 girls have been held hostage by these terrorists whose name means “Western Education is Sinful”, hence their attack on a school teaching “Western education”.

Imagine being their parents and siblings, wondering if their daughters were alive and under the circumstances, okay. Had they been raped? Tortured? Starved? Would they ever return home? If they do come home, will they ever heal from their experience?

There was global outcry and attempts at intervention, but nothing drastic took place to return these precious souls back to their families in their small town of Chibok (near the Cameroon border). Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan was heavily criticized for his slow response time to the kidnapping, and for his inability to stop the mass murder of his people over the years.

Nigeria’s government recently announced that they have reached a cease fire agreement with Boko Hiram that also includes the release of the girls.
The prayers of the many hope for the safe return of these precious young ladies. These girls are future wives, mothers, teachers, doctors, scientists, politicians, engineers, designers, artists, writers, c-suite leaders, and entrepreneurs.

No parent should ever have to endure the agony of not knowing the whereabouts and safety of their child. Could you ever imagine not having any contact with your child for 6 months or longer? Even 6 days would feel like 6 weeks. Six hours feels like 6 days, and 6 minutes feels like 6 hours. The emotional roller coaster that these girls and their families are feeling cannot possibly be put into words that would make much sense, because how could any of this make sense to a rational person?

I hope that when they do return home that through the resources and support of local and foreign governments, that these girls and their families are provided with counseling and other services to help them through their healing process.

Right now these girls are in survival mode. They just want to be with their families. But once they return home, their nightmare doesn’t end. The images, smells, taste, sounds, and feeling will be long-lasting. Their lives will never return to the normal they once knew, so they have to learn how to make healthy adjustments. They will need a great deal of help to work through this to reach their own level of normalcy.

To read more about the cease fire agreement, and the parties involved in this negotiation process, please read here.

Return our daughters!

~Natasha

Source:
Reuters Africa. http://af.reuters.com/article/topNews/idAFKCN0I61PG20141017

Copyright 2014. Natasha Foreman Bryant. The Paradigm Life. All Rights Reserved. theparadigmlife.com

5 Ways to Get Your Kids to Read 40 or More Books This Summer

By Natasha Foreman Bryant

I don’t have any children yet, but after reading this article by Ronnie Tyler, I couldn’t help but to smile and giggle as I reminisced about my childhood reading experience, and what I intend to implement with my own children.

All 5 ways listed by Ronnie were the same ways that my parents engaged me into the wonderful world of books. All 5 experiences connected me with my dad (who loved reading) as we challenged each other every week, both during the school year and throughout summer break.

Even when I became an adult I can recall my dad reading two or more books in a week. I still possess the majority of my dad’s book collection, and I even have the books that he was reading the week he passed away—all of which are intriguing, and all of which I have said repeatedly that I should read, but still haven’t.

I don’t read as often as I used to or as often as I would like. There are tons of books that I want to jump into beyond my spiritual and occasional business readings. Shame on me, because as Ronnie highlighted and my parents implemented as a rule—turn off the tv and remove yourself from distractions for two hours—it’s time to read.

Check out Ronnie Tyler’s article and then share your experiences and feedback about engaging your children (or being engaged when you were a child) into the many journeys that come from reading a book. Share how often you read now and the types of books that you like to explore.

Then let’s ALL get reading!!!

~Natasha

Source:
http://www.babble.com/babble-voices/husband-wife-life-lamar-ronnie-tyler/5-ways-to-get-your-kids-to-read-40-books-during-summer-break/

Copyright 2014. Natasha Foreman Bryant. Some Rights Reserved.

“Frankie Leg”: A Fun Image of Grandmothers Shedding their Frail Stereotype, or is this Adding to a More Negative One?

 

I’m really not sure what to say about this video, its message, and the impact (if any). I also am not sure what it says overall about the people it will ultimately reflect upon and clump together into one classification. Is this a fun and possibly healthy image of grandmothers and grandfathers shedding and shaking away the frail stereotype normally associated with getting older? Or is this somehow only adding to the negative stereotypes about Black people?

I start thinking of the buffoonery we once used to fight so hard against, and I wonder if we really have gone full-circle and found ourselves smack-dab in the middle of where we once were; if we have grown to accept not only other nationalities laughing and mocking us, but also embracing it as a reality for ourselves–so we too take part in this…we too find it acceptable; so we laugh, dance, smile, shuck and jive, and roll around comfortably in mediocrity.

Are we really in that much pain that we would rather entertain ourselves in this manner than uplift ourselves out of our pit of shame and despair? What message are our children really getting? Where is our dignity? When is enough truly enough? I believe that music and dance is healthy, healing, and cleansing–but does the “Frankie Leg” fall into those categories?

I am still letting all of this soak into my mind (which may be dangerous). But let’s have a healthy conversation about it shall we?

 

Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman. The Paradigm Life. Paradigm Life. Rights Reserved.
Video provided by YouTube

Girls are Still Being Told They are Too Pretty to be Smart

So I wasn’t surprised to read that more retailers have suffered from major foot-in-mouth or foot-in-rear syndrome as they have pressed and marketed t-shirts and other novelty items to young girls that basically tell them that it is more advantageous to focus on their looks than their intelligence. These messages also tell them that they aren’t as smart or smarter than boys, and guess what? It sends the same messages to boys who grow up to be men who think this way. Then women like myself have to deal with this ignorance throughout college and our careers. I’m in my mid-30s and I still have to prove that I’m intelligent and capable of playing with ‘the big boys’, while a man with a fraction of my intellect just needs to show up.

So what are retailers up to now? Well a few months ago it was the “I’m too pretty to do math” t-shirt by David & Goliath and let’s not forget the “Trophy Wife” t-shirt; I’m sure every parent sits back and hopes that their daughter grows up to be a trophy wife (yes, I’m being facetious). The more we struggle to break down these stereotypical images of females, the more guck and muck that flies up from companies that know better, but see the benefit of earning the buck more than doing the right thing.

So why would J.C. Penney get caught up in the cross-hairs of this nonsense with their “I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me” t-shirt? I’m not sure. Obviously they missed the memo that said gender stereotyping is a big no-no. They were smart enough to pull the shirt from stores once the backlash from consumers gave them whiplash. Lesson learned? I hope so.

Here’s the crazy thing, retailers could actually make MORE money by producing and marketing positive images and messages of girls and women than they do with this other nonsense. Think of how many t-shirts you would buy for every young girl (or even boy) you know if it read, “I work hard in school so I can have the career of my dreams“, or “Need a tutor? I get A’s in Math“, or “You can have sexy, I’ll be your boss soon“. There are so many ways to show young girls and boys that being intelligent is smart and is a highly attractive quality not only for a future spouse -which they shouldn’t be concerned with until their in their 20s, (but realistically we know they obsess over as young as age 13) but also for future employment opportunities.

Of course I’ve included the link (see below) to the article that shares the J.C. Penney story and more. I’m thrilled to read in the article that entrepreneurs are jumping into the business to produce positive images and messages for our children to see and model, such as the “Pretty’s got nothing to do with it…Redefine girly” t-shirt.

If we are truly concerned with the future of our world and the children who will be tomorrow’s leaders, then we must take responsibility for the images they see and the messages they hear…we are all role models!

http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/parenting/epic-t-shirt-fail-quot-im-too-pretty-to-do-my-homework-so-my-brother-has-to-do-it-for-me-quot-2537106/

 

 

Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman. Paradigm Life.

A Focus on Dignity and Non-Violence at Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy

By Natasha L. Foreman, MBA

On April 15th I was honored to lead a Dignity Day session as a HOPE Corp Volunteer through Operation HOPE (HOPE) at the Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy (CSKYWLA) in Atlanta.

What is amazing is how the majority of this class of ninth graders were initially completely turned off to the idea of having to listen to yet another speaker that day as they were just returning to their classroom from an assembly that focused on the theme of 100 days of Non-Violence…so they were shifty and closed off. But about 15 minutes into our conversation some of the girls who had crossed arms were soon raising their hands and answering questions.

I started off by talking about the concept of legacy and that that day we were laying the foundation and road map for them to create and eventually leave behind a strong, dignified legacy. I had them define the term legacy in their own words and then share some of their dreams, goals and aspirations. Then as our conversation deepened I shared with them the history of how HOPE was founded, the services and programs that HOPE offers, and I started to weave a story where life included them and their legacy.


I think helping them share the names of empowered and dignified women they see in their family, community, and elsewhere who had similar or worse lives growing up helped them to see that they too could be those same type of women- that they are these women but in-training and with the potential to do more and help more in the long run because they are being equipped with the tools at a young age; and our adversity isn’t an excuse to let life pass us by or a crutch to coast through life doing and expecting the bare minimum, but a reason and motivation to excel and succeed.

These young ladies were shocked to hear that the civil rights movement as it pertained to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and Ambassador Andrew Young was sparked, motivated, and pushed along due to their wives Coretta Scott King and Jean Childs Young- two women who endured and overcame adversity and strife. Hearing this information made many of these girls sit up straight in their chairs and listen intently.

                        

When I spoke about not holding grudges, and that forgiving people is not to benefit the person they were forgiving but to help themselves heal, grow, and overcome- some girls shifted in their seats their seats, a few others rolled their eyes in disbelief; but then when I mentioned Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou, Iyanla Vandzant and their ability to forgive their abusers and using strife as a launching pad towards success- some of the girls started naming other people like Fantasia and Tyler Perry who was sexually and physically abused and how he also overcame and pushed himself to success.

We discussed the concept of family and that it isn’t just our immediate family we need to be concerned about but our neighborhoods, cities, state, our country, and our global family. Because I know that girls can be equally as cutthroat as boys, I made sure that we had a heart-to-heart chat about trash-talking and “clowning” people and how although initially it can be lighthearted and funny, it can also be crippling and tear apart our “extended” family.

We discussed being relevant not only in this country but globally, and that true wealth (spiritual, financial, etc) can only be maintained long term by leading a dignified life, not by living up to the negative stereotypes that are projected globally about Black females. We discussed self-empowerment and not waiting on the government or specific programs to help us, that we have to help ourselves. That we shouldn’t be waiting for someone else to pick up trash on our sidewalks- we should pick it up ourselves.

We shouldn’t be waiting for someone else to cover the graffiti on our walls and buildings- we should paint over it ourselves; we shouldn’t wait for someone else to beautify our streets and parks with trees and flowers- we should plant them ourselves. I explained that they should be volunteering in their community through church or some other organization taking pride in restoring, building, maintaining, and beautifying their neighborhoods.

We had a pretty good time. We laughed and talked about boys and expectations of being respected by males and all people when you carry yourself with respect and dignity. We discussed the language of money and being financially literate, and how this literacy will empower them. It was refreshing to see that many of them have savings accounts and that two of the students had traveled abroad- one to London and the other to the Bahamas. Two young passport carriers living in an underserved and underrepresented area of Atlanta- doesn’t that give you hope? It gives me hope and encourages me to continue my work in the community, and my work through Operation HOPE.

I hope more men and women find it in their hearts to invest one hour of their time at least once per month to volunteer in a church, in a class room, or in a youth center through Operation HOPE. One person can make a difference!

Copyright 2011. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.
natashaforeman.com
natashaforeman.info
paradigmlife.blogspot.com
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>Banking on Our Future: Taking Back Our Schools and Community

>Today I visited a middle school in Atlanta, Georgia to share a lesson on financial literacy with a group of young ladies, grades 6-8, who meet with me for roughly one hour during their art class. This is my third visit to this particular class. I visit their school as a HOPE Corp Volunteer through the Operation HOPE (HOPE) Banking on Our Future (BOOF) program. After my last visit next week, I will be returning independent of HOPE to continue reinforcing the principles and skills I have shared with them the past few weeks. I also intend to share other valuable lessons and skills that I truly believe these students need to know in order to survive and thrive in this gigantic, constantly-changing world.

When I see them I see young African-American girls who are faced with challenges of fitting in and being a part of the status quo, or stepping out and bringing about the change they want to see in their lives and in their community. I see young girls who could thrive in their studies and excel in life as leaders and change agents, but some of them would rather settle for mediocrity because they assume that is what is expected of them. Some of them have bought into the lies and imagery they see on the news, in movies and music videos; and what they hear in songs. Some of them only see what is around them, but do not take the time to dream for what could be beyond. Some look at their family situation and are content with that also being their future. Some have seen a cyclical pattern of behavior that sucks the life and hope out of people- and they don't conceive of how they can break the cycle. Some have bought the lie that they are not as smart and gifted as the average student. There are a few who have bought the label of being "special needs" and are content not pushing beyond this negative threshold.

Then there are the ones whose eyes still shine, who clearly dream big dreams, who want for more, who see a life in college and outside the boundaries of a neighborhood plagued by lack of hope and faith. These girls are more than the stereotypical pretty girl 'eye-candy' most would claim them to be; they are gifted and intelligent. Some of these girls are clear that their 'now' will be their 'past' because they have goals and aspirations of becoming educated career-women. There are a few girls in this class who are dreamers, but they are nervous to speak up and speak out in fear of being teased and criticized. They are the silent wells of hope, that believe that their dreams can come true but it is safer to work towards their goals silently than sharing outwardly. These young ladies smile through their eyes even in pain.

All of these young ladies are our future. Not to be forgotten. Not to be statistically categorized as 'beyond reach'. Not to be discounted as merely future booty-popping, sexually driven females who will amount to nothing except recipients of state-assistance, pole-swinging strippers, or guests on the Maury Povich or Jerry Springer shows. These girls told me today that they aspired to become pediatricians, chefs, and teachers- they have the potential to reach their career goals- they have the potential to afford to write the mock $10k checks they wrote today in class. They have the potential to live a life far-better than the one they have today. They have the potential to learn the lessons their elders were not taught, so they can have superior credit, own a home, own their car, travel the world, and enjoy the fruits of their labor.

We need to take back our schools and our communities. We need to stand up, speak up and speak out. We need to create a flow of communication between the state, neighborhoods, school districts, administrators, teachers, parents, and the students. Everyone must work to develop a system that works. Without total buy-in from these stakeholders, the system will fail and our country will suffer an unimaginable fate. We need to stop talking about it and start doing something. Parents, teachers, and administrators have to come together in order to effectively communicate what is needed and required for our youth to succeed both in and outside of school. We need more mentors coming to the schools, speaking to the students, working with the school personnel and the families of the students.

We need parents to be more engaged in the learning process, not just when they want to come to the school for a confrontation with a teacher or administrator. We need parents to take the time to ask, see, and know what is going on with their children in school and in the neighborhood. We need parents to ask for help when they need it; help with tutoring their children; help with showing their children a buffet of positive role models to learn from and aspire to become. If you are a single parent and your work schedule is hectic- ask for help to effectively connect with your child and their teacher(s). Parents need to stop relying on teachers to handle all of the teaching and disciplining of their children. What is taught in school is to be reinforced in the home. What is taught in the home should be a positive example displayed and expressed at school.

Teachers need to re-engage and reconnect, not waiting until a child has reached a failing grade- but showing care and concern once that child falls below a "B". Teachers need to take the time to reach out and talk to the students who clearly need more positive reinforcement. If you know that the vast majority of your students come from home environments filled with negative images and influences, why would you perpetuate this same negativity in the classroom? If these children are living in environments of fear, hopelessness, and diminishing faith- why would you not want to create and maintain an environment where they can feel safe and loved?

So many schools have signs around their campuses claiming a 'commitment to excellence', yet mediocrity is the norm. We have upset, frustrated, and disconnected parents who yell at upset, frustrated, and disconnected administrators- who then yell at upset, frustrated and disconnected teachers- who walk into their classrooms and yell at upset, frustrated, and disconnected students- who only model the behavior of their upset, frustrated and disconnected parents. The cycle of behavior won't stop until we stop it; until we stop passing the buck and blaming everyone else for our problems.

Historically the undervalued, underserved, underrepresented has always banded together to bring themselves out of the depths of darkness. In the 1950s we fought for our children's equal education rights. In the 1960s and 1970s we raised our standards even higher for teaching and education. Even in the early-to-mid-1980s our children knew that all eyes were on them; the administrators, teachers, the neighborhood, and the parents were all on the same page- and our children knew to walk the straight line.

Where did we go wrong? When did we stop caring? When did our vision of role models shift from the intelligent, courageous, and driven change agents- to the hard-core, lazy, thugs and 'barbies'? When did we go from working towards self-empowerment to self-entitlement? What are you doing to take back your community? Stop making excuses and start doing something. NOW! It takes a village to raise a child- we must reunite our village. We have to be the change we want to see!

Natasha L. Foreman

Copyright 2010. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.
paradigmlife.blogspot.com

>I’ve Donated and Now I’m Walking to Support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital November 20th- Join me!


On Saturday, November 20th I am participating in the Give thanks. Walk., benefiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®. As I walk, I have challenged myself to raise money to support the lifesaving work done at St. Jude and I am asking for your support to help me reach my goal. My goal is a mere $250, so whatever you can give to help reach that goal will greatly be appreciated. I started things off with a $25.00 donation and will of course be fighting my natural inclination to want to sleep in and those Atlanta, Georgia elements at 7:30am.

You can help me reach my goal by visiting my personal fundraising page and making an online donation. If you do not wish to make an online donation but prefer to use a check, please let me know and I can make other arrangements with you to obtain your donation. If you just don’t have $10 or more to spare, why don’t you consider joining me Saturday to walk 3 laps around Zoo Atlanta. You can even bring the kiddies…that would be really special. I don’t have children, but if I did and when I do, I would want to know that St. Jude’s is well-equipped with whatever resources they need to help my child live a longer, fuller, healthier life.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, founded by the late entertainer Danny Thomas, is one of the world’s premier centers for the research and treatment of pediatric cancer and other catastrophic childhood diseases.  St. Jude is the first and only pediatric cancer center to be designated as a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute.  Children from all 50 states and from around the world have come through the doors of St. Jude for treatment, and thousands more around the world have benefited from the research conducted at St. Jude — research that is shared freely with the global medical community.  St. Jude is the only pediatric cancer research center where families never pay for treatments that are not covered by insurance.  No child is denied treatment because of a family’s ability to pay. To learn more about St. Jude, visit http://www.stjude.org

I hope you find it in your heart to give back, to pay it forward to help our children.

Warmest wishes,

Natasha L. Foreman

http://waystohelp.stjude.org/sjVPortal/Global/Flash/widget.swf