Talking to Your Child

Originally, my goal was to write a blog weekly, but it is not realistic for two reasons. First, I want this blog to be meaningful. I do not want to write to just to write. This became evident as I sat in front of my computer trying to force something out. Second, I have a demanding schedule and finding time weekly is a lot. So my new commitment is to blog at least once a month and any over is just extra.

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So for February I want to focus on communicating with your child. From the #MeToo Movement to the Florida school shooting, children are being exposed to a lot via the media. First and foremost, as a parent you first have to use active listening. Most people listen long enough to react instead of waiting to hear the person out, and then form a response. This also means not engaging in another activity while they are talking. And using nonverbal signals to show that you are engaged in what they are saying.

Second, reflect back what they stated to make sure that you got a clear understanding of what they are trying to say. This gives your child an opportunity to correct any wrong perception prior to you potentially making a quick judgment.

Third, ask questions for clarification and shows that you really were paying attention. Not to mention it gives clarification, point two.

Fourth, give them the reasons behind your answer. I grew up in the era of “Because I said so!” Children will accept a negative response better if they first are heard, and second they can have some type of understanding of your reasoning.

Fifth, do not ignore their questions just because you are uncomfortable with the topic. You would rather your child get answers from you then from their friends or the internet. You are also able to control what they learn first. If you need advice on how to approach the topic, schedule a later time to talk and then research.

And sixth, if you find that your child needs more assistance understanding the subject, seek out a professional to help. There have been a number of times I see a client who states they have been asking for therapy for months/years. No child is going to ask for therapy just for fun.

I hope these suggestions are helpful for you talking with your children. Feel free to ask any questions.

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Be Proactive

So yesterday I had a photo shoot to update all of my pictures. As my lovely stylist was doing my hair and make-up, we were watching YouTube videos. We watched several videos about the dissatisfaction with the Tarte Shape Tape Foundation launch because of the lack of inclusion to people of color. As I sat watching video after video of bloggers who all had the same reaction and who did not find that any of the 3-4 colors to match their skin (and yes there where women of various shades), it felt like the cosmetics industry took a step back. All of the women spoke of how they loved Tarte products and how excited they were for the launch. You would think with as much anticipation that was out the company would have made sure that the line was inclusive.

Now after turning off the capabilities of people to make comments, Tarte issued a statement that they will release 10 new shades to cover the gap. Why must we continue to be a reactive society? Instead of being proactive and considering all possibilities, our society continues the trend of trying to “make up” for some type of injustice. I am not saying that companies and people will not make mistakes, but there is a pattern that only when confronted do companies and people decide to release more colors, or go get help, or donate the money to charity. How about we challenge ourselves to consider the possibilities and consequences before we do something?

I salute and stand with the women and men who have made the choice to hold Tarte accountable by speaking out against them and demanding they address this issue.

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Bleachers

So one of the things that occurred during the mission trip in Jamaica is we have a banquet and dance at the end of the week to promote positive interactions between the opposite sexes. Every year there are issues that come up on both sides that we address in the gender specific sessions. This year I taught the male sessions. During one of the sessions, I asked the gentlemen how was it going getting a date for the dance. Boy did the hands go up! The first question I got was “Why do the girls not want to talk to bleachers?” Now the previous day some of the counselors had approached me and informed me that there were several males who were bleaching their skin. They discussed how they believe that the youth were trying to be like the Jamaican music artist Vybz Kartel who openly has admitted that he has bleached his skin. So I knew what they were talking about, but I was thrown off by the boys direct questioning. The young man went on to say that it is like the girls think they are going to turn into an alien or something. I explained that anytime you are doing something that is outside of what is considered normal in society, you have to be ready to explain and defend your decision. I explained that they have to be comfortable in their decision and feel comfortable talking about it. I was hoping that they would talk about their choice, but no such luck.

Later that day, I went and talked to the girls to get their view on the issue. The response that I got from the girls was “why would we talk to someone with low self-esteem? If you are not comfortable with who you are and you are bleaching your skin, then you have low self-esteem. I don’t want to talk to them.” Bravo to the young ladies for having standards that they are not willing to compromise on. So, I go back to the boys and deliver the girls’ response and they are adamant that they do not have low self-esteem and they do not bleach their skin because of Vybz Kartel. And again they do not give their reasons leaving me to wonder.

This interaction got me to thinking about the deep rooted issues of skin color and how growing up we were taught that light-skin is better. I even asked the boys I work with in group if that was something happening mainstream here in America and they looked at me like I was crazy. Today, I caught up on shows on my DVR and finally watched “Light Girls” that debuted on the OWN Network in January. It was a follow up to the “Dark Girls” documentary that aired in 2011. Both of these documentaries do a good job of discussing growing up dark skinned versus light skinned in America. In was shocked that the “Light Girls” documentary included as a segment on skin bleaching. They discussed how this is a phenomenon that is bigger in other countries, but did not interview any celebrities that have admitted to bleaching their skin to get their view. I Googled skin bleaching and I was surprised by the products that popped up. There were also articles on the issue and even discussed celebrities that have admitted to or are being accused of skin bleaching. This is another layer of body image issues that our youth face today.

While skin bleaching is not mainstream in America, it is still an issue that needs to be discussed and added to the list of body image issues. We have to continue to have conversations not just about the beauty of body shapes, but also the hidden messages about skin color. I hope that this is not something that will become mainstream in America.

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