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Old Schoolers Need To School The New
9/21/2016 2:22:54 PM

By Beverly Gadson-Birch 

Last week, Johnny, one of my old neighborhood friends, texted me and said “do you remember when we grew up each home in our neighborhood had two parents”? It was food for thought. It was also a good reflection of the times then and now. I started thinking about my childhood days and the households on my street growing up and Johnny was right. Every home on our block had two parents. Not only did every home have two parents, I started thinking about all of my schoolmates that lived on other streets in our neighborhood and I could not think of a single family that did not have a father and mother in the home. It just blew my mind because it is just the opposite now. Many children today come from single parent homes.

Most mothers in my neighborhood were stay-at-home mothers. They made sure the children and home were taken care of while the fathers went to work. Mothers were responsible for instilling morals, manners and shaping their children’s lives. Fathers were responsible for the discipline in the home. All the mother had to say was “wait until your father gets home”. That was all it took to get your attention and you buttered up to mom for the rest of the day hoping she would change her mind and not tell your father when he got home.

While reflecting on the street where I grew up, Johnny was right. I knew every mother and father by name and where they lived. Most of them never had to go to school because their children were in trouble. If you saw them at school, they were there on business or you saw them at PTA meetings. My mom never knew how my school looked inside. Mom would say “I send you to school to get an education”. Translated that meant “don’t let me come to school for nonsense”. And since my parents had high expectations for me, they never had to come to my school for “nonsense”.

The significance of a two parent home and the children back in the day was the high expectations parents had for their children. It was the love parents had for their children without ever expressing it. Parental love and expectations made the difference. Old school parents did not have much but they stretched whatever they had to the limit.

Education was limited to boot but old schoolers knew education was the key to their children’s success. Old school parents spent quality time with their children and it didn’t cost a fortune. My dad always had a carful of kids and took his kids everywhere in that old jalopy outfitted with “may pop” tires, “may die” battery and “may spark” plugs. And, what about that old radiator that always seemed to run hot and leave you by the side of the road while it blew off steam? One thing about my dad was if that old jalopy stopped he knew how to piece it back together to get us home. I have four brothers that took up where dad left off. They can fix almost anything and if their vehicle stops, they can put it back together to get home. They can even repair trucks and buses. Do y’all see where I am going with this? “Train up a child …..”. Sometimes it doesn’t cost you a dime but you have got to put in the time with your children. You can’t give up!

In a two parent home, just the presence of the father made a difference. Fathers instilled an element of fear through discipline and they also spent time training their boys. At least in my neighborhood they did. Most of the boys did not go to college so they were taught a trade to fall back on. Today, as our paths cross, at least 98% of the children that grew up in my neighborhood were successful. Statistically, 98% is not bad for a group of kids that learned from hand me down books but raised by upstanding parents.

In my home, my parents never had to worry about whether we had weapons or drugs in our rooms. They never worried about where we got expensive tennis or jewelry because if they did not buy it, you better not have it. It was just that simple. It was no such thing as asking your parents “what are you doing in my room?” Now, y’all know if you had 32 teeth before the question and a front gap and 30 after the question, two were on the floor somewhere.

Back in the day, there was no such a thing as “my room”. First of all, you didn’t even have your own bed. There were multiple children sleeping in multiple beds or on the floor in one room. Don’t act like y’all don’t remember. I am reminded of my younger sister, Gwen, who got tired of being crushed in the middle of the bed between me and another sister and tied herself to the bedpost with mom’s pantyhose so she could sleep on the end. Well, she did not think that one out too good. During the night, as Gwen tossed from side to side she almost hung herself. It wasn’t funny then but it sure as heck is funny now.

Today’s children may have their own room but that’s alright as long as you have access. Searches in your home are legal. Although old school is on the way out and new school is in, you don’t have to lower your expectations. Parents know your children and hone in on their potentials. That’s what expectations are. It’s helping to develop the potentials you see in your child.

Although the family structure is changing as old schoolers make room for the new, your value system should remain the same. Stop allowing new school children to set the rules in your home. Give your children what you can and teach them how to work for the rest. The test of a real parent is raising your child into a productive citizen and not one who raises hell. I may be wrong but who asked me in the first place?

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