Ready? Fight!

So we’d like to live in a world where the threat of war, famine and poverty don’t exist BUT seeing as these issues have plagued mankind since Noah boarded the Ark its not very  likely. Conflict unfortunately is a part of life. If you are a screenwriter it is what every interesting story is built upon. If you are a parent however it is something you tread lightly around [sort of]. Most of us don’t want our son or daughter to grow up to be hardened criminals or bullies. We want children who grow up to be nice people who respect themselves and others. We teach them right from wrong in hopes that they can ultimately discern between the two on their own.

The sidenote to all this rests on a person’s own personal upbringing and views. There are people who are violent who expect their children to fight while others never want their son or daughter to endure the marathon of personal angst they experienced. Some people never really had to deal with extreme conflict in their lives and teaching it isn’t intuitive. No matter what your background it is my personal belief that teaching your son or daughter to deal with conflict is very much a part of your parenting handbook.

So Ready? Ok. Fight!

I grew up in a pretty rough neighborhood in Brooklyn New York. If you fought with a street kid it wasn’t a simple fist fight at 3pm in the school parking lot. A fight in the street could mean a month long ongoing endurance test of survival with someone looking for you. It was called beef. Having your heart drop every time you leave your house and speed up at every unfamiliar face is a feeling hard to describe and one not easy to forget however, it its unique in what it teaches. It heightens your senses, awareness and ability to take in your surroundings in a way you didn’t know was possible prior.

Your kids should  be so lucky.

The learned skills from that difficult situation are life long. I carry them with me where ever I go for the rest of my life. It contributes to my grit. Most people don’t have grit. I believe grit is good. As an African American dad I know grit is what allows you to push past micro aggressions, stigmatisms and personal doubt in order to exist in a way you deem meaningful to yourself and  your children.

It is for this reason I think if your child comes home and tells you they were in a fight your first question should be “What happened?” and  “Who won?”

Not because you want to encourage a mentality of altercation but because you want our children to understand that although you are intelligent enough to communicate and talk through your problems everyone you encounter in life might not be. I never want them to be in a situation where they are ill equipped to handle or deal with someone who is physically threating to them.

I never want another human soul to lay hand on my daughter but I also know I want her to never invite someone to cross that boundary by completely rejecting the notion of defending herself. My son can NOT be a bully but he will have to fight for himself one day and if I am there I will make sure he puts forth the effort to meet that difficulty. He will have to learn what it is like to lose and what it is like to win against another human being.

It helps build the personal boundaries he has for the world, himself and others. I believe in the importance of that. I don’t want my son or daughter to have beef; to worry if someone will pull a knife out on them. Simultaneously someone isn’t to bully their personal space. It is a balance as a parent you have to pay attention to as you decide who you are raising to show up in the world.

I am a black man who has to raise other black men and women. They gotta be ready for a fight. Especially if I have anything to say about it.

-A Single Dad


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