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Good parenting helps all; good for community

by Sylvia Brooks
Special to The Black Business Journal www.bbjonline.com

As business owners and aspiring enterpreneurs, many readers of The Black Business Journal who are also parents are not only concerned about their balance sheet. I believe they ask that question which continues to plague many of us in the wake of the massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado: "Why didn't the parents know?"

As the mother of three sons, I understand why some parents might not have known. I was taught the importance of respecting my children's privacy but if I never visit their rooms or meet and learn more about their friends, I may never know what's going on in their lives. If I don't scan those crumpled notes in their trash can, I may never know whether they're old homework, love notes· or cries for help. If my children leave the computer on after surfing the Internet and I turn it off without clicking "enter," I may never know whether they're doing research for their homework· or accessing pornography or instructions for making a bomb. If I don't monitor what they're watching on TV, I may never know the kind of information to which they're being exposed.

These examples may suggest that I'm a nosy Mom. Not true. I decided early on that it was important to know where my boys are, who they are with, what they are doing, the kinds of information they need from me and their father in order to make good decisions. These are important factors for their development. My children also need to feel that no matter what the nature or seriousness of their problem, they can come to me and share without condemnation without fear of rejection. So when my youngest child came to me in middle school and said he must fight as a test for being on the football team, I was angry but not at him and approached the school with my concern. Without resolution (as some of the parents might have sought at Columbine High), finding another middle school was a no-brainer.

The point of all this commentary is that while we need to be loving, kind and respectful of our children's privacy, we also have an obligation to ask, inquire, observe, investigate and discuss as it relates to their well-being. This is our obligation as parents who love enough to be involved.

Parenting requires that we interact positively, productively and proactively in our children's lives, whether they're young or adults. Respecting their privacy does not prohibit us from examining any room in our home or inquiring into and participating in their lives.

This is love. This is caring. This is being a good parent. Perhaps a little more parental inquiries could help to prevent incidents like the one that occurred in Littleton, Colorado. - Brooks is the President & CEO, Houston Area Urban League.

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