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Hip-Hop 4 Life State of Emergency: Family Communication

family1

 

My

mother is my best friend, and she has been for several years. However, this

between she and I were not always so blissful. 

I distinctly remember the time in High School when I “ran away” down the

block to my aunt’s house…for two extremely long weeks. 

 

As

I sit here reminiscing about that turbulent time, I realize that there was one

thing, and one thing only that brought my mother and I back together… communication. Communication

is the heartbeat of any relationship, and in a relationship that can be so

complicated and volatile like the one between parents and their children, it is

the only lifeline.  

 

In

my Hip Hop 4 Life program, we recently held an empowerment workshop where we

addressed the issue of parent/child relationships. When we posed the question:

“How many of you have a great relationship with your parents?” Less than half

of the young people raised their hand. 

 

At

another workshop, one of the young ladies who participated in my program pulled

me aside after the workshop and asked for me to escort her to get tested for a

sexually transmitted infection because she was too afraid to tell her

mother. 

 

Parents,

I can’t stress enough the importance of a clear and consistent line of communication

between you and your children. Believe it or not, young people would not mind

at all having a great relationship with their parents, where they can talk with

them about issues and things on their mind. But what stops them is the fear of

being judged, or punished because of doing so or that their parents are way too

out of touch to understand. Other times they feel like their parents either

don’t have the time or just don’t feel like being bothered.    

 

I

have a few words of advice.

 

Take

a moment to talk with, and most importantly, really listen to your kids. Listen

to what they have to say and what is going on with them.  Dedicate

the time to learn what issues young people are dealing with today.   Learn

more about what your child likes to do, their interests and where possible join

them in some of their favorite activities (video games, etc.)  Take

some time from work or from watching TV and spend that quality time with your

kids.  Most

importantly, do not hesitate to have the discussion about sex, drugs, alcohol,

gang/youth violence or any of these “sensitive” issues. 

 

In

our country, our children are becoming more endangered each day.   Let’s take a look at some of the devastating

statistics:

 

According

to the Bureau of Justice 2005 statistic, Black males 18-24 years old had the

highest rate of committing and being the victims of homicide.  Additionally, young adults (18-24 years old)

have the highest victimization rates in each racial and gender group.

 

Based

on research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, African American

youth, ages 13-19, represent 66% of new HIV/AIDS cases.

 

The

National Survey on Drug use and Health reports about 10.8 million (or 28.2%)

persons ages 12-20 reported drinking alcohol in the past month. Nearly 7.2

million (18.8%) were binge drinkers, and 2.3 million (6.0%) were heavy

drinkers.

 

If

parents educated their children more about these issues, there is bound to be a

decrease in some of these staggering statistics. Think about it, if you are not

talking with your kids about these important subjects, they are more than

likely learning it from their peers, the television or worse, education through

experimentation.

 

The

National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that youths ages 12-17 who

believed their parents would strongly disapprove of their using a particular

substance were less likely to use that substance than were youths who believed

their parents would somewhat disapprove, or neither approve nor disapprove.

 

This

is a topic that is so extremely important. Through my life and work, I see the

negative effects that lack of parental communication, guidance, love and

support has on so many of the young people we work with. I also see how much of

a positive effect a supportive, encouraging and loving parent-child

relationship has on children.  

 

I

am hoping that through my words, I can help begin to mend some of these

impaired relationships. No, I am not a psychologist. I am just someone who has

first, second and third hand experience with the situation, and someone who

cares so very much about empowering our youth! 

 

Tamekia

Flowers is the Founder/Executive Director of Hip Hop 4 Life, a non-profit

organization dedicated to engaging, educating and empowering young people to

adopt a healthier lifestyle while impacting positive social change within

communities across the nation. She can be reached at

info@hiphop4lifeonline.com.

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