Oprah’s Life Class with Iyanla Talking About Raising Strong Boys

Thanks to an invitation to my facebook friend Jill, I was invited to go to a taping of Oprah’s Life Class in Chicago. I of course jumped on the chance to go, not evening knowing the topic. When I heard the session I was going to was Iyanla talking about single moms and there was one in the afternoon about relationships, I felt a little whiney. What do I need to know about raising strong boys? I’m not a mom? I tried to get into the later session, but it was filled and I decided to go anyway and spend some quality time with Jill, who I had never met IRL. I also thought to myself, that there’s a reason I’m in this session, so I should just go with it.

On my way to Harpo, I was still in a bit of a huff when it hit me over the head like a ton of bricks: Raising strong boys is EVERYONE’S business because strong, good boys turn into men who are good husbands and fathers and contributors to society. Let me repeat that:

Raising strong boys is EVERYONE’S business because strong, good boys turn into men who are good husbands and fathers and contributors to society.

Statistics have shown that boys raised in homes without fathers and/or in abusive homes are at higher risk to join gangs, drop out of school, commit crime etc.

I loved hearing Iyanla, who always has such precious words of wisdom, and today was no different. Golden nuggets from both her and Oprah (I was too busy grasping on to what they were saying and didn’t pay attention to who said it.)

Here’s a recap of my ah ha moments from the show and my take on them.

It’s difficult to be what you don’t see.

The reference in the quote is about sons with bad, absent dads. So hard because not only is it difficult to be what we can’t see, it’s easy to fall into the trap of mimicking the behavior we do see. The rules for how to deal with this for children is also applicable to adults:

· Find a mentor or someone who can be consistent in their lives for them to look up to

· As an adult, find a mentor or just get close with people who have achieved the success / type of life you would like

· Read stories to your children about positive role models, strong values and people who have risen above circumstances to become successful (like the Blind Side)

· Ditto for adults. Emerson Spartz gave me some great advice that I’ll share with you. He recommended I read books on people who have achieved what I’d like to achieve. I’m still making my list, so please leave your recommendation in the comment section below

Some people just don’t know how to be a good parent. Some people don’t know how to show love the way we need them to.

This one struck such a cord with me. My bioligical father was a terrible person who I cut out of my life when I was in my very early teens because he was verbally and mentally abusive. Luckily, my step dad (who I’m talking about when I talk about my “dad”) took me under his wing and treated me like his own daughter since the day he met me. I had someone who was a great example of a good parent – this addresses the point above as well.

My biological father tried to re-connect with me, but I held strong on cutting the ties and keeping my distance. It was also hard to forgive him, till a friend gave me some very good advice. They said, “No one sets out to be a crappy parent. He was just doing the best he could with what he had learned from his parents.” That statement let me forgive him at least a smidge, but I still never re-connected with him and I’m very happy about my decision.

My friend’s statement brings me to my next insight

If you’re going to be a parent, for the love of God, please be a good one

If you had bad role models as a child, get coaching on how to be a good parent, observe hoe friends are doing and make sure you have a spouse (or baby daddy J) who has strong parenting skills.

How we respond to the way people treat us is important. Make sure to not let someone mistreat you (especially in front of your kids

I’m not quite sure what to say about this one other than to recognize the pattern and break it.  Tell someone how you would like to be treated and if they don’t respect it, be prepared to walk away. So much easier said than done.  In fact, I’m working on this myself.  This is one thing that is much easier said than done.


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