Co-Parenting Matters Anniversary Book Giveaway: “Mother to Son” by Kim Crouch

October 19, 2010 by  
Filed under Articles

Kimberley “Kim” Crouch, attorney/publisher/author/radio show host/money motivation manager and mother, has been a supporter of Co-Parenting Matters from the beginning. You may remember Kim from just a few of weeks ago on our ”Financial Tips for Single Parents” show when she joined us with her “The Millionaire Journey” blog co-founder, Lisa Maria Carroll.

We are thrilled to be giving away a copy of her book, Mother To Son: Words of Wisdom, Inspiration and Hope for Today’s Young African-American Men, a wonderful collection of letters penned for her sons and for ours.

Enter to win a copy of Mother to Son by leaving a comment below telling us one important thing every mother should teach her son.

We’ll announce the winner on our Co-Parenting Matters anniversary show this Sunday, October 24th.  The show airs at 9pm EST, and you can listen via phone at (646)378-0580 or from your computer at www.blogtalkradio.com/coparentingmatters.

MamaSpeak: The Non-Custodial Other

September 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Blogs, MamaSpeak

One of the most challenging situations confronting single parents is that of visitation and interacting with the courts.  In The Myth of the Broken Home – Guidebook for Single Parents, one of the most delicate chapters for me to speak on is “The Non-Custodial Other” as it stirs up many emotions for me.

During this time, my daughter, Tamara, was about five years old, I was coming out of a domestic violence situation, and my daughter had become accustomed to seeing her father on a daily basis.  He was in her life from the time she was born, whereas my son knew little about his dad because we divorced when my son was about a year old.  Soon after my first divorce, his father, in the military at the time, was relocated to the east coast.   So basically I had very little control over whether or not he chose to see my son.

I vividly recall my daughter’s terrifying scream when departing from her dad at the storage place where we met to retrieve our items.  Upon entering, when she saw him, she was elated and played as if nothing happened.  But that’s expected of a five year old child, and it also displayed the love she had for her father, particularly since soon after the domestic violence occurred, she would sit in the back of the car, yelling in her little voice, “I hate my daddy.” I would tell her, “You do not hate your father, Ta’mara, you hate what he did”.  My babies hurt, and I saw them hurting, however, I refused to allow my children to become embittered by the situation that could affect them for the rest of their lives.  The forgiveness and the healing were not for him but for my babies.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I was not going to put her in harm’s way, but for two years he refused to see her.  He made promises and did not comply with the court order, and on many occasions I drove her to his house.  I despised him during this time as I watched him hurt my daughter over and over again, but inside I knew she needed him in her life.  As my son grew up, his father swore I was trying to keep him away, and I said, “I can’t wait until he gets of age so you can see that it’s not me.”  “If you were in his life like a father should be, there would be nothing I could do to keep him away from you.”  His accusations upset Jamal, because it was I who often encouraged Jamal to contact his father.   Although he is now a young adult, I continue to encourage him to send his father a card or to call.

As a society, we often talk about the importance of boys having a positive male role model to aid them towards developing into men, but that is equally, if not more important, for girls.  The dynamics that exist in a relationship between a male and female are innate, and it doesn’t matter if it’s mother-son or father-daughter; these relationships are pertinent for our children’s emotional development.

Today our girls are grappling with their identity, aimlessly searching for someone to show them affection and approve of them.  Again, if they don’t have a positive male role model during their stages of development, they will by means of their own understanding fill that void.   My son, who is 9 years older than his sister, was a big support and continues to be a very influential male in her life, especially when her father was not there.  As I sit and reflect back on these times, I begin to cry because I am so thankful, so grateful, for how far God has brought us and that he is allowing me to share with others how we all can make this work together.  Don’t get me wrong; it is tough as I still remain pretty protective over her, but today Tamara and her father have a wonderful relationship.  Just because he and I were at odds does not mean it will be the same with him and his daughter.

Visit www.nobrokenhome.com
to learn more about
The Myth of the Broken Home – Guidebook for Single Parents

MamaSpeak: Is Co-Parenting Really Worth All the Effort?

August 3, 2010 by  
Filed under Blogs, MamaSpeak

Stressed Co-Parent

I had never heard of co-parenting until I was smack in the middle of it. Many different reasons lead to my daughter’s father and I ending our relationship. For a while after our relationship ended, I still acted like we were together. Assuming he would be as involved as when we were together. Assuming I could just go over and hang out at his house. Assuming that the feelings he had for me were still there. Guess my head gets stuck up in the clouds sometimes.

It took a long time for me to accept our situation and even longer to view it as a co-parenting situation. I was bitter, and I was downright mad at the situation. I was angry that we weren’t still together and that when it came to our daughter, we had two varying opinions. I said left; he went right. We didn’t talk to each other. We barked. We scowled. We yelled. I was so sure that my way was the best way. I mean, I’m her Mother. I was the one who carried her for 9 months, breastfed her, read her bedtime stories, did her hair in the morning, knew she liked her apples cut in thin slices not thick. And what did he know? Nothing…if you asked me back then. I didn’t value his place in her life, and it all comes back to me being bitter and angry that we weren’t together.

I couldn’t harbor all those negative emotions inside of me forever. It wasn’t healthy for me or my daughter. It was draining all of my energy being so mean, so I had to let it go and embrace the idea of co-parenting. I had to accept him as her Father and her Dad and an equal being in our daughter’s life. Because she isn’t just my daughter, she is our daughter; and we both have a responsibility to keep her healthy, safe, and happy.

Co-parenting matters because my daughter’s happiness is my number one priority. She and her Dad have this unbreakable bond that I don’t understand at all. But I have learned that I don’t need to understand their bond. That’s something special that only they share. When I see them together, when I see my daughter’s face light up as she yells, “Daddy”…well, that’s why co parenting matters. My daughter is lucky and has two parents who think she is the most precious thing on this planet and want nothing more than to see her smile every day.

I want us to be able to have a pleasant conversation, I want us to be able to all go out to dinner together and laugh and have a good time. I want to be able to call him without it being a yelling match. And I want our daughter to know that Mommy and Daddy are ok with being around each other. We owe that to her.

MamaSpeak: So What if I’m not a Celebrity Single Mom

July 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Blogs, MamaSpeak

I have to admit, I’m a bit obsessed with celebrity gossip. I browse through gossip magazines while I’m waiting in line at the grocery store, and I follow some gossip sites online. One of the things I’ve noticed is the trend of glamorizing celebrity single moms. I find this mind blowing, because regular single moms like myself don’t get the same treatment day to day.

From Sandra Bullock to Kate Gosselin to Halle Berry, there is tremendous support from society backing these celebrity single moms as they make their way through single mommyhood. They are splattered on the covers of InTouch and UsWeekly, sharing their heartaches, their struggles with trying to live a normal life. We see them on Oprah talking about their journey, and we get sucked in. We buy their magazines, we go see their movies, we subscribe into the glamorization. Why can’t this same support be had for non-celebrity single moms? Are we not good enough?

I’m a single mom, a younger-single-minority mom to be exact. Society sends the message that young-single-minority moms won’t be successful. They won’t attend college. They won’t secure a steady job. They won’t make enough money, so they will have to depend on the system. They are immature, irresponsible, and should have waited to have a child. These messages are constantly relayed through movies, magazines, books, and TV. You always hear about the plight of a single mom, the hardships she’s been through as she struggles to find stability. I’m not ignoring this fact, but where are the stories that speak of single moms graduating college or buying their first home? Where are the stories highlighting single moms starting their own businesses or volunteering within their communities? Does society not think that these stories will attract enough attention? Are these stories just not interesting enough?

I’m not ashamed that I’m a single mom, and don’t know why I get the sideways looks when I tell people I am. Maybe it’s because I don’t fit the mold of what a non-celebrity single mom looks like. I am enrolled in college, I have a car (old but running most of the time), I have a steady job, and my own apartment. I struggle with being a single mom, but I want no one’s pity or sympathy. I don’t need anyone in my ear telling me I’m doing a good job, but I would like to see my demographic positively acknowledged within society. The messages I come across don’t support me along my journey. In order to obtain resources I have to be a poor single mom. What’s up with that?

We support these celebrity single moms and tell them they can do it, no problem! Why is the message we send to non-celebrity moms so dissimilar? Why do we tell them they will fail?  Why can’t the message be the same regardless of celebrity status?

All mothers-single, young, old, married, or widowed-should be respected and supported in our society. The amount of support we give Mothers should not be dependent on how much money they earn.
My life is by no means glamorous, nor does it need to be. What is most important is the love I have for my daughter. What I would appreciate is if society would respect and appreciate me as a Mother.

Co-Parenting Matters Tonight: Sister-Moms…When Family Blending Goes Right

May 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Podcast

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We get that everybody just ain’t able…But, tonight on Co-Parenting Matters we’ll be talking to a bio-mom/stepmom duo who consider themselves sister-friends. When they were friends in college, Omisade Burney-Scott and Jovanna Nembhard never imagined that one day Jovanna would become Stepmother to Omisade’s son. But, she did. And, these two women have forged a partnership marked by a clear focus on the well being of their children, a definition of family inclusive enough to include all of their sons and mutual respect and admiration for one another.

Join us via phone at (646)378-0580 or online to find out how and why they do it.

Fatherhood Freestyle: Honoring Mothers

May 28, 2010 by  
Filed under Blogs, Fatherhood Freestyle

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In the spirit of “mama-love,” this father would like to take the opportunity to recognize the importance of mothers in his life and in his ability to father a daughter. So, let me start by saying thank you to my own dear mother and the many mothers who took part in raising me, guiding me, and just loving me.

Growing up, I was blessed to have been raised by an amazing mother. She was a strong woman who instilled in us so many positive characteristics. While I could go on and on about the many wonderful things my mother did for me, I think the thing I am most thankful for is that she taught me how to take care of myself and exercise responsibility and accountability. We did not have a lot of money growing up, and many times struggled to have our basic needs met. However, no matter how difficult things got, my mom taught me how to go after what I wanted and find the win in life. That attribute alone has been a major part of my successes to this day. For example, when I didn’t have enough money for college and my family could not afford it, I went out and literally “raised” the money. When I started my law practice and may not have had the necessary funds, I found access to capital when the banks turned me down. The bottom line is my mom taught us how to work and find a way to accomplish our goals regardless of our resources.

Learning how to find that win in all situations turned out to be fundamentally important in my co-parenting relationship. I guess that is the real focus of this blog. You see, my daughter’s mom and I have had a relationship that has touched on every emotion and seemingly every possible scenario. We have gone from peace to discord, love to anger, yearning to emptiness. Over the past twelve years, our relationship has traveled from the real to the surreal and back again. Through it all, I have learned some important lessons about finding the win and appreciating the importance of mothers.

While I may still be hurt in some respects, I have unequivocally concluded that a peaceful relationship with my co-parent far outweighs the alternative. It is real easy to focus on how I was wronged in the failed relationship. It is easy for me to see things through my perspective only. It takes real courage to see through hurt and understand my co-parent’s positions and perspectives. Having had the opportunity to parent through anger, court, battles and disagreement, I have learned that we must find a way to co-exist and co-parent peacefully. In that spirit and during this month that we recognize mothers, I want to take the opportunity to acknowledge my daughter’s mother and thank her for being a loving mom to our daughter.

I also want to encourage fathers to thank your children’s mother. Even if the relationship is strained, recognizing her importance and value will go a long way. Reflect on the importance of your mother and remember your child will likely value his or her mother in the same way. Fathers, continue to work towards a peaceful relationship with your co-parent, continue to get through the pain and struggle and do everything you can to find peace in your co-parenting relationship. From someone who has been through it all, peace is the best situation for you and for the children. So, let us men honor all the mothers in our lives.

Co-Parenting Matters This Week: Mama’s Kitchen Table Convo

May 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Blogs, Podcast

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This Sunday night at 9:30 PM EST on “Co-Parenting Matters“, we’re hosting a Mama’s Kitchen Table Convo!  We’ll be chatting about mama-hood, relationships, money, co-parenting, hot topics in the co-parenting blogosphere, and much more!  We’re going to be joined by witty and wondeful mama-friends Lissett (@Cubanitabean on Twitter), Lisa Maria Carroll of Single Mom & More and regular contributor to our very own MamaSpeak (@LisaMCarroll), and the mama behind the MommyGlow blog, Alexandra (@YoungFabMama).  (And, yes, we’re letting Mike listen in, too!)  We hope you’ll bring out the wine and chocolates (or your favorite treat and beverage), pull up a chair, and join us at Mama’s Kitchen Table!

Listen on your phone by calling (646)378-0580 or catch the live stream online.

MamaSpeak: Mothering Beyond Biology

May 11, 2010 by  
Filed under Blogs, MamaSpeak

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I met Tammy during her freshman year of high school. She showed up at my apartment one Friday after school when she rode the bus home with my daughter. And, in typical teenage fashion, she had not made plans for how she would get home.

I was cold. I was tired. And all I wanted to do was turn up the heat, throw on some sweats, and curl up under my electric blanket. But, my plans were thwarted when my daughter came dashing out the patio door before I could open it. “Mom is it okay if Tammy spends the night”?

“Britt, who is Tammy, and what have I told you about having people in the house when I’m not here”?

As it turned out, Britt had met Tammy that day, and decided that, as new friends, they should hang out together after school. “She’s not in the house; she’s out in the hallway.”

As badly as I wanted to lay into my first born, I knew this wasn’t the time. But I cut her a look that let her know I would deal with her later. As a mother, my first priority was to get this child—somebody’s daughter—inside. My second order of business was to contact her parents to make sure they knew where she was.

As Tammy stepped inside, I immediately noticed her stoic demeanor. She wasn’t disrespectful at all, just reserved and standoffish. Little did I know there was so much more going on with her, but I wasn’t able to connect the dots. When I asked about her mother, she politely, but firmly stated that she was not in the home right now, and that her grandmother could pick her up in the morning. I then told her that I needed to confirm that with her grandmother, and asked for a number, for which she obliged. Tammy’s grandmother informed me that due to her eyesight, she didn’t drive at night and wanted to know if it was okay for her to stay with me, and she’d come get her first thing in the morning. We agreed that Tammy could crash at my place, so I made sure the girls had what they needed for the night, and I turned in.

The following morning I was well rested and better able to process the previous night’s events. I still wanted to know what “my mother is not in the house right now” meant. Was she serving overseas in the military, working out of town, or on vacation? No. She was none of the above. She was serving time in prison. Wanting to respect Tammy’s privacy, I didn’t probe, but my daughter told me when I grilled her about this new friend. That moment marked a turning point in my life. It is when I accepted my role as den mother, something I had resisted for years.

For some reason, my kids’ friends always warmed up to me. Many of them called me Ma and loved having an adult who would listen to them, something they didn’t get at home. They saw my home as a place of refuge where they could come after school to do their homework or a place to hangout on the weekends. I admit I wasn’t always comfortable acting the role of “play” mom. I was barely 30, and saw it as a position more suited for someone more matronly than myself. I also felt like the real moms needed to step up to the plate and connect with their children themselves.

Tammy changed all of that. I learned how to reserve my judgment until after I knew at least part of a child’s story. Some of them had a mother or father in prison, while others had mothers who were deceased. Like Tammy, some were being raised by their grandparents, while others were being shuttled from house to house in the foster care system.

They say that people come into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Tammy came into my life to teach me compassion. Looking back, I’m happy to have played such a significant role in these kids’ lives. All of my children and their friends have reached that adult milestone of 18, and many of the kids still see me as a surrogate mother, of sorts. They take me to out to eat, and invite me over for Christmas dinner when I’m in town. I have also earned the title of “Grandma Lisa,” to more grandchildren than I can count.

They say that parenting locks you in for 18 years, but I say it’s like serving 25 years to life. Once a mother, always a mother, even if you didn’t birth the child.

This Week: How Can Co-Parents Have a “Sweet” Life…After the Relationship Ends? Divorce Candy Tells Us How!

May 5, 2010 by  
Filed under Podcast

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Join us this Sunday 5/9 at 9:30 PM EST on the “Co-Parenting Matters” show for an engaging discussion about thriving after the loss of a relationship. Our guests Jen Schwartz, a child of divorce, and Randi Small, a divorcee, are the co-founders of DivorceCandy.com. Both have suffered the stigma of divorce in different ways. They have dealt with loss, the acceptance of new families, the often painful adjustment to change and so much more. Through their website, they offer others in similar straits a place where they can start over and stay positive. And, on this show, they’ll share their insights, advice and inspiration with us. Tune in!

Fatherhood Freestyle: Mother-Love Makes a Man

May 5, 2010 by  
Filed under Blogs, Fatherhood Freestyle

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Growing up, my family was typical of lower income New Orleans households in that one house held several branches of the family tree; my mother and I lived in my grandparents’ house, as well as my aunt and her two children.  One of my earliest memories is from my third birthday.  I see a corner of a bed, huge in my vision with faded red lines which moved toward me as I pulled on it in an attempt to lift myself up.  And then my Grandmother Frances’ bespectacled face appears, smiling and comforting as she pulls me up…no easy feat ‘cause by all accounts I was a mini Buddha-baby.  My grandmother always looked out for me.  I always felt I could count on her.  She would always slip me candy or some spending money, would take my side in little arguments.  She could fuss at me, and minutes after, console me.   When I became a teen, she even attempted to help me organize my love life.  If I was out with a girl, and another one called while I was out; she would find a way to discreetly inform me of the call, with raised eyebrows and code words.  The fact that she would do this in front of my date was especially cute.  She was also deeply religious, praying twice daily, morning and night, sowing the seeds of spirituality in me.

Then there’s my Aunt Henrietta.  She was strong and firm, plain and matter of fact.  I was quite afraid of her in my early childhood.  None of us wanted to be on her bad side.  She was my mother’s older sister and as my mother worked different shifts in her job as a nurse, my care fell into her hands from time to time.  While my grandmother was my guardian angel, saving me and aiding me, my aunt seemed to be my persecutory devil; I couldn’t get away with anything!  She could always spot my lies, know that I snuck a snack, and had an uncanny way of feeling you get off the front porch before 3pm from two rooms away.  She was also the best cook in the house and I still long for her Sunday pot roast, potato salad, cornbread and desserts.   My aunt was fair; her justice was true.  What I saw then as persecution turned out to be preparation, and her no nonsense habits are reflected in the way I have parented my own children.  As I type this, I realize my aunt was only 5, 2’, but she was a giant in my life.

My mother, Theresa or Terri to her close friends, was many things to me.  She was a young mother, 19 when I was born, and the passion of her youth was quite evident.  I remember the hugs and kisses I would get when she came home from work, her fierce protectiveness of me when she felt I’d been wronged.  I have a clear memory of feeling loved by my mother; it seemed that in her eyes I was a gift, and there was no finer or smarter or cuter boy with curly hair on the planet.  She would talk to me about my dreams, how to carry myself and how to treat a girl with respect.  To this day I still receive compliments on my chivalrous ways of holding doors and having women walk on the inside of the sidewalk; and I know that is my mother.  I showed a talent for art as a child, and my mother encouraged it and would support me despite the grandness of my ideas.  She nurtured my intellect and my love of reading, buying me comic books initially and then magazines, paperbacks and novels.  While she was not a big reader, she always allowed me time and supported me in pursuing those things that seemed important to me.  But above all, my mother encouraged my speaking my mind and taught me the importance of listening.  Like my daughter, I’m pretty clear I can talk your head off at times.  But I can count on one hand the times my mother scolded me or shut me up when talking.  It didn’t matter if I was 3 or 13 or 33, she would listen to me.  She tolerated my endless questions, my protests when I viewed hypocrisy and even what could be described as back-talk when I did not understand or agree with her instructions.  As a parent I now realize the depth of patience she showed…I still have most of my teeth!

These are only three of the women who have shaped and helped me become the man I am.  Without any doubt they are the biggest contributors, the foundation of my relationships with all women.  On Mother’s Day I will remember them and smile.  And, everyday, I hope to honor their legacy and impact on my life to make them smile.

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