TALK TO THE DADDY

Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"

Friday, October 17, 2008

"Everybody Wants to Be Touched!"

"People grow old only by deserting their ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkles the soul. You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope; as old as your despair. In the central place of every heart there is a recording chamber. So long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer and courage, so long are you young. "
--General Douglas MacArthur

Today, the daddy is smiling. Why? Well, he has done a lot of counseling (youth, drug, family violence) and quite a bit of consulting. Along the way, he has had to deal with a lot of violence, sadness and pain: the pain of a mother upon hearing that her son was killed, usually by gangbangers; the sadness of a young girl sexually assaulted by a young man who she thought "really liked me" (the extensiveness of date rape has yet to be fully told or understood); the anger and depression of black men after losing their jobs, wondering if they will have to sell drugs to pay the rent.

But the daddy has gotten a lot of love as well: male teenagers (some gangbangers) lingering around his SUV at the end of each counseling session as a way of saying goodbye; Straight-up, hardcore gangbangers advising him NOT to go into certain neighborhoods or "hot spots" at night unless he's "packing," their way of showing they cared; or women bringing him chitlin to the hospital when he was ill.

And the daddy has learned some important lessons too, none more important than a lesson he learned while working with Tina (her real name), a pregnant teenager. She taught the daddy more than he taught her. Check this.

The daddy used to work at a well-known run-away shelter for youth in Minneapolis. That's where he encountered Tina, a tall, slender, light-skinned 16 year old, bi-racial girl with a short afro. She ran away from her home in Minnetonka, a well-to-do Minnesota suburb. She hooked up with a petty drug dealer and pimp and became pregnant.

When Tina talked about leaving him and going back home, he began to beat her. This was not surprising. We counselors knew that this was the most dangerous times for women, young or old, in violent relationships: when they're pregnant and/or when they have left the relationship or trying to do so.


But when the daddy asked Tina, "Why would such a beautiful young 16 year old girl who gets A's at school and who has two parents at home who love her very much end up dating a drug dealer named 'Fly," she told him that her parents didn't act like they loved her anymore, that they were always either too busy working or too tired to do anything with her.

She said her father especially acted like he didn't love her anymore, because he stopped taking her and her mom places and stopped coming into her room to kiss her good night. "After I became 13, he said I was a young woman and he wouldn't be coming into my bedroom anymore."


Without saying so, she suggested that when she became a "young woman" was precisely the time she needed him to feel secure and protected the most.

She said, "When Fly touched me, I pretended he loved me and was keeping me safe like my dad." Perhaps sensing that I was being judgmental or seeing it written on my face (kids are smarter than we think), she said the words the daddy never forgot and now believes no parent in his or her right mind should forget either:

"Everybody wants to be touched...even animals at the zoo want to be touched."

Yes, today, this daddy is smiling because he still remembers a great lesson: everyone wants to be touched. Thank you, Tina.
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Notes from National Runaway Switchboard:

* Between 1.6 and 2.8 million youth run away in a year.

* Youth aged 12-17 are at higher risk for homelessness than adults.

* 47% of runaway / homeless youth indicated that conflict between them and their parent or guardian was a major problem.

* Over 50% of youth in shelters and on the streets reported that their parents either told them to leave or knew they were leaving but did not care.

*80% of runaway and homeless girls reported having ever been sexually or physically abused. 34% of runaway youth (girls and boys) reported sexual abuse before leaving home and forty-three percent of runaway youth (girls and boys) reported physical abuse before leaving home.

* Childhood abuse increases youths' risk for later victimization on the street. Physical abuse is associated with elevated risk of assaults for runaway and homeless youth, while sexual abuse is associated with higher risk of rape for runaway and homeless youth.

* 12% of runaway and homeless youth spent at least one night outside, in a park, on the street, under a bridge or overhang, or on a rooftop. 5 *

* 7% of youth in runaway and homeless youth shelters and 14% of youth on the street had traded sex for money, food, shelter, or drugs in the last twelve months when surveyed in 1995.

* 32% of runaway and homeless youth have attempted suicide at some point in their lives.

* Approximately 48.2% of youth living on the street and 33.2% of youth living in a shelter reported having ever been pregnant.

* 50% of homeless youth age 16 or older reported having dropped out of school, having been expelled, or having been suspended.

* Runaway youth are 50% male and 50% female, although females are more likely to seek help through shelters and hotlines.

* 40% of youth in shelters and on the street have come from families that received public assistance or lived in publicly assisted housing.

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Missing Children/Runaway Youth: a few basic resources.

1. The National Runaway Switchboard.

2. The National Crisis hotline.

3. Missing and Exploited Children Clearinghouse.

10 comments:

rainywalker said...

A father has a major impact on their children, especially daughters. In times of trouble my children call me or ask questions that I'm sure they have already decided. They just want to know what a father or mother thinks. I have never forced my opinion on them, I like to give options and let each child make their own decisions on whats best for them and not "for" me. I have always told them when they were at home, if you want to throw bricks, make sure your the one doing the talking, not listening to someone else. Then we will deal with it together and you have my 100% support. That has seemed to work for me in the past 61 years and I will continue to deal that way with youth I talk to about lives, their dreams and their future.

sdg1844 said...

Great post Daddy and her words are so very true. All human beings need to feel loved, respected and valued. It's just how we're made.

I love the quote used to kickoff the post as well.

Nun in the Hood said...

Dear MacDaddy, I taught highschool youth for quite a few years, and I remember asking a wise veteran teacher of 50 years, "What's your advice for a new high school teacher." He said, "Just love them....some days they'll hate you and other days they'll love you." At the time I remember thinking:
" He must have more to say than that." As it turned out, it was the best orientation I could have gotten.....I LOVED teaching and I LOVED the kids....Many of them come back to see me, and some even tell me that what they remember is the warmth and care of my classroom....by the way, I beleive that we recieve as much from the kids as we give them.

MacDaddy said...

rainywalker: Well said. It sounds like you've been a good father and a good role model for other fathers.
sdg: Thanks a lot.
nun:That's when you know you've had an impact on their lives: they come back to see you. You must have been a fantastic teacher. By the way, is it true or is it a myth that nuns ocassionally hit kids on their knuckles with rulers?

Nun in the Hood said...

There are lots of MYTHS about nuns, but you know a myth carries an element of the truth.....I think that I recieved a couple of knocks on the knuckles from a nun when I was in 8th grade....well deserved I might add!

nicki nicki tembo said...

Unfortunately for a lot of children they lose out in this rat race life we have created. Many a parent are so busy chasing $ in an effort to provide and begin to lose sight of what's really important - the babies. And it is to the detriment of the entire family and by extension the community. I'm a firm beliver in touching, my father gave me that. All of my children as well as the many children that frequent my home know that at any moment I'll grab and hold their hand, rub their hair, smooth their eyebrows, massage their shoulders, gently tug their ear or nose. In fact they often come up to me, whether I'm busy or not, and let they need loving. Sadly enough many of the children that flock to me at my home or in public inform me that they wish their mom/dad was affectionate as me. I tell them "well in the mean time you always got me". When my children were smaller they used to be so jealous now they accept that they have to share their mom with all the other children that come around. I tell people "God loves all the children and so does nicki".
Sorry this one was so long daddy but, as I've said before, I'm passionate about the babies, everyone's.

Vigilante said...

Has anyone ever told you, Daddy, that 'you have the touch'?

MacDaddy said...

nicki: Like yours, my mother was affectionate to the neighborhood kids in the same way that she was affectionate to her kids. We always had kids from the neighborhood over. But other parents were the same way. It was great.
vigilante: I can't remember anyone saying it quite like that. But a close friend of mine told me recently that I was her favorite writer. Coming from her, a person who has read the classics and taught, that's quite a compliment. Thank you for the complement, sir.

CurvyGurl said...

This is major, MacDaddy. I realized a little while ago that when dealing with our youth, instead of assuming they're bad kids, it's always better to reach out with a simple gesture or word of encouragement. Over time, they realize you're not trying to judge them but give them the respect they want and deserve, and will do the same in return. Excellent post!

CurvyGurl said...
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