During one of our groups we shared some very important information with other females between ages 12-18. The response of these young ladies made me realize the importance of the topics addressed. Although it is way too much information to add in a blog post, I decided to try and break it down, adding some of the most important points. Please share this information with the teens in your life; in fact, take it a step further and turn these points into a conversation. There’s a lot that our girls already know, but with the struggles of making right and wrong decisions, talking about and encouraging them on what they know may be more beneficial than you can imagine.
There are several things that are very important when we consider all that it takes to grow into a strong, progressive, successful woman. Of those, we discussed self-esteem, assertiveness, inner/outer beauty and self-care. I will list a portion of the discussion below. Please feel free to share; in fact, we encourage you to share!
Self-esteem is one major key to becoming a successful individual, regardless of how one determines success. Whether or not one has high or low self-esteem will pretty much determine how far they will go in life. Those with higher self-esteem will, more than likely be more successful than those with low self-esteem. Recognizing the level of one’s self-esteem is pretty easy. Have the person (or yourself) answer the following questions, a) how do you feel about yourself; b) what type of behavior do you display when you are in public and/or associating with others; and c) how well do you take care of yourself (eating, exercise, hygiene, etc.)?
Some examples of people with high self-esteem include, a) acting independently; b) taking responsibility for their actions; c) taking pride in setting and reaching goals; d) welcoming new tasks; e) willing to help others, especially without wanting anything in return; and f) behaving positive in negative situations.
Assertiveness is a healthy way of communicating as it allows us speak up about things that may or may not be good or helpful to us. This can be important in all aspects of our lives including school, work & at home.
Assertiveness is something that we all have to work on, constantly. What is most important for us to learn is how to use our assertiveness. Sometimes we can be too assertive (mean, demanding, etc.) and other times we can be under-assertive (think I just made up that word…lol) (too quiet, allowing others to do what they want to us, finding ourselves in situations we are not happy about, etc.). Being assertive in a positive way, meeting in the middle of overly assertive and under-assertive. Examples may include a) giving an opinion or saying how you feel; b) asking for what you want; c) being able to respectfully disagree with others; d) speaking up about ideas and suggestions, even if others may not want to hear them or agree; e) saying NO without feeling guilty; and speaking up for others.
Self-care very, very important to our overall well-being. People in your circle may criticize you for self-care; they may think that you are selfish. However, without taking care of “self” then you risk “self”. Self-care takes practice and continued effort; without it we risk our physical and mental health, and the possibility of having healthy relationships with others.
You can start practicing self-care by creating a self-care plan. Some things to focus on include, a) school/work – engage in regular supervision, positive peer interaction, develop and stick to strict boundaries with peers, and develop knowledge in subjects/professional field; b) physical self-care – exercise regime, regular/enough sleep, healthy eating, rest/breaks at school or work, vacation; c) psychological self-care – keep a reflective journal, hobbies, take time for yourself, hang out with friends/family; d) emotional self-care – supportive friendships, reflect on good things you’ve done throughout the day, again…hang out with friends & don’t forget to take time for yourself; spiritual self-care – meditate, pray, exercise, reflect with friends and/or social/spiritual groups, read/journal; and relationship self-care – prioritize relationships with friends & families, form and nurture professional relationships (school/work).
If you take a good look at all of the topics listed, then you will see that they all play a role in one another. You can’t have high self-esteem if you do not practice self-care, or if you do not consider and build your inner beauty. You can’t build on your inner beauty if you don’t practice self-care which helps to increase your self-esteem. You get the picture! So please….if there is not enough information here, then research each topic. As previously mentioned, share this with the young ladies in your life. It can be a great “injection” of knowledge; and just may be what they need to set them on a path of building a solid foundation as they move into womanhood.
A life today, a nation tomorrow….
Mrs. Tomaro Pilgrim, BA, MSC, MSHS, HS-BCP
To conclude, here are a list of just some areas guaranteed to improve with the use of mindfulness:
*****Attention & behavior support
*****Positive social behaviors
So…with the information shared, please consider a life change for your child….for your family. There is plenty of information out there to support the importance and the benefits of mindfulness. Knowing is only half the battle of us raising healthy, happy and productive children.
Mrs. Tomaro Pilgrim, BA, MSC, MSHS, HS-BCP
But what happens when we reach our late 20s, our 30s? How long do we hold onto the past and allow it to “control” our thoughts and actions? When do we say,enough is enough and it is time to take responsibility for our negative actions, our reckless behaviors? This is a good question to ask, particularly when our actions affect those we love…..like our children.
If you are one who has experienced a lifetime (or a short time) of troubles, many of which are not due to any fault of your own (or maybe all your fault), you are over 25 and have (or not have) a family then this message is for you….
It is time to stop the madness! Stop crying and complaining about your circumstances! Stop pointing the finger at others! Take a few minutes and revisit your choices in action/behavior; what did YOU do to get YOU where YOU are in this moment????? Now, ask YOURSELF what YOU must do to get YOU out of YOUR current situation. Ponder for a while…..and be real with YOU!
In case you didn’t know, the ‘woes me’ loses its tune after a while; people begin to go tone death….not wanting to hear you sing the same ole song and do the same ole dance.
So, do everyone a favor….no, do YOURSELF a favor and Stop blaming your present on your past and allowing it to dictate your future!
If you cannot make the necessary changes alone; if you need some advice, guidance or resources there is always someone available to help (Let's Talk). No more excuses, no more blaming….it is time to take care of YOU! If I can make positive changes, anyone can.
Mrs. Tomaro Pilgrim, BA, MSC, MSHS, HS-BCP
I recently read a story about a two year old little girl named Alexandra Hill. I felt it necessary to share a portion of this story with hopes to remind us all that there is so much work to be done within the foster care system, particularly with for-profit foster care.
Question, is it just me or do we all expect a child to be placed in a SAFE environment after being removed from their homes due to NEGLECT or MALTREATMENT???
Alexander Hill was taken away from her family in order to ensure her safety and well-being. She was placed in a foster home recommended by a Texas for-profit corporation. Three months after placement, Little Alex was dead!
Was Alexandra placed in a safe environment? Was this home in the ‘best interest of the child’? Who decided this was the best home for her? Who will be held accountable? And….how often does this happen???
Alexandra’s story is one that mirrors the lives of many other children entering into foster care which is why it is so important that I share. If we don’t know of a problem, then how can we try and fix it???
Parents of Alexandra, Joshua and Mary lost custody for a few reasons. One, they both smoked marijuana, and Mary has an illness that causes her to have seizures often. Also Alexandra lived with Joshua’s parents, along with his father who had served time for having sex with his mother’s 16 year old daughter. Although no one denies that Joshua and Mary loved Alexandra, it is clear that this was not a safe arrangement. The state removed Alexandra from her grandparents’ home placing her in a foster home.
After being removed from the first foster home due to Joshua’s accusations that his daughter was being abused, Alexandra was placed with Mrs. Sherill Small who at the time was fostering an infant as a means of support for her family. She resided with the fostered infant, her two children and her husband, Clemon Small.
According to reports, on the day of Alexandra’s death Mrs. Small had been upset with Alexandra for waking up too early and getting something to eat and drink without permission. At some point Mr. Small left the house leaving Mrs. Small alone with Little Alex; approximately 15 minutes later she called 911. Police arrived to find Alexandra lying on the floor unconscious; although all foster parents are trained in CPR, there appeared to be no attempts to revive her. Reports further explain that Mrs. Small confessed to slamming Little Alex’s body on the floor causing her to hemorrhage, but said she did so “accidentally” while playing a “game” with her. The autopsy showed that Alexandra had suffered bruising throughout her body, thus suggesting ongoing abuse.
More disturbing facts include the agency’s inability or care to properly assess the family to ensure they were ‘fit’ for fostering children. The investigation determined that Mrs. Small had been in foster care from the age of two; had three daughters, who were raised for a short time by her parents; and one of her daughters remained in the care of her parents. Mrs. Small and her husband had criminal records which included multiple drug charges, and Mr. Small was a recovering crack addict which was listed in his description on the foster care application. Let’s not forget to mention that Mrs. Small told the caseworker that she was very stressed out prior to bringing Alexandra into the home. Am I the only one who sees the possible issues here?
Keeping in mind Alex’s story, I would like to provide some more information for you.
Nationally, no one tracks how many children are in private foster homes, or how they perform compared to those services provided by the government. After one author covering this story, Brian Joseph questioned every state about the number of children in its foster system, only eight of them responded. The eight states combined had a number of at least 72,000 in 2011. Mr. Joseph stated that not one of the states had a statistically valid dataset comparing costs and rates of abuse and neglect in privately versus publicly vetted homes. When he asked about this, Mr. Joseph was told that, “Data is a low priority because it’s difficult.” Then the individual stated, “How do you measure child safety?” What in the world does this mean??????????
Private agencies in Texas alone were found to have more than 100 deficiencies or violations of standards in 56 of its foster homes; and this is only what has been reported. Children all over the country are being sent to foster care through private owned companies; they are being sexually assaulted, beaten, neglected and murdered! What’s worse is there is little accountability! These companies are skating away scott free, as well as some of the foster parents causing the harm to the children. Who is fighting for our children???
Bottom line….placing a child in foster care is often times more dangerous than leaving the children in their homes and taking the time (and spending the money) to address the things that can be changed through the implementation of education, resources and/or financial assistance.
Tomaro’s C.H.A.N.G.E. is aware that we cannot ‘save’ everyone; and when we are able to make a difference it may only be one life at a time but just imagine if we all realize the impact that changing one life can make. Education, resources and a little financial assistance can go a long way….it can possibly prevent the need for so many children to be removed from their homes, thus decreasing the need for so many foster homes (particularly private ones). No, we cannot save all the children in the world but who says we can ACT as if we can. A change may not be seen in our lifetime but we must start somewhere or our children will continue to suffer; the number of children being mistreated and who are dying will continue to grow. AND THAT MY FRIENDS IS JUST UNACCEPTABLE!!!!!
A life today, a nation tomorrow…we can do this if we work together!
Mrs. Tomaro Pilgrim, MS
I read a story about an 11 year old girl who was raped twice within a matter of months by some young guys in her neighborhood. What disturbed me the most about this story was not just that the little girl was raped but what happened after she reported the rape. The rape of this 11 year old girl is so heartbreaking! But to add to that heartbreak, after getting up the courage to tell she was subjected to years of additional disappointments, sadness and pain!
Before I explain why I am addressing this issue, let me point out a few important details about the 11 year old girl’s story.
1) She and her twin brother were adopted by her aunt and uncle at the ages of 4 months old (parents were crack addicts)
2) Prior to their adoption, she was hospitalized after being burned in hot water by her mother
3) She struggled in school with learning and behavioral issues; eventually set up with an IP and began getting counseling
4) She was raped by two men between the ages of 18 and early 20s
5) She reported the rape only; she was isolated only going to school and back home
6) Her best friend was shot and killed
7) She was promiscuous, defiant and a run away
8) After several months of not going out (other than to school) she visited a family member across from her home; he sent her to the store at which time she was ‘abducted’ by one of the guys in the neighborhood, bought back to the same place as before and raped again
9) Again, she reported the rape; this time she was told that her story was inconsistent (she changed her story numerous times, including giving the name of the person who abducted her)
10) Although the medical reports proved that she was raped she was served with a warrant of removal from her parent’s care and made a ward of the state for providing false statements
11) Both cases, even with the medical proof, were CLOSED
12) For the next few years the girl was shuffled from a psychiatric hospital to foster care to residential facilities; and she was diagnosed with numerous psychological disorders such as ADHD, Bipolar and attachment disorder
13) At the age of 15, the girl returned home; she was pregnant and had her first child
14) Prior to her parents moving, the girl saw the men who raped her whenever she went outside her home
15) Today, the girl is 17 and suffering from psychological issues and struggling with the ability to have healthy relationships; what’s worse is that before being able to deal with her psychological issues, she has become a mother
I tried to find articles, or any kind of information to support my personal findings regarding the number of children removed from their homes, and/or put in situations where they are not able to trust those who are supposed to protect them. Unfortunately, I am not able to find anything. However, while reading the article about the 11 year old girl a legal official who was familiar with the story stated that, "prosecutors proceeded with the case against the girl (accusing her of providing false statements) to 'get her into the system' to obtain additional therapeutic services (which makes no sense because according to her family and school she already had services set up prior to the rape)"; he went on to say, "there’s not a lot of funding available for youth that are not charged, you have to be neglected or a juvenile delinquent.”
Based on her family history, although struggling with learning and behavioral issues she did come from a decent family. This girl was far from neglected. So in seeing no signs of abuse or neglect they turned an already troubled, struggling youth into a delinquent. Although this is not something that is mentioned via the media, this happens far too often!
After years of working with youth who have been removed from their homes I have learned that many of them do not trust the police, social workers, attorneys, judges or therapists/psychologists. One must ask the question, why? Another important question is what do we do to change that?
The girl who was raped at 11 years old (twice) stated that she knows many young girls who will not share their stories because they do not believe they will get help. We hear about the number of children being abused and neglected, and the number is alarming; can you imagine how many of them do not tell because of fear that they will be removed from their homes, made to be liars, or simply blamed for the actions of those who hurt them???
As with the 11 year old child, children who has behavior problems, runs away from home, struggles in school or has a difficult time communicating and maintaining positive relationships with others are often a product of their environment and/or experiences. This does not make them liars or does not mean that everything negative thing that happens to them is their fault; they are not automatically exempt from being a victim.
There was no one in that 11 year old child’s corner, other than her parents who were unable to do anything to help her. Based on her own admission, she felt alone, betrayed and useless. Her life was carved out for her before she had an opportunity to grown old enough to make any decisions; and when she did try to take control of her life by sharing her rape with those who were supposed to help make her feel safe and secure, she went from being a victim to a delinquent. Again, this happens all too often!
How can we protect our children if they cannot trust us? How do we expect them to come to us if they are not comfortable in knowing they are safe, that we will protect them?
It is time for change! Do I have the answers? No, but my hope is to start the discussion; with the help of others there is a great possibility that WE can come up with some ideas. It takes a village…..
Mrs. Tomaro Pilgrim, MS
Do you believe in spanking? That is a question that has been under controversy for many years. Many people believe that there are just some behaviors that cannot be corrected without a spanking. In fact, many of us ‘grown’ folks will say, “My parents spanked me and I turned out fine.” On the other hand you have many child development experts who suggest that children who are spanked are, a) taught that violence is acceptable; b) deliberately causing a child pain is cruel; c) it harms the child emotionally; d) makes a child feel powerless; e) breaks the feeling of trust and security a child may have with adults; f) not an effective means of communication; and g) it does not work.
To give you an idea of the controversy that surrounds this topic, there was a poll taken on Debate.org. The question was, “Is spanking wrong?” Based on the many individuals’ comments, 43% believed that it is wrong and 57% believed it is not wrong; almost a 50/50 split.
When one begins to research the origins of spanking they will find that determining the correct time or place is very difficult. There are just too many cultures and times to consider. Regardless of when and where the act began, we can all agree that it is a punishment that is considered all over the globe, and across all walks of life. Some consider it corporal punishment, a form of abuse while others simply call it much needed discipline. Sadly, spanking has become a major problem in the lives of many; particularly low income families residing in certain communities. For a great number of these families spanking has been redefined by the judicial system as corporal punishment with no ifs and or buts about it; thus, causing them to lose their children to the ‘system’.
Let me make my position clear…..I am not judging anyone who spanks or who does not spank. In fact, I am one of those ‘grown’ folks who say, “I was spanked and I turned out fine.” And, I too spanked my children from time to time. However, I must stress that I have a different outlook on things today; I have taken the time to re-educate myself and therefore would like to re-educate others. I believe this is especially important because spanking has been redefined, therefore putting our young people in the position of having their children removed from their care.
During some of my ‘personal growth’ studies I have learned that spanking, or corporal punishment as it is often called, is most common in the African American family. Researchers have suggested that the reason for this is that it is a legacy that has been left by the brutality of slavery; they add that parents in lower income communities have less education; and they say that this group is more likely to follow the religious belief, “spare the rod, spoil the child”. Further, it has been determined that in many cities throughout the U.S. African American children are more likely to be removed from the home and placed in foster care.
With the previously stated in mind, I see a major issue here; particularly being one who is gung-ho about family preservation. African American families are more likely to use “corporal punishment” as a means of discipline, and they are more likely to have their children placed in foster care; do you see the problem? If not, let me help you….
We are currently working with a young man whose son (age 4) has been placed in foster care (now in the care of his mother) after spanking him for behaving inappropriately with a little girl. The young man does not spank his son, but instead he usually puts him in time out in a room alone. When asked why he spanked his son on this particular day he said, “Because he was being nasty with his step sister and I wanted to make sure that he wouldn’t do that again. I was spanked and I learned so I don’t see anything wrong with me spanking him so he will learn.” Many (not all) will agree with this thinking, “Spanking the little boy was okay because he was acting inappropriately and with all that is going on with kids today his dad had to do what he had to do to make sure the child understood that this behavior was not to ever happen again.” Right??? Well, the Department of Children and Families believed differently. They were introduced to this young man and his son because of his communication with someone already involved with the system, wrong place wrong time I guess. Nonetheless, his son was taken away from him based on the one spanking and the 4 year old child’s responses during questioning.
After having his son from birth, with little to no help from the mom and absolutely no other incident this young man spanks his son (once) and loses custody of him in less than a month’s time. Not only has he lost custody, but the child is now in the care of his mother (remember, she provided little to no help over the child’s 4 years on this earth); and he is jumping through hoops just to get regular visitation. See anything wrong now??? I would hope so….because I see so many things wrong with this situation! How can we expect a parent to care for their child in a way that is contrary to how they were cared for, unless of course they have been re-educated?
The point of this post is this, WE MUST RE-EDUCATE OURSELVES AND THE YOUNG PEOPLE IN OUR COMMUNITIES ON HOW TO BETTER CARE FOR ONE ANOTHER, PARTICULARLY OUR CHILDREN!
Although there is a larger number of African American youth to consider, this is an issue throughout all groups and communities. Due to the ‘new’ definition of spanking (corporal punishment) it does not matter what one believes to be true, spanking is not a good form of discipline. Contrary to what parents who use this form of discipline believe, there are absolutely other alternatives….and depending on the personality of your child, you are sure to find one or two, or three of those alternatives that do work!
So, in re-educating yourself and others consider the alternatives listed here before raising you hand, shoe or belt to your child; and/or share this information with someone you know who may be having a difficult time with their child/ren.
Please remember that spanking, as acceptable as it may have been or may still be in your household is very risky. You (or someone you know) can easily find yourself (or themselves) in a battle with the state over what is in the best interest of your (or their child), and you (or they) can LOSE!
Re-education….TC’s new wave of making change!
Mrs. Tomaro Pilgrim, MS
How many articles do we need to read regarding the differences between high and low income families before we realize there are some real issues that need to be addressed???
Although not the first, there was a recent study conducted by the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences indicating that there is a distinct difference in
what wealthy and poor babies eat. Working with families in disenfranchised communities, I have learned that poor children do not eat healthy; however, prior to reading the article presented by the Washington Post and others I had not considered the stats that support what I already knew.
The University stated that the dietary patterns of American infants between the ages of six and 12 months old varied by the racial, ethnic, educational and socioeconomic background of their mothers. Less educated and poorer households tend to have diets with higher sugar and fat, whereas higher educated households with a higher income tend to do the opposite.
Research shows that families with incomes generally above $60,000 a year, with higher educational levels ranging from some college to post-graduate were more likely to breast feed and give their infants solid foods which adhered to the feeding guidelines as suggested by international and pediatric organizations. To the contrary, families with an income under $25,000 a year and an education level of a high school diploma or less were more likely to feed their babies food that was high in sugar, fat and protein or high in dairy foods and regular cereals. Some of the more common foods include candy, ice cream, soda and French fries. Furthermore, the researchers concluded that African American women were more likely than all other groups to feed their infants unhealthy diets.
Infants that are fed foods with bitter taste are more likely to develop a like for them; on the other hand, infants fed sweet or fatty foods are not only more likely to prefer that type of food, but may even develop an addiction. What is most disturbing about these findings are the long term effects (i.e. overweight, stunt in growth and increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease and other unhealthy conditions) that impact the infants’ health, eating habits and food preferences as they grow into adults; and the trend is then passed on to their children.
Bottom line….poverty plays a major role in the nutritional choices that many parents are able to make for their children. Between the cost of healthier foods and the lack of nutrition knowledge, low income families are not provided the same equal opportunities as families with higher income. The gap between poor and financially well-off families is a great one; parents feeding their infants unhealthy drinks/food is a growing problem in the United States.
The infancy stage is a critical period for ALL children! It is important for parents of ALL racial, ethnic, educational and socioeconomic backgrounds to have the opportunity to provide their children with healthy eating! Research tells us that the problem is the lack of nutrition education and low cost healthy foods; this being the case, the answer to this growing problem is simple….more family, friends and communities should offer nutrition education (including education about breast feeding) and access to affordable or free healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables. Is the solution as easy as the answer? No….but if folks realize the seriousness of this issue and come together it is possible. It takes a village! #ItsARealIssue!
Mrs. Tomaro M. Pilgrim, MS