This past Monday we celebrated President’s Day. The holiday honors the birthdays of our first president, George Washington and our sixteenth president, Abraham Lincoln. I guess it was the holiday and the thoughts of our first African American President’s time in office coming to an end that inspired my blog post for this week.
I remember thinking I would never see an African American in the White House as president in my lifetime and yet, I did, for two terms!
I remember exactly where I was and the details surrounding three very tragic historic moments in my lifetime – President Kennedy’s assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, and 9/11. I’m so glad that I was able to add a joyful event to that line-up, the night Barack Obama was elected President in November 2008. I watched his victory speech with tears streaming down my face, hugging my hubby, as we toasted his victory with a glass of wine. I even took off work the next day to relish that history making moment. I was so proud and for the first time I felt as if America belonged to me too.
As President Obama winds down his last year in office, it hit me just how powerful the image of this President has been for children of color. Those children who were in kindergarten when Barack Obama was sworn-in as our 44th President will have completed all their years in elementary school and their last year in middle school by the time he leaves office Jan. 20, 2017. As a black woman I wonder will we ever see another African American (or any person of color) as President while those children will actually believe that it is possible to be president of the U.S. for that’s all they’ve known! Which leads me to wonder just how does one go about “raising” a president?
Parents, have you ever thought that you may actually be raising the next president of the United States? I hope you don’t allow thoughts such as “I’m a single mom” or “The grandparents are raising him/her” to limit your thinking. After all, President Obama was raised by a single mom and his grandparents. An important point to also note – although the President Obama's father wasn’t around for the majority of his life, his mother and grandparents shared information and positive stories about him with young Barack.
Now I don’t consider myself an expert, but I did think of some things that may help your little one become the leader of our country someday. Of course one can only imagine what our world with all its technological advances will be like in 20 or 30 years, but I think the following is a good place to start on your journey “raising a president”:
People Skills – make sure you have them signed up for a quality preschool to help develop those important people skills (talking to one another, sharing, participating, etc). It’s best to learn how to “play nice” as early as possible (one only needs to look at how our Congress operates to see what happens when you haven’t learned this early on).
Reading Habit – read to your child daily to help develop the love of reading. Routinely take trips to the library and allow your child to choose their books to read. Make sure your child sees you reading in the home as well.
Readers are Leaders!
Education – be sure you send the message to your child that education is important to you. Talk about what they are learning in school, look over homework, and be in contact with their teacher (that’s your partner in educating your child). Start planting the seeds of a college education early.
Teamwork – participating in activities such as team sports, boy scouts and girl scouts will strengthen their ability to collaborate with others. They will learn some essential skills such as listening, respecting opinions of others, questioning, helping, and sharing.
Problem solving – productive struggle is good for them. Give them the opportunity to figure things out on their own before helping them. Playing games, building with blocks, and puzzles all help build their efficiency at solving problems.
Family – being able to count on the love and support of family and community members is essential for building self-confidence in your child. Make sure you are present at those important functions – sports, scouts, or school events.
As we continue to follow this year’s election campaign let us listen carefully and take notes. We all will be choosing our party’s candidate (Democrats and Republicans) that could possibly be the next President of the U.S. I hope you are thinking and asking yoursef questions such as, “Is this person up for the task?” “Will this person have you and your child’s best interest at heart?” “Will you be proud to have this person represent you as the leader of our nation?” “Will this person inspire your child to want to go out and make a difference in the world someday?”
Be an informed parent, your child’s counting on you!
See you in 3 weeks!