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Tough Love For Struggling Black Youth

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In the discipline of children the most important orienting concept is that discipline is a form of love because it is a way to help children get what they want in life and not get what they do not want. Without discipline just the opposite will happen. The penal system is not about tough love because it has no love and is so tough as to generate worse criminals--which is beneficial for those who make money on the system. So the question is how to apply tough love to those Black youth who operate out of their Omnibus Brain (modified instincts) and have it be effective.

It must be "tough" in order to shatter the course they are on but it cannot be too "tough" as to worsen destructive behavior. The key is to know what "Love" is and how to spread it. Ancient Africans considered Lov e as the perfect, permanent, stationary, enduring, eternal, and all powerful force springing from God’s mind. It imparts a sense of divine fullness--which by flowing into, inside of, and out of each human- -thereby makes ones spirit complete.

Such a fulfilled state remains indefinitely unless one chooses to replace Love with something else, as occurs in those afflicted with spiritual pain (e.g. most of whom are struggling). To love another is to love that person's soul since it is made in the image of God and deserves respect and caring.

Practices on how to spread Love were exhibited by the success my Black high school teachers had with countless "tough guys." For them, "Tough Lov e" -- the loving substitution of discipline and what is right for a display of compassion in a manner that helps correct the problem -- worked on multiple planes of existence. These planes included appreciating, caring about, and respecting the dignity in the mind, body, and spirit of each youth. This was so artfully done that even "tough guys" accepted teachers' tough love. They let students know where there were flaws on any of these planes. Being aware that the students could react in a very negative way, the teachers possessed unconditional love--that which risks being disliked for the sake of the students' improvement. In other words, the teachers would go against what their hearts wanted to do out of the best interest of doing what they cared deeply about. What they did was to show "lots and lots" of Love of the African Tradition (and not European) type. These teachers' selfless service conveyed high expectations of students' success which were internalized by "tough guys." Words, concepts, and body language communications of the teachers were followed up with actual "do right" experiences for the youth that allowed them to discover the benefits. Their philosophy was that what these youth really, really wanted did not come from objects that can be acquired or from activities that are performed--objects and activities assigned a high value by society--but rather they could only come from the real that is deep within oneself and that is part of God's image in all God's creatures and creations.

But Ma'at (Love in action) is not simply about giving a person a fish to eat (i.e. only giving love). It also embraces such gentle tough love practices as teaching one how to fish or taking one to the lake where one can learn on ones own through trial and error how to fish or put one in the group of fishermen and learn to fish by imitation or letting one know that "no fish, no eat." One of the ways of helping certain people is to take away some of their things that keeps them from "getting down to business." The tough love approach is to force the youth to fish if that youth desires to eat: "No work , No Eat!" Which one applies depends on what is the toughest acceptable thing to that youth and in that youth's culture.

website: www.jablifeskills.com

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