Habits, Drowning, and Parenting
Parenting changes you. That phrase is not only an intangible cliché. It's real, like the changes you can touch and see in gray hair or Chicago's political landscape.
When I lived on Chicago's southside, my firstborn's arrival encouraged me to finish my dissertation. I started the habit of writing at 4 AM to prevent interruptions. Fast forward to 2023, and that habit of maximizing the silent hours continues.
Every day begins with praying, writing, reading, and exercising.
If I need more sleep or something interferes with my morning routine, the first thing I do when I arrive on campus is write. Email and prepping for the day's lecture can wait.
Think about the habits you formed when a major shift occurred in your life or responsibilities. How have they evolved?
While considering your answer to the previous question, let me share a story that draws in the connection between parenting and discipline.
Picture this. It's a warm Sunday afternoon. You decide to sit on the stairs of your front porch and enjoy the weather for a few moments.
The block is quiet. It's a simple day that helps you appreciate life.
Then, you see a giant dog, three small children, and a man of average height come down the street. The children carry smiles on their faces and skateboards beneath their feet. You inhale and exhale when you see the man’s firm grip around the dog’s leash.
You contemplate going back inside to avoid the noise, but instead, you stay.
The family moves past your house and approaches the corner store. A driver pulls into the parking lot with music loud enough to wake any sleeping baby in the vicinity. You cannot decipher the lyrics from your porch, but the beat signals hip-hop.
The car's passenger gets out, but the driver remains with the windows down and the music’s volume up.
You watch the children and the car’s passenger enter the store while the father waits outside with the dog. After a few minutes, the little ones return empty-handed. The man says something to one of them.
You put on your glasses and see the three children dance and mouth the word, drowning. Then, about three minutes later, the family passes your house, and you go back inside.
Last weekend, I walked with my children and the dog to a local store. The journey looked similar to the story I shared with you.
Before I had three sets of eyes that looked to me for leadership, love, and protection, I enjoyed everything about hip-hop music. Its candid, creative depictions of struggle and hope resonated with me. Nowadays, I am more selective of the artists I listen to and analyze the lyrical content of my children’s favorite songs.
When we arrived at the store last weekend, the song that greeted us stirred anger and anxiety in me. The artist, A Boogie wit da Hoodie, rhymes about jewelry, money, and material success in his 2017 hit Drowning. On our walk home, I asked my children why they liked the song and if they understood the meaning.
“It gets me hype, and yes, I know what it means,” were among their memorable responses.
When I was a child growing up in Chicago and the south burbs, I didn’t understand why my parents hated the music I loved. Now, I live abroad with two young sons and a daughter; I get it.
Before children, I envisioned myself as the dad who would listen to my children’s music and have open conversations about the content. Now that the time is here, I’m having difficulty removing my father's hat and assuming the role of a teacher at home. That desire to shield them from every factor with the potential to corrupt their values is strong.
Although research supports that the media we enjoy does not correlate with committing actions similar to the art we consume, I have concerns. These concerns encourage me to stay on top of my discipline game and embody the life messages I want my children to learn.
Yes, change is part of life. But, sometimes, do you wish for things to return to the simplicity of writing in solitude, enjoying a summer day, and appreciating creative musical expressions?
Last summer, my family went to Disney. My parents and a couple of sisters helped sponsor the unforgettable day. When I made this month's vlog episode about our experience, it helped me cope with change, reorder habits, and tap into creativity.
Like you, I want to make the most of every day. Maintaining productive and mindful habits ensures success. If you feel like you're drowning and can't get into a solid routine, consider talking with a professional like a therapist or counselor.
Below watch the video of our Disney experience in 2022.