Recently, I sat down with one of our own TNA parents, Latonia Cherry, to learn a little bit about her experiences at our school. Although each child is different, many of her insights reaffirmed the values we share here. She also provided some great advice to new parents
How long have you been part of the TNA community?
Our daughter Shataya is currently a Junior and she enrolled in 8th grade.
Truthfully, it was our daughters decision. She had been in Catholic schools and researched The Neighborhood Academy on her own when it was time for her to “graduate” from her previous school. We [as her parents] were particularly impressed by the curriculum and structure of the extended school day, like with the built in after school activities and evening study time. We were pretty sold on the school right away after reading the website. The Open House just confirmed everything we hoped for.
How have you seen TNA impact your child?
She’s always been very studious, but since her time at TNA we’ve seen her break out of her shell. She used to be very shy, for example, when doing group projects she used to try to get the other students in the group to present so she wouldn’t have to get up in front of everyone. With the tours she gives, and more recently her role in the Dating Violence Resource Fair, Shataya is no longer afraid of public speaking and does it with ease.
What’s the best thing you’ve done to support your daughter?
Being there for her. Especially in the beginning, when she was first transitioning, there was a lot more emotional adjustment and even more help with homework checks. I used to ask her weekly what tests she had coming up, but as she got used to the work load, I stopped needing to. She started internalizing her own academic needs. And her grades show her responsibility. TNA gives enough notification so you know if something isn’t right with your child.
What’s the best advice you can give to current or perspective TNA parents?
Prime your child for what’s ahead of them. TNA is going to expect more than other schools. We told Shataya, who had always been an A-student, “you might not get all A’s or even B’s at first and that’s okay.” We would much rather see her try really hard and fail than not try at all. I would also tell new parents to be there through the frustrations. [Coming to TNA is] a huge change for most students and sometimes the best thing you can do is just listen to them and be there for them. Additionally, I would tell Shataya to take advantage of all of the tutors and advisors. There’s no excuse not to!
I like to consider myself to be a good parent, as all parents would. Not a great parent or a perfect parent, just someone who does her best raising three young ladies (ages 19, 12, & 9) that, God willing, grow up to be productive members in their own community.
I was raised to expect my mother, father, aunt, uncles, and anyone else remotely related to me to be "all up in my business". When I would attempt to remind my mother that something was "my business", she would gently (well, not so gently) remind me, "You don't have any business".
My desire is to be their mom, (or mommy when they want something). I am not their friend and I need to have the energy to be all up in their business, as my parents were in mine.
I'm aware of this new thing called violating your children's privacy. In my house, the only people that have a privacy right are the people who 1. own the home 2. pay the monthly mortgage/rent 3. pay the bills and 4. make certain there is a meal on the table. I am very clear that once they get their own place that I will then respect their privacy (probably still not fully :)
This brings me to my title: Tough Love Warranted. Within the urban community we have transitioned into what I call new-age parenting: "they need their privacy", "I want them to know I'm their friend". NO! We are their parents first, and our number one goal must be to assist them in molding their character, morals, and ethics. It is not an easy task, and it takes more than just the parent to execute this successfully. Remember the saying "It takes a village to raise a child"?
For The Neighborhood Academy parents reading this long story, that is what we have here at TNA. I say we because I learn something new about parenting every day from your children. Some things I learn make me think about a different approach to a situation I may be having with my daughters, and others make me see that our children are more aware and wiser then we tend to give them credit for. As much as we would like to believe that our "babies" are naive to certain situations, in most cases this is farthest from the truth. We must meet our kids where they are in life.
With social media in such high demand with our children, I make a point to check their sites and explain how the misuse of these apps may have a negative effect on their future opportunities, be it college acceptance, employment or character reference. Most companies, universities, networking prospects use these social media apps as a reference for rather individuals will be a "good fit" for their organization.
Given the frequency of these warnings, I was surprised to see my beautiful, high honor, respectable child (isn't this how we all see our kids? :) post a status stating how she's going to "party like a rock star" (on a school night, I may add).
You may be asking, “Where did my tough love come in”, right? Her father and I decided to have her post/write on the same social media page that, for starters, she's not legally of age to party like a rock star for another eight years, and she will be taking a break from her page until she becomes mature enough to use it correctly. Needless to say, she probably hates us at this point, but that is okay, normal, and should be expected from time to time. It means you’re doing your job as a parent.
We are planning to resume our Hand to Hand Parent Institute sessions so that we may begin talking and sharing on topics that will continue to allow us to support each other in our parenting troubles. In the meantime, if you would like to share what parenting topics keep you awake at night, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, my beloved community, it takes a village to raise a child, and we here at The Neighborhood Academy are deep rooted into being a part of that village.