August — September 2007  
In This Issue:
Column: Happy Holidays
by Joy Jones
Feature Article: Flak About Fathers
Book Review by Kristi Guillory: Drop Everything and Read!
by Wanda Sykes

 

Greetings!

Are you concerned about marriage, courtship, divorce, dating, and living single? Of course you are because you read and responded to "Marriage is for White People." This newsletter features information of interest regarding male-female relationships.

Happy Holidays!
by Joy Jones

Merry Christmas! Who's coming over for Thanksgiving? I know you're still running your air conditioner on full Arctic blast and swatting away mosquitoes as you drink margaritas at the outdoor BBQ. I'm not calendar-challenged because I'm talking about the holidays while it's still summer. But now is a good time to start thinking about the holiday season.

I don't mean make arrangements for a big dinner or a shopping spree. The holidays are often the time of year people get extremely depressed. Their loneliness seems to stand out more severely against the backdrop of continuously playing Christmas carols, compulsive partying, and the emphasis on feeling close and cozy with God and family.

All that is cool if you're in the right emotional space, but it can also be a colossal strain. Since you know Christmas is coming (as well as Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year's Eve), here are some ideas for preparing yourself now:

- Nurture existing friendships. Catch up with those folks you've been meaning to call so that you'll have some authentic connections to draw upon during the stressful holiday season.

- Plan your free time. Put in for leave now if you want to be off from work. Or if you already know you'll be off, start to make arrangements to be with the people you'd like to be around (this may not mean your family.)

- Replace bad habits. Start your diet today so it'll be well established by the time the ‘season's eatings' time arrives. Get in several months of practice saying no to second helpings, cigarettes or alcohol and hopefully you will be less likely to yield to temptation.

- Be a smart giver. You can start putting aside a little money each payday so that you don't go credit card crazy buying presents. And the best gifts aren't necessarily store-bought. Make yourself useful -- volunteer, help out a friend -- hey, help a stranger.

- Pray today. You don't have to wait till December 25th to stop being naughty and try being nice. Ask for divine help to show you how to have both more serenity and more fun before the year is out.

- Change your expectations. Some people will be getting engagement rings at Christmas. Some will have a fabulous date to escort them to a fantastic New Year's Eve party. Some will be spending Thanksgiving, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa with their huge and happy extended family. Some of us will not. The trick is to balance the diligence to plan ahead with the acceptance to take life as it comes. Then we experience a little more sweetness and a lot less madness during the holidays and throughout the year.


Flak About Fathers

Is a concerned and committed family man more fairy tale than fact? If fathers are not optional, then just what is their optimal role? My interview in the last issue with Bill Stephney, who promotes more rights and involvement of fathers in the family, struck a nerve among readers. Here is some of the feedback I got:

The piece about Bill Stephney struck home. I'm happy that he has addressed the issues of men in divorce and raising children. In the discussions about marriage and divorce and children, I always got the impression that it was women's concerns that counted. I'm glad to see that someone is looking at the other side of the coin.

Man, late fifties

I think it's great that dads want to be counted but in my observation, the way to be counted is to show up and pitch in - not just financially but with actual nitty gritty care and time. You will never hear a woman say the words, "I'm babysitting" when she's with her kids and someone asks her what she's doing, and you will never hear a man say, "I'll have to see if I can get a sitter" when he's asked to attend a meeting or an event. That there speaks volumes as to why men are often marginalized to purse strings, if anything at all Men are often marginalized to purse strings, if anything at all [because] they often don't show up for more (especially compared to women's level of engagement), and it's the simplest way to get an unengaged person to contribute.... and it speaks to why women often dismiss them or don't take their father's rights demands seriously, since they haven't really hunkered down and helped with the day-to-day of child-rearing.

Woman, early thirties

I totally agree that fathers should never be an option in a child's life... Do not get me wrong, I truly love, respect and thank God for the kind of mother that I have. However, I am a child born out of wedlock from a father who is married to some other woman and a single mother who struggled to take care of five siblings and myself. We do not all have the same father, either.

The only time my father came around was when he wanted to sleep with my mother. Even though I was a little girl at the time, I quickly learned this. At the age of 12, I told him that I did not want him in my life. I am the one who influenced my mother to file child support on him. This was not because I viewed him as a paycheck. It was because I knew he did not want to be around to raise me. He showed up every two years like it was no big deal. So, I wanted him to be held accountable.

Woman, late twenties

[This] is THE fundamental issue facing many of our communities: how we structure our families (or lack thereof...) I would also like to thank those who took the time to respond and contribute to the dialogue.

Bill Stephney
stepsunmusic@msn.com.


Drop Everything and Read!

Review by Kristi Guillory

Yeah, I Said It by Wanda Sykes

     And boy, does Wanda say it. Wanda Sykes says it and keeps on saying it…about everything, from the criminal justice system, politics, relationships, child rearing, sex and other topics. Consider this book Wanda Sykes' personal manifesto on the ills of society.

     I am a Wanda Sykes fan, but as I kept reading the book, I kept on thinking--What is the point? Wanda jumps from topic to topic. I think that the book is not meant to have an overarching theme, but rather a collection of essays or short vignettes on topics that interest Sykes.

     Don't get me wrong, the book is funny. I could easily picture Wanda saying these same words in her comedy routine and drawing big laughs.

     In one funny part of the book, Wanda admits that she has decided not to have children. She says that she has reached an age where she shouldn't have kids. She says that after a certain age, you'll have an old-looking baby. She says that babies who are born to people of a certain age look like they can drive themselves to the hospital or better yet, looked like they marched with Dr. King. That's one reason why I have always liked Wanda Sykes, she shoots straight from the hip and says things that some may deem “not acceptable.” She says things that women may not like hearing—things that men may not like hearing. It's perfectly ok with her. She doesn't mind ruffling feathers.

     I also liked her methods for telling women to get in shape. “Open your own doors. Mow your own lawn. Do your own hair.” This next tip really made me laugh. “Rather than cry and be depressed over what your man didn't do for you, fight him.” You have to admit it, Wanda's got jokes!

     What I liked most about the book is that it isn't for the faint at heart. If you don't mind Wanda saying that she is not in favor of reparations, but in favor for all African-American children receiving a free college education, then this book is for you. She freely talks her life and draws upon personal experiences to drive her points home. Almost every issue one can think of, Sykes has her say.

Joy Jones is a popular speaker, playwright and the author of the op-ed pieces, “Marriage is for White People” and “Why are Black Women Scaring Off Their Men?” plus several books including Between Black Women: Listening With The Third Ear, Tambourine Moon, and Private Lessons: A Book of Meditations for Teachers.

Jones is available to speak at your event. To learn more, visit www.JoyJonesOnline.com.

 

 
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