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Day 5 of Kwanzaa: Nia means purpose; raising all our children is essential

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Call: Habari Gani?! (What's going on?)

Response: Nia! [nee-yuh]

See my previous article about Kwanzaa for an explanation of the call and response.

Today is the fifth day of the Kwanzaa celebration, and it is focused on purpose.

In our kinaras, we light the middle, black candle, the red candle that sits next to the black candle on the left, the green candle that sits next to the black candle on the right, the red candle that sits in the middle of all three red candles and the green candle that sits in the middle of all three green candles.

According to the Nguzo Saba, as written by Maulana Karenga, purpose means:

"to make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness"

Since the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa should be implemented all year long, let’s talk about how to make that happen.

It's been said that mothers love their sons but raise their daughters.

One major way we can build and develop our community, and therefore implement purpose all year 'round is by raising all our children. We need to make sure to equip black girls and black boys with the skills they must master to be productive citizens of their families, communities, states, countries and humanity. We can't just love them or just raise them. We have to do both.

There is plenty of love in purposeful discipline. We are not doing our children any favors by trying to be their friends more than being their parents. You can claim your role of authority without becoming a tyrant, but you must teach a child to know who is the parent and who is the child. We have too many of our children locked down and away because they are unable to deal with authority.

Single-motherhood is a stark reality in the black community.

Mothers, please know that your boys need positive, male role models in their lives. If the fathers are not there to be the positive role models, then it is your task to seek out positive, male role models whom your sons can associate with.

Mothers, your daughters also need positive, male influences in their lives. It is your task, as well, to seek out positive, male role models whom your daughters can associate with.

Mothers, if your children's fathers want to be a part of their lives, do not interfere with that relationship. Yes, you need your child support, and maybe he did you all kinds of wrong, but if he isn't neglectful and/or abusive, do not deny your children the ability to establish a bond with their fathers.

Contrary to popular belief, not all black fathers are absent from their children's lives. There is a high rate of absenteeism among black fathers, but let's not forget the fathers who wear their responsibilities like a badge of honor and who are actively involved in their children's lives.

To the black fathers who are absent from their children's lives, you already know what you must do. Don't let another day go by without taking the first steps to reclaim your relationship with your children. Overcome your embarrassment and shame and put your children first. Forget yourself and make the sacrifices now that you should have made then and get involved.

Don't use the excuse that your child's mother won't let you be involved in your child's life. Be involved anyway, even if your child won't know it until he/she comes to an age where he/she can seek you out for him/herself.

How do you do that?

Try this:

Write your child a letter about your day and how much you miss and love him/her. Date it and seal it in an envelope and put it away in a safe place. Do this each day you can, along with buying birthday cards, Christmas cards, Valentine's Day cards and cards for any other occasions, date them and put in a personal note to your child along with a few dollars and put the cards in the same place with the letters.

Continue to build up this "stash of remembrance and love" and when you have the opportunity to interact with your child for the first time, give your child all these love notes and well wishes. Let him/her see that even when you weren't there you were there. The hole in his/her soul will fill much faster as he/she reads your words and sees the cards and the accumulation of cash that you stored up and saved up just for him/her.

Let's not forget the mothers who are also being kept from having relationships with their children. Mothers, you can implement the same suggestion that is mentioned above for fathers, or come up with your own way to show your children that you were thinking of them constantly and loving them always, even though you weren't allowed to be in their lives.

Our children are our legacy. We have to take care of and build up our legacy. That is not a passive process. That is an active process.

Can you think of other ways to implement the principle of Nia? Please leave comments with your ideas.

Happy Kwanzaa!

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