No. 824



What I want to share today can make a tremendous difference in the lives of many, many people. Dr. Charlotte Rainey Green has written one of the best and most insightful little books I have ever read. I say little because it only contains about 100 pages. It’s titled, “Because I Said So” and is about various parenting styles and the influence they have on a child’s development, self-esteem, behavior and success. Just remember, we were all children at one time and I believe we have a responsibility to help the children of today become good citizens and the leaders of tomorrow. This is especially true if we have children or grandchildren at the present time.
The book opens with the example of two pre-school girls, in different homes, getting too close to an open fire in a fireplace. Cassandra’s mother states firmly, “I told you not to get too close to that fire, Cassandra!” “Why can’t I get close?” Cassandra questioned. “Because I said so, Cassandra. Do not ask me why. Just do what I told you to do.” When their eyes locked, Cassandra quickly stepped back from the fireplace and watched her mother close the screen.
This scene is repeated in another home when Stephanie also moved too close to the fireplace. Her mother says, “Remember what I told you, Stephanie,” her mother said firmly. “I remember: Don’t get too close to the fire,” Stephanie recited in her mother’s tone. “That’s right. Fire is dangerous. Don’t let the beauty fool you. Fire can and will burn almost everything it touches.” “I know mom. You don’t have to remind me.” “OK, because it will burn your hand, just like it destroyed that house on the news last night.”
After these verbal exchanges, two years passed and both girls were entering kindergarten, same school, same class, with the same teacher. The first day Mrs. Icy, the teacher, prepared to read the class a story and showed them a picture. “Who knows what is in the picture?” Mrs. Icy asked. Both Cassandra’s and Stephanie’s hands shot up. So she called on Cassandra. “It’s a picture of fire,” she answered confidently. “That is correct, Cassandra. What do you know about fire?” “You don’t touch it!” she responded confidently. The teacher said, “Very good, Cassandra. Who else can tell me about fire?”
Stephanie was almost out of her seat when Mrs. Icy called on her, “Fire is dangerous. It can burn almost anything it touches. It burns houses and takes away people’s things, and you should not be fooled by its beauty.” This brief exchange set the wheels in motion for much more serious things down the road. In the teacher’s notes after class, she noted that Stephanie was exceptional with a good vocabulary, while Cassandra may need some remedial work. Here is the rest of the story. Cassandra is an African-American child while Stephanie is Caucasian.
Dr. Charlotte Rainey Green, who is African-American, points out that the parenting styles in the home environment, before each child enters school, could be the difference that charts the course for each child’s future. She lists three different parenting styles: Authoritative, Authoritarian and Permissive. She also talks about the African-American culture and the impact it has on achievement gaps and dropout rates. You will have to read the book to learn more, but this fine author, who did the research, really opened my eyes. The book is “Because I Said So” and was published by Outskirts Press.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)