Parenting children in today’s society is extremely hard. Parenting young Black males, at times, seems like it is next to impossible. For the first time in the history of the Essence Festival, the Essence Festival of Culture “[held] thought provoking conversations about [Black boys and men],” where the experts shared tips on parenting young Black males on today’s world.


Based on the compelling conversations during the expert Essence panel, here are nine verbatim tips from the event to help parents raise and share some #blackboyjoy.

  1. Start early with positive affirmations. It builds self-esteem in what can be a competitive society.
  2. Celebrate their accomplishments and successes with them. This helps their motivation and strength to go further in being an asset to the community.
  3. Also celebrate their efforts and attempts at reaching goals. Positively reinforcement goes a long way in applauding their efforts to reach a goal.
  4. Reject negative labels that may be placed on your child. Take the time to address areas where they need guidance. If a school leader labels your child as being inattentive, guide them on what attentiveness looks like.
  5. Understand developmental differences. Young boys typically develop behind the pace of young girls, which is usually okay.
  6. Be attentive to their unique experiences. Listen and show creativity in addressing the real and complex needs of your individual child.
  7. Embrace a multi-faceted toolkit, which may include therapy. Children/teens often open up to professionals in ways they won’t open up to their parents. It’s easier to be vulnerable when you perceive there are no consequences.
  8. Toss out old myths regarding Black boys and their emotions. Let go of “boys don’t cry.” Allow your child a safe space to express their emotions and teach them how to perceive what is a safe space.
  9. Meet them where they are. This is especially important in relation to the social climate of today.

The expert panel included:

  • Moderator, radio personality Maria More, the host of the Wellness House conversations and a mother to sons.
  • Rev. Wanda Johnson, the mother of Oscar Grant, who was shot and killed while unarmed in 2009 by a transportation officer in Oakland’s Fruitvale Station.
  • Arnold James, PhD, licensed clinical psychologist in New Orleans
  • Brandy Stinson, a licensed Clinical Social Worker out of Atlanta

“We have to continually remind them that they have been created for a purpose,” Rev. Johnson said during the event.

She continued. “I’m so proud because Oscar did everything that I instructed him to do that night and even though he didn’t come home, he still helped to allow his friends to come home.”

What are your thoughts on the panel’s advice? Do you have any tips to add? Sound-off and comment below. We want to hear from you on this truly important topic.

Tiffany Silva

Tiffany Silva

Writer and Editor

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