Raising kids does not have to cost a fortune. With just a little time and effort, you can provide yourself and your child with all life’s necessities: healthy meals, cool clothes, and enriched opportunities, and still stick to a budget.

  • Determine how much you can afford each month and stick to the budget.
  • Explain to your child that you live on a budget and family needs come before wants.
  • Shop around for the best deals on food and clothing. Take advantage of outlets, wholesale, and thrift stores.
  • Buy food in season and freeze bread and milk.
  • Make family meals and baby food from scratch. Save on the expense of formula and breast feed, if you can.
  • Pack school lunches instead of buying.
  • When you go out to dinner, split adult meals between children instead of ordering from the children’s menu.  It often comes out cheaper.
  • Use coupons for entertainment, restaurants, and haircuts. I love
  • Visit parks, zoos and museums for inexpensive entertainment.
  • Find bargains at yard sales and in classified ads.
  • Let it be known that you like hand-me-downs. Keep them organized.
  • Investigate high-priced items by borrowing from a friend first.


This week we are featuring a guest blog from Serrieh H. of It’s Hard out Here for a Hippie.  Read about her experience raising a Black child in America.


I am of Lebanese and German decent. My daughter is Black.  I can say this even though my heritage is not African American. Because in this society having one Black parent means she is Black.

Why is that? There is a saying in the Black neighborhood I used to live, “Black blood is so strong because Black people were the first race on this earth.” It’s a positive idea that can empower our Black youth, and I do acknowledge the scientific fact that the first people that walked this earth were African. It’s sad to say, I do not personally think that is why my child is considered Black in America.

There are some deep rooted stems of systematic racism that exists in our society today that no one can deny. Facts are indeed facts. I say all of this so that a complete picture is painted when I give you my perspective on raising a Black child as a non- black woman in America. It doesn’t just stop at educating yourself on how to brush those beautiful wondrous black curls or how to keep their skin from getting ashy but you must also be ready for WAR.

Ready for the war that American society has raised on the Black woman. A war that no matter how much we as fair skinned women empathize or fight with our black sisters, we will NEVER get the full scope of understanding on what they go through on a daily basis. So if we do not have that complete understanding, how we will give our daughter or son the tools she/he really needs in order to cope with being Black in America.

Now don’t get the two confused.  I love my daughter just as much as a Black mother would. I want the best for her and want her to have all of her dreams come true. I suffer when she suffers and when she is in pain I want to take it away from her. I can teach her right from wrong and how to be kind and generous to all creations on this earth. I can teach her to think for herself and be courageous and proud to be a strong woman, giving her a sense of independence and self-esteem that so many of our young women lack today. I can give her the understanding of something greater than us, that we humble ourselves to teaching her deep spirituality while also showing her how to have some fun too!

If you are not a person of color and you are reading this, I am almost sure you are probably thinking, well damn isn’t that enough? Any child would be blessed with a parent that can give them all of that. But the truth is, I can give her even more, but I cannot teach her how to be Black in America.

They day I figured this out I hate to tell you was not some epic moment when I was spiritually awakened with this self-knowledge. I was actually at Mc Donald’s in a white part of town and it was winter which in Los Angeles may not be considered winter at all for most. It was a time that the beaches became empty and that natural tan that fair skinned Southern Californians are known for was fading away.

My baby, who was almost four at the time, although pretty fair skinned for a bi-racial child held her tan tightly around her body and kept her deep caramel glow for most of winter.  We just finished ordering and all of the sudden this White lady who was about forty came up to me. She made her way through the crowd and left the line to approach me and say, “Wow, your baby’s skin is sooo amazing, how do you keep her that color, does she tan?”, in a shrill pitched voice which I noticed caught the attention of several other patrons.

I am looking at this damn lady waiting for her to smile or laugh because I know she had to be telling me a really distasteful joke that she must have thought was appropriate to tell. But she didn’t move a muscle, instead she just stared at me in my face as I was knelt down adjusting my daughter’s coat looking up at her. She was dead serious and was almost demanding an answer from me as if I was her child. She looked down at my daughter with such disdain and disgust, that I knew her comment came from a much darker place than just not knowing any better.

It was at that moment I knew I could prepare my daughter to conquer the world but I could NOT prepare her to be black in America.  I could not prepare her for what it would feel like when someone like this lady went to war with the color of my child’s skin.

As much as I felt like physically pushing this lady out of my face and really going to war, I knew I had to teach my daughter ways to handle racism without her fists. As a Black person in America, a physical altercation could lead to much more than just night in jail. I had to give her an arsenal of words to use as weapons to protect herself from the undeniable fact of what she would be facing as a Black woman in America. I needed to show her how to defend herself without losing herself in the process as she entered the battle field of American society.

I shot a few choice words back at this lady to show my daughter not to ever accept such racism when it is fired directly at her. I stood up slowly, fiercely facing her woman to woman, got really close to her and said in a calm and steady voice, “Are you f**king kidding me, do I take my kid to tan? How ignorant could you really be and who the hell would take their four-year-old child to a tanning salon?” I then yelled so everyone could hear me that was already trying to listen, “Her skin is so amazing because she is mixed with beautiful strong black blood!” I swung my daughter onto my hip, grabbed my food and stared at everyone in the eyes daring them to say something to me as I stormed out. I was shaking trying to get in the car and to be honest I was bewildered, upset and then completely enraged. It was my first of many wars that I would battle for the color of my child’s skin.

I realized it would not be enough just to teach her not to see the color of someone’s skin and give her the knowledge that we are all created equal although it seemed the right thing to do. The cold hard truth was it would actually be a disservice to my child as she would not have the privilege of just not seeing color.

I now knew how important and crucial my role as a non-black mother would be to my Black child. I was going to have to fight for my child, go to war for my Black child and make sure she had the tools to know how to be black in America.

How did I do that? The first step was to accept the fact that it is ok to need a village and that I could not do this alone. I had to give her some sense of black community. She needed to feel her roots with other black people. She needed not only her strong mother in her life as role model but she needed strong black women and men in her life as role models too. I realized by not providing this environment to my child, I was actually taking away more from her than I could ever give her in replace.

I also taught her about her heritage and what black people went through in the time of slavery. The triumphs and battles they fought so she could be here and feel like she actually might have a fighting chance. I never let her forget she was black but also showed her the strength and beauty of that part of her heritage. It is important to make sure to highlight the great positivity and unity that the black community had and has today. This is something you cannot get from the main stream media but I promise it is there, you just need to be open to seeing and seeking it. I showed her that I loved all people and especially had a respect for my black brothers and sisters, embracing the magic that they have in them which in turn empowered her. I filled her with knowledge of not only the oppression black people went through but also the amazing accomplishments and the great attributes they contribute to society as a whole.

In essence I celebrated her blackness.


Adolescence is the time of identity development, when relationships and school identities contribute in different ways. As adolescence proceeds, thoughts about relationships increase, prospects about college emerge, and thoughts formalize about occupational choices. One significant differentiating characteristic between childhood and adolescence lies within the realm of friends and peers. As the role of parents as primary caregivers starts to fade, peers begin to replace parents as the most important reference point in their lives.

Although many parents have negative reactions to the word “teenager,” parents must remember the major task for adolescents is to reevaluate who they are and how their bodies and identities have changed. They strive to establish final independence from their families and others their age to become their own person. They struggle to understand the meaning of life and how to interact with others of the opposite sex. They are faced with answering the question of how they want to spend the rest of their lives or if they are going to prepare for college or directly enter an occupation. How they see themselves strongly influences their options for their future. They strongly desire group acceptance more so than the middle years and become aware of their insecurities. Teenagers are faced with group pressures, such as conforming to group opinions in order to “fit in.” Withstanding some group pressures comes easier for adolescents who feel they are more adequate and worthier, which demonstrates their level of confidence in themselves. Parents must remember that intense rebellion and disrespect is not necessarily a part of adolescence, but a cry for independence. As parents prepare for their children to progress into adulthood and leave the home, they should be encouraged to see themselves first as individuals and second as parents, again reinforcing their sense of autonomy and self-esteem.


Symptom Checklist For Parents

  • Does your child put himself down constantly?
  • Does your child exert minimal effort toward tasks because he doubts he can be successful?
  • Does your child act shy around others?
  • Is your child overly dependent on you to take care of him?
  • Does your child worry things will not work out?
  • Is your child afraid to try new tasks?
  • Does your child feel overwhelmed by school and life?
  • Is your child pessimistic about the future?
  • Does your child compare himself to others and feel inadequate?
  • Would your child like to be someone else?
  • Does your child constantly doubt he can achieve anything?
  • Does your child take things out on others?
  • Does your child lose his temper easily?
  • Does your child constantly argue about trivial issues?
  • Does your child think he is unimportant?

If you answered “yes” to many of these questions, your child is most likely experiencing self-esteem difficulties and would benefit from interventions targeted toward increasing his sense of self and outlook on life. Recommended interventions include utilizing professional services for individual or family counseling, group therapy, and parent workshops.


Children ages six to twelve are developing their identity from family reflections and are not yet evaluating themselves for distinct adolescent or puberty changes. The middle years are an extension of the first six, but focus more intently on autonomy, mastery, and defining who they are from relationships outside the family, such as playmates. Overall acceptance from their playmates and mastery of physical and social skills add to a child’s increasing sense of self. Children ages eight to ten need to be exposed to an adult role model of the same sex. For girls, this is usually easier because most divorced mothers have primary custody and women, such as elementary school teachers generally surround children more. In divorced families there may be fewer options for boys and it is rare that a distant relative may fulfill this role. If role models are not readily available, children may seek out a scout leader, television hero, or same-sex sibling, but it is important to seek out a substitute so the child has an adult model to follow.

The middle years are a time for developing physical, social and academic competence. Parents should become familiar with their child’s activities at school and help them with their homework. Parents should encourage their children to interact socially with other children their age and join activity groups that interest them. Allow children to invite their friends into your home and make them feel welcome. Refrain from assigning too many chores or responsibilities to your child, allowing time for him to spend time with friends and allow his sense of self to grow.


Children up to the age of two are unaware of how to behave and are used to hearing the word “No.” At this stage, a parent’s goal is to help the child become autonomous and acknowledge that he is separate and individual. Although this is the stage of the “terrible twos,” keep in mind the child’s rebellious behavior is not to demonstrate disrespect, but rather recognize he is separate from his parents. Adjusting a child’s environment to fit their needs and eliminating as many frustrations as possible can help develop a sense of autonomy.  Childproofing the home is one way to remove frustrating obstacles for the child. Also allow for adequate time to switch tasks by giving advance notice of when the child will be expected to eat lunch, brush his teeth, get dressed, go shopping, etc. When asking your child to complete a task, such as brushing their teeth, use positive suggestions like, “Now it’s time to let the toothbrush clean our teeth,” instead of “Brush your teeth.”

Once children realize they are separate individuals, they will strive to be capable at mastering tasks themselves. Children ages three to six begin to realize they receive attention from others as they accomplish new tasks. Parents must be careful not to give tasks beyond their level of mastery, or feelings of incompetence will arise. Parents should provide opportunities for success for their children. Suggested tasks include using step stools to reach light switches and cabinets, low hanging hooks to help hang their clothes, plastic dinner dishes for meals, furniture that fits their body size, and space for outdoor recreational activities such as running, jumping, and climbing. Keep in mind that mastery of skills and tasks instills a sense of confidence in children.

During the first six years, children attempt to develop a sense of autonomy, attachment, and mastery, as they are also learning to accept and understand their bodies, language, and the rules of the home. Although it is difficult at times to accept the noise, dirt, and messes children make, try to remain focused on providing safe outlets for children’s growth while protecting your home and peace of mind.


Oh, I remember when I was pregnant it was such a big deal to me packing my hospital bag and checking it 10 times to have everything I thought I needed. I watched every YouTube video I could find to see what other moms-to-be had packed. Long story short, most of the stuff in my bag, I never used! (Just like when I go on vacation.)

The best advice I got when packing my bag came from my friend Jenn.  She said, “Girl, forget packing underwear or trying to keep the mesh ones they have at the hospital. Instead, try some Depends and put your pads inside of them.  That way when you bleed on them, NO BIG DEAL, just throw them away!” Even the nurses at the hospital thought it was great advice.  They had never seen anyone wear them before but it was comfortable and I didn’t have to worry about leaking on the sheets or messing up my clothes. They kept me from overheating and sweating down there and didn’t hurt the staples and stitches from my c-section. I also brought my own pajamas! Between those Depends and pajamas, I was a happy camper during my 4 day hospital stay!


It is important early on to teach your child that they are entitled to have their own personal comfort zone that is not to be crossed. We teach our children not to trust strangers but force our children to hug and kiss people we know because we think it’s cute. Children should have the right to choose whom they hug and kiss from day one. Do not force your child into going near a person they don’t naturally gravitate going to. It’s not important how it makes the adult feel, it’s more important that the child is comfortable. We teach our children lessons in many different ways. Personal space is one lesson early on where a child should get to choose their feelings over someone else’s. Children need to be taught that they are the most important person in their life and in yours.

Living in the United States today, there are 39 million adults who survived child sexual abuse. More than 3 million children are victims. If those numbers are not crazy enough, it is a proven fact that 95% of child molestation can be prevented. Most people think, “not in my family,” but that’s where you are wrong.

Most children don’t tell because they are protecting their abuser because he or she is a part of the family. Children also have a way of protecting people they love from pain, so sometimes they don’t tell because they would rather carry the weight than watch someone else feel pain for what they are going through.

It is estimated that 1 in 20 teenage boys and adult men sexually abuse children. 1 teenage girl or adult woman in every 3,300 females molests children. The numbers add up to be 15 out of every 100 Americans who have been either a molested child or a molester.

Some people will say that sexually touching a child does no harm. Some adults will even tell boy victims to “act like a man” and “stop whining.” Other adults are unsympathetic about the experiences of adult survivors. They will say that, no matter what happened in childhood, that is the past. You’re an adult now, so get over it.

The facts are that sexual abuse does harm the child and that the damage often carries over into the child’s adult life.

Studies show that this damage can include: difficulty in forming long-term relationships, sexual risk-taking that may lead to contracting sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS; physical complaints and physical symptoms, depression, suicidal thoughts, and suicide, links to failure of the immune system and to increases in illnesses, hospitalizations, and early deaths.

In addition to the tangible physical and emotional damage that sexual abuse does to the child, that terrible secret that is held so close by two or three family members can go on to tear at the fiber of the family in generation after generation.

I taught my daughter early about her private parts. I also taught her if anyone ever touches them, she is to tell 3 people! Why 3?  Because if she tells 3 different sources at least 1 person will take the claim seriously and not keep quiet. People tend to try and keep the secret which shames the victim like they did something wrong.

I am crazy overprotective and do not believe in leaving my daughter alone in the room with ANY MAN! No matter who he is: father, uncle, cousin or brother! Call me paranoid, I’m okay with that.  I only have one chance to protect her! Just one!


All you have to do is really think with a clear mind, be rational and use common sense. Children often carry the emotions of their parents.

1. Show your child respect.

Children learn from example.  They will copy what they see you doing throughout their life. So, if you don’t want them (your child) calling people out of their names, don’t call other people out of their name in front of your child or speak to them in a degrading tone. You are your child’s first teacher and most influential person in their life. Whether you want them to or not, they will do as they see you do. So, teach them how to respect you and others by you showing everyone around you respect. Also respect yourself, don’t let your child see you behave irrationally or social unacceptably, because they will do the same.

2. Lead by example

If you cuss, 9 times out of 10 your child will grow up and use foul language also. I am doomed, my child has already repeated some of my words. The “do as I say, not as I do” only works as long as we are in our child’s presence. If your baby grows up seeing violence in their home, most likely they will respond to difficult times in their life with violence. Children learn how to deal with their problems by examples of the adults around them.

3. Keep an open mind and heart

You are raising an individual. Don’t have the mindset that it is your way or the highway. Different people have different opinions about things, it doesn’t mean your way or your child’s way is right or wrong. Stay open and don’t make them afraid to express themselves. If they don’t feel comfortable expressing their opinions at home, you will be stunting their growth as a person outside the home.

4. Be their biggest fan

Approval from your parent is what every child wants no matter the age. If you want them to have a healthy self-esteem it is important for you to be their fan. Let them know they can change the world and everything they do positive is important. Don’t let anyone praise your child more than you! Let them know they are beautiful inside and out. Encourage them to pursue something positive that captures their attention.

5. Love unconditionally.

Everyone needs to know they have someone in their corner. Someone they can go to no matter what, a confidant. Make sure they know you will not always agree with every decision they make but you will be there NO MATTER WHAT. Make sure your child knows you are a permanent fixture in their life.


Teach children about decision-making and how to tell the difference between a bad decision and a good one. Let them “own” their problems. If they solve them, they gain confidence in themselves. If you solve them, they’ll remain dependent on you. It’s important to teach them to think for themselves. Take the time to answer questions. Help children think of alternative options, don’t give them alternative options.

Self-esteem refers to how children feel about themselves and expect to be accepted and valued by others who are important to them. Because it is important for them to feel accepted, a healthy sense of self is crucial for determining how they will approach life and interact with others. Self-esteem represents an individual’s need to belong and feel loved unconditionally; it is not just a happy positive idea about oneself, but rather a reflection of one’s character and self-respect. It is assessed by an individual’s ability to handle life situations and tasks and is interpreted by the individual from feedback received from others. For example, if children believe they are good readers, they will look for opportunities to improve and increase their reading skills; however, if they believe they have difficulties with reading, they will likely avoid tasks associated with reading and give up more easily when they are required to read.

Self-esteem has many aspects and develops within the context of a child’s evolving sense of identity and the ever-changing life tasks and challenges he or she faces. It is a lifelong developmental process whose roots are established in early childhood. A child’s sense of identity is developed through their view of acceptance, power, control, competence, and moral virtues. Children are active participants in their developing sense of self, which incorporates feedback received from parents, friends, siblings, teachers and classmates. Love, trust, autonomy, initiative, self-control, and the ability to interact socially all contribute to a lasting role in how children feel about themselves as individuals. They develop self-understanding and competence through their interactions with others, from which they construct a sense of self and personal value.

Teaching children well-developed coping skills and problem-solving techniques reinforce positive self-esteem by enabling them to think strategically and achieve personally desired goals.


Children with low self-esteem feel that important adults and peers in their lives have constantly judged them on their performances and successes. They generally feel unloved and only valued when they please their parents. Although all children have a need and desire for positive self-esteem, they either feel satisfied by the approval they receive from others or are frustrated and feel unloved as a result of their disapproval.

A parent’s role should reflect one of a coach who realizes the full implications of their efforts on the child’s developing sense of self and then acts accordingly to reinforce it. When they use overly exaggerated empty praise and cheers of well-intended support, they merely lend to teaching children to rely on others’ judgments and opinions instead of forming their own beliefs based on their experiences.

Low self-esteem also results from parents who only offer acceptance when a child completes a task or meets a standard; the child only feels worthwhile when the standard is met. Because these standards are conditional, a child’s sense of self is not positively reassured and may then fear attempting new tasks in the future.

Although increasing self-esteem in children has been thought of as a cure for misbehaving children, parents must be conscious of not offering inflated or inappropriate praise. Children who hear how great they are regardless of their behaviors receive confusing, conflicting messages; these messages may induce feelings of grandiosity in the child. Parents and teachers might think this will increase the child’s self-esteem but being overly lenient and passive only increases their inner conflict and decreases their overall self-esteem. Although the parents may be fearful of setting limits for children who might become frustrated and angry, being too permissive decreases a child’s personal sense of accomplishment and instills a false sense of self-importance.