Too Much, Too Soon

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Sometimes parents do more harm than good. We guardians of the littlest ones are supposed to nurture untapped talents, supply basic needs and provide tools for life. Whether biological, adoptive, spiritual or communal, mother and father figures have in our might the power to shape society's next thinkers and change-agents. Yet, sometimes parents get it wrong.

The recent drama over connecting basketball and bedroom behavior sheds light on misguided maternal machinations. Over four years Katrina Powell exchanged her body for money. She encouraged her two daughters to do the same. While Powell contends that no minors were involved, she does not concede her role in arranging these mother-daughter dirty dances. Talk about setting the example.

The point is not to demean Katrina Powell or bring more embarrassment to her or her daughters. Powell's actions have taken care of this. Yet, to this mother's defense, one cannot help but to inquire of the economic insufficiencies and systemic bullying that would leave a woman to think her only option is familial sex-trafficking. Desperation or lack of self-worth can spur activity beyond rationality or reason. Sometimes people do whatever, whenever, however, and with whomever just to make it through the day. Nevertheless, what Powell chose to do with her being is one matter, paving a prostituting path for her daughters is a just parental transgression. This is the "cardinal" sin.

Psalm 127:4 in the Bible states, "Children are a heritage from the Lord." As sons and daughters are a divine heirloom, then parents must in turn calculate what legacy they leave to them. If the Divine gives to parents, parents are to carefully discern what they must render to children. It is easy to materialize this sense of patri- and matri-lineage. Yet, children need more than ancestral jewels to survive. Spiritual grounding, communal responsibility, personal accountability and the common sense to know right from wrong will help keep the family name intact.

Powell's escorting escapades should help parents and communities seriously consider not only how we expose our children, but to what we expose them. The ad nauseam presence of social media makes it easy to stay tuned in and turned on, all day every day. Any and everybody is an expert via a blog, tweet, podcast or picture. Our children need to know that just because they googled it, does not mean it is proper or correct. Thus, mothers, fathers, and guardians must have the discipline and wherewithal to counter erroneous material, speech and activity that traffic on the web, at work and in the world at large.

It is not rocket science, but parents still have to set the example of what it means to embody self-discipline, self-control and self-regulation. The danger in exposing children to too much, too soon is that they grew to be adults who cannot wait. They rush life's process and expedite social maturation.

November is not only National Diabetes Awareness Month, but it also highlights National Prematurity Awareness. Worldwide fifteen million babies are born preterm. More than a million die as a result. Babies who survive often have lifelong health problems such as vision and hearing loss, ambulatory challenges, and cognitive disabilities. The idea behind such awareness is to encourage parents to take measures to get in front of this condition and not lag behind it.

Prematurity in birth can lead to more deficiencies later in life. The process of growing full-term gives the body time and space to develop a biological foundation. Babies born too soon try to survive with organs that are not ready to do what they were created to do. Dare I say premature exposure to people and situations forces underdeveloped minds and spirits to attempt to survive in a disadvantaged state. We cannot "unsee" or "unlive" experiences. Prematurity in any level has a trammeling effect.

While it is not known whether Katrina Powell's daughters were born prematurely, they were between 18-22 years old during this period of exchanging favors for little to no money. They were and are so young -- developed physically, but still trying to gain mental and intellectual ground. Theirs is a story like innumerable children and young adults engaging in sex-trafficking -- under another's control. Yet, for the Powells, Momma, did it; so it must be okay. Sometimes parents get it wrong.

As a mother I tread lightly. No parent wants to hear that sometimes we miss the mark. We tend to lean towards the side of being incessantly correct or at least not letting our children know the error of our ways. I engage in womanist maternal thinking because I am intrigued at the intersection of race, class and gender through motherly eyes. That an African American mother and her daughters are the center of this basketball brothel brouhaha appeals to me. It would be compelling to trace the cord that led to Momma Powell's decision making. This is work she can do best. It is the labor of all parents.

Noting the Psalmist again, children are arrows (Psalm 127:5) -- to propel us forward, to fight for a future only they can see. However, our parental task is not to rush. Let children be children. Acquiesce to the maturing process.

Exposure to too much, too soon yields impotence and breeds incompetence. Let us guard the hearts, minds, and bodies of our children as we guard our own.