Tag: children

5 Things Every Parent Needs to Do This School Year

By Deanna Johnson Cauthen

Deanna Cauthen is as a contributing writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Decatur Dispatch and Tucker Times news magazines, publications of Hometown Newspapers.


I’ve recently completed my 25th year of homeschooling. During those years, I’ve graduated out three of my children and now I have one more left. It’s hard to believe, but my youngest child has just started her junior year of high school and my days as a homeschooling mom are quickly coming to an end.

If you do something long enough, you’re bound to learn a few of things. Such is true for the job of parenting. Over the years, I’ve learned that no matter how many pairs of socks I purchase, I will always have more unmatched than matched. I’ve learned that even though you tell them to use the bathroom before they leave the house, at least one child will “have to go” once you get in the car. I learned that though you tried to cut all of the pieces of cake exactly the same size, somebody will always complain that the other got more.

But I have also learned some very important practical truths. Here are five things I plan to do with the final days that I have left in my homeschooling career and I’d to encourage you to do the same.

  1. Don’t waste time stressing over things that don’t really matter.

One of the big issues of contention between me and my youngest daughter has been about the cleanliness, or lack thereof, of her room. Every time I passed her bedroom door and saw the messiness, I felt compelled to tell her to “clean up” and preach to her about the importance of having an organized, sanitized space. This, of course, was met only with resistance and resentment.

However, a couple of years ago, it dawned on me that I only have a few, short years left with this precious child before she’s off to college. Do I really want to spend this time fussing at her about clothes on the floor? Absolutely not. So I stopped. It was really that simple.

Now, I do still have some limits. I draw the line at moldy food and foul odors, but short of that, I’m okay. The funny thing is since I’ve backed off, she’s actually gotten better about keeping her room cleaner. Who can figure?

  1. Help them tap into their unique abilities.

Being a student of your child is a very deliberate act and will require you to pay close attention to them. It means listening not only to what they say, but watching what they do and how they do it. Your job, as a parent, will be to connect the dots and create an environment that will help cultivate their natural abilities.

I have four children and each of them is very different. My son, who is the oldest, has always had a love and gift for electronics and engineering. Even at a very young age, he intuitively understood the process. His room was filled with all manner of electronic devices that he would take apart, reconfigure, and put back together again.

My oldest daughter, Corinthia, loved books and reading. Today, she works as a library manager at a local university. Johanna, my middle daughter, is my sensitive child and has always identified with those who were hurting or less fortunate. She currently works as a nurse’s assistant at a retirement facility.

As parents, it’s easy to get caught up in the frenzy of grades, SAT scores, and college choices. Those things have their place, but providing a rich, learning environment for our children and creating opportunities for them to explore their gifts, will yield the greater good.

  1. Give them something bigger than themselves to believe in.

One of biggest pleasures I have had, as a parent, has been to talk to my children about the practical applications of my faith.

Someone once asked me if I was trying to indoctrinate my children with my spiritual beliefs and I told them that was exactly what I was trying to do. I believe in an omnipotent God that is bigger than me and my problems. It’s been that belief that has helped me to keep my sanity when the chips were down and all hell broke loose in my life.

As a homeschooling parent, I’ve had more access to my kids than most parents do, but every parent has the opportunity to pass on their spiritual values to their children.

As these kids grow up and leave home, we will not be there to protect them from the harsh realities of this world, but having strong spiritual roots will help them navigate their way better.

All three of my adult children have had their own period of “falling away” from the faith, but over the years they have each shared about times in their lives when they needed their faith to help them through a difficult time and for that I am extremely grateful.

  1. Listen more and talk less.

Sometimes we’re so busy barking out orders and giving instructions that we miss important moments in our children’s lives. The scripture says, “…Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and should not get angry easily (James 1:19),” but too often, as parents, we do the exact opposite.

In her article, “How to Become a Good Listener”, Janet Dunn says, “Unfortunately, many of us are too preoccupied with ourselves when we listen. Instead of concentrating on what is being said, we are busy either deciding what to say in response or mentally rejecting the other person’s point of view.” When a parent stops and takes the time to really listen to a child, they will feel loved and accepted. Poor listening is an act of rejection, but good listening embraces others.

Good listening also allows us to have better teachable moments with our kids because we’re better informed. We’re not assuming things and speaking from a place of ignorance. It allows us to be more credible and have more impact.

  1. Make time to have fun.

Most of us are super busy and, in any given week, there is a myriad of important things to do, but make sure you take time to have fun.

We don’t get to do this as much now since Adrianna is in high school and has a heavy workload, but there are days when we will stop school and go shopping at the mall or go out to lunch. Sometimes we just grab a portable, canvas chair, go outside, sit on the front lawn, and take selfies.

It seems like yesterday when my, now-adult, children were all home and we sat around the dining room table eating, talking, and laughing. Of course, I still see and spend time with them, but it’s different. They have their own lives and sometimes it’s difficult to coordinate our schedules and spend time together.

We need to make the most of the time that we have with these kids. Don’t worry about the dishes or the laundry. They will eventually get done. If you have to err with your time, err on the side of making a fun memory.


8 Things You Didn’t Know About Black Fatherhood

By Deanna Johnson Cauthen

Deanna Cauthen is as a contributing writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Decatur Dispatch and Tucker Times news magazines, publications of Hometown Newspapers.

Homeschool Dad Pic

As we celebrate Father’s Day, I wanted to find a way to honor the many African-American fathers who sacrifice and support their families each day. I felt particularly burdened to write a word of encouragement since many of us have been deeply hurt and discouraged by the unjust killings of several African-American men by the police.

Unfortunately, society’s perception of Black men and their role as fathers is a dismal one. So often, the only pictures we see of African-American men are the ones painted by the ugly images of the media. This, along with the prejudices that have been passed down from generation to generation about African-Americans in general and Black men in particular, has added to the misconception people have about them.

I’ve been fortunate, however, to witness some of the best of what Black fatherhood has to offer. Despite the odds, I have watched these men serve their families and contribute in countless ways to their communities and I’d like to share eight things with you that I’ve observed.

1. Most African-American fathers are very nurturing to their children.

A C.D.C. report issued in December 2013 found that Black fathers were the most involved with their children daily, on a number of measures than any other group of fathers — and in many cases, that was among fathers who didn’t live with their children, as well as those who did.

I remember how my heart melted the first time I saw Andrew look at our daughter, Adrianna, shortly after she was born.  I could clearly see that he was awestruck and he has been that way ever since. He regularly spends time talking with her, supports all of her interests, and even at age 15, he faithfully tucks her into bed at night.

But his love isn’t limited by biology. It’s been extended over and over again to his three stepchildren, the grandchildren that he’s helping to raise and the hundreds of youth he’s mentored during his 23+ years of youth ministry.

2. Black fathers carry a particularly heavy load and need support and encouragement from their community.

Woven into the very fabric of American thinking is a longstanding, pernicious attitude that African-American men are inherently bad and there’s been a long history of efforts to rob Black males of fidelity and honor. The prejudices are so pervasive that many African-Americans themselves have unconsciously internalized and accepted much of this poisonous mindset.

Battling these negative attitudes, along with the responsibility of caring for a family, can be a daunting task. These men need the support of a caring community.

You might be asking yourself, “Where are all these good Black men?” The answer is that they are all around you, but you need to open your eyes and see them. They’re the guys who pick up your trash, the dentist that cleans your teeth, the mechanic who fixes your brakes, the principal at the local high school, the coach who mentors your child’s sports team, and the co-worker at the next cubicle. The list goes on and on.

As a community, we can help bridge the gap and bring healing and restoration when we choose to cross racial boundaries and enter into the world of an African-American family. If you are of another race, I challenge you to invite a family of color to your house for a meal and get to know them better. It will go a long way to breaking down old stereotypes.

3. Good Black fathers are not an anomaly.

As amazing and wonderful as my husband, Andrew, is he is not an anomaly. I come from a long legacy of Black men who are wonderful fathers including my dad, brothers, uncles, father-in-law, and brother-in-laws. Furthermore, I’ve been fortunate to be in friendships with several wonderful Black men and their families.

Not only do these men tend to the needs of their immediate families and would move heaven and earth to provide and protect, but many of them help their extended families, volunteer in the community and regularly serve at their places of worship.

4. Black fathers want to be the leader for their family and desperately need their wives or significant other to support them.

In a report entitled “The Negro Family” written 50 years ago, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan states that “…the Negro community has been forced into a matriarchal structure which…seriously retards the progress of the group as a whole, and imposes a crushing burden on the Negro male and, in consequence, on a great many Negro women as well.”

Because of this breakdown of the African-American family, some women have come from homes where there was no male leadership. As a result, it can be very difficult for a woman to trust a man to lead a family, but we must allow our men to be restored to their rightful place.

As a divorcee who had to be head of household and primary provider, I know how hard it is to lead a family. It was a relief for me to be able to turn the reigns over to Andrew. He has a servant’s heart and his leadership, along with my wisdom, support, and prayers, has enabled our family to accomplish great things.

5. Contrary to popular belief, African-American fathers are not deserting their children.

Josh Levs, author of the book, “All In,” points out this fact in a chapter in the book titled “How Black Dads Are Doing Best of All (But There’s Still a Crisis).” One fact that Levs quickly establishes is that most Black fathers in America live with their children: “There are about 2.5 million Black fathers living with their children and about 1.7 million living apart from them.” Admittedly, not all of these fathers are married to the mothers of their children, but that is a far cry from abandonment.

6. Most African-American fathers, despite disadvantages, work and take care of their kids.

According to the Census Bureau 2013 American Community Survey, 67% of African-American males ages 16 to 64 are in the labor force. Although the participation rate for Black males is less than the ‘all male’ population rate of 80%, you must take into account that historically African-American males have lagged behind in education which significantly affects employment opportunities. My father was a prime example of this.

As a self-taught electrician with barely a high school education, my daddy struggled to make a living. Additionally, during the fifties and sixties, there was still a lot of discrimination and it was difficult for a Black man to get licensed and employed as a certified electrician.

Because of that, he resorted to doing odd jobs here and there. Sometimes, we would go with him to a job site and wait in the car while he worked. My mother would read to us and we ate sandwiches and finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Daddy would return with a little money in his hand and we would all go home. He, along with the help of my mother, always made sure that we had a house, a car, clothes, and food.

Although my husband has a degree in English from Clemson University and has worked as a reporter for several years, Andrew had his challenges with employment, as well. Shortly after we married, the company he worked for downsized, and he ended up losing his job. As if that wasn’t stressful enough, he now had the responsibility of providing for me and the three children from my previous marriage, and we were expecting our first child together.

Although he vigorously applied for several jobs in his industry, nothing came through and he ended up having to work two part-time jobs in order to support us. He did that for several years until he was finally able to land a position as a reporter with a newspaper.  Andrew’s top priority was finding a job and earning a living for his family and he did whatever he had to do to make that happen.

7. More African-American fathers are getting a better education.

Nearly 62% of Black men earned their high school diploma in 2010, according to a 2013 Education Week report and, according to BlackDemographics.com, in 2013 about 48% of Black men 25 and older attended college, although only 17% of them earned a Bachelor’s degree.

8. Some African-American dads who have failed their families want to make amends, and need to be given the chance to do so.

Let’s face it. Some of our Black dads have screwed up royally. For one reason or another, they were absent from their children’s lives and this has caused untold amounts of pain and grief.

Of course, those early years of parenting can never be regained. However, as Maya Angelou said, “When you know better, do better.” I have personally seen some of these men doing that.

Understandably, because of the hurt that they’ve caused, sometimes their efforts are not well received by their children and former spouses or partners. As someone who has walked through this, I would like to offer a few words of advice.

To the dads out there who are trying to reconnect with their kids and repair damaged relationships, I encourage you to be patient. You cannot undo years of absenteeism and neglect in a few weeks or months. It takes time to build trust. Be honest about your mistakes and don’t make excuses.

To the children and former spouses or partners of these broken relationships, I ask you to consider the fact that most of these men were ill-prepared for the rigors of parenting. Many of them had poor or nonexistent male role models themselves. Choose to forgive, not for their sake, but for yours and let the healing process begin.

To all the African-American dads out there who get it right, thank you. We love and appreciate you. Today is your day. Celebrate!





A Healed Heart: A Father’s Day Tribute


By Deanna Cauthen

I lost my father to pancreatic cancer when I was 13 years old.  It was all very sudden–him getting very sick, the excruciating pain, my mother taking him to the hospital in the middle of the night, and then six weeks later, dying. Just like that, he was gone.

If you’ve never experienced it, the death of a parent, at such an early age, is one of the hardest things a child can endure.  It leaves a hole in your heart–an empty, lonely feeling like nothing else. At least, that was the way it felt for me.  Add to that the pain of not understanding why God would allow such a thing to happen and you can imagine the despair.

That was 37 years ago. Now, fast forward several years to January 13, 2001, the day I married Andrew Louis Cauthen, III. Like most people who enter into a marriage, I was in love and believed that Andrew would probably be a good husband and father, but in actuality, who really knows about these things. Only time would tell….

Well, time has told. We’ve been married, now, for almost 15 years and what did God do? He gave me a man with a great, big daddy’s heart.  I find it rather perplexing, but altogether wonderful that a God who would allow my father to exit my life at such an early age would, in turn, give me a husband who would play a part in healing the wounds of the past. But, then who can understand God?

I remember how my heart melted the first time I saw him look at Adrianna shortly after she was born.  I could clearly see that he was awestruck and he’s been that way ever since. Even at 13 years of age, he faithfully tucks her into bed at night and it blesses my heart as I watch him from the doorway of her bedroom.

But his love isn’t limited by biology. It’s been extended over and over again to his three stepchildren, the non-biological grandchildren that he’s helping to raise and to the hundreds of youths he’s mentored during his 23+ years of youth ministry. The devotion he has for them and the unwavering commitment to their well being is nothing short of God’s grace in action.

My biological dad has been gone for more than three decades, but the Lord has used the father’s love of my husband to heal my heart again and again. I am incredibly blessed to be married to a man who takes the ministry of fatherhood so seriously. God bless you, Andrew Cauthen!


Deanna Cauthen, works as a contributing writer for the Decatur Dispatch and Tucker Times news magazines, publications of Hometown News Inc. and she has also been a staff writer for the Stone Mountain-Lithonia Patch, an online media outlet of AOL.com. As a freelance writer, she has written numerous articles for local and national publications including Christianity Today and Home Education magazines.  She is also the owner/operator of The ProWriter’s Studio, a public relations agency.