Yesterday my son was at it again with his math homework. At least once a week fractions, decimals, multiplication and division turn my living room into a battlefield.  First, I use my inability to count to 100 to confuse him as best I can. (lol)  And then Uncle Phil, or my husband, makes his entrance.

He’s the math wiz of our family, and just happens to not be biologically related to my oldest son, but he is his daddy-in-love having raised him since he was 5-years-old.  My son is now 12. Anyhow, he comes in to do the heavy lifting, or the pushing as I call it. He forces our son to remember what he learned in class and calls him to accountability for not asking enough questions, or for not “overstanding,” as we call it at home.  I can’t help but wonder what happens to all of the little boys that don’t have an Uncle Phil coming in to save the day when they are all but distraught over their math homework.

What happens to the young men who don’t have a daddy-in-love to give him a wedgie when his pants are sagging too low, make sure he wears cologne when he starts to stink or tell him he’s spending too much time on the XBOX and not enough time reading books.

The death of James Avery, known affectionately as Uncle Phil on the popular 90’s sitcom Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, has got me thinking about the village.  You know the saying: It takes a village to raise a child, well many children don’t have a village.  I was a single mom for 5 years prior to getting married, so I know there is a lot of pressure and very little resources in the fight to find positive role models for your son.  So here are some easy, but unconventional ways to ensure your son gets on the road to self-accountability and confidence.

1. Read, Read, Read: Knowledge really is power, and it opens up new portals of understanding and experiences for your boy.  Specifically, if you can get books in your boy’s hands that speak to the power of not only being a man, but being a Black man the world will be his oyster.  Through reading your son can have everyone from President Obama to Mansa Musa to Will Smith himself as a mentor.

2. Make a List: This one will require some time, but it will be well worth it.  Have your son make a list of at least 5 men that they really look up to.  Then do some research and get your son a memento to remember each person by.  For example, if your son really looks up to Thurgood Marshall try your best to find him a used gavel and place it on his dresser so that he sees it everyday.   This will help him to remember not only what he can accomplish, but who these men where and how many obstacles they overcame to reach great heights.

3. Monthly Lunch Dates: Yes, it would be great if he had a man in the house everyday, but if he can’t don’t stress about it.  Instead, just try to find one great guy that is willing to have lunch with you and your son once a month.  You must have at least one family member or close friend who happens to be a guy, and is willing.  What your son really needs is a mother willing to make herself uncomfortable (extremely at some points) to raise him right, and just one guy who’s willing to be a friend and ask him the right questions to get his brain thinking.  And, if it isn’t too much to ask, have him throw in a couple of weekly phone calls too.

Well that’s what I’ve go.  How did you find the “Uncle Phil” in your son’s life?


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Muffy MendozaAuthor posts

Muffy Mendoza is an author, speaker and founder of Pittsburgh Brown Mamas, a support group for nearly 4,000 African-American moms in the Pittsburgh region. To further fill the void Muffy has created a line of educational products focused on helping Black moms be the best moms, too. Her first book, The Brown Mama Mindset: A Blueprint for Black Moms on Life, Love & Home, was featured at the 2018 Essence Festival and is currently sold in various cities across the U.S. Muffy champions the beauty of Black motherhood everywhere she goes, even on the TEDx stage. Find out more about Muffy on

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