It is Black History Month! We all know what this means: Lots of tributes to and images of President Obama, Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, and a host of Black “paving the way” entertainers and athletes will be floating around our children at school this month. While we at GCP believe our sons and daughters and their classmates should be paying attention to these and other Black American leaders (and not just for a month), the thought and creativity around this concept can lack inspiration.

So, GCP Parents, let’s add our own spin to Black History Month: Let’s take extra time this month to share OUR family history with our sons and daughters. Take some time to talk with them about your parents, and grandparents, and what life was like for them. Tell them stories from your childhood as well; let them know how different it was for you growing up. Tell them about the political landscape of your childhood: who was President, who was the mayor, how you felt about this. They will ask questions, and these questions will prompt more stories. You may be surprised at how interested they will be.

I can attest to this firsthand: the other day while emptying a storage box I ran across some mementos my mother had left to me, which included my parents’ college diplomas. I proudly showed my youngest son his grandparent’s diplomas from Tuskegee Institute and Queens College, thinking he’d want to know more about their college days. He was much more interested in a folded piece paper which had been stuck in my dad’s diploma case: his honorable discharge from the U.S. Army. While I had glanced at this and put it aside, my son eagerly read each line, discovering the places in which my father had been stationed during W.W.II, and gleefully noting that he had received several medals during his service (“Where are they, Mom?”). My late father never spoke much about his time in the Army, and it was quite exciting to discover more about this part of his life with my son’s help.

Black History Month is a great time to talk with your sons and daughters about your history, your family’s history, the nation’s history when you were their age. Tell them about the good times, as well as the challenging ones. It will help keep our history alive!!!