Lately, there's been a lot of talk about how Tuscaloosa residents can work to save our children and end violence.  No one seems to have a clear answer, and that is understandable.  Sometimes, it's easier to learn by hands-on experience than any lecture or book can teach. There's a saying that "ain't nothing to it but to do it," which is not completely accurate. However, while mending that which is broken is not going take place overnight, there are some minor things we can do to make sure the current cycle isn't perpetuated:

1.  Stop naming your children stupid stuff.  First of all, if you know you're not the strongest reader, stick with average everyday names. That way, when you go to teach your child to spell his name, he is not learning the basics of phonics incorrectly from the jump. In addition, even names that are made up have meanings.  Take each part of the name and find out its derivative. Once you put it all together, you might be surprised at what you've actually named your child.

2.  Be a parent to your child.  You can't fix the community without fixing the home. All too often, men create children with women and once the relationship is broken, they move on to another woman who has children. In this day and time, it's rare to meet an adult who is not a parent. So, you have a woman with a fatherless child. She begins to date someone new who makes it clear to the child that "I am not trying to be your dad, but what I will be is someone who you can depend on," yadda, yadda, yadda. That is utter and complete crap! A woman and her child are a package deal. Once she becomes your wife, you two are ONE. Therefore, that child is now YOURS. God forbid that the woman's children are older. Then, you have the "you're not my daddy" problem. So, this child has NO male figure to whom he must submit.  His dad, which is not in the home, can't regulate day-to-day activities.  And 9 times out of 10, the mother won't let the new husband completely fulfill his role. 

3.  Restore order in the home. Man is the head!  I don't care who makes the most money, whose spelling is better than the other, who has more degrees.... None of that matters.  Just as you have one body but one side is more dominant than the other, a husband and wife are ONE unit with the husband as the stronger side.  If you feel that your man isn't strong enough to guide your family in the proper direction, you shouldn't have married him.  If something happened that caused him to lose confidence in himself, it's up to you to help him build it back up. YOUR livelihood is at stake, and operating out of order is not going to fix it. What WILL happen is you'll end up like the previously mentioned mother in No. 2, except this time, it'll be hard for a new man to come in because you're so used to carrying the load on your own.

4.  Know who your neighbors are as well as their children. People who know each other tend to look out for each other better.  In addition, if you know Little Shaundralequia-- Please refer back to No. 1. I mean, they're already out there. *shrug* --Anyway, if you know Little Shaundralequia is hot in the pants and doing things she shouldn't be doing, it is your responsibility to threaten your son. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. "If I EVER catch you over there with that little girl-- No, if I ever catch you saying anything more than hi when you check the mail, I will pluck every hair on your head with tweezers one by one. Think I'm playing? Try me."  And THEN, you have a responsibility to notify her parents of your observations.  Yes, they might be mad and become offended, but after they roll their eyes at you, they're going to have a more watchful eye on HER!

5.  Prioritize!!!! Too often, we place emphasis on things that don't even matter.  Who cares whose name is attached to your outfit if it's still ugly, or if the next person can take the same amount that you spent on one piece and create an entire outfit (accessories included) and look more fashionable?

6.  Last but definitely not least, don't just pray for your family. Pray WITH your family. When I was young, we would meet in the hallway of our home and pray before anybody left the house. Until this day, every last one of my siblings and I can quote word for word the way our mom began each prayer. When you train up a child in the way he should go, when he grows older, he won't depart from it. THIS is how we create a better path for a brighter future.

The point in all of this is that we have to be better stewards of our own homes if we expect to be great stewards of our communities. We have to make sure we rule our own children well before we can try to save someone elses. Of course not every parent takes his role in his child's life as seriously as he should. So, yes, it is of the utmost importance that we look out for our neighbors.  There is a song we've all heard that says "sweep around your own front door before you try to sweep around mine." That doesn't mean you can't help another person manage what they have. Just make sure you have your business in order first.