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All children need parents who provide love and discipline. However, it’s important to never underestimate the extraordinary challenges black youngsters face. There are certain realities that come with being a racial minority, and there’s no way to avoid them completely, no matter how wealthy or accomplished one becomes. You can help your child develop the strength and resilience he or she needs to succeed by reflecting on the following questions.


The first black parenting book to focus on discipline, STRENGTH FOR THEIR JOURNEY offers African American children and their parents a prescription for coping with the myriad social challenges they confront each day. In a culture that often grants fewer safety nets to nonwhite children, STRENGTH FOR THEIR JOURNEY is a crucial book that African American parents can turn to again and again as they help their children and teens fulfill their true potential.

Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. What would you list as the most critical skills and attributes a young African American needs to succeed, both in society and as a person?

2. What steps should African-American parents take to help children feel good about themselves and their heritage?

3. Do you believe it’s necessary to set a positive example in your actions, or do you think it’s enough just to talk to your child about doing what’s right?

4. What do you think is the most effective approach to disciplining children: strict, lenient, or balanced?

5. Do you think it’s important for African-American parents to talk to children about racial prejudice and offer guidance about how to deal with it?

6. Given the choice, would you prefer to raise your family in a mostly white, primarily black, or racially mixed neighborhood?

7. If your teen started to date someone of a different race, would you allow things to run their course or take steps to put an end to the relationship?

8. Are you aware of the added pressures black students often face in achieving academic success—and what parents can do about them?

9. Do you feel that a higher education is more or less important for African Americans?

10. Do you feel that a historically black college is a better choice for most African Americans than an institution in which most of the students are white?

11. Do you believe parents should shoulder the primary responsibility for educating young people about the dangers of substance abuse and unsafe sex?

12. If you thought your child was either being bullied or bullying others, what steps would you take to correct the problem?

13. Do you think parents should make an effort to connect children with mentors and other positive role models, especially in areas where they themselves are weak or limited?

14. If your child was having a problem you couldn’t handle on your own, where would you turn for help?

15. Do you agree that it’s most important for young African Americans to develop a strong spiritual center and sense of place?

About this Author

Robert L. Johnson, M.D., is a nationally recognized authority on African American youth and has been featured on numerous television news shows, from 20/20 to The O’Reilly Factor. A member of the planning board for the U.S. Surgeon General’s report Youth Violence, he also serves as a medical and cultural advisor for ER, and lectures extensively throughout the country. Paulette Stanford, M.D. a frequent guest speaker in the media and at workshops, is the medical director of START, an adolescent-HIV treatment program. She is also the principal investigator for a National Institutes of Health research study on high-risk adolescent behavior. Both authors live in New Jersey.
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