Before You Fly Off – Volume One
It was James Baldwin’s “The Fire Next Time” that initially inspired me to write this book. He’d decided to write an essay welcoming his nephew to adolescence and preparing him for everyday life as a young Black male in America. My daughter had just turned 16 and I wanted to offer a similar gift welcoming her to young womanhood and preparing her for the everyday realities of Black girls and Black women in a country that is still trying to live up to her potential.
What began as a father’s personal attempt to save his troubled teenage daughter from peer pressure and self-destructive habits turned out to be exactly what a guidance counselor needed for her student intervention incentives. “Before You Fly Off” quickly became a grassroots tool for both educators and parents seeking alternative approaches to youth development . What made ‘the little big book’, as one teen called it, so different and effective is the fact that it spoke directly to Black girls from a Black father’s perspective at the most crucial period in their lives with a language that is relatable and culturally-sound.
Topics include self-image and developing confidence, peer pressure and parent stress, boyfriends and boy friends, teen pregnancy, survival tips for living in a war zone, social media, and the difference between being aggressive and being assertive. The point of this book is to introduce our young daughters to the value of reflecting on their choices and actions; to understand how their choices and actions dictate their lives.
“If I take the time to reflect, I realize that a frustrated caregiver is the parent of a frustrated teenager; that when I push my head of household hat on you to remind you who’s in charge, you simply push back your rebel cap to show me who’s really in charge! We could duke it out right there on the kitchen floor, but if I have to lay my hand on you to get your respect then we don’t have a relationship. Just two people living under the same roof and talking at each other, not paying attention to what’s not being said."