Tag Archives: father

{Shelly’s Story} The Beauty of the Blended Family

During the month of October, The Real Wife Movement™ will be featuring stories from wives who have blended families. They will share what they did to ensure their families thrived beyond 10 years.

Be inspired by Shelly’s Story.

Blended family: a family consisting of a couple and their children from this and all previous relationships.

Shelly and Marc 1994
Shelly and Marc 1994

I was asked by my dear friend Tanya to write about my blended family of 26 years. I was glad to not only give my 2 cents, but any chance to talk about my family that I adore was awesome. There was only one problem, my husband and I never considered ourselves a blended family. Another dear friend told me to just tell my story as I see it.

I had a chunky little one-year-old when my husband and I met in 1990. I did not see my husband as a natural parent to my son initially, we had a few conversations about his “parenting style”. What I realized was, he was interjecting his own military upbringing. I decided to pull back and let him parent his way. I did not want him to feel like a glorified babysitter once we decided to live together, and later marry.

Marc and Ryan
Marc and Ryan

My husband and son created their own bond when I had to work or any other time they spent together. A couple years later we started our own family. When the baby was born we made sure Ryan knew he was a big brother and that was an important job. One baby turned into 2, 3 and 4 more. The philosophy in our house was the same, the work “step” did not exist. There was no distinction, “your child”, “my child”, “our children together”. That was my husband’s rule from day one, “what’s yours is mine”.
A few times the younger kids said anything about Ryan not being my husband’s son, my husband would quip, “I’ve been Ryan’s dad longer than any of you jokers!” Point taken by the younger ones.
My husband was at every parent teacher conference, doctor appointment, football game and track meet. He paid for saxophones, summer camp, and college. He taught Ryan to drive, shave and tie his shoes.

The Family Shelly, Nicolas, Ryan, Marc Jr., Donovan, Chenelle, Marc Sr.
The Family
Shelly, Nicolas, Ryan, Marc Jr., Donovan, Chenelle, Marc Sr.

Some say our family blended so cohesively because my son was so young. While that may be true to an extent, parenting as a unit is most important. Also, I retained my maiden name when I married, hyphenating my name so that Ryan would not feel different in that respect. Ryan is now 26, working on his PhD and loves his dad to pieces. Why? Because he was loved to pieces.


Shelly Brown-Rainey is the proud mom of 5 wonderful young adults, 4 of whom went to college. Her youngest is a Junior in high school. She and Marc have been married for 22 years.

Shelly is currently enrolled at Lynchburg General School of Nursing. She loves reading and vacationing with her husband.

Why I Took My 13 & 16 yr old Kids To visit HBCUs

Why I Took My 13 & 16 yr old Kids To visit HBCUs

This past week, I took my two youngest kids, 13 and 16 years old, to visit a few Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). I had several people ask me why I took them at their age and why did we only visit HBCUs. Before I go into my explanation, here is some background for those who never heard of them.

my 3 kids
My Kids – Jakim 13, Gabi 24 (Coast Guard), Doni 16

Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are institutions of secondary education�that were established before 1964 with the intention of primarily educating African Americans. ��“White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities”. 2008-04-11. Retrieved�2008-04-23.�Most were founded around the Civil War era and post-Civil War to educate freed slaves who desired an education.�HBCUs graduated various prominent African Americans in all fields of study as well as famous athletes and politicians. Some notable individuals who attended HBCUs are Steve Harvey, Oprah Winfrey, Spike Lee, Martin Luther King, Jr., etc.

Even though I graduated from University of Maryland, University College, I attended Hampton University my freshman year. I loved Hampton but I loved partying much more, so I was sent home on academic probation. My parents decided to teach me a lesson and I was made to pay for college. I missed Hampton terribly and was sad I could not live out my Hillman fantasy on that beautiful campus.

beta bruhs 90s
Hubby and Frat Brothers, Beta Chapter, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Incorporated circa 1990s

Since I am not an HBCU graduate, I really want my kids to have the experience of attending one. Hubby is a graduate of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and he has been bombarding them with his memories of the “good ‘ol days” on the yard, at step shows and the like. Even though my kids are only 13 and 16 years old, I felt like I had a responsibility to expose them to their potential future and their ability to create memories of their own. They could feel their dad’s energy from his stories, but I felt like there is nothing like being there; hence, taking them on HBCU tours.

beta bruhs
Honey and Frat Brothers, Beta Chapter Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated 100th Anniversary (2014) photo credit Jamal Parker

I decided to take them this early because I want them thinking about this now and I believe it plants the seed early about the reality of what�s next after high school. It�s easy to talk about going to college but to never set your foot on one until you are in your senior year, seems like it can be overwhelming for parents and their kids. I believe in starting them young and my kids know that college is not only a dream, it�s the plan for their lives.

This list is not complete but it gives you an idea of my reasons:

  1. Culture – I love Black People. Whether they are in the islands or here in the USA, I love my people. When on the HBCU campuses my kids were welcomed by people who look like them. Each tour guide pointed out the rich history of their school and the way their previous students navigated the Civil Rights Era and more. The history of my people was shared with my kids and you could tell each guide believed and felt what they were saying.
  2. Family Environment -�Every tour was genuine and we felt like we apart of the family. Since most HBCUs have smaller student bodies, my kids won’t just be a number. We visited campuses who had student bodies no larger than 8k so they didn�t feel overwhelmed with the walk from the dorms to the buildings where classes are held. I want them to have a sense of belonging and ownership of their campuses. My goal as a mom is that they stay connected and graduate.
  3. Support – I cannot express the amount of support each school gives to not only their current students but to incoming freshman as well. We had professors stop us and engage the kids in real conversation about their interest. This impressed me so much.�As a mom of an African American son, I felt that it was so important for them to hear from those who are living on campus, what that experience is like. From getting yourself up for class to buying books, my kids were educated by students who could relate to them.
Doni and Jakim Asking Questions at Bowie State University

I feel that the early exposure to the HBCU campuses was so beneficial for my kids. They are now talking about what clubs they want to join in college and what sports they want to play. My son is now thinking about his GPA going into the 9th grade after hearing a football player talk about the importance of grades to being on the team. I�m so glad this is just the beginning of our HBCU tours. I am just as excited, if not more excited as they are about the potential of them attending one of these illustrious institutions of learning.

Did you attend an HBCU? Would you consider sending your children to one?