Tag Archives: parenting

I Am Great Mom! 

Me and Gabi, 1994
Me and Gabi, 1994

For years, I questioned my parenting skills and I wondered if I would ever be a great mom. After all, I was pregnant with my 1st child, Gabi, at 19-years-old. As a single mom, I went into the military to be able to take care of the both of us.img_2899

Seven years later, I was a married and on bed-rest. From there, I was a stay-at-home mom for several years. My kids went from homeschooling to public school and back to private school. I was my kids’ Girl Scout troop leader, cheer coach, soccer/football team mom and the list goes on. I truly believed that if I did all of this, my kids would be awesome and not get into stuff like I did.

Well, when our oldest daughter was a teenager, I found out she was cutting (Google it—this is still very painful for me to talk about.) A year later, she was arrested and sent to jail for theft at her mall job; she was a few months out of high school and a few from shipping out in the Navy.

Gabi's Coast Guard boot-camp graduation Oct. 2015
Gabi’s Coast Guard boot-camp graduation Oct. 2015

After this, she decided to live with several boyfriends and their mamas (I promise she was raised in church) as well as with the neighbor across the street (She paid them rent, cooked and cleaned the house, y’all!!!) Then I found out via Facebook that she was married. Talk about a blow to your mothering self-esteem.

Eight years later, I found myself dealing with bad grades, a bad attitude, more cutting and yes, even a fight video (I almost had a nervous break-down from that – BUT GOD!!!) I actually stayed away from social media any time report cards were issued because I felt like an utter and complete failure. I blamed myself for my both of my daughters’ poor choices.

Doni’s 1st high school dance

Saturday, my 16-year-old daughter had an opportunity to hang with friends. I knew she was looking forward to hanging out with her friends since this was the first time she has all As and 2 Bs since 5th grade. Instead of going to the movies with them, she searched the mall for a gift for me….


It took everything within me not to have an emotional breakdown when she gave it to me.  She hugged me! She thanked me for being a great mom to her. So, I encourage you to trust that God is faithful! I am finally seeing the results of what I put into my kids.

I now know that, “Yes, I am a Great Mom!”

Want ways to improve your marriage? Pick up a copy of my book, Being a Wife Just Got Real by clicking book.
Want ways to improve your marriage? Pick up a copy of my book, Being a Wife Just Got Real by clicking book.

{Tracie’s Story} No “Steps” in this House

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 Tracie’s Story.

Donnell and I met in 2005 and we married in 2006. (Yes we dated only a year before we got married.) When I met my husband, he was a single father of two young children and I was a single mother of one son.

When people find out we are a blended family, they wanted to know how we made it work. They asked questions such as: Did you let him discipline your child and vice versa?

I want to share our story to encourage you:

Donnell, Tracie, Antonio, Bria and Tyson

When Donnell asked me to marry him, one of the things we did was what we called a pre-family meeting with our children. We wanted to create an avenue where they could be open and honest with us from the beginning.

Now don’t get me wrong, we had our challenges with all three of our children, however we let them know up front that they would be treated the same, to include discipline. We agreed they were all our children.  We let them know when someone asked us how many children we had, we would proudly say we have 3 children; (2) Boys and (1) Girl.

My husband and I both came from blended families and it was obvious who the step-kids were and who the biological kids were: we were made to feel that way.

Because of this, we agreed to allow our children to make the decision about how they wanted to address us. We never pressured them to call us mom or dad and we made it very clear they had already had a tracie-and-hubbymom and dad. Our role would be that of an assistant, alongside  their parents. We never liked the words “step kids” or “step parents”. To us, it indicated they were the outsider and no one wants to feel like an outsider, right?

Donnell and I decided that even though we were blending our family, we would be a family with “No Steps.”

Tracie Douglas is a personal stylist, blogger, wife and a mom of three. She enjoys encouraging people and teaching the next generation of teen girls. Instagram @tracienichole_ FB: tracienichol Blog: tracieslookbook.com
Tracie Douglas is a personal stylist, blogger, wife and a mom of three. She enjoys encouraging people and teaching the next generation of teen girls.
Instagram @tracienichole_ FB: tracienichol
Blog: tracieslookbook.com

{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.

5 Tips For Making My Blended Family Work

And the Two Became THREE
And the Two Became THREE

Many people ask, “how did you make your blended family work?” With so much divorce in our society, I can see how this perplexes folks. My prayer is that these 5 tips will help you in this journey called, LIFE.

Christmas in Germany
Christmas in Germany
  1. Pray!!!! I am so serious about this. Bringing children and a spouse together is a totally different dynamic that can make or break a new marriage. I prayed so many times for God to give me directions on how to keep not only my mind stayed on Him but on how to keep my cool. If you don’t have a prayer life, I would suggest starting today. Something like, “Look God, I need your help.” That’s how my prayers always started.
  2. I had to make some adjustments. At first, I did not want Don to discipline Gabi. This caused so much anger and frustration at the beginning of our marriage. But God has a sense of humor, because I found myself on bed-rest 7 months into our marriage. So guess who had to do everything?? Don did! That included disciplining Gabi. Once I made that adjustment and trusted him to love her, the arguments in that area stopped. We had other areas to overcome but we both had to agree to do what was best for not only her, but also for the two children we created.

    Gabi visiting baby sister Doni
    Gabi visiting baby sister Doni
  3. We had to be okay with some things and not try to force it. I wanted to change Gabi’s last name to Barnett for the longest time. Every time we tried, something would happen. We even got her father on board with it but, he would change his mind right before we filed papers. Once I got over this thing that I wanted so bad, it didn’t matter. The funny thing about it is that, now she is married, and her last name is that of her husband.
  4. Let things happen organically. I wanted Don to be like my dad, but he is nothing like him. The more insisted he do things like my dad, the more he did the opposite which was, nothing at all. Once I eased up, he found his place with her. They both love movies, so every time a movie came out, they were right there. She ran track
    Gabi, Doni, Jakim 2003
    Gabi, Doni, Jakim 2003

    and he loved track, so he decided to be her coach. This lasted for years until she got to high school. Now that she is in the Coast Guard, she calls him all the time and some times I have no clue that they even had a conversation.

  5. We never used the word STEP.  We felt like that made an immediate division in the home. So from the outset, he was daddy to her and he called her is daughter. No one knew he wasn’t her biological unless we told them, which wasn’t often. She has written him beautiful poetry since growing up calling him daddy. She calls her biological father by his first name. This organically happened and I’m glad we made a choice to not use STEP in our home.

Was having a blended family easy? Absolutely NOT! However,  we had to make conscious efforts to have real conversations about what was acceptable and what was not. I love what Don and Gabi’s relationship has finally become.

How have you made your blended family work?

Want ways to improve your marriage? Pick up a copy of my book, Being a Wife Just Got Real by clicking book.
Want ways to improve your marriage? Pick up a copy of my book, Being a Wife Just Got Real by clicking book.
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?