parenting

 

In today's world of cell phones, ipods, and online networking, it's harder than ever for parents to keep in tune with what's going on with their kids. How can parents make sure they are the number one influence in their children's lives?

Rev Run and Justine Simmons, the stars of MTV's awardwinning reality series Run's House, have the answers. In Take Back Your Family: A Challenge to America's Parents the duo share their advice for raising successful and happy children, challenging today's parents to take charge of their home and connect with their kids.

Taking readers behind-the-scenes of Run's House and right inside the Simmons family, Rev Run and Justine show how they have built the strong foundation on which their family thrives. With humor and love, Rev Run and Justine talk openly about their six unique children, how they have tackled universal parenting challenges, and the proven principles they implement in order to create a healthy and happy home

"Family is the one game where everyone is on an equal playing field," Rev Run points out. "Black or white, rich or poor, ugly or beautiful, everyone really has the same opportunity and ability to raise a happy, loving family.

Read the introduction from Take Back Your Family:

When my wife, Justine and I first decided to write a book about our keys to raising a productive and happy family, I was so excited that I immediately sat down and started working on the book's cover. Granted, the cover is traditionally the very last thing you worry about when writing a book. But as anyone who knows me can tell you, I don't go about thins is a traditional way. So before putting together any chapter outlines or even any general notes for the book, I jotted down some thoughts for the cover:

The cover should be a big photo of me hiding behind one of my cars with a water balloon in each hand and a big grin on me face. My sons JoJo, Diggy and Russy are hiding in the bushes and trying to throw their balloons at me. My daughters, Vanessa and Angela are laughing and screaming while trying to get away from us. Justine, as old as she is, is ducking behind another car while she throws a balloon at the boys. You should see busted balloons all over the driveway and cars. And we should hall have big smiles on our faces, life we're having the time of our lives.

As you might have noticed, our publisher didn't exactly share my enthusiasm for that cover. But even thought that cover never made it off the drawing board, it's very telling that a scene of pure joy and happiness is the first thinking that popped in to my mind when I started brainstorming about this book. Not everyone thinks of laughter and hi-jinks when they think of family. Because as anyone who's ever done it can tell you, raising a family can be challenging, confusing, exasperating, exhausting, expensive and even tragic. But while I have experienced all those scenarios, at the end of the day I view raising a family as fun. That's why hopefully the image of my family soaking wet and grinning from ear to ear will never stray far from my mind. Because if there's one theme that's central to my life and to this book, it is that nothing will bring more fun and fulfillment to your life than your family.

Obviously, I'm not the first person who has suggested that raising a family is a great way to spend your time—the positive power of family is a truth that humans have understood since the beginning of time. But it's also a truth that we have just as long a history for forgetting. As much as we all pay lip service to the importance of family, it's very easy to lose sight of it in the pursuit of money, fame, sex, and adventure. As a society, we tend to celebrate the people who run big companies, hit a lot of home-runs, starts in movies and yes, even cell a lot of records. But we don't pay as much attention to the people who simply for a great job of raisin their kids. IN short, as important as we all say family is, it just isn't considered that cool anymore.

Take for instance the story behind Run's House, my reality shoe on MTV. The concept was very simple: let's follow a family where the mother and father have a great relationship and all the kids stay out of trouble and do well in school. Sounds great, right? But initially we have a very difficult time convincing television people to take a chance on it. The conventional wisdom was that was that audiences prefer watching dysfunctional over functionally families on reality TV. That audiences find TV compelling when the kids are struggling with drinking, drugs and promiscuity instead of getting good grades, staying out of trouble and going to church every Sunday. That viewers would be more interested in parents who scream and yell at each other that parents who say "I love you" each night before they go to bed. I'm not trying to suggest that network suits were the only ones who had trouble believing that America would care about a functioning family. I was also hearing talk that some of TV executives were skeptical about whether out wholesome lifestyle would interest enough people. "I don't know, Rev," an African-American friend of mine told me after he looked at some of the footage we shot. "I'm just having trouble connection with your reality." Because while my friend understood that the footage reflected my reality, that reality didn't feel real to him. Like to many people, he grew up without a father. His mother did an incredible job of raising him, but he was never able to experience the warmth and security that comes from having both a mother and father running thing sunder the same roof. He never knew what it was like to sit around the dinner table every night and have two parents talk to him about the importance of doing well in school. He didn't have a father who could come to his ballgames and on the way home tell him how well he played. He never had a father that would give him a stern lecture about staying away from knuckleheads, but then in the end kiss him on his head and say "I love you, son." So when my friend and others like him saw those scenes on our life , they felt very outside their experience, as if they were closer to a fairy tale than hap people folks really live.

Thanks fully with the help of our tea—Russell, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs and the legendary TV producer Stan Lathan—we were able to convince the doubter that while the might have never experience that kind of lifestyle personally, it was still important to give the world and example to look up to and emulate. SO in time we were able to convince MTV of that too. And I'm very proud to say that as I write this, thanks to the hard work and vision of out executive producer Jason Carbone and his incredible team, Run's House is one if the most popular shows on MTV and just launched its fifth season. And while we always believed in the show's potential, Justine and I never dreamed that people would connect with our reality so deeply. Whenever we're on the street, we're always approached by people who want us to know that they watch the show and appreciate its' values. "Oh, your family reminds me so much of mine," someone will tell us. Or another person will say "I was the episode last night and I have to tell you, we're dealing with the exact same issue with our daughter. Thanks for letting us into your world and then talking about it." It's very humbling to get that sort of feedback and to know that you're helping promote something as important and lasting as the positive power if family.

That powerful reaction to Run's House has convinced me that promoting the value of family life is what I was put on this earth to do. I might have earned my reputation as a rapper, but when it's all said and done, I hope that I'll ultimately be remembered for being a good Dad. I truly believe that GOD has intended for me to provide African-Americans specifically (and all people in general) with an example of a better way to raise their families. I believe God wants me to use me TV show )and this book) to remind folds that even though raising a family is a struggle, your family can always conduct itself with class and dignity. To remind people that when the put their heart and soul into their family, that's an investment that will always pay off with tremendous dividends. I was hope that the success of Run's House is just the beginning and that God will keep blowing his breath through Justine and I and we can continues to be his instrument, singing the world a song about family.