Remembering How to Raise Our Children- A Talk with Dr. Eugene Cain
Updated: Jul 18
By Yanice Jackson-Long
Dr. Eugene Cain-Courtesy Photo
Anyone who has crossed paths with Dr. Eugene Cain, will most likely say, “it was an experience like no other”. The insight and wisdom offered by Dr. Cain, is battle tested and true. Dr. Cain was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and is a graduate of Talladega College. He received his masters and doctoral degrees in education from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. He is a husband and devoted father of four who is often asked how he maintained a household of excellence. Without much thought, he responds by sharing his ten golden rules of “Raising a PhD.” These include:
1. First, set the tone in your household that education is priority #1. Constantly remind your children that people who are without an education are usually the last hired and the first fired. Remind them daily that the future world will require an educated workforce. Finally, remind them that education is a daily & life-long process-in other words, learning never stops!
2. Get to know your child’s school. Make sure that your face becomes a familiar one to the school leaders, your child’s teachers, the office staff, and the school’s support staff. Meet with your child’s teachers and learn their expectations, course goals, grading standard, class projects, etc. Also, tell the teacher if your child is making less than a “B+” to call you-give all the telephone numbers where you can be reached. Attend all school functions. Ensure that your child participates in at least one team sports activity. And regardless of your personal circumstance attend all the events that your child participates in. Children love seeing their parents in the audience.
3. Have a designated study location for your child. For us, it was the dining room table-a table which still bears the marks and scrapes of our son’s pencils and pens. Make sure that the study space is well -lighted and that all electronic devices are off. It is also helpful for the parents to sit at the table with the students as they do their homework.
4. Design your weekends and vacations around your children-not you! Make frequent visits with your children to the library, museums, and places that have as their missions the intent to widen your child’s world.
5. Read to your child at least 20 minutes a day if he/she is a non-reader. If they are readers, have them read to you for twenty minutes a day. Additionally, let your child see you reading daily. Make reading a family affair!
6. Celebrate your child’s heritage and culture every day. Let them see positive images of their forebearers on the walls of your home and part of your home library. Let your child know that he/she too can follow in their footsteps. -but only if they are focused on being successful.
7. Families need support in raising their children. In our case, many people contributed to our sons’ development-the elderly neighbors in the neighborhood; their athletic coaches; their teachers; ministers; family members; and friends of the family. These rich support resources can help guide your child in the direction of success. Never overlook them when it comes to helping you raise your child.
8. Parents of students in grades 5 and above: Have your child take the SAT or Act exam every year until they graduate from high school. Do not wait until your child is in high school to take the SAT or ACT. The more your child takes these exams, the better chances for her/him to achieve a higher score. Unfortunately, many African American children take the SAT/ACT just one time, thereby reducing their opportunity to achieve a promising score. By the way, a friend of mine who resides in Grosse Pointe, Michigan told me about this widely practiced activity among wealthy Grosse Pointer in preparing their children for college.
9. Read the same books/novels, comic strips, magazines your children are reading. It helps greatly when parents and children can converse openly about the same things, they are all reading. It can be a fun activity.
10. Ask your child what he/she did in school each day. Don’t let him/her tell you the proverbial “nothing”. Inspect your child’s note books, journals, book bags, teachers’ notes, etc., to see what is happening in the classroom. Remember, an informed parent is an active parent when it comes to educating her/his children.
Dr. Cain, having four sons of his own-with 10 college degree between them-knows the importance of being an active parent. The strategies that have helped he and his family be successful, are the same types of strategies he uses within educational settings.
Cain stresses the importance of raising children, and how we should get back to raising our children. He says “children need parents and not buddies; and the absence of parental leadership is having a negative effect on our children. Raising kids as communities is key.
Currently retired after spending 50 years in education, Dr. Cain is a much sought- after consultant and lecturer on African-Centered education, urban education and strategies to improve educational outcomes for African American children.
Dr. Cain is married to fellow educator and motivational speaker, Dr. Maxine Hankins-Cain. They have four sons: Juba, a 2019 graduate of MSU Medical School and currently doing his residency in Detroit; Asante, assistant to the city manager of Grand Rapids, Michigan; Khari, multi- platinum music producer and recipient of two Grammy awards; and Jabari, assistant professor of educational technology at Kennesaw State University. They have ten amazing grandchildren. Dr. Cain enjoys reading, gardening, photography, listening and collecting blues and jazz vinyl recordings, travel to Africa, spending valuable time with his family, and bragging about Talladega College.