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August 21, 2020

[EP001] What’s The Parenting Cipher?



The host of the Parenting Cipher discusses her motivation for creating The Parenting Cipher by talking about her childhood, love of Hip-Hop, and parts of her journey with her children with various disabilities. 

What’s the Parenting Cipher

The Parenting Cipher Podcast gives a voice to black families' fears and impressions when they are navigating their child’s disabilities while providing you with shortcuts to successfully navigate the education system. This podcast was created to empower you and your child to make changes in your life so that you can advocate for the best possible education and support your family deserves with a side of humor and real talk.

This community is the space that Black parents get to challenge each other to navigate their child’s disabilities while creating a household that encourages everyone to thrive.

Take Away

  • Each episode will feature a range of professions that will provide you insight into the world of therapist, education, parenting, and entrepreneurship.

  • Each episode is named after the song the guest chose as their favorite Hip-Hop or song that motivates them.

Let’s Talk About It

In this episode, I unpacked my journey and I wanted to provide some context so you can create you’re on of your own.

I was able to get my children admitted to top tier private schools by applying for scholarships to provide the school and private organizations that are dedicated to increases equity in education for people of color. If you’d like to know more send me an email at info@theparentingcipher.com 

When I mentioned that the police use the education system as an indicator for the future in the imprisonment of our children. I’m talking about the School-to-Prison pipeline

When I spoke about “my good” health insurance I was talking about health insurance in general. Typically once we get our child tested by the school we tend to accept the summaries provided by the school. When we have the opportunity to utilize our health insurance to gain a second opinion.

I’d also like to note depending on the severity of your child’s disability you may apply for Medicare. 

I spoke about the IDEA Act ( Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) which is a four-part (A-D) piece of American legislation that ensures students with a disability are provided with Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) that is tailored to their individual needs. Stay tuned for episode 9 when Lajoy J Law where she breaks down the IDEA Act and the sections so you can empower yourself to ensure your child is receiving the support they need into adulthood. Until then you can start by getting a free Individual Education Plan (IEP) checklist.

It’s All In The Music

To hear some of the songs that provided motivation for The Parenting Cipher Podcast check out the playlist on Spotify.


Private School Scholarship Listing

School to Prison Pipeline Article  


Not My Child: Navigating Your Child’s Learning Difficulties With IEPs and Educational Resources


Genie 00:08

Let's get everyone! Welcome to the first episode of the Parenting Cipher sponsored by FemPower Media. I'm your host, Genie Dawkins, the parent confident strategist, and I help parents become more confident in navigating their children's disabilities so that they can reach their highest potential in life and in school. Now, I wanted to talk to you about what the parenting cipher is all about and to do that, I want to take you on a journey with me for just a minute. 

Genie 00:33

So I grew up in Washington, D.C. during the '80s when D.C. was truly chocolate city and to Los Angeles back then it was called the od city. I was raised a black Muslim by middle class parents who both came from southeast D.C. and as a young boy, my dad worked for Mr. Harris. We actually called him grandpa and he would do Halling in uptown D.C. and my dad would get on the back of his truck and he would cross this bridge into uptown D.C. and as my dad would say, he was able to see how the better half lived.

Genie 01:04

And when my dad cross that bridge every day to go to work, he stepped into a world of infinite possibilities. My dad joined the revolution as he was by joining the Islamic Party, which is an African-American Islamic group that was actually created on university's campus and we were black Muslims, but we weren't black Muslims, we didn't follow Elijah Muhammad. We follow Sunni Islam, in the words of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him and because part of the revolution is community, the community was made up of people from different states and economic backgrounds in education, and they all had the one idea of creating a future better for their children.

Genie 01:44

But my dad has always been a trailblazer. So even while a lot of Muslims would follow word to word what the imam would say, my dad did his own thing and one of those things was music. Muslims back then didn't listen to music, but my dad no, he loved jazz and you could find him at home in the back room with his bass just strumming along and talking about jazz as a revolution.

Genie 02:14

Also part of the revolution was that my mom and the sisters created a school for us, and this was a school where we got to focus on our dean or Islam. But it also gave us a place where, as black children, we were able to get the best quality education that we could get at that time.

Genie 02:32

As I grew older, most Muslim family did not listen to music while our parents listened to jazz and RB. So I'll never forget the moment I was in class and I heard the intro beat to Children's Story. That's when I started to love hip hop. Hip hop was a revolution. I remember watching Electric Boogaloo 1 and 2, Krush Groove and Beat Street because it was beyond a beat in run. I love the rap battles in the boy battles which occurred in a circle.

Genie 02:56

A Cipher. The Parenting Cipher is a place where we challenge each other to be better when we build off of each other and push ourselves out of our comfort zone to come out on the other end, different and better. That's why I call this community The Parenting Cipher it's our place to build and challenge each other to grow while supporting each other. The Parenting Cipher is a place where we get to talk about holistic living. Be our inner child with the diagnosis. Who am I?

Genie 03:19

So I am a parent with four kids with a different cognitive-behavioral diagnosis and the funny thing about that is because I came from a Muslim school and my mom is so entrenched in education, I wanted my children to have the best.

Genie 03:35

I felt like the best education is an opportunity for them to go beyond me. So my children have always gone to schools with excellent curriculums. If they weren't excellent, I just pushed on to get them into another school, they have extra curriculum. My children have gone to private schools. Yeah, I don't really pay much for that.

Genie 03:53

And to do those things and then come to a place where you're depending on someone to let you know if something is off and then to come out of that disappointment is a lesson. My kids went to top tier private schools and my daughter had ADHD and she had it for a while.

Genie 04:10

And an assignment was for supposed to be for twenty minutes. It would take my daughter an hour and I would constantly ask the teacher, is that okay? Should there be some type of testing? She always tell me it is developmental. I don't know how many of you ever heard that it is developmental.

Genie 04.25

All kids grow differently at different times and you take their word for it because they are doctor or their teacher and they should know. And by the time she had gotten to a great that the school said, "Well, we know intellectually she should be able to do the work. We don't understand what's going on with her ability to actually execute and we we won't be offering her a seat for high school." She was devastated.

Genie 04:52

And I actually, at that time, I realized something was off and I got on whim. Indeed, I was like, Oh, I'm a figure out was wrong maybe and she had ADHD but the thing is, is this. Join those girls in her class had ADHD. But what's the difference between my daughter and their daughter? The difference is they are rich white people who actually know the importance in the way that you can angle a disability. Also, the earlier you can intervene for your child, the better they are off when they get older.

Genie 05:22

So they're testing their children early while I'm over here, like, oh, I think something's wrong. Their children have been on medication and they have been receiving therapies. They were managing their diagnosis when my daughter was floundering and the one thing I started to also realize was rich white people test their children for various reasons.

Genie 05:41

One, did you want your child to be able to make progress or live a full life without you? So that's one. But two, here's the thing with these tests. So you get your child diagnosed. When your child is in a school that has a quality curriculum, there's one goal at the end of the tunnel. The goal is to get their child and the best college. So the curriculum is tailored to ensure that when they take that SAT, they have all of the pieces together.

Genie 06:04

So part of that SAT is what? Taking the test, timing. Your child has a disability. The test section that is 50 minutes. Your child needs 48 hours to complete that test. Yeah, you have 48 hours. So that's another plus for them to make sure that they get that tested. We don't have these conversations because we don't know this, right? So I'm learning these things with my daughter and as well, at the same time, I have a child who is at that time, he was four.

Genie 06:31

And they're asking me, "Do you understand when he talks?" Yeah I understand when he talks, but then I am like, "No, not so much. I just know because I'm his mother." And they asked,  do you want to do a prescreening,  did a prescreening and he has articulation problems. Okay he starts attending a public charter school, a bilingual public charter school, and they're like his kindergarten.

Genie 06:55

Oh, we want to hold him back a while. Why are we holding him back? Is there's  something wrong? No, no, no, Miss Dawkins, nothing's wrong. Just all kids develop differently, Okay. All right. We can do that, because he's a young, he's like getting in school by skinning his teeth. Yeah. So we fast forward two years. I'm looking at his grades, he's not really progressing.

Genie 07:18

I mentioned testing. Oh, no. All kids develop differently. No, ma'am. No, ma'am. I'm dealing with a daughter who is going through some things because I listen to people like you before, so I'm going to use my good Internet and I'm a figure this thing out.  I came back, I said, “I want to test it, and these are the ways I want him tested. I'm going to flip this thing on you. You want to talk about developmental?”

Genie 07:43

I take it back. Look, his family has a history of developmental and cognitive disabilities. Therefore, his chances of actually having won are high. I want you to test match up.Iin the Test match up. We have to go back and forth a little bit. But the test came back. Your son has specific learning disorder. Really? Well, he has dyslexia y'all, that's what they mean. Okay, you hear that? That's what that means. Okay, and that was the focus.

Genie 08:07

And I'm sitting there at the table and they're making calls and they're basically trying to diminish every accommodation, because I sat there and I read that test and I talked to people before I sat at the table for the Individualized Education Plan, and I said,"Oh, so you got which are not you're not going with me and I won't listen to Mama because they already had a plan in place, the cookie cutter plan, not the Individualized Education Plan.”

 Genie 08:31

So they kept them in the same reading intervention program. Now, he was in before. You heard me, saying program before the diagnosis. That wasn't working and it's not going to work for me. They're reading IEP and I said to them, I said, according to this plan, he's always going to be two years behind. and they said, “Oh, yes, but he'll will be steadily making progress.”

 Genie 08:48

And this is not going to work for me. No, no, no. Because not only is he two years behind, he knows he's two years behind. He knows he can't read. At this point, my son is not talking to the kids at all. He's ashamed. He has anxiety. If kids are laughing, they're laughing at him. No, we're not going to do this. This do your thing work for me. No, no, no, no, no. I went in use my good health for sure and I created a team around my child outside of school, took all of their notes, went back to school, came back and said, “Okay look, I took your test.”

Genie 09:16

My son has autism spectrum disorder. Oh, Ms. Dawkins, did you do additional tests? No, I took your test to a psychiatrist who said to go get an occupational therapy exam as well. Assessment and the fact that on your testing, you have this humongous deviation between a child who can't read to the reading comprehension almost in a high school level and he is in second grade. You should have seen it, but I don't rest. That whole journey made me salty.

Genie 09:43

And I am like how many parents this happen too? How many black parents did this happen too? When we live in a society that has already stigmatized us academically, like legit, the police department has a number of students in the black community that once you don't pass a certain point, we already know you're going to jail and then you throw in a disability. You're not even creating anything for my child to succeed. You're just doing something to meet the IDEA Act, to say that you're trying.

 Genie 10:11

But you're not trying. How many parents? I didn't like that, that was salty for me, because you know that something is wrong and you want help, but you don't have the correct words or the correct request, so then they do what they want. I want you to help my child. Oh, is it behavior which is going to give him an ADHD test? No, no, no, no, no, no, no. I want the whole thing.

Genie 10:30

I want the full test. I want a neuro educational assessment. That's what I need, so that made me turn to this work. This is my work. I'm a Parent Confident Strategist because one of the things that they attack is our confidence as a parent. They use what we don't know against us and when we sit there and we want to advocate for our child, we have this whole dialog.

 Genie 10:59

These things I may not know, but I am not the problem. We need to be a team. You're not in charge and that is why I am the Parent Confident Strategist. I help people create strategies for you to help your vision, which is your child coming to fruition. Regardless, you don't need to know all the things. You think business owners and all the things, they don't. What they know is this is my vision, Okay I'm sitting at the table, would you do? Would you do? Would you do? Once you know what everybody does and you know how to fit into your vision, this is what the Parenting Cipher too does.

Genie 11:30

I bring in the people that's on the team and they let you know what they do so that you can actually start creating this plan so that you can lead. That's what my tag line Decode, Connect and Lead means and in this season in the Cipher, which you can expect from me, is really, really cool professionals from different backgrounds and if you have someone or you have a professional that you're like, what do you do? And you want to know,  hop in to my DMs at the Parenting Cipher on Instagram or Facebook. Let me know and I'll bring somebody on the show.

Genie 12:04

We always discuss music on each episode. Each episode title is based on the guests favorite song. And that's because I feel like music is the thing that sits in our souls and there is a track for every major event that you hear playing or when you hear that track, you're like, oh shucks. And as you listen to every guest answer that question, you really get that feeling of like, Oh, I see you.

Genie 12:32

So I am so excited to share that with everyone and I would love to hear what's your favorite hip hop song, your favorite track that you use to pump yourself up. Let me know in Instagram or Facebook Parenting Cipher. This is a revolution. As Gil Scott Heron says, " The revolution will not be televised".  I'd like to welcome you to Step Into Da Cipher.



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