Let me just go on ahead and say it: I love me some T.I. Not in a groupie kinda way. I mean, he’s cute and talented and that accent is killer and all, but it’s his T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle reality show, and, specifically, the way he portrays black fatherhood, that has my heart all aflutter. I mean, any African American Southern man who exercises restraint and chooses not to skin the black off the behind of a 4-year-old who scrawls orange marker all over the treasured white family couch is pretty doggone all right in my book.
Let me explain.
In this season’s debut episode, Major, the youngest of T.I.’s, nee Clifford Harris, Jr.’s, six babies, goes into the sacred, all-white living room in the Harris mansion—the room that kids are hardly allowed to look at, let alone walk, eat and play in—and totally has his way with the white couch. Like, in a graffiti circa 1984’s Beat Street way with it. Orange marker scribbles everywhere.
The child’s grandmother tries to clean up the mess but warns the 4-year-old that he’s in big trouble. B.I.G. Scared but determined to tell the truth about what he did, little man hunts down his father and confesses: “Come see what I did on the sofa,” he says quietly.
After lots of “oooooh, you’re in trouuuuble” warnings from his big brothers and a sorry attempt by Grandma and his 8-year-old brother, King, to hide the mess, T.I. finally eyes the offense and sends up several “Lawd, Jesus, ha’ mercies.”
And here is where it gets interesting. Instead of pulling out a belt, grabbing a wooden spoon or sending his child outside to pull a fresh switch off one of those huge Southern trees out in the front yard, T.I. takes Major’s hand and announces to everyone in the room that Major’s going into time out.
Fall-outs and crying ensues, with the 4-year-old acting as if he’s just been sentenced to life in prison, without parole, in solitary confinement at Guantanamo. T.I. later gives Major a sound talking-to, with some age-appropriate lessons on respecting property and, more importantly, T.I.’s cash.
I’m not sure if this uber sensible parenting approach was for T.V.’s sake—I mean, you can’t skin a kid on camera, right?—or if this truly is T.I.’s parenting style. But I will say this: that the rapper didn’t have to beat his child in order for him to be genuinely remorseful and apologetic for his actions spoke volumes—particularly for an audience that may be more inclined to hit than employ the use of time-outs.
I promise you this: as a parent who does not and never has spanked my kids, time-outs and talking to’s and meaningful punishments have been effective discipline tools in our house with our daughters and son. I mean, I can remember how devastated Mari was when she got sent to the pokey and barred from crayons for a week after she tagged up half the playroom wall and the basement door with a glorious stick-figure family portrait, replete with clouds, a bright yellow sun, grass, trees, a tiny house and a picture of her pet fish. (I mean, what is it with kids and crayons/markers and walls? And really, what kind of babysitter lets all of that go down? I’ll tell you—a nanny who’s napping while the 3-year-old gets her Picasso on all throughout the basement. That babysitter was gone within the week.) In other words, I hit the kid where it hurt: by making her think about what she did and taking away something she loved. Mari never wrote on the walls again.
Now, I’m not sure what happened after the cameras stopped rolling at the Harris household, and I hope little Major got a bit more punishment than the talking-to he got for his marker transgressions. But I’m proud of T.I.—not only for the father he is, but the black dad image he chooses to portray on T.I. & Tiny: the Family Hustle. Watch video of the episode below.
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.
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That was good to see! If only, all families had a participating father who responded with so much wisdom and dignity! If only! A lot of these kids getting beat so often and not understanding it, nor being taught how to make better choices are running just as wild as the ones who don’t have parents. Never thought I’d say this but… thank you, T.I.!
“I didn’t do it!…..oh yeah, I did do it”. Hilarious Little Major.
Love this! I would show it to hubby…but he would just say, it was for the cameras. I love the fact that little man came and told his daddy and truly felt bad about the time out. Kids today do have this mentality of, “just get a new one.” “Just go to the bank and get some more money!” Parenting…shakes her head.
One of the few uplifting and positive examples of how black families can be a respectable and model family. We need more shows to highlight these examples but unfortunately they don’t have the selling affect of nonstop catfighting and foolishness
thanks for highlighting this
from a proud black father that has also vowed to never spank my kids
I do use my wooden spoon on occasion, but I wouldn’t of spanked him over this. I’ve never quite understood using the harshest of punishments over “things.”
This was hands down my favorite moment on the show. You can tell by the way Major reacted that this is more than likely their mode of operation. The show depicts a very different side of him and Tiny. I don’t want to call them Hood Huxtables, but a realistic portrayal of family life. I must say, that Major is a honey bunch though…who could really spank him?!?!?!
I just watched this episode and I fell in love with T.I. when he said that kids need discipline and boundaries, and just about felt my heart burst watching the loving approach he took to disciplining Major. Now that is what being a good father looks like. Sure, it takes a little more time and cognitive effort than smacking your kid or rolling your eyes and letting him get away with it, but that’s what kids crave. Kids are always testing to see what they can get away with, and by following through with rules, you’re teaching your kid how to make educated decisions. I feel super passionately about this because I work as a nanny, and sometimes I will sit for a new family and come to find that their parents are brat-apologizers. It’s like dude, I’m not asking you to kick your kid’s ass, but you do need to demonstrate that there are consequences for bad behavior.