Thursday, May 6, 2021
Child, Please
By Kam Williams
Published June 10, 2015

How Mama’s Old-School Lessons Helped Me Check Myself before I Wrecked Myself


Ylonda Gault Caviness author of Child Please ( Courtesy Photo)

Toya Graham was at home watching TV coverage of the recent Baltimore riots when she spotted her only son, Michael, in an unruly crowd of kids taunting and throwing objects at the police. Without giving it a second thought the shocked, single-mother of six sprang into action and rushed right down to the scene to retrieve her misbehaving 16 year-old.

Cell phone cameras caught Toya lecturing and slapping Michael silly as she dragged him away. The video soon went viral and the debate began about whether or not the corporal punishment was appropriate. She was dubbed “Mother of the Year” by some and abusive by others.

The incident was reminiscent of a bygone era when mothers and  neighborhood adults might straighten out misbehaving adolescents.

However, that strict style of upbringing has long since fallen by the wayside in favor of a politically-correct age of permissiveness.


Child Please book cover (courtesy photo)

Nevertheless, perhaps the pendulum might be ready to swing back in the other direction, as evidenced by Graham’s teachable moment of accountability and by the publication of Child, Please: How Mama’s Old-School Lessons Helped Me Check Myself before I Wrecked Myself .

Ironically, this delightful memoir was written by Ylonda Gault Caviness, a sister who for years appeared as an expert panelist on news programs such as The Today Show and National Public Radio, extolling the virtues of the relatively-lax, modern parenting styles, much to the chagrin of her more traditional mother.

Caviness has belatedly come to embrace more of her mom’s supposedly-antiquated approach after becoming exasperated by the challenge of rearing her own three daughters. “Any fool could see, Mama had the whole motherhood thing down to a science,” she concedes. “Now, in my forties, I finally get it.”

The book is an entertaining autobiography and also an overdue salute to generations of African-American females who’ve held families together while successfully meeting the challenge of raising kids right.


To order a copy of Child, Please, visit:

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