Speak United

Survive & Thrive: A Tale of Two Parents

May 24, 2017
Kish Cumi

Kish Cumi

40203 Project Coordinator
Metro United Way


Blog_Kish_1.jpgI recently met two parents. One had a "thrive" mentality. The parent who was thriving was intentional in her parenting and purposeful in her choices for the social emotional and academic growth of her children. She homeschooled her children and was astute in her educational and extracurricular planning for each one of her children. They had access to unique resources, and her children were able to live comfortably as their family income was in the top 2% in the nation. She was optimistic about the exponential growth and excitement for learning that she noted in her children.

The other parent I met had a "survive" mentality. She loved her children and wanted the best for them, but she knew that she could not provide the types of resources that were needed in order for them to flourish on her own. The majority of her time was focused on ensuring that her family's basic needs were taken care of, as she realized that she was at the poverty threshold. She keenly sought out resources to address the glaring gaps that she noticed between her hopes for her children's growth and their actual development. She worked multiple jobs that still enabled her to actively parent her children, and she hoped for a day when she could integrate her hustle with her heart.

Blog_Kish_2.jpgIt was clear to me that both of these parents love their children, and both of these parents want the best for their kids. BUT...it was also apparent that one parent was able to focus more on thriving, while the other had to devote her time to surviving. This was not a parental self-efficacy issue - but a discrepancy in availability of time, money, and additional resources. As the Outreach Coordinator for Metro United Way's Ages & Stages Questionnaires (ASQ) Program in the 40203 zip code, a school-to-prison pipeline prevention researcher and a youth advocate, it is imperative that I understand both of these parents' perspectives. It is quite unsettling to think that I (and others) could go through life and see these two parents as drastically different individuals having more or less love for their children - especially when both of the parents that I met were conflated into the same person...me.

To learn more about ASQ or our family engagement work, please visit HERE.


Kish Cumi, Ph.D., the 40203 Outreach Coordinator for the Ages & Stages Questionnaire Program with Metro United Way, is a native of Flint, Michigan and Franklin, Tennessee. She received her doctorate from the University of Louisville (Counselor Education and Supervision) and her B.A. (Psychology) and M.A.Ed. (Counselor Education, School Counseling) from Wake Forest University. Dr. Kish Cumi is a National Holmes Alumna with a distinct interest in social justice for youth and their families. She has served in schools and communities largely representing minoritized populations as an elementary school counselor, CEO of a mentoring/tutoring program for middle school students, a clinical mental health counselor for high school students, and a researcher and counselor educator. In addition to establishing her life's work focused on historically marginalized youth, families, and communities, she undergirds her framework within spiritual, physical, and mental wellness. She is the proud parent of three amazingly cool sons, Timothy (12), Gabriel (9), and Solomon (7).