Ceci Schimmel: The Tough Love Mother Native America Needs

Ceci Shimmel - PHOTO Courtesy: Tribal Tribune

Ceci Shimmel – PHOTO Courtesy: Tribal Tribune

WORLEY, IDAHO — Ceci Schimmel is a firm believer in preaching reality.

Really firm.

So much so that the Umatilla tribal member’s harsh words can sometimes push you away.

But they were meant to make you stronger, not bring you down.

It’s your fault if you didn’t listen or respect them.

These were the lessons she brought to her family, including professional and college basketball playing daughters Shoni and Jude Schimmel.

“I like to talk reality, because sometimes reality is the harsh truth and you can learn a lot from that,” she told more than 200 children and adults at the United National Indian Tribal Youth conference in Worley, Idaho on Aug. 29.

It’s a lesson we all could use.

Constructive criticism was a game in the Schimmel household, on nights Shoni and Jude weren’t making a name for themselves at Franklin High School in Portland.

She explained that it was meant to make her children better people if they were able to zip their lip and respect and listen.
“Jude hated that game,” Ceci said, because quite often the same criticisms would be shared time and time again.

Her parenting style was clearly effective with two of her children, as they continue to represent American Indians on a national scale for the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream and the Louisville Cardinals.

But why should you listen and respect her? What makes her effective? And what kind of credibility does she have to help you, potentially, better yourself?

“Any subject you bring up in Indian Country, I’ve dealt with it,” she said, noting teen pregnancy, rape, poor academics, raising family members’ children, alcoholism and drug addiction. “If it hasn’t been with myself, it’s been with my family.”

She put a lot of pressure on American Indian parents who aren’t there for their children because of substance abuse. She recalled multiple instances where she had to help raise family members, some who were children raising their brothers and sisters.

“It amazes me when they sit there and selfishly go out and enjoy themselves, or enjoy these drugs and alcohol,” she said. “They’re taking money and time away from me. Not just their kids or themselves, they’re hurting the whole family.

“Better yet, they’re hurting their whole community. At what point, Indians, are we going to get together and stop this nonsense?” she said. “It’s not just about you. It’s about your whole family, community, Indian Country.”

Schimmel is not completely against adults drinking alcohol. But “if it’s controlling you, your life, hurting your family; no, there’s a problem, deal with it.”

She warned children with similar issues.

“If you’re gonna drink and do drugs,” she said, “it totally annihilates your body—not just the looks, but the brain. It chemically messes you up. There’s a reason why they say wait ‘til you’re 21.”

Schimmel was aware that her own children would be exposed to alcohol at college, and gave them a message.

“There’s a time and place for fun,” she said. “And nine times out of 10 it’s not the time or place.”

She recalled an instance in high school where Jude, as a sophomore, nearly got in trouble for attending a party. She didn’t drink, but she was guilty by association, Ceci said.

“Don’t do something like that,” Schimmel said, “because it’s going to take your season away. Because why would you want to sacrifice everything for just one night?

“We’re all from the rez, we could have that every night.”

As a former teen parent, Schimmel’s beliefs are: “Whatever I do, my kids are going to follow,” she said. “Say, if I don’t graduate, chances are my kids won’t graduate.”

Ultimately, though, she believes in accountability.

“You’re walking your own life and your own path,” she said. “Whether you succeed or not, that’s going to be on you. The truth is, you have to believe in yourself, love yourself, trust yourself and understand that you are a good person and that god put you on this earth for a purpose.

“You have to understand that you have to be strong for yourself, your siblings, your family. I know it’s a hard thing to do, but the harder you do at being a good person the more you get back.”

Tough love from a fellow Native who’s not afraid to say what she feels, no matter how harsh. We could use more of that in Indian Country.

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the Tribal Tribune. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Go to: http://thetribaltribune.com/ceci-schimmel-the-tough-love-mother-native-america-needs-p1026-245.htm

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