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My Nana’s Advice. Her common sense tips for Black women to have a successful life.

When I look back on it I realize that my nana was awesome and was ahead of her time. She went to college in the segregated south, married several times, was a business woman, was taken care of, full of love and was always dressed to the nines. She owned apartment buildings, several businesses and was one of the first Black women to purchase a home in a White community. She had friends of all races and backgrounds, could cook some mean hoe cake and rock diamonds and a fur coat. She was the consummate lady. Not only that, she would tip her mail carriers, garbage men and others every Christmas. A trait I picked up. She would serve food to the homeless and was very active in her church. The one thing she did that her fellow Black women didn’t do was that she always put herself first. She told my sister and I to do the same. She treated us like princesses while she acted like a queen. My 4’11 nana was a bad woman and the ultimate bougie Black woman.

grandma big


Many Black women are stuck in certain situations that they can’t get out of. We are so caught up in the new, now and next that we ignore the wisdom of our elders. My nana was an awesome lady who was full of common sense. I’ve decided to give y’all some of the realist advice she gave me. You may not like it because of gender roles, conditioning, etc. but she was right.

  1. Before you get married own your own land.
  2. The people on TV are rich and where they want to be and you are not. Turn the TV off and work on you.
  3. Own your own business. If you can work eight hours a day for someone else, you can make more working eight hours a day working for yourself.
  4. Never kiss someone’s ass.
  5. Don’t chase a man.
  6. Stay away from a man who runs the street.
  7. Watch how a man treats his mother. If he values her he will value you.
  8. Don’t buy a man anything unless you are married. (She even cautioned about buying major gifts.)
  9. Let a man know you are marriage material from the start. You are not a girlfriend but a wife. (I did this and it works.)
  10. Don’t mess with a cheap ass man. If he is cheap during courtship he will be cheap during the marriage.
  11. Don’t mess with a broke man.
  12. Never fight over or for a man.
  13. If a man hits you leave because he will hit you again.
  14. If a man is chasing or lying up with a woman she should never ever be broke or go hungry.
  15. Get your education, travel, then get married and have kids.
  16. Don’t have men around your kids. (She thought it was inappropriate for girls of any age to be alone in the house with a man that wasn’t the father and she was right.)
  17. Put the house in your name. If you can’t, make sure both of your names are on the deed. I don’t care if he is paying the note. If he breaks up with you he can kick you out of your home and you won’t have any recourse until the courts hear your case.
  18. Every time your husband/boyfriend gives you money save it and don’t spend it. Don’t let him know you have it. I do not care if is an emergency.
  19. Have a secret bank account or safe. If he has access to your money he can take it during  the divorce. (My grandmother kept her secret stash under her bed. When she died we found over $10k in an orange plastic bag underneath her bed.)
  20. If a man buys you things let him because you should expect it. Don’t tell him he shouldn’t have done it or fake modesty because he may not next time.
  21. Make sure your hair and makeup is done even if you are going to the supermarket because you never know who you will see.
  22. Even if your house is spotless always apologize to company and tell them to excuse the house. It shows that you have high standards. (I do this all the time and it works.)
  23. Never choose a man over your children and best friends.
  24. Men leave but sisters (girlfriends) are forever.
  25. Always tip.
  26. Always use your manners.
  27. Expect the best
  28. Don’t embarrass me.
  29. Treat yourself.
  30. Take care of yourself.

What advice did someone give you? Share this post with your networks especially to young women. Thanks for reading.




  1. Papillon 18 August, 2014 at 16:47 Reply

    I agree, Luckysunstar. I agreed with all of her Nana’s advice except the one you pointed out. I, too, used to think that men who had great relationships with their mothers would treat the woman in their life well. But I’ve come to find out that this is NOT the case. Usually, I find out, is that men regard the women in their families (mothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, etc) differently then women who are not related to them. They put female family members in a separate box from women they deal with out in society. They believe that their mommas are the holy grail, and don’t want to see anything bad happened to her because he loves and treasures her so much, however, they’ll mistreat and use other women that are not related to them and are not like his momma. No man should come and treat momma that way, but they have no problem exhibiting the same toxic and problematic behaviors that they wouldn’t want their momma to go through to other women. Sick and illogical

    And another thing, like you’ve mentioned, these men who were really close to their mothers are called momma’s boys, and they tend to be the ones with some of the biggest entitlement issues because momma coddled and enabled him. In a relationship, they end up feeling THEIR the prize, and don’t have to give any reciprocity that a relationship entails because it’s all about them. You do the heavy-lifting, taking on most of the responsibility of the relationship, and all he has to do is show up. No thanks! I certainly wouldn’t want a man who HATES his momma, but I don’t want one who has an unhealthy attachment to her, either.

    • Papillon 18 August, 2014 at 16:51 Reply

      Oh, and your G-ma was a BAD chick! Business savvy and intelligent. She looked out for her best interest, made smart decisions, and she lived a fulfilled and happy life. GO, GRANDMA! 🙂

  2. Tia 19 August, 2014 at 19:09 Reply

    Your Nana sounds like a very smart and wise woman, and unlike some of the other comments, I kinda do agree with your Nana about the “mother thing”. I have found that men that I’ve dated who respected and loved their mothers have treated me the best and were the most loyal to me. On the flip side I have also noticed that there is a thin line between loving and honoring your mother, and being a pain ole mommas boy. These types were the ones looking for replica “mothers” in thier relationships which is a big fat no no with me.

    I have also been blessed with a smart and wise Mother who is my strongest and biggest advisor. One thing off the top of my mind that I can remember her telling me was. “Don’t ever chase after no man, let him chase you”, “If you don’t want the man, why let him antagonize your life”, and “If you leave a man, do pick him up again, there’s a reason why you didn’t want him in the first place.”

  3. reality_check 24 August, 2014 at 05:13 Reply

    Sorry, but there’s no honor in marrying several times.

    And what’s the significance of being the first to buy a house in a white neighborhood to you? Just curious.

    • Bougie Black Girl 24 August, 2014 at 07:55 Reply

      Trust me why she did, there is. This was in the 1940’s when Blacks were segregated to certain parts of town. It meant she had enough money to purchase a home in an expensive area in which she paid in cash.

  4. reality_check 24 August, 2014 at 10:25 Reply

    Funny you mentioned the race of the neighborhood’s inhabitants and not their income brackets. The way you worded it sounded more like a case of black inferiority at play, as if granny was the first of the undesirable blacks to break out the hood and go on to be with the ‘superior’ whites. It reads less like you were touting her financial accomplishment (i.e., her buying her home for cash).

    I can recognize the black inferiority complex from 3 miles away. But sound advice anyway.

  5. Kennedy 24 May, 2017 at 09:51 Reply

    I am a young black woman in college and finding this article really opened my eyes. I posses some of these traits but some I lack and will definitely work on. In this generation, men get a lot of passes from women and I am no longer letting that happen. The only issue I see with this article was a lot of points your nanny told you was about men. What about more education, staying healthy, how to deal with friendships and religion…. One thing I think black women do is think more about black men than they think about us. Overall, I like the article 🙂

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