The older I get, the more I find myself so frustrated with the structure and dynamics of The Black Family. Before you question my audacity during such a sensitive time, just continue…
Imagine having a passion and love so deep for something all the while deeply despising it at the same time. This is the only way I know how to word my feelings towards the dynamic of The Black Family. I have personally spent more than enough time with families of other races, to know that we have one of the most unique, both in positive and negative ways. Who is to blame comes with a story hundreds of years old, so instead of focusing there, today I feel the urge to direct my frustration at the solution.
While I may be no expert, I do feel equipped to help not just Black families, but all families. My choice to target Black Families this month comes directly from the fact that I myself am the product of a Black Family. And while being a product of such, there are many things that contributed to who I am today. There are also things that I saw and promised not to reciprocate when starting my own family. We do so much damage within the structure that many times outside factors bounce right off. We have confused this with “being strong” or being toughly built, when in actuality it’s the start of our trauma that we so often inflict upon our children and/or anyone else close to us.
I decided to offer my personal outlooks on things that we have accepted and found comfort in as Black family units. I don’t only offer these things by opinion, but through addressing my own trauma, attending therapy, my exposure through education, meditation practices, mentors, work training, experience, and the like.
- So lets start with the infliction of your own pain on your child(ren)
We often become so numb to our own pain that it makes it difficult to see when we are acting from a space created by that pain. It is not fair to your child(ren) to be the target and/or resource for your anger, pain, and trauma. I have witnessed this happen so effortlessly in our communities and have even caught myself in moments of addressing my own child. SEEK HELP. And when I say this, I don’t mean it in the comical way that we have created in the statement. I am a huge advocate for receiving therapy and addressing your mental health. You may not even notice that there is something wrong due to how much we’ve normalized putting the same pain that we’ve experienced unto our children. We hear it time and time again that child(ren) do not ask to be here. Remind yourself of this anytime you feel yourself lashing out, harming, and/or getting upset in general with your child(ren). It is more than okay to be upset with them when appropriate, but always allow yourself to reflect on those moments and question what space you address your children from when you are upset.
2. The idea that your children are “being grown,” ESPECIALLY your daughter
Can I just say I would love to know what the f*ck, “being grown” is?! This has always been one of my biggest pet peeves. Mainly because I ONLY hear it in the Black community. A child is not “being grown,” because they are mimicking the things that they see around them. This statement creates a fear and confusion for children and their learning abilities. It also teaches children that “being grown” is a bad thing, when in actuality it’s the thing we are grooming them for? Imagine how confusing that is. While I can create an entire blog for this section, I’ll just leave it here…Children mock what they see because they are looking for a place in this life. A child being able to express their emotions, openly communicating their thoughts and feelings, and repeating behaviors they see, is simply them looking for themselves. That’s not to say that children don’t engage in behaviors that they know are wrong, but it’s to offer a better way of communicating right and wrong to your child(ren). Because 9/10, that action that caused you to tell them “stop being grown,” is an act that they have seen and/or heard from adults that you’ve allowed them around. Let’s get and stay away from the, “I can do this in front of you, but if you mock it, you’ll get beat for being grown” ideology.
3. Blaming your children for your failure(s)
Your child(ren) hold no responsibility for how YOUR life is panning or has panned out. Release the animosity, the anger, and the blame and find the true source of blame for your failure(s). Your child(ren) don’t deserve the retaliation and we must let go of that natural space we created for the, “if I didn’t have you, I’d be here…” mentality. It’s not fair and whether you know it or not, it plays a huge role in all of your interactions with your child(ren). Use that energy, all of it, to ensure that your child(ren) are never put in a space where they could reciprocate your mistakes. It’d go so much further than the indirect blaming.
4. Choosing when your children are able to be people
Imagine how it makes your child feel seeing you argue with someone about lack of communication, respect, and support…Only to turn around and tell them that they are not allowed to communicate their feelings, because it puts you in an uncomfortable space. I allow my child to be a person in all aspects, even at 3 years old. Why? Because at 13 I was told that I was “too young” to be depressed and two years later, I tried killing myself. Why? Because I had NO IDEA how to properly communicate my feelings. Just because a PERSON is under 18, that doesn’t take away from the fact that they have feelings, they have emotions, they have all functioning parts of being a human. Black communities and families have created a narrative that does not support and/or allow children to be people. We have also created a culture in which we say things to our children that we wouldn’t say to anyone else in the world because of “authority.” If you would’t tell a stranger to “get the f*ck in here and do what I said, because I said it,” then tell me where you find comfortability in talking to your child(ren) in this manner?
5. Lack of equal respect
Imagine a world where we tell our children, “treat people how you want to be treated,” to turn around and treat them with ZERO respect. AND THEN, being flabbergasted when they grow up with no respect for authority and/or you for that matter. Doesn’t make a difference if your child is 0-18 years old, RESPECT them. It costs nothing to show your child(ren) what it feels like for someone to respect them. Imagine the amount of trauma your child(ren) would avoid or inflict, by learning what it’s like to be respected from the person that serves as their first safe zone…
LET’S DO BETTER!