Updated: Feb 5
If you have ever had any conversation with me, seen any of my social media posts, and definitely if you have listened to the podcast you are very aware about how passionate I am about children's mental health, especially the mental health of minority children. If you have not done any of those things and this is your first time here (welcome) you will see very quickly! LOL!
I teach mindful parenting because of this passion for children's mental health. It all starts in the home. Let me show you what I mean...
Reason no. 1 that I won't stop pushing for black parents to be more mindful in their interactions with their children - I believe that your home should be a safe haven - for both children and adults. I love being in my home (#teamintrovert) and I do my best to make it a peaceful environment for myself and anyone who visits because the world outside of here is HARD! And if I should feel safety, comfort, relief, peace, etc. it should be in my home. This should be the same for children. Children go to school and get bullied, they have teachers that treat them unkindly, and so many other stressors that you wouldn't believe go on in their tiny minds (same for teens) but if they come home to yelling, screaming, abuse, shame, guilt...where can they be safe? Where is their safe haven? Often, parents like to believe that children do not experience stress but they really do and parents should be the number one safe space for them.
Think about all of the major police vs. Black people shootings we have witnessed over the past few years - afterwards you felt the urge to to be with people who understand the struggle, right? Children experience those same emotions and feelings - about these same situations and others. But, are you talking to them about it? This leads me into my next reason...
More black children are killing/hurting themselves and others. In 2020 we had the first publicized school shooting done by an African American student in Arlington, Texas. Previously, we really were able to say that our kids did not do this kind of thing, and now one has. Children's brains continue to develop into adulthood which means that they are also learning things like processing, coping skills, reasoning, etc. If there is no safe space to vent, express themselves, just sit and be, those emotions get pinned up and eventually explode. Not to say that they will always resort to any sort of violence - it can come out in other ways as well - substance use/abuse, anger, aggression, "talking back", etc. and we can avoid a lot of that by changing the way that we view and respond to children's mental health.
Many of the parenting styles from the past are outdated and no longer necessary. Whooping or spanking came from slavery. "Masters" beat their slaves to coerce them into doing what they wanted the slaves to do and the slaves began using that with their children as well. Now, back then, it was family preservation - keeping everyone in line in order to keep them from getting beat and/or killed or taken/sold by the colonizers. We are not in slavery anymore...
Many parents use the rebuttal that it is what works, but, it worked for the slave owners as well, but that didn't make it right or okay and eventually we put an end to it and it really grew a hate and contention between Blacks and Whites. So, if that was a result with them, what makes you think that it won't be the same with your children? Do you want to build a relationship with someone hitting you all of the time?
Family preservation is still necessary in the Black Family. Talking, Understanding, Relationship, are also necessary for family preservation.
Lastly, Black children deserve to be loved, cared for gently, held, safe, respected, uplifted, and so much more. They deserve to be spoken to, in a kind way. Often this is the issue in adult relationships between two Black individuals - they are so used to the "tough love" that when gentle love comes we don't know what to do with it so we start arguments and push people away who love us. How will they know they deserve love that is kind and patient if the people they are told are supposed to love them the most never demonstrate that? Hint: They won't and you can't show it to them until you recognize that you deserve this too 🥰.