The type of parent I am is greatly influenced by the type of parents my mother and father were—and they were not the best by a looooooooooong shot. As children, my siblings and I experienced a lot of things we never should have been exposed to. The sad part is our story is not some rare incident. In fact, many children experience the type of childhood we were exposed to in our early years. A parent on drugs, another parent absent, being raised by a grandparent, being neglected, being abused, being dirty, being hungry— the stories we can tell are identical to those many others can narrate in their autobiographies as well.
However, in the midst of my struggles— and my “I’ll-never-beat-my-kids” mantra— I discovered REALITY. My grandmother raised us in the church so I know Proverbs 13:24 says “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” I understand the importance of discipline and chastisement when NECESSARY. There is a thin line between chastisement and abuse and I am wise enough to know the difference. I understand “time outs” are not always effective, but I know ((from experience)) that spankings get old and become ineffective if used too frequently as well.
I have the type of parents I could not confide in, as a child, for fear of inciting anger, being insulted, or being punished. As an adult, my relationship with my parents is better but it would have been great to have that open relationship back then. Instead, my father was “Mr-Only-Come-Around-To- Discipline-and-Curse-You-Out”, my mother was “Miss-Absent-Until-I-Randomly-Show-Up-When-You-Least-Expect-It”, and I became “Little-Miss-Screw-You-Both-Screw-The-World-and-Screw-My-Screwed-Up-Life”.
If you were not raised the way I was raised you may not share in my sentiments to parent in a manner completely opposite of the way my parents did. You may not understand why I feel it is important that my children feel they can confide in me about ANYTHING. I am not going to jump down my son’s throat for expressing emotions he is entitled to feel— even with a penis. The idea that your son will be gay because he expresses fear, sadness, or any emotion besides anger and joy is ridiculous and ignorant. I am not going to make my daughter feel like a failure because she is too exhausted after dance practice to go to cheerleading practice an hour later. I am not going to go on and on and on and on about laziness when my children fail to sit still or focus for hours on end when the only children who are able to do so are years and years older than them or abused children whose pain forces them to be mute.
I want my children to know what a HAPPY childhood feels like. I want them to know how GOOD parents act. I want them to know, no matter their age, they are MY babies. They can cry on the first day of Kindergarten without hearing how big of a baby they are— hell, they can cry on the first WEEK of Kindergarten if that makes them feel better. I cried the first day 4th grade because I was placed in Gifted and didn’t know ANYONE. They can be afraid of the dark without hearing of how stupid that is. I used to wake up in the middle of the night to walk my little cousin to the bathroom because she was afraid Freddy Krueger would get her! I don’t even watch scary movies and I’m a 26-year-old woman who KNOWS its fiction.
I think there is a HUGE misconception in the African-American community ((and I say that because I am African-American)) about parenting and so-called “babying” your child. It is important that we learn to maintain a healthy balance between authority and LOVE. It’s not important to ME for my children to fear me. We are supposed to fear GOD— not our parents. Yes, I want them to know I am in charge and what I say goes BUT do I have to “bully” them into submission in order to accomplish that? I want my children to be comfortable being CHILDREN.
Don’t get me wrong… I spank my children. They are a handful. I yell, I fuss, and I throw “parental tantrums”. I have even locked myself in the bathroom to get away from them. But I also show them LOVE. Always LOVE. If my parenting doesn’t meet your standards…*shrug*. It is ideal to see eye-to-eye on parenting issues, but it is not always reality. Sometimes we cannot see beyond the horrible way our parents raised us… TREATED us. Eminem didn’t wake up one day and be angry at women. Dahmer didn’t wake up and be a sociopath. Sometimes it’s in our nature to be nuts but oftentimes it has A LOT to do with the way we are NURTURED (or the lack thereof).
I refuse to allow my story to become the story of my children.
Regardless of how many generations have experienced this, I will break the generational curse.
I will raise MY children
I will raise them SUPERBLY
And I hope others aspire to be the same way.
Lets stop pressuring our children to act like adults when they just learned to walk a few years ago.
Let them have fun.
Let them enjoy life.
Let them whine, be afriad, be annoying, and be CHILDREN.