Recently, I read an article titled, The Strained Relationship Between Black Mothers and Their Daughters and as I read it I found myself repeatedly saying “wow”! Although, I was brought up in a family filled with love, I can see the effects of this relationship among different women I have encountered in my life. The author mentioned how she knew her mother loved her even though her actions didn’t feel like love. I couldn’t help but think about my own daughters and how it is important for me to make sure they know they are loved and feel it every day. In order for children to thrive and be happy, they need to feel loved and protected. As their mother, I may not always understand why they feel the way they do or why they are acting a particular way but does that mean they are less deserving of feeling love? How can I expect them to grow up and not only establish healthy relationships and friendships if I never teach them how?
Many of our parents were raised on “tough love” and so it has been passed down from generation to generation. Now I am not against tough love because I definitely agree that at times it is needed but I disagree that this is the only type of love they are exposed to. As stated in the dictionary, tough love is defined as, “promotion of a person's welfare, especially that of an addict, child, or criminal, by enforcing certain constraints on them, or requiring them to take responsibility for their actions”. Isn’t it possible to teach our children how to take responsibility for their actions by modeling that same behavior? I am the first to apologize to my kids when I am wrong, to explain what they may have done wrong, why it’s wrong and what they can do better next time without implementing emotional or physical abuse. One thing I have always battled with is the fact that most people feel that children should not have a voice or opinion when it comes to their elders because that is a sign of disrespect. Aren’t children still human beings worthy of being respected?
I grew up having learned to have my own opinion and to think for myself but I wasn’t allowed to share those thoughts without getting reprimanded for “talking back.” I always hated it and vowed to ensure my children had a voice. Now don’t get me wrong...there are limits. That does not mean my children can come at me sideways and voice their opinion because momma don’t play those games. However, I teach my children that it is okay to be upset or hurt and I want to know how you feel but doing so in a RESPECTFUL manner is a requirement. Why? I want to teach my children early how to engage in positive and effective communication so that when a problem arises at school or wherever, they know how to navigate their feelings without creating a negative and hostile situation. You are always going to disagree with someone for whatever reason and people are going to hurt your feelings but how you respond to it speaks volume as to who you truly are.
There are way too many woman (and men) who don’t even realize the impact that childhood trauma (many don’t recognize it as trauma because its been normalized in the black community) has on their lives as they become adults and begin to have their own children. The frustration and exhaustion of parenting and life turns into whoopings and negative words and then that cycle is passed down to our daughters and then you’re wondering why are our daughters so angry. They’re angry because all they wanted was to feel loved. It’s okay to break the cycle and change the way we parent so that our children don’t have to go through what we went through. Love your daughters!