For many years during and after slavery the first priority of African American parents was making sure their children stayed alive. This gave rise to the attitudes that “Children should be seen and not heard” and “Spare the rod – Spoil the child”.
These survival practices are still being used today. Having survived to some degree the danger that gave them birth, they have been given a legitimacy of their own.
Unintentionally we damage our children’s self-esteem and train them for oppression – rather than liberation. If our children are not permitted to question – or state their opinions – even those that differ from ours – we teach them to accept without thought or challenge. Having no power to make decisions about one’s life breeds anger, contempt and low self-esteem at any age.
We’ve observed that children are born playful, enthusiastic, spontaneous, eager to learn, curious about their environment, sympathetic, loving and forgiving. As they grow older their natural qualities become suppressed. They are forced as we were to live by the competitive standards of European traditions and we are losing many of those who may well be our future Sojourners or Malcolm’s. We have not collectively created a purpose for developing self-esteem or even a purpose for parenting such as ‘Parenting for Liberation”, which automatically calls for us to make some changes since we are far from being liberated. We’d like to fix our children. Where the change is needed and must begin is with us –the parents because our children reflect who we are being. The question is do we love them enough to change how we are with them?
We are all products of some parenting style as were our parents before us and theirs before them. Assessments of our parents may range from worship to hatred – we may be existing with a need to forgive our parents for words or actions we perceived as cruel. It’s important – no it’s crucial for parents to heal wounds of the past in order to protect their children from present day damage. Learning to forgive ourselves and others is an empowering lesson and it allows the discovery or empowering of one’s purpose in life.
The challenge and the opportunity are to break the negative patterns, those that produce individuals who cannot be in cooperative relationships with others. Our children filling the prisons and killing each other is just not acceptable. While there are scores of opportunities to join groups whose activity is anti-racism, there’s a dire need to create caring communities committed to support our children in discovering and demonstrating the genius that they are born with.
There are many ways to break the pattern or re-parent. All it requires is a willingness to recapture our true sense of self and put away the programming that has us as African American people abandon the highest held value among Africans, relationships with fellow beings while placing it on possession of material objects. Our children’s actions mirror our need to retrieve our African values. And we start with you parent – single, married or divorced. Your children need to know that you are together when it comes to them. Single parents – males and females put a halt on bashing your child’s other parent… instead acknowledge the fact that you made the choice and take responsibility for making the choice, thanking him or her for the lesson and give your child the attention needed and deserved to contribute to the building of a better world. We start Mothers and Fathers, and then we include the blocks where the children live. Towards that goal –
Accept yourself – identify and accept your strengths and weaknesses – everyone has them.
Praise yourself – Take pride in your achievements – great and small.
Trust yourself – Listen to your own thoughts and feelings. Act on what you think is right, doing what makes you feel fulfilled. Allow your actions to be questioned – listening to improve results.
Respect yourself – Be proud of who you are. Explore and appreciate your own special talents.
Love yourself – Love the unique person you are. Don’t overreact to errors – learn from them
Spend time with you – Take time –outs from the hustle and bustle to be alone with you. Find activities you can enjoy alone. Learn to enjoy your own company. These steps will yield a parent who will ensure that our children get a sense of being loved enabling them to be a contributor to a new World Order. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with comments or issues.