Disclaimer: I am not a licensed therapist. While I do have a masters degree in counseling, the purpose of this blog is not to provide diagnosis or treatment for mental illness of any kind. The purpose of this blog is to offer tips on dealing with the frustrations of life. When it comes to your mental wellness, please seek professional counsel if you feel necessary.
And we are back like we never left to another edition of Therapy Thursday. This week’s session is purposely done at night because of the topic at hand. I believe this is an after work and the kids are sleep topic. I know I might step on some toes, and that’s okay. Mental health has to shift from being shame to normal in the African American community. The only real way to see that happen is to talk about it. So let’s talk about it shall we?
I saw this post on my FB feed that broke my heart. I currently work with children and I find myself reinforcing the very message this post brings to light. In an attempt to provide comfort, I found myself normalizing destructive behavior in the name of culture. I also realized that I was a strong advocate for the “do as I say not as I do” parenting style. Yikes! Even as a feminist, therapist, and grown woman, I realized that I had made a mistake. This post made me think about how we raise our children. We often scold them for having opinions, expressing emotions, and sharing perspectives in the name of honor thy mother and father.
I want to be clear in saying ALL black culture is not dysfunctional! I know that may seem obvious, but it needs to be said. We are not dysfunctional, but it’s ideas like these that have created our dysfunction. Since then, I began to think about ways I could communicate better with my child to encourage healthy self-awareness and positive social skills. I hope that every parent reading this can find a way to implement these ideas with their children.
I will be honest and share that I don’t have kids (yet), but I have learned a lot from the parent-children interactions I see daily, including my own. I hope these tips open the lines of communication for a parent child relationship to grow and flourish.
3 Tips for Encouraging Positive Communication
- Don’t irritate your children. I know. You’re the parent and even if you did irritate your child, its payback for when they asked you 45 million times about going to the park. But it’s still wrong. In Colossians 3: 21, the bible tells us not to provoke our children to anger lest they become discouraged. This verse comes right after children are told to obey their parents. Both are equally important. It is hard to command obedience where there is no honor and a lack of encouragement.
- Encourage and model a healthy expression of all emotions: It is important that children know how to properly express anger, happiness, sadness, disappointment, frustration, etc. Self-control is a huge part of emotional regulation. Children should be allowed to both feel and express all of these things. Each parent is responsible for first being a model and second setting boundaries. If you believe that shouting is disrespectful when angry, you must not shout when you are angry. Most children learn best through mimicking. This is how many learned how to talk, tie their shoes, and even count to ten. This learning process cannot be undone on demand. Proverbs 22: 6 tells us to train up a child in the way they should go, so when they are old they won’t depart from it. Ask yourself, how are your training up your child’s emotional and mental wellness??
- Bring back family dinner time! This concept seems so obsolete and outdated. It’s heartbreaking to know social is tasing our kids and not their parents. Children are now more comfortable sharing their insecurities, faults, failures, and successes in Facebook post than at dinner tables. This dynamic must be change and I believe the best way to do so is to eat together. This is the time when work, school, and outside responsibilities go away and family becomes the number one priority. Eating food together creates strong bonds needed to build trust, encourage intimacy, and strength relationships. Can I challenge you to never miss a meal with your child(ren)?
I hope these tips were helpful for you and your family. Don’t wait for the next family meeting or holiday to implement these tips, but start now.
Cheers to brining back healthy, healed, and whole Black Families!!!
Shanithia “HyQuality” Kendrick