I am Nothing Like My Parents.
As a child we have this idea of what kind of adult we will become. We believe we will be different from our experiences and our main goal is to be better than our parents. This drive in making sure our children have the best in life is quickly stalled when we can barely take care of ourselves all because we blame our parents for what they didn't teach us. However we fail to understand we have our parents' traits instilled in us and without knowing.. we are just like them. "When I become a parent, my children will be comfortable enough to tell me the truth. I won't bash them the way my parents did me", said by pretty much all of us. We always seek to be different from the majority and the issue with this is we often fall short of what we consider "perfection". For myself, I aimed to be nothing like the women in my family. I didn't want to be loud and angry or bitter and misunderstood. And sure enough I was all of the above at some point in my life. I never felt comfortable to communicate such feelings because I knew I'd be told there was nothing wrong. I had everything I needed as a child and there was no way I suffered from anything. The misconception behind this is I struggled with my presence. I didn't always know if I was worth anything because affirmations weren't discussed within my home. But let's remain on subject. We can learn more about me at a later date. But for now..
This post is specifically about our family judgements and how emotionally disconnected we feel towards our families. Before we begin, let me just say I'm aware all families are different, but one things for certain, our parents will never be satisfied with our decisions in life. It's either, we're rushing into something too fast or we're taking too long to accomplish whatever it is they would have achieved "back in their day". I know I'm not the only one who's been asked, "How much longer before you finish this or that?" It's frustrating because I never had an answer to that question. Honestly, I still don't have an answer. I guess I'll be finish when I feel like it's time.
To be judged means someone had an opinion about you and in their mind, it was deemed a sensible conclusion. In Black households, you have to keep your feelings to yourself. If you spoke how you felt, you were being "disrespectful" and would get popped in the mouth and told to stay in a child's place. You couldn't cry because that was only adding fuel to the fire especially if your parent said, "Stop crying before I give you something to cry about." The issue I've always had with this statement is umm hello you already did something to make me cry and now you want me to pretend everything is ok? If that's not toxic, then I don't know what is. Let's not forget the stigma of crying as a boy implied you were being soft like a girl. This only created a narrative that only girls were allowed to cry. Whew the emotional struggles we as Black children experienced. Speak, get hit. Cry, get hit. There was never a win-win and we were forced to show no emotion. The image above represents everything I've ever known in my family and I'm sure those of you reading this will be able to make a connection as well. Please don't be taken back by my use of expressing the stigmas Black children face. I am aware Black children are not the only racial groups to experience such emotional disconnect, but I can only speak on what I know. I am open for anyone to speak on their experiences.. that's why this is a conversation and not a lecture. We can all share something. Hell, we all have a story to tell.
Notice how in the image it states Black children drown in depression. Would you like to know why? We drown in depression because we don't have an active ear. The unfortunate part in this is when we feel we can't communicate, we turn to other outlets. This includes: all forms of artistry, writing, video games, sports, drugs, alcohol, partying, stealing, guns, gangs and so forth. Granted, some are better than others, but most of the time, we get ourselves caught up in things that force our parents to pay attention. That's all we've ever wanted I'm convinced. Of course they say they don't know where this behavior comes from, but personally I believe it's their way of saving face to make it seem they have been the greatest parent in the world.
If you are a parent reading this and want to have a better connection with your child or children, understand this. Children are emotional and deserve the right to express themselves. Know the difference between disrespect and expression before you just assume the absolute worse. Spend time with them and show them you are appreciative of their presence. Reward them for positive accolades and discipline them for necessary occurrences. Trust me, they will appreciate you more than you'll ever know. If you are a child reading this, be open with your parents. Express yourselves in the best way you can. If your parents aren't open to listening what you have to say, release your emotions in a different way. For me, I wrote in my journal how I felt. I would draw my emotions and although it looked crazy (and I do mean crazy), I managed to understand what I felt mattered. You can do this. Be patient with yourself. Love yourself. Be patient with one another and watch God move for you and your family.
This was an amazing conversation. If you would like to share your experience, feel free to comment or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your experience with us.
Always remember I am here with you.