As parents, we should feel empowered to take the good foundational work that our parents laid for us and align it with new and innovative ways of raising our children. Generational curses in our families can be passed down and mistakes of parenting and motherhood can come up again and again. The key to breaking generational curses is understanding ourselves and our children so that we can be productive in guiding our children to individual and collective success. I’m sharing three ways to parent differently than past generations because things don’t always have to be the same as they always were.
Two age-old phrases “children are to be seen and not heard” and “fix your face” are ones I remember hearing as a child. I’m not sure how long these phrases were rotating in the Black family, but long enough to feel like tradition. Although it was never explicitly said, in some cases, these were warnings to protect us from the outside world. The last thing Black families wanted was external attention, especially when it came to their children. Based on the history in this country, who could blame them? Even still, the phrases were double-edged swords that have impact because they also put limits on how we, as children express ourselves. It was almost as if adults were the only ones that had permission to communicate, and as a child, you quickly learned that your voice had little to no value.
As I reflect, one thing I have noticed is that I was conditioned not to communicate (unless specifically asked a question that needed an answer. i.e., how was your day? Are you hungry?). That conditioning formed how I learned to navigate the world, and much of it was in a state of not speaking up, asking for help, and sometimes learning the hard way.
As a mother of two strong verbal and nonverbal communicators, I allow my children to talk and express themselves without fear of getting in trouble for “saying the wrong thing” or being seen as disrespectful. For example, we have a safe space circle where they can ask me what certain words mean and then we create agreements for words that are not ok to say. Chile, I can’t count the times I have been called out for calling a bad driver or stupid (sigh….). I also intentionally allow back and forth conversation aka “talking back”. Trust me, it does take some humbling and many deep breathes (as parents we think we know everything) but if you listen with your ears and your heart, you’ll learn what is on your child’s mind.
No Corporal Punishment:
I have been very vocal here and have zero apologies for my decision. Spanking as punishment stopped with me. As a parent, I fully understand that it is my responsibility to use the foundational teachings that worked and to not use the ones that don’t. Spanking is one of the don’ts. You’ll hear many people say, “I was spanked and I turned out fine.” I have even said that to myself, the fact is my parents used this type of disciplinary punishment sparingly. Yet and still, during an “ah-ha” moment, I realized that qualifying something as “just fine” was not a descriptor I ever wanted my children to say.
As a parent who wants to be the best parent I can be, my stance to not carry this generational curse over to my children isn’t always understood. I’ve heard many parents say “Some kids only respond to spankings” or “If I don’t spank them, the police will” reading between the lines, the level of fear and lack of understanding the humanity within children comes to the front. At the root, spankings show children that acts of violence demonstrate love and can be a life-long cycle to break. Many studies show that this type of discipline creates shame and fear, and does not build the open and loving parent-child relationship that most families desire.
Even with my “ah-ha” moment, I still have to be intentional and set expectations with my children on our familial agreements, which include consequences for behavior that doesn’t align with our values. This is a daily, sometimes multiple times of day, intention setting and action plan. Let’s be honest, children are human and they will test you to see if you will keep your word. The more you build trust in your parent-child relationship the better it will be.
Reframing the Relationship With Money
I started working at the age of 16 because one: I wanted to ensure I had the most fly junior prom EVER (ha!) and two: I knew to have my own money would build my independence. While I understood how spending money brought freedom, I never fully understood the value of saving. Fast forward two years, I turned 18 and bam, there came the credit card companies ready to exploit my naivety. Holding myself accountable, too, I learned quickly what debt could do. Now that I am older with two children, I completely understand that the way we think about things, in this case, money, impacts the output.
To be sure my children have a good relationship with money we have identified some chore responsibilities (i.e., taking out the trash, washing the dishes, etc.) that are rewarded with cash that they then have to save. When it’s time to go to Target, our favorite place on the planet, they are allowed to use their earnings to pay for what they want, BUT not before saving some of their earnings. Teaching them to save is so important too!
Well, there you have it, y’all. My top 3 ways I am breaking generational curses as I raise my children. How are you breaking generational curses with your family? Comment below.