I have to preface this piece with a bit of a disclaimer. I am not yet a parent. However, I plan to be a mother one day. As I prepare for that journey I have started looking at my relationship with my own parents and exploring what things I would change.
I love my parents. They worked hard to spoil both me and my sister. Still, after much reflection, I’ve come to realize there are some ways in which I was reared that I don’t want to pass down to my own children.
Breaking Generational Trauma
Breaking generational trauma in Black children involves a proactive effort by parents to disrupt the cycle of inherited hardships. Black parents, particularly Millennials, are consciously addressing the impact of historical adversity on their children’s mental health. This includes fostering open communication about challenging topics and seeking therapeutic support. I want to give my children the tools and resilience necessary to navigate this world.
Here are nine things I plan on doing differently with my children.
Things I Would Do Differently
- We HAVE McDonald’s money: This one is self-explanatory. The ones who get it get it!
- Ask my kids to journal: There will be times when my child or children won’t have the words to express how they feel, and journaling may help.
- Mental health check-ins: Growing up, mental health was not openly discussed in my house. I often joked that I had the “best of both worlds” – a Black mom from the South and a father who grew up in Japan. Mental health discussions didn’t stand a chance.
- Allowing school choice: I know many people will argue about this topic, but you do not have to attend college to succeed. My mother stressed the importance of college for as long as I can remember. She was number 12 out of 15 children and couldn’t afford to attend; therefore, she joined the military and knew she wanted different for her kids. I do not regret my degree, but I didn’t use it. My sister currently works in one of the most challenging fields in the U.S. Navy and didn’t attend college. I plan on presenting all options to my child.
- Reciting personal affirmations: I would love to incorporate daily affirmations with my children. It will boost their confidence and help them in the long term.
- Allow them to have ‘bad days:’ I know we have all seen the jokes on social media when 90s kids had a bad day or felt depressed, they would have to do the dishes or chores. I will allow my children to have those bad days, stay home, or rest mentally.
- They can chose their extracurricular endeavors: This one is personal! I was forced to play soccer growing up and hated it.
- Always be honest: A rule I have with anyone in my life is, “If you can’t be honest anywhere else, be honest with me.” I want my children to be honest always. And I know that’s a big ask considering how I was as a teenager.
- You don’t have to be perfect: You do not have to be a “golden child.” This is huge in Asian families, especially with the eldest child. And that is so much pressure for a kid. It is OK to make mistakes as long as you learn from them and grow. I will stress to my child that falling doesn’t make them a failure. I’ll tell them to make sure when they get back up to try again, they hold their heads high.
I am determined to embrace imperfections and promote mental well-being. As someone who acknowledges the efforts of my parents while recognizing the need for evolution, these planned deviations represent a personal roadmap to instill strength, confidence, and autonomy in my children.