Many of us grew up being reminded, as a black child “You have to work twice as hard”. We know this to be true on so many levels but how do we find balance while setting expectations for our children and ourselves as parents? As black mothers there is so much pressure to do it all..
All the time.
With so much pressure to succeed and the plight of being Black in America heavy on our backs, striving for perfection can be frustrating and exhausting, for everyone, especially our children. Our children are up against underfunded districts, overcrowded schools, in too many cases teachers who don’t believe in them, peers who don’t seem them as equals, and a system that isn’t designed for them to succeed. Just thinking about it all is anxiety provoking for us as parents and for them as students.
How do we navigate this all while encouraging our children to embrace their black girl magic and their black boy joy?
By focusing on what is without our locus of control and finding the beauty and balance in that.
Too often we focus our energy on the negativity surrounding us, understandably so, because it’s so easy to do. We find ourselves repeating familial patterns from our parents that have left us with scars, yet it is all we know. Take “bad” grades for example, the moment a child comes home with a “bad” grade, all attention is shifted to that subject. Although, bad grades can be an indication of an area in which increased academic support is needed, they can also be an opportunity to identify a child’s natural strengths and interests. Shifting your attention to the subjects your child excels at will decrease some pressure and allow them to excel deeper into their strengths. Furthermore, it decreases the need for perfection at everything, because we all know no one can be perfect at everything and it’s unfair for us to hold our children to expectations we don’t set for ourselves.
In a perfect world, our milestones that happen during childhood could go on a resume or a college application even, but we all know, that’s not the case. No one pulls up to an interview with the year they started counting, an explanation of their failed science grade, or a list of all the stickers they earned on a behavior chart, at least no one is admitting they have publicly. The amount of pressure we place on childhood performance is disconcerning. Children are full live human beings with feelings and like many adults the pressure to succeed often results in increased anxiety. They have bad days just like we do. They have days where they are more creative and days where they just don’t care.
How do you navigate this as a parent in a society where all we care about is results?
When it comes to parenting, balance is truly found in forgiveness, love, and patience. Forgive yourself for all of your imperfections and the things you can not control. After you’ve forgiven yourself, forgive your child. When things are difficult, love harder and provide more positive reinforcements even when it feels like it’s not working. Be patient with the process, parenting is a journey, who we are today is not who we are tomorrow. This goes for you and your child. Always remember the rules of life apply to children too, especially yours.