Your Child’s Mental Health Matters

Growing up Black, children didn’t have permission to have issues. We weren’t allowed to be stressed because how could a child possibly be stressed? We didn’t have to go to a 9-5 everyday, pay bills or support a family. Our “little” struggles in no way compared to what the adults were experiencing.

Growing up, the mental struggles of children were often minimized and dismissed based on the beliefs that they weren’t that serious. The minimizing of my struggles led to my first suicide attempt in 1996. Now, at that time having kids weren’t in the cards for me but once I became parent I vowed to always listen and take into consideration what my children expressed. I vowed to pay attention to the things they said and the things they didn’t say.

As cliche as it sounds, a mother always knows. God gave us a special kind of intuition that allows us to see into the souls of our children. I’ve talked about listening with your heart in a previous blog.

Fact, kids go through things and while they may seem insignificant to you, it’s a big deal to them. In my 40 plus years here on Earth, I’ve learned that we don’t get to tell people how to feel. As adults we’ve developed skills that help us to deal with issues, children are still in the molding stage.

Recently I started doing weekly mental check-ins in our family group chat. I simply text, “Mental health check-in! How y’all doing?” I give them the option of texting me individually in the event that they don’t want to share with everyone.

A few weeks ago my son expressed how school was stressing him out and how life was hard for him in the moment. He felt like he needed a mental health day, which I allowed him. Now, in addition to allowing your children moments to decompress, teaching them how to successfully deal with adversity is even more important. Life ain’t always pretty, and they have to be strong enough to deal with the not so great moments.

I had a conversation with someone recently about today’s generation of children and their inability to deal with hard situations. Can we blame them? I at times feel like we who were raised by “old school” parents have handicapped our children emotionally by trying to NOT be as hard on them as our parents were on us. Well let me speak for myself, I know I’m guilty.

Providing them a safe space that supports their mental health is important. Not making the topic taboo or linking mental health and crazy together is also important. Teaching them to talk about what they’re dealing with while you listen without judgment. The other piece of this is teaching them how to deal with problems and issues. Helping them to understand that life won’t always be favorable.

Here are three easy ways you can help your children with their mental health:

  • Have a conversation about the importance of mental health
  • Weekly check-ins or however often you feel is appropriate.
  • Incorporation of therapy if necessary.

I hope that this helps you to start healthy conversations with your children about their mental health!

Until next time…🦋

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Planting Seeds In Children

What’s growing from the seeds you’ve planted in your children?

I’ve said many times on the blog that parenting is one of the most difficult yet rewarding jobs you’ll ever be blessed to have.

When planting seeds in the literal sense, once the seed is planted, it takes root. Once it takes root, it begins to grow. This same process applies to the seeds we plant in our children. How conscious are you of the seeds you’re planting? With your words, your actions and your reactions.

Have you ever said to your child, “I don’t want you to be like me, I want you to be better than me”. While I understand the intent behind this statement, what are you really saying?

Are we planting seeds of doubt by speaking about the things that we feel incapable of doing? Are we planting seeds of fear based on our own fears?

Children arrive here with a blank slates. They don’t think Brussels sprouts are nasty or roller coasters are scary. We teach, program and plant seeds. So much of what they do is learned behavior. Something as simple as food. Parents, have you ever said that something was nasty and your child followed suit? Sometimes without taking a bite. Now, 20 years later they don’t eat that particular item because they believe it’s nasty. That’s how it works, it’s that easy!

So what if we chose to plant seeds like courageousness, Faith, boldness, bravery, adventure and hope instead? Imagine what they could do!

I as a parent have planted some not so good seeds, but I’ve consciously made an effort to point them out and make corrections. That’s the beautiful thing about children, they’re pliable; teachable.

Until next time…🦋

Why I Chose Not to Whoop/Spank My Kids

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When I had I very first child I knew I was going to discipline different. I’ve never been a violent person so I knew whooping them was not something I was interested in. 

Before becoming a parent I knew how I wanted to discipline my future children. I knew I wanted to talk to them, assist and guide. I wanted to respect their opinions. I wanted to teach them in moments of challenging behavior. Notice how I said challenging and not bad? I don’t believe that there’s such a thing as a bad child, never have, and never will. 

My first born, my daughter, she made parenting easy. She was sweet, loving, and funny. She was also opinionated, talkative, honest, outspoken and at times sassy. She loved to challenge, In ways some limited thinking parents would consider disrespectful. I listened to her, and in moments I saw her becoming frustrated, I taught her how to effectively communicate. My daughter is 1 of 4. Each of my children required a different level of discipline. None of which included physical reprimand.

When it comes to correcting behavior, there are several ways to do that without whooping and spanking. Growing up I always heard, “spare the rod, spoil the child”. I didn’t understand what it meant when I was a young but as I got older, it became abundantly clear. Here is how it’s defined on the internet: spare the rod and spoil the child. old-fashioned saying. said to mean that if you do not punish a child when they do something wrong, they will not learn what is right.

In the Black/Christian community this meant whoop that tail. 

As a parent, I didn’t feel like my children did anything that warranted whoopings. In fact, they were more affected by my disappointment. Now, were they perfect? No. Were they children? Yes 

Who remembers hearing, I whoop you because I love you? But how? I never understood how whooping me was a sign of love. 

I can remember very clearly one whooping in particular. My sister was in high school and had a boyfriend. We had recently moved from one city to another. Well she went to prom with her boyfriend and she also went with a boy from her old high school. One day her boyfriend came by and I told him that she went to prom with the another boy. I didn’t just voluntarily blurt it out, but it somehow came up in a conversation. I was about 8. My mama beat my ass! To this day I’m still mad about that whooping. I was angry because I was whooped for telling the truth! I never understood why. 

Growing up I got whooped for several things. 99.999 % of them were for insignificant things. Doing things that kids do. With children, it will happen! Teaching in those moments will be more effective than whooping. 

“Whooping children is lazy parenting” ~ Jaz

Let me tell you what whoopings did for me. They made me feel less than, unloved and disliked. They also made me resentful. They made me sad. Getting whooped didn’t teach me not to do something. What it taught me how NOT to get caught. It taught me to be sneaky. Whoopings made me a liar. All of these things were factors in my decision to not whoop or spank my own children. Some may say, some kids need to be whooped. My opinion, some parents need to be taught different methods of discipline because you’re the teacher; their first example of right and wrong. 

If you’re a parent, what are your thoughts on whoopings/spankings? 

Until next time…🦋