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…🦋