Article originally published in January of 2017
Last night I was awakened by my little one at the ripe hour of 5 am. She ran to my bed saying, “Mommy I think I peed on my bed. Please don’t get me in trouble.” She was so calm and steady in her speech that I woke up, concerned and not irritated. As I pulled her sheets and washed her bottom, I heard her again.
Please don’t get me in trouble.
A part of me twinged with guilt. Even though Kamryn never wets the bed, it made me think about the times I have disciplined her, maybe out of context as a way to teach her a lesson. It also made me reflect on my actions as an adult and my own imperfection. I was forced to ask myself- How can I expect perfection from my child when I am imperfect as an adult?
Being a mother is a constant game of self reflection. At times I feel as if I am learning more from this process than my own child. We all enter this thing called parenthood with the intention of raising well rounded, compassionate beings but sometimes we forget what that word “compassion” really means. Especially in our community as Black women, we are more tender with others…our love mates, our friends, our work partners, than we are with our own children.
A friend of mine shared a story recently on her Facebook page detailing an experience she witnessed while shopping one day. She saw a mother, clearly irritated with her children cursing at them in an aggressive manner but when her phone rang, her entire tone changed and she became soft and submissive to whomever she was speaking to which seemed to be her romantic partner. It was such a jolt as my friend explained to watch these two different interactions- 1. with the children who came from her womb and 2. from a partner who may or may not have been a temporary placement. What happened?
Many of us growing up were not taught proper compassion. We were taught not to ask questions, do as you were told. Sometimes we were taught to sit down and shut up. While I am firm in the belief of discipline, I am also becoming more aware of using discernment when teaching my child the difference between right and wrong. Our speech and actions are the prototype of how our children expect to be treated by the world. As parents, if we constantly tell our children “because I said so” or refuse to acknowledge their questions as valid, they will be thrust into a world they are afraid to perform in. They will believe their place is in silence and a lot of that developed anger and neglect they faced at home translates into anger and neglect they redistribute as an adult.
As parents, if we constantly tell our children “because I said so” they will be thrust into a world they are afraid to perform in.
In speaking on this, I am not saying- do not discipline your children. We do time outs. We also do conversations and hugs. We practice love taps, reasoning, and most of all, compassion. What I am saying, is that it is time to break the cycle. As adults, majority of the time the real issue is with us. We are frustrated with the other parent, we are frustrated with work and since we cannot properly express that anger to whomever it deserves to be directed to, it comes out on the most innocent person in our life- our child.
So next time you become upset with something your little one has done, take 5 minutes and reflect. Is my response necessary? Is it true? Is it kind? Try to remember that just like us, our children are imperfect. Because even in discipline, you can still do it with compassion.
*Photo taken by Cassandra Alice Photography