I am a love child. When my parents had me they were deeply young, dumb and in love. When my parents broke up, my Dad made a point to be in my life. Still, I have Daddy Issues. The love turned into something ugly. Something territorial. Holiday’s turned into occasions that I grew to hate. Without fail, there would always be a big argument: who got the kids? It wasn’t until middle school, late middle school, that we finally got a system down pack. But the damage was done. When I would be at my Mom’s, I would feel bad for my Dad. And vice versus.
When people say that your childhood deeply effect your adulthood. I didn’t give it much weight. I am of the mindset that if you work hard, you can out live your past. I believe that I am the master of my destiny. It doesn’t change the fact, that it has colored my perception of life. Due to my upbringing, I made a vow to not raise a child in a broken home. I didn’t want my child holidays shaded with guilt. I didn’t want her feeling jealous of her half-siblings. I wanted my child to have a normal life. If I’m being real, I thought that if I did, end up without my partner, then it meant I was a failure. To myself and as a parent.
That was until, I listened to Jada Red Table Talk on Facebook. During this episode, she had a conversation with Sheree Fletcher, Will Smith’s, ex-wife. Jada and Sheree, talked about how rocky things were in the beginning. They were honest about their parts and the roles they played in the disconnect during the earlier years. It made me realize, that it wasn’t the fact that I was from a broken home, that resulted in my childhood trauma. It was the fact that neither of my parents stood up and set a mandate for our family. Everyone was so caught in their own emotions, that the needs of the child, me, was forgotten about.
As I grow older, I’m constantly thinking about the things I want to teach my child. When I look around social media and at our society, it pains me, because it doesn’t seem like people truly understand the importance of being a parent. As a parent, you can literally, make or break your child. You can give them confidence, give them a safety net or you can give them a life-time full of insecurities. You are molding a whole human being. Every choice, decision, or move you make directly impacts that child. As well as their mental well-being.
When I was younger (say, middle school going into high school), my Dad attempted to continue a cycle from his childhood. This didn’t work and end up causing a big rift in our relationship. I would ask my Dad to go out and do things with my friends. And he would say no, because I had to watch my siblings. Now, this wasn’t because he was out working and I was being unreasonable. No, this was because he wanted to go party. To me that was a problem and that (among other things) resulted in me no-longer going over to my Dad’s house. In fact, we went an entire year without speaking to each other. Imagine, the damage, that does to a child. The first time she truly stands up for herself, she’s punished for it. That entire situation changed the way that I viewed having children. When I have children, I want to fill as though I lived. I don’t want to leave any “what if’s” on the table. Now, some people can say that’s extreme. But, can you blame me?
As a black community, our generation (or mines) have the greatest opportunity to get the family thing right. Often when I have these moments of “why didn’t my parents?”, I take a step back and realize how my parents grew up. For one, they had their parents in their life, but they weren’t active in their life. Both of my parents were raised by their older siblings. My Dad proudly bras about his older sister taking care of him, but what the hell does a child, know about being a parent? How can she give him things that she doesn’t even know herself?
My parents truly did the best that they could. Although, I’m disappointed with how some things played out. I no longer have the “why didn’t my parents” conversation in my head. I just make a note that this is a conversation, I will have with my child. I know that because my parents didn’t have the perfect childhood. They tried so hard to be perfect. Not human. They didn’t get direction so, instead of steering us, they directed us. Despite, the holiday arguments and fights. My childhood was good.
The Red Table taught me that, as with life, you make your own rules for you and your family. It also taught me that it’s important to set a tone and mandate for my family. No matter what anyone thinks. Moving forward I’m going to focus more on giving my child information I wish I had. As well as continue to do the work to heal these childhood wounds. So, I can be the best parent possible. I challenge you to do the same!