It is still August and we are still Unlearning here on Budding Regardless and on today’s episode I collaborated with my super cool mother on What Black Parents Need to Unlearn. If you missed out on the previous episodes of this series you can check them out whenever you get a chance – Episode 1 and Episode 2.
Why did I decide to tackle things specifically ‘black’ parents need to unlearn? Mainly because it is black parents who struggle a lot with letting the past go and letting their children be themselves completely. Black parents seem to find it slightly difficult to understand that their children are living in a totally different era than them and in as much as it was a mission once upon a time, I have finally gotten my mother to understand this and it as made my life so much easier and ‘free’.
I asked my mother to help me put together this post and these are the points that we came up with that other black parents should unlearn…
• Criticizing what their children want to study
Normally, parents have this tendency of wanting to decide for their children what they should be studying and this hinders their children from making their own decisions and results in them living their lives based on what their parents want. A parent is reluctant to be supportive if their child says they would like to study something like Music when they had planned to take them to Medical school and they don’t seem to want to understand why their child would want to take a gap year after high school.
• Certain things are for white people
Black parents have this thing of assuming that some activities or actions are purely made for white people, some even refer to depression as ‘isifo sabelungu’ (a white-people illness) and it is this kind of mentality that holds black people back from seeking help when needed. Ballet is known as a white-people activity, alongside camping, letting dogs live inside the house, introducing your partner to you parents, etc…
• Expecting their children to their lives like they did
Parents expect their children to dress like they did back in their days, meanwhile times have changed drastically from then and now – in this day and age even wearing just a shirt acceptable and in fashion. Also, black parents tend to worry about their children speaking too much English and conclude that they are completely forgetting their roots and culture.
• Forcing children to believe in what they believe in
It is natural for a parent to introduce their children into their religion from a young age but as children grow up, they are exposed to a whole lot of other religions which might spark their interest. Forcing a child to commit themselves into your religion only pushes them away, instead of doing so, be understanding and make them understand that you are doing what you think is best for them.
• Choosing who their children should associate themselves with
Parents can spot pretentious friends quicker than their children can and that is acceptable but encouraging them to associate themselves with children that are on their ‘level’ money-wise isn’t recommendable. Children should be able to mingle with anyone despite their background, what they have and what they don’t have.
• Not being open to their children
Children have been finding it so hard to speak to their parents about anything that is bothering them because they fear being judged and shouted at. This problem leads to things such as depression and even when parents notice that their child isn’t okay, they still do not ask anything about it. Being open and friendly to children helps them speak out about what they are going through or what is worrying them.
• Not apologizing when they are wrong
Black parents always seem to assume that they are always right merely because they are older but that is not always the case. In some cases, parents even shout at their children when they speak up about something and refuse to hear their children out. Not apologising when they can clearly see that they are wrong breaks the bond they have with their children without them even noticing.
• Not raising kids equally
Boys and girls, should share house chores. Both should be able to cook and do the garden too, children should be taught how to be completely independent from a young age. You find that when a boy grows up, he claims to be a man even if he can’t cook and what makes a girl a ‘woman’ is if she can cook – this needs to be unlearned.
• Thinking that marriage is the ultimate goal
Parents tend to put a lot of unnecessary pressure on their children as they grow up and approach their late 20s by asking them when they are getting married and starting a family. It is not everyone’s goal to get married and even those who do want to get married or start a family will do so when they decide that they are ready.