"I was spanked and I turned out just fine" is a statement, and a lie, that will forever live in the echo chambers of every comment section on a gentle/conscious/positive parenting post.
To echo Mama Bennett, "I don't want my children to be just fine, I want them to be amazing!" If we want our children to "be better than us", we have to parent better than we were, or at least finish the race that our parents started if we were consciously raised. Why do we, especially black people, settle for being "just fine"? Why do we want to do the bare minimum in our parenting while expecting complete excellence from our children?
Our ancestors didn't fight for our freedom just so that we could survive. They survived so that we could thrive.
I ask you these questions because they are questions that I asked myself. Introspection is needed if we are going to grow. In being introspective I had to realize, though my parents raised me in the best way they knew how and even though they broke so many generational curses within their parenting of me, there were still many blind spots that I had. I was thriving academically, no complaints from my teachers, but I was suffering relationally (friends and romantic interests). I felt like I was just barely getting by in my friendships; I was merely surviving. I see now, looking back and just dealing with other adults, too. And why? Why are we just surviving? Why aren't we thriving? It starts with how we were parented.
You may have been parented by or be parenting for survival if you are:
consistently being "not nice" because "the world isn't nice".
not allowing space for explanation of your choices.
not allowing your child to make choices.
shaming your child for making mistakes.
overreacting when mistakes are made.
controlling their expression of their feelings.
using manipulative tactics to get them to change their behavior.
punishing your children for being honest.
If you were raised by parents who just wanted to make sure you survived until adulthood, how can we continue to say we are just fine when we are 30+ and just learning to:
set boundaries with people
not be easily manipulated and/or not manipulate others
be okay with being told no and not overstepping other people's boundaries
make logical decisions instead of full fledged emotional/irrational decisions.
prioritize people and activities
saying no and not being afraid of someone's reaction
hearing criticism and not blowing up in a fit of rage
feeling confident about telling someone how you feel
problem solve and resolve conflict peacefully
be understanding and sensitive to other people we love/empathetic
break away from the toxic cycles of bad relationships
letting people use us because they say they love us
I could literally go on but the blog would never end. It's time that we, men and women alike, get serious, get real, and admit that we are not just fine, and that's okay. With real introspection, help from a therapist, and putting in the work we can be fine. We can get to a place where our head isn't just barely above water. We can be more than just fine.
Thrive means to grow or develop well or vigorously, to prosper and flourish! Survival means to exist or be alive in spite of accidents or difficult circumstances.
So understand, survival is no small victory! It's a big one. It's an important one. It shows that you have fight and purpose. You survived. That's something to be proud of.
But now that you've survived, it's time to acknowledge those accidents, those mistakes, those difficult circumstances hurt you. Left a negative imprint in your mind, on your heart, and your soul. You deserve to live a full and healthy as possible life. Your children deserve to see you happy and healthy. Your spouse, your coworkers, and your friends deserve to experience you at your best self.
I am in no way insinuating that we will heal centuries of generational trauma through our short years of parenting, but I am saying that we can put in real work to help each generation become better than the one before. When we want our children to thrive, we:
allow them to be who they are.
we create healthy and logical boundaries.
we give our children room to create boundaries with us and others.
we listen to their truth without chastisement. Instead we use them as teachable moments.
respect their autonomy.
present them with opportunities to learn new things and gain new interest.
are often (not always) collaborative in our communication/decision making.
Remember these differences as you go on to raise your babies. Do you want them to be "just fine"? Or do you want them to be amazing? If so, check out these resources to get started: