We inherited their hips and thighs, but we also carry around our mother’s complexes and insecurities. They did their best giving all they had, but sometimes the very thing we received is the thing that holds us back. Let’s discuss healthy behaviors to implement at any age for our futures and those of our daughters.
Do you recall always being told to hurry up so as not to make other people wait, whether it be for the bathroom or to eat and move on to the next agenda item? Or maybe it was constant prodding to get out of another person’s way to avoid making them uncomfortable? The flip side of this action trains a person to think that taking sufficient time to care for and be with one’s self is not necessary or essential. Continuing that behavior throughout our development dulls the profound sense that we are just as important and worthy of time, space as the people around us and produces unfair expectations that can eventually become self-deprecating behavior.
Instead, let’s teach our daughters to be as kind to themselves as they are to others and view time as a resource that they too are worthy of handling. Try saying “Take your time” and “Let me know when you finish.”
And then there is the notion that suffering must occur in silence, which has generationally been a harmful defense mechanism. There is so much evidence that speaks to the negative results of internalizing trauma including self-harming, depression, substance abuse and more. What if we made it safe for our daughters to talk freely about what or whom has made them feel small or unsafe? What if we taught them how to articulate feelings beyond being sad and mad so that nuances are not a barrier? As daughters, we may never know what our mothers and grandmothers and aunts endured to become and un-become who their traumas intended for them to be. Without that truth, fragments of who we are, as their daughters develop in that pain.
Instead, let’s establish trust with our daughters early, acknowledging what they share by listening and responding in a way that teaches them to identify and articulate their emotions and experiences. Let’s make them feel heard and encourage them to use their voice.
There has been a conversation brewing on social media about how hard it is for black mothers to apologize. Apologies after whoopings that sound like, “You wanna go to the store with me,” or “Come and eat,” left many of our 12-year-old selves theorizing cognitive dissonance without even knowing it. There were so many comments that testified to a similar experience that it begs the question, What did we learn from our mothers about managing emotions and accepting responsibility? You grow into adulthood and in retrospect, might be sympathetic to how mom coped, and simultaneously are a victim, looking for an apology that never came, or a better way to deal that you never learned. So now when you’re triggered, you throw whatever, say whatever, and act out your emotions in ways that are only fit for reality TV, apologize in your head and expect that everybody affected understand and move on. Ain’t nobody checking for that, Sis!
Instead, let’s acknowledge when our own emotions are overtaking us and avoid reactive disciplining and responses. And when/if we fail to do that, apologize sincerely to our daughters to model what a real apology is. Let’s strive to raise daughters (and sons) that don’t have to heal from their childhood and in turn heal ourselves through the love we provide.
Written by: Ashley Littles
Follow Ashley on Instagram: @moxiedmama