As Duce gets older, I continue to be in awe of how amazing he is and how God showed out when He CREATED, HEALED and BLESSED him into this world! At 4.5 years old he is very opinionated, charismatic, brave, funny, intelligent and assertive in expressing his wants, needs and dislikes. With that comes a slew of things that spill out of his mouth that WOW and crack Brandon and me up. From dinosaur names and facts, to elaborate stories we’re now publishing, to the countless Fozzy inspired jokes he graces us with and demands our laughter, to him expressing his unhappiness with our decisions that spark big feelings from him sometimes…We smile and laugh because of the genius that we believe he truly is in being able to form sentences and thoughts with such great context. But also, because this was a child that didn’t start fully talking until he was 2 years and 3 months. And now we can’t get him to stop talking and have coined some of his phrases, along with just simply shaking our heads thinking, “Duce says the darndest things.”
As I marvel at his intelligence, poise, confidence and assertion, I cannot help but reflect back on my own childhood. I too was very vocal and assertive in my feelings, but like many children in African American homes, I was silenced with coined sayings like:
”You are to be seen and not heard…
“Speak when spoken to…”
“Watch your mouth…” and so forth.
I think we all can understand why our parents said these things, but we also have to be honest and admit that they weren’t empowering and uplifting words that supported us growing into whole mentally healthy and confident people. These commands ultimately silenced me and I struggled to find my own voice, and if I can be honest, I am still working towards that as a 33 year old adult-finding and using my voice, instead of suffering in silence, going with the flow, or not advocating for my own needs. All things I don’t want my children to experience in their adult life let alone as children. We as parents, consciously parenting our children, breaking generational trauma, have to be careful that we are not muting or overly censoring our children who are only beginning to discover their voice in a world that already tries to silence them with lies, injustices and bondage.
The Bible reminds us that the tongue, though small, is full of great things. (James 3:5). And Proverbs 15:4, is even sweeter as it reminds me of the gentle and honest tongue of children, who in innocence and honesty may tell us things we don’t want to hear, but need to in order to grow as parents and protectors of our children. Just as so, we as parents are to think before we speak, careful not to wreck our children’s spirit and silence them before they ever truly find their voice.
So the next time your child tells you that they don’t like something you said or did, or tell you what they don’t want to do…instead of getting angry, frustrated and yelling or even leaning towards some form of punishment, STOP. Take a deep breath, check your emotions and then explore. Ask yourself why your child said what they said. Some of the times you will be able to answer that question, while others will call for you to be BIG and BRAVE and ask your child, “Why do they feel that way? Why did they say that? What did they mean by it? What is it that they want to do? YES…QUESTIONS! Follow Up Questions. Instead of allowing your triggers to dictate how you parent your child, sit with them, ask questions and teach in the moment to the behavior, words and actions you would like to see. But most importantly, PRAISE and SUPPORT them in even feeling BOLD and BRAVE enough to share how they truly feel. It is a testament to your parenting, and most importantly the security you provide for them to be able to say how they feel and not be worried about the consequences that may follow because your ego or triggers were tapped.
Don’t worry, I’m preaching to the choir. I know that my triggers are the snarky comments, but instead of following up with “you have a smart mouth…watch your mouth” or wanting to pop my son in the mouth (DEFINITE NO), I choose to laugh, reflect on what he said, and ASK QUESTIONS.
We are all striving to be better. To give our children better lives than we had, to break generational trauma. The most important thing you can give a child is an environment that is safe and secure, which allows them to be themselves and discover their voice.
How are you encouraging your child to embrace their voice? How are you checking yourself and your triggers at the door as a parent or caregiver? Share in the comments!👇🏾💬
~Soli deo Gloria💜
Copyright © 2021 by Da’Quisha Whitaker
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the writer.
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