Anyone with a child takes pride in showing off all the great things that makes their mini special. Whether it be posting that honor roll report card or gushing about their son making the varsity team as a freshmen, we all want to show the world the positive outcome of our parenting skills. However, there are times when we may question those skills. When you get a call from the school saying that your child was doing this, that and the third it's kind of hard not to say "oh hell nah! Not my child". And the blame game begins.
My son has been having consistent behavioral issues in school for the past 3 years. He'll start off the year on the right track but when Spring hits, it's go time. The parent-teacher conferences and suspensions are so second nature now that it doesn't even phase me anymore. I have all the necessary paperwork prepared before the school can even get it drafted. At first we thought it was because of his allergies. He breaks out really bad and we all know how cruel children can be. But this is no excuse. Most of his teachers are old school so of course they're screaming "whoop his a**", but that ain't working either. And children these days need more than just a whooping.
What I have observed from being a frequent visitor at his school is that 40% of the children in his grade level have these same issues. Majority of that number are living in a single-parent home and are trying to cope with "adult issues" at the age of nine. I know this because these children are also my neighbors. I see their dads being hauled off to jail as they prepare for school. I see mothers coping drugs on my commute to work. I see the tired grandmothers at the same conferences as me. Meanwhile, I'm reporting to my 9 to 5 faithfully yet our children share the same struggles. Where did I go wrong?
My son often blames his outburst on the absence of his father. He has mentioned this to his teachers on numerous occasions. He took the divorce the hardest out of all the children. As much I try to reassure him that we both still love him, he can't understand why daddy has to be at another house with his other siblings. Although the divorce was extremely necessary, I sometimes wonder if that event had never occurred would I be having this issue. The answer to this is always yes. That relationship afforded the opportunity for my children to witness physical and mental abuse. And I can see some of those actions manifesting themselves through my child.
So here I am at my breaking point. It's time to get uncomfortable. Counseling is necessary.
Mental health is a huge stigma in the black community. We don't talk about our emotions enough. Especially with our boys. They are taught to "man up" after their first birthday. It's already them against the world. If they don't have an outlet at home then where else can they go? I always encourage my children to talk to me. Yet, I know they don't tell me everything just on the strength of thinking they will disappoint me.
So here's to my new life. Uncomfortable conversations, being transparent on their level and eliminating all negative influences (even family) is the new normal. Protecting my children is my first priority.
We gon' be alright.