We all want to be responsible parents. After all, that’s the job we signed up for. With that responsibility comes a legal, moral and ethical requirement that we do what we can to control our children.
Though it is an expectation of child-rearing, it also behooves us to recognize our limits and learn how to manage our children without becoming dominating or overly controlling.
As Black parents, we should always be mindful of protecting and increasing our children’s self-esteem, especially our young Black males. Unfortunately, we see more, and more of our children deemed at-risk for academic failure. At-risk is defined as failing at least one class the previous year.
Our job as Black parents is to develop young adults who can control their behavior without external motivation or short-term gratification. That requires that we teach them to manage and govern themselves.
Managing vs. Controlling Children
One aspect of management is control. Think about teachers. Classroom management requires that they assume control of the environment. Behavior management requires that they accept control of the children’s behavior in the classroom.
Teachers achieve these responsibilities by using skills. If simply telling kids to sit still and be quiet were sufficient to manage a classroom, the finesse of managing the children’s behavior in the classroom would be unnecessary.
Likewise, if parents could create mature, responsible young adults by simply telling them what to do, the job of parenting would be much simpler. Unfortunately, that is not how it works.
Teaching is complicated. Particularly when you consider that all of us have different styles of learning. Most humans learn through repetition and practice. Lots of trial and error go into success.
Teaching and Developing Children
In the realm of parenting, attempts to control a child can result in many poor outcomes.
We cannot take control of another’s behavior or emotions. Nobody can control emotions or behavior other than that person. You can’t make me happy or unhappy – though you may set up an environment that lends itself to one another.
One of the biggest problems in the Black community is that we, as adults, have failed to set up the external environment that will foster positive self-esteem and emotions in our Black children. But instead, we blame our children for the conditions of the community we as adults created.
As long as children have free will, they choose what to do, how to react, and how they feel to a large degree. But we as adults control how safe and sacred our child’s environment should be.
Teaching and managing children are more likely to result in the long-term changes that you want for the children. Allowing them to learn, choose, and accept responsibility for the results of their choices are the lessons needed to internalize both skills and confidence.
Ultimately, children need to internalize the skills to manage their behavior and emotions. Otherwise, they rely on external circumstances and control to do so.
Internal vs. External Control
It must be our goal to raise children that can manage and control themselves instead of having someone else manage, monitor., motivate and control them (Jail or Prison).
As Black parents, we must teach our children to think critically, make the best choices, learn from mistakes, and fine-tune their skills; we allow them to internalize skills necessary to be successful.
There is an old saying; an undisciplined boy becomes an undisciplined man.
Adults who lack internal control often develop addictions. In the workplace, they usually require close supervision and external motivation – either positive or negative – and frequent rewards. In relationships, they are often unreliable.
Such people often find themselves in trouble, but it is never their fault. Someone else should have, would have, or could have caused their behavior.
They take no initiative, accept no responsibility, and assume no consequences. This is a recurring, generational problem because the children sound like adults.
If we are honest, we are creating these types of Black men in our community. It is time to break the generational curses of Blaming the white man or because you’re a single parent when Black adults take responsibility for our community.
Promoting Positive Self-Esteem in Children
5 Ways to Build Confidence as Parents
Self-esteem can be very tenuous. As parents, when our children fail, it is easy to take it personally. The same principles apply to parents building confidence and children developing confidence in themselves.
Building greater confidence and self-esteem takes practice. But, the results are well worth the time and effort. Stronger confidence benefits you in every area of your life.
Using these strategies will help you and your children develop greater confidence and self-esteem:
- Learn from mistakes and failures. It’s okay to fail. Failing is part of the learning process. This improves decision-making skills and enables one to think through the long-term results of their choices and accept feedback about their mistakes without feeling like a personal failure.
Parents are also learning something new with each child. The process is the same – you learn from mistakes and failures.
- See mistakes and failures as tools for success. Confidence comes from learning to trust our instincts, skills, and abilities. It is gained over time through both success and failure. It requires taking risks and dealing with consequences.
The more skilled our children become in making the right choices, the more confident they become.
If you regularly use mistakes as a tool for success, when your kids fail or miscalculate, they learn that the thinking or process was faulty, not the person. The same applies to you as a parent.
- Never stop learning. Parents are teachers. Your job is to prepare your child to be a successful young adult. It starts on day one and never ends. You are not always going to get it right – nobody does.
Like your child, you learn as you do things and improve as you learn. Chances are that you’ll feel inadequate at times and make mistakes.
Own it. Be open about your mistakes and talk to your child about the lessons learned. They will benefit as much from your candid discussions as you do.
- Think positive thoughts about yourself. Your behavior and how you treat yourself are what your child absorbs. If you struggle with low self-esteem, you must get help with that. Seek out a therapist if you need to.
If you stand in front of the mirror making negative comments about your body, berate yourself when you make a mistake, or judge others when they don’t meet your standards, your child will do the same.
- Learn to let it go. Move forward after you discuss lessons learned – yours and your child’s. It is information that you will use to calculate choices in the future.
If you dwell on it or label yourself, your child will do the same. “I made a mistake” can become “I am a mistake” if internalized. Get help if you need it. Perfectionism leads to additional challenges that neither of you needs.
Practice these techniques daily with your children.
The more you practice, the easier these behaviors become. Once they become a habit, you and your children are on the path to having an automatic process that supports greater confidence and self-esteem each day.
Damon K. Jones
Damon K. Jones is an Activist, Author, and Publisher of Black Westchester Magazine, a Black-owned and operated newspaper based in Westchester County, New York.
Mr. Jones is a Spiritual Life Coach, Couples and Family Therapy Coach, Holistic Health Practitioner, First Aid in Mental Health Practioner, Diet and Nutrition Advisor, and Vegan, Vegetarian Nutrition Life Coach.
Mr. Jones is a 32-year Law Enforcement Practioner New York Representative of Blacks in Law Enforcement of America.
Mr. Jones has been a guest commentator on New York radio stations WBLS (107.5 FM), WLIB (1190 am), WRKS (98.7 FM), WBAI (99.5 FM), and Westchester's WVOX (1460 am). Mr. Jones has appeared on local television broadcasts, including Westchester News 12 "News Makers" and Public Television "Winbrook Pride. You can now hear Damon every Wednesday at 830 AM on WFAS at 1230 AM, Morning with Bob Marone Show.