Dear Mama: Maybe You Should Try Being One Of My "Little Friends"
It’s like a Black mothers right of passage. Have a daughter and constantly remind them that you aren’t one of their little friends.
My daughter has been telling me that I am her “best friend” since she was 3 years old and for a while I would tell her that I am not her friend, I am her mother. What I didn’t realize was that by telling her this, I was sending a message and laying down the foundation for her to “keep” things from me. It didn’t hit me until she about 6 years old and something was going on with her and I, being the caring mother that I am, wanted her to talk to me but she wouldn’t. She wasn't comfortable talking to me about what was going on with her because I had repeatedly told her that she could not do or say certain things to me.
I was floored and it was at that moment that I realized the error in the ways that I was teaching her. I fixed that problem and now she tells me everything. Too much sometimes, but I’ll take her telling me too much over nothing at all.
Every adult Black woman has a similar story of their mother repeatedly reminding them that they weren’t one of their “little friends”.
It’s like a Black mothers right of passage. Have a daughter and constantly remind them that you aren’t one of their little friends. When you tell a child that “I am not one of your little friends” what you are essentially saying to that child is that you cannot come and talk to me about anything that you would talk to your friends about. This may not seem like a big deal when they are younger, but as they begin to grow and experience more they will need someone to talk to. So they will go looking for someone to talk to and it won’t be you, because you have already laid out the foundation that you cannot be “talked to”.
Stop planting that seed in your child’s head that you are not someone that they can come to. Mothers are the first point of contact for your child. They learn how to bond from you. They learn how to communicate from you. This is why the first few years of a child’s life are the more important years (according to doctors) because it during this time that children learn how to “relate” to others.
You are their first example of how people are supposed to interact and relate to others. You are their example. You ARE your child’s first friend. Respect aside, there shouldn’t be anything that your child can not come and talk to you about.
As a parent, you should be openly willing and ready to discuss these things with your child. This includes sex, drugs, body issues, boys, girls, gender, sexuality, etc. If you are uncomfortable having these discussions with your child then you need to figure a way to do it. Before one of these kids who don’t have anyone to teach or guide them in the right direction gets ahold of your child.
When I was a teenager, there were things that I wish I could talk to my mom or grandmother about but felt as though I couldn’t because they weren’t one of my “little friends”. As a result, I had no choice but to learn through unnecessary trial and error usually at the advice or suggestion of a friend who didn’t know a much of anything either. We were literally all just winging it. I had no one to talk to because it had been ingrained in me that as a “child” I simply could not talk to “adults” because they were not my friend. In today’s social climate, it is no longer acceptable nor is it responsible to leave certain talks out of the jar of dinner table discussions.
Simply “not knowing” can be the difference between your daughter coming home and you sending your daughter on “home”. It is TOTALLY possible to parent and still maintain/nurture a friendship with your kids. Despite what Big Mama and Aunt Shirleen says.
Matter of fact, don’t even listen to Aunt Shirleen, her kids don’t like her and haven’t been to a family Christmas gathering in 5 years. Two of them been in and out of jail since they were 15. One grew up to be an Israelite and the youngest just hates the world.
Don't listen to Aunt Shirleen. Be your child’s friend.