By Sherri Kolade | Michigan Chronicle | Word In Black
(WIB) – When it comes to healing as a parent, the inner work of moving toward a path of emotional strength first is no child’s play.
If a plane loses oxygens, passengers know to put on their safety masks first, then help their neighbor. The idea is no different with getting one’s mental health in order (especially as a parent) then finding a way to help their own children when needed.
From navigating dysfunction and living in unhealthy environments, parents can take a beating from work and relationships and unintentionally take out their frustration on the most vulnerable: their own children.
Countless articles can be found on the internet about “healing from toxic parents” or “angry parents” with adult children trying to find solutions on how to deal with their mothers and fathers who remain unhealed.
According to healthline.com, “toxic parents” are ones who usually act out in ways that “cause guilt, fear or obligation in their children.”
Stemming from repeated patterns and behavior, their actions can ultimately “negatively shape their child’s life.”
Dr. Sabrina Jackson, a local motivational speaker, told the Michigan Chronicle previously that in the Black community broken and estranged parent-child relationships can often result in distant daughters and coddled sons, especially stemming from Black mothers.
Jackson said that centuries ago, a speech by a white slave owner, Willie Lynch, called the Willie Lynch letter, instructed other slave owners how to keep slaves in line through brutal, divisive tactics that would control them mentally for hundreds of years. Jackson added that Willie Lynch would show masters how to break the spirit of enslaved men and enslaved women would learn to protect their sons and their men, subsequently teaching their daughters how to be strong.
“Many of those things we still do today,” Jackson said adding that DNA has a memory.
Being a present parent, which takes work and healing after being mentally absent, is defined as parents providing their children with undivided attention so that they are tuned into their child’s mind and body, according to thisnthatparenting.com.
“This is quality time you spend with your child, so they know they are loved, valued, seen and heard,” according to the article.
Metro Detroit resident Malaysia Black knows especially about quality time after facing tremendous trials in a custody battle over her children.
In January 2020, Black’s husband told her she would never see her two young daughters again – he had taken them and fled to Florida. She wanted a divorce because her husband was abusive, but the kidnapping was an unanticipated predicament.
Black told the Michigan Chronicle that she reached out to different legal assistance centers and lawyers, but no one would help her without an upfront fee, which she didn’t have. On top of everything, she was dealing with significant health issues including diabetes, lupus and cancer. Some days she could not move from her bed – but she persisted.
Once she found and received free help from the William Booth Legal Aid Clinic in June 2021, her situation changed. Her daughters, now five and seven, were finally back in her arms in December 2021.
“Jesus is the answer to everything,” she said.
Black added that receiving counseling was helpful too as she navigated from a negative space into a positive one.
She added that not only did God open doors to help her experience miracles in getting her daughters back, she even learned how to parent them after her traumatic divorce, which her children were healed from, too.
“My oldest daughter – she’s very helpful and loving, just like me, and my youngest is so humorous,”
She encourages others to find healing as a parent, too.
Cameo King, advocate for women and girls and founder of Lansing-based non-profit organization, Grit, Glam, and Guts, which helps 12-17-year-old girls, told the Michigan Chronicle previously that she assists women (including daughters and mothers) to heal themselves in their relationships.
“I consider myself an advocate for women and girls and centering experiences for Black women and girls,” King said. “If you aren’t being who you are, who you were called to be … you are living in a state of denial and that affects relationships, how you show up at work and that eats away with who you are.”