3. HONOR YOUR AGREEMENTS VS. OBEYING AUTHORITY
Like many of you, I don’t want to raise a child who is blindly obedient to a society or a situation that oppresses her spirit. I don’t want to raise a child who feels it is wrong to question or speak her mind. I want to raise a child that honors her word and herself, who respects the needs of others, and is effective in the world. As children of the Diaspora, we have trauma in our communities due to generations of systematic oppression. We have been programmed to be obedient as a way to stay alive. How many Caribbean children truly walk this world with the privilege of feeling like this world belongs to them? That those in power only have power because they “the people” have agreed to give it to them?
This summer, my daughter helped teach me a very valuable lesson around how unknowingly we program our children to be obedient to authority. My daughter is a “tween” and like many tweens she has her moments where she can be very sassy to adults — it’s not cute. As her mother, I know this will push people away and I want to nip it in the bud. So I decided we need to sit down and talk about changing her tone. Her response was: “Mom – you say we’re both equals… If we’re both equal why do I have to do what you say?”
Now, I do believe that all humans are equal but as a mom my first reaction was to shut her down and simply tell her who was in charge… but I caught myself. She really was trying to understand why she needed to be obedient to someone else, and not just what her spirit wanted to do. She was right… why does she HAVE to do what I say?
This raised the question for me “How can I have her follow my guidance without it being an issue of obeying authority?” Then it hit me. I told her: “Yes, our spirits are equal” and went on to explain that we had made an agreement for me to be her mother and her to be my daughter. Under this agreement she gave me the responsibility of taking care of her. If she would like that FULL responsibility of taking care of herself, I would give it to her, but, if not, then she needed to honor our agreement and have faith in my guidance.