Parental resilience: Parents of Black children

February 24, 2021

By Dianna Robinson, Public Awareness Communications Specialist, CDHS Office of Children, Youth and Families

This Black History Month, we are commending and acknowledging parents of Black children for their resiliency. 

Throughout history, parents of Black children have been tasked with an extra set of challenges while raising their children in an unjust world. Whether it be the discussions amongst parents and their Black children about using the allowable restrooms and water fountains during segregation, having to ride public transportation and explain to their child why they were only allowed to sit in the back of the bus and be prepared to give up their seat should a white person need it or simply how to conduct themselves when interacting with police officers - parents of Black children have had to parent through a different lens. 

Parent conversations with Black children

The conversations about getting back home safely and handling interactions with law enforcement have become vital for parents and their Black children. While many parents have expressed sadness and anger that these conversations are necessary, they understand the importance of the conversations. 

Ensuring that Black children are aware of the extra layer of challenges they may face due to the toxic nature of racism prevalent in today’s society has been a priority for many parents.

Rozalynn S. Frazier shared the thoughts of Black parents recently in the October issue of Self Magazine. The entire article is worth reading, but the quotes below stand out.

“We have stepped up, letting her know that police brutality isn’t new, and we didn’t come to this problem in 2020.” —April P., 42, mother of two daughters, 10 and 5

“A hard lesson is teaching a young child that, ‘Yes, your classmate may do X…but the reaction may be different if you do it.’” —Lynn J., 47, mother of a 15-year-old son and a 13-year-old daughter

“It is always in the back of my mind that one of my kids is going to get into an altercation with someone, and in particular law enforcement.” —Ernesto

“I speak to my son about his interactions with white people, mainly the police. I speak to my daughter more about being aware of her surroundings. I don’t want them to be surprised later and learn the hard way. I am thankful that they see me and their dad have healthy relationships with white friends and colleagues. It helps them see that we are not talking about all white people.” —Daria V., 42, mother of a 12-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter

Resilience

The mistreatment and oppression of Black people throughout history has played a major role in the adversity that has come with a positive antidote - resilience.

Resilience is the ability to manage stress and function well while faced with challenges and adversity. It is not a personality trait but a learned ability that comes with experience. 

Resilience is one of 5 very important factors that all parents must lean on to parent effectively. The more protective factors that a family has, the more likely they are to thrive and to be resilient in the face of adversity. 

The challenges and adversity that Black children face can look vastly different than what other children may experience - hence the need for Black parents to not only be resilient but also help protect their children by fostering that resilience.


 

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