If I were to say that being a mom of three Black boys is easy, I would be lying. I don't see them any differently than any other kid. I am also very aware of a challenging reality ... that there are people in this world who will judge them before ever getting to know them.
My three boys are really well-behaved, compassionate, considerate, respectful, obedient, loving, and caring. They inspire me daily. I wish I only had to teach them the lessons all parents usually teach their children. It breaks my heart to feel I have to do more, and speak on other subjects that other parents don't. It is the world we live in. There are people who are angry, hateful, and don't respect people because of the color of their skin. America has history with mainstream acceptance of negative conceptions and judgments of Black people. In many ways, this has drastically improved. While this limited judgment is less tolerable, it isn't extinct. Some people feel it hasn't improved due to their awful realities and painful experiences. Because of this, my husband and I have to go the extra mile in the way we parent our three precious sons.
There are endless lessons that are important to teach them, but these three are the ones this mom has really focused on at another level.
1. You are wonderfully made.
We encourage our kids to memorize and embrace what God says about them. We want them to remember how precious they are in His eyes ... and in ours. We have times where we all sit at the table, asking the boys to name what is amazing about them, and what makes them unique.
It is important for them to know their worth, seeing there is nothing wrong with them. They have amazing and unique qualities. Building up their self-esteem is incredibly important in these years they are under our roof. I know they will question their value, and how others view them at some point in life. That is why having a foundation of extreme self-worth is critically important.
I was raised in an incredibly loving household with parents who love each other beautifully. They built up my sister and me like it was their full-time job. We were always being encouraged and praised. This is something I realized is rare, regardless of ethnic background. This definitely instilled a great confidence in me.
There were times growing up, especially in high school, I questioned my worth. I struggled with it badly. Negative racial comments, said to me by various people in the all-white, Christian school I attended, did not help. If my parents didn't make our self-worth a priority, I can't imagine where I would be. The negativity would have affected my entire life. My parents' intentionality didn't leave me super prideful and thinking I was better than everyone. I leaned on great qualities I believed about myself.
My hope and prayer for my boys is that we would build their confidence so they will never feel defeated. In whatever comes their way, they will stand strong, knowing how amazing God made them.
2. Hold to faith over fear.
Fear can literally cripple me as a mother of Black boys. It's not just stories in the news. I know tons of people that have had horrific things happen to them, due to racism, that will never make the news. I've encountered doctors, lawyers and various other professionals who have been treated horribly due to the color of their skin.
I've known numerous people that have been scared for their lives when they have been pulled over for a routine traffic stop. Not because of the news, but because they have seen some horrible things happen to people they know.
You have to understand, we don't teach our kids the police are bad. We tell them that, sadly, racists and hateful people exist in every line of work. We teach them to emotionally move past it and remain above it. It may be the sales associate in a department store watching you closely as you shop; a hiring manager that won't hire you even when you are over qualified; or a police officer that thinks you are a "thug" because you aren't wearing a suit and tie.
This type of treatment has happened for decades. History demonstrates that American institutions, including the application of government and law enforcement, was never designed for Black people to benefit. While there's been progression, this is nothing new ... systemic inequality has always existed. There are, however, many people who want it to no longer exist. People are more aware and sensitive to the effects of inequality, due in part to social media. They don't want it to continue. I am so encouraged by that. However, my boys need to know this, see it for what it's worth, and understand the progression.
Fear due to these realities is normal. We believe faith is so much better than any fear. We believe and teach our boys that God has the final say. Our prayers will be answered for these three amazing boys. We teach them to trust in the God of the universe, pray when scared, lean on Him, and share with Him every concern they have.
Fear is debilitating and gets you nowhere. I have literally been sick to my stomach about fear for when my boys go to college, rather than focusing on the stage of life we are in right now. Today, I don't need to worry about that. I can trust God for having an amazing plan for their lives. I know He will protect and keep them. I encourage my boys to do the same thing.
We are intentional with spending time as a family. We talk about hard situations, normal daily life, and the concerns they have in school, friends or home life. We listen and encourage them to always fall into their faith. To always have hope that anything can change ... that things will get better. God's will has the final say.
3. You can do ANYTHING.
The world may tell them they can only be successful if they play a professional sport or become a rapper or drug dealer. We teach them that they can actually do anything they dream of doing. We encourage them to dream, give them a variety of experiences, and imagine different ways they could use their incredible minds to make a difference in this world.
We believe if they work hard enough, remain focused and keep pushing, they will reach their dreams. Statistically it is just a fact: they will have to work twice as hard to prove themselves due to many negative stereotypes, but they can do it! Hard work will pay off. It doesn't mean anything will be easy, it doesn't mean people won't be disrespectful, or turn you down when you know you should get the job, but if you keep pushing you will make it.
My husband and I hope and pray we can build them up in the years they are under our roof to be confident in the amazing individuals God has created them to be. As a mom, I must believe the world around us will continue to improve, and racism will continue to diminish. I believe my boys will reach every goal and dream they have, and they will cross paths with people who see their potential and the amazing human beings they are. I believe these three will do big things!