My parenting style is different from what my parents did, but I still think my parents raised me well
- I'm a comedian and content creator who recently made a video about breaking generational traditions.
- I shared that I didn't plan to force my kid to clean their plate, and many people related to this.
I am a comedian and content creator. I saw a viral video on TikTok asking people which generational curse they were breaking. In it, the creator asked viewers to share the types of parenting rules or traditions they grew up with that they planned to avoid with their own children. I felt compelled to stitch it with my own video and talk about the traditions I was breaking in my family.
As a first-time mom with a 15-month-old, I had a lot of insight to share, considering that I'm raising my child a bit differently from the way that I was raised. Here are a few house rules I've created in hopes of empowering my child. I share these with the caveat that just because they're my rules, it doesn't mean that I believe the way I do things is the way everyone should do things. I think everyone should do as they see fit when it comes to parenting.
My child doesn't have to clean their plate or eat food they don't like
My parents have pictures of me asleep at the table when I was a kid because I just couldn't eat everything on my plate. While I often didn't have the physical ability to finish the amount of food I was served, I wasn't allowed to get up from the table until my plate was clean. What I could do was lay my head down, and that's what I did.
Many people related to being forced to clean their plates as kids, and it sparked a lot of conversation on my social media. They shared in the comments how it affected their relationship with food as adults. Many people said they felt it contributed to eating disorders, overeating, and a negative relationship with food in general. I want my child to learn how to eat until they're satisfied, and I'm going to listen to them when they say they're full.
I understand that previous generations may have implemented this rule out of scarcity, but luckily, I'm privileged enough to be in a position to provide not only enough food but also enough of the things my child likes to eat. So I don't plan to force them to eat everything that's on their plate — or food they don't like.
While many parents ask their kids to give a food multiple chances to see whether they like it, I'm not going to force my kids to eat Brussels sprouts every week if that's not their thing — there are plenty of fruits and vegetables to choose from. Though I'll revisit things later on if my child is willing to try again and see whether their taste buds have changed, I won't make them eat foods they don't like.
If I buy my child clothing, there's no need to save it for special occasions
I don't want my child to feel like they have to wait for a special occasion to wear their clothing. Kids have less freedom over their schedules, and I want my child to feel like they can wear their new clothes whenever they like.
When I was growing up, my parents would take me school shopping during the summer months, and I wasn't allowed to wear any of the clothes until school started. I wanted to look cute immediately, but those clothes were off limits. I remember being so excited that I would open my closet every day and frequently change my mind about what I'd wear on the first day.
After my dad saw my TikTok video, he said to me, "If you wanted to go to school with dirty shoes, that's on you." I laughed, but the reality is, I want my child to live for today versus waiting for some special occasion to dress up or wear something they're excited about. Believing every day is a special occasion just may give them the power of enjoying the now.
There's no such thing as 'grown-folks conversation' in my home
Often in Black households, when children are around adults who are speaking and have questions, the children will be told to "stay out of grown-folks conversation." In my video, I said that this wouldn't be a rule in my home, and many people disagreed in the comments. But I believe that if I'm speaking in front of my child and they have questions, they should be allowed to ask, and it's my job to answer. And if they do ask, I'll make sure to explain it so they can understand, instead of telling them it's none of their business.
While I do believe that there are conversations children should not be a part of, these types of conversations should be saved for when kids are asleep or not around. If they are within earshot, I expect them to listen. I want my child to feel included in my life and our home together, and I plan to communicate with them about things that are going on in an age-appropriate way.
Even though I want to do some things differently from the way my parents did, I think they did a fantastic job raising me, and they lightened up about many of these things as I got older.
As a teenager, I often felt heard and even empowered at home because they listened to me. If I didn't like what my mom was making for dinner, I didn't have to eat it. I was allowed to ask questions about things they were talking about that I didn't understand. Even if I didn't get what I wanted in certain conversations, I still felt respected.
I appreciated these changes, but I wish they had started when I was younger, rather than when I was in my teens. It's my hope that the things I'm doing differently will give my child a feeling of control over their choices at a younger age.
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