Whether back in the day or in today’s current climate, Black parenthood can be incredibly taxing. As much as our children are front and center, it takes a community to raise our Black youth. Always has, always will. That’s why, this week on the Dear Culture podcast, our lovely hosts Shana Pinnock and Gerren Keith Gaynor ask the question: “Dear Culture, how does your childhood village shaped you as the adult you are today?”
Each generation is different when raising Black children in America, but one constant is the intergenerational “we got to work twice as hard” speech every Black parent divulges to their kid. Gaynor looks back at his childhood and recalls having to immediately do his homework before doing any activity. For him, the twice as hard speech manifested in “being good in academics,” and getting exceptional grades at school.
“It’s something that has a lot of pros and cons. Pros, you are always aiming to do better. But definitely con, it permeates beyond your childhood,” says Pinnock.
And it’s true, the burden of Black excellence is real. Pinnock notes that because of said rearing, many Black folks, including herself, go through multiple stages of imposter syndrome at times. To those who don’t know what imposter syndrome is, it’s doubting one’s abilities and talents—which often happens to high achieving people.
“It doesn’t really foster the positive affirmations we think it does,” says Gaynor.
The Brooklyn native advises us to avoid imposter syndrome and unnecessary burdens onto children, instead giving specific compliments that matter. Generalizations can sometimes promote perfectionism into children, creating a feedback loop of feeling like a fraud, the hosts argue.
“Things you don’t mean to cause harm to your children, if you don’t encourage them properly. It can have long lasting effects,” says Gaynor.
Both Pinnock and Gaynor can remember instances that impacted their childhood immensely whilst their parents don’t recall such critical moments. The message our hosts are sending is that each moment in childhood matters. And they call on all parents to remember that their child is their own and encouragement is always key to better understanding.
Tune in Dear Culture, the smart and reliable Black news podcast, now streaming on Apple Podcast, Spotify, and Stitcher.
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