“Speak to your children as if they are the wisest, kindest, most beautiful and magical humans on earth, for what they believe is what they will become.” -Brooke Hampton
When I first found out I was pregnant, I experienced a range of emotions including excitement, nervousness, motivation, etc. For many reasons, I knew that this would be the single most important job and one of my favorite accomplishments. I was especially elated to be having a little boy. In my culture, raising a little black boy in this society is no small feat. From day one, I made sure he knew how it felt to be loved, confident, joyful, and intelligent. Speaking positive affirmations over him would ensure that someday he would have the courage to be a leader. I want him to know that he will make a significant and positive impact on all those who encounter him.
Our voice in our children’s lives
As a mother, the bond you have with your child is unique and powerful. Your voice is the first they hear, one that is unique to your special bond, and one they will always recognize. It’s imperative that we use that voice and the power of affirmations to implant knowledge, love, and positivity.
One of my favorite memories of my pregnancy is decorating the nursery, or “nesting”. This was my way of creating a special place of tranquility and comfort for my unborn black son. The nursery was a place where I could control the narrative. I wanted to create a narrative opposite of what the world has portrayed them to be; the opposite of negativity, violent, uneducated, and invaluable.
Creating a safe place for my baby
I filled the room with warm blankets, a beautiful custom crib, inspiring quotes, and Bible verses. As a gift, one of my best friends purchased the “Hey Black Child” poem written by Useni Eugene Perkins. This poem was strategically placed between his crib and changing table, as I wanted him to look up and see those powerful words. He would have them ingrained in his mind as a reminder of how special and remarkable he truly is. It came to be a poem that we read almost daily, and one that he would eventually memorized.
I’m not sure when it happened (probably somewhere around a year old or so), but he began to point to this poem and indicate that he wanted to hear the words. Somehow he knew that it made him feel good. Maybe it was my tone or the synchronous joy we shared through our smiles while reading it. I see this same smile when he has mastered a new skill or when he is playing with his cars, running around at the park, riding his scooter, or playing with friends.
Intentional positive affirmations
I know in their lifetime, most of our children will hear “Good job” or “You did it! These are wonderful words of affirmation, but I try to be more specific and intentional in my words. Some of my favorites include: “You can do hard things” when he is trying or learning a new skill or activity. When he is talking a mile a minute about what he sees or what he hears, I tell him “You are so observant” (even if it’s the crack of dawn). When he is moving through an activity with ease or demonstrating a skill that he has mastered, I tell him, “You’re so good at that.”
It’s a devastating and an unfortunate reality that as a black boy raised in this society, he will experience injustice, inequality, and hatred. In those times, I hope and pray that those sentiments of love, joy, confidence will be too ingrained to ignore. Over time, I hope that the happy feelings I am working diligently to create will remain with him for his lifetime.
Do you practice positive affirmations with your children?