My son is at a pivotal point in his life; 13 years old. Reality hit me that he is now forming his own opinion about himself and that I have to learn to trust my son and to give him the freedom to do that.
I often ask myself “what do I want for my son’s future?” Do I want him to be a mini me or do I want to raise a man who can be a free thinker and a positive influence in his community? How do I keep him safe yet allow him the freedom to be an African American male child? Daily, these questions weigh heavy on my mind but I realize that I must do what I as a mother have instilled in him, and trust God.
Because of fear, I would daily bombard my son prior to going outside to play with his friends, with all the do’s and don’t’s of looking suspicious. I told him to always rush home if anyone made him feel uncomfortable or if his friends decided to make bad choices in the neighborhood.
One day, as he was getting ready to play basketball in the neighborhood, he told me I was stressing him out. He actually said he felt like I didn’t trust him to be a good kid.
After he walked out the door, I cried. I couldn’t believe that I was having the same conversations with my son in 2016 that my grandmother had with my uncles when they were teenagers. I cried for all the African American boys and men who lost their lives at the hands of people who feared them for no other reason than the fact that they had the brown skin they were given by our Creator. I cried for the mothers who buried their sons way too early. I cried for my son.
I eventually pulled myself together and prayed earnestly. I prayed for not only my son but for all of my friends’ and family members’ sons and my son’s friends. I prayed for the people who have negative thoughts and the hatred towards our brown skin.
Lastly, I prayed for myself to learn to TRUST my son.
Do you fear for the safety of your children? Have you talked candidly about your fears with your children?