The Tough Breaks of Parenting: Break the Negative Cycle

The Tough Breaks of Parenting: Break the Negative Cycle
Mural by Mary Agnes Rodriguez

 Break the Cycle  

Break the cycle of neglect, lies, fear and disrespect

Negative cycles of guilt and regret

Cycles of mental, physical, sexual abuse

Tobacco and substance use

Cycles of superstitions, and nonsense traditions

And dreams that don’t come to fruition

Cycles of crabs in the barrel

And thinking that’s narrow

Cycles of self-hate, fools that instigate

Cycle of choosing the wrong mate

Cycle of distrust of doctors and banks

Time to break the cycle of…(Fill in the blank)

Negative family cycles are hard to break. They are deeper than habits because these never ending patterns of behavior strengthen over time and pass down generations. Negative cycles can become part of the DNA of a family unit. If not broken, it will likely  put a crippling debilitating stronghold on your children and generations to come.

Here’s an example of a family’s destructive cycle that has lasted generations.

Dear Edye,

My family is color-struck. My light skinned grandmother called my mother tar baby growing up because she was very dark. So my mom married my dad who is mixed so she could have light kids. My siblings came out lighter except me. So there’s been favoritism for my siblings and my lighter daughter, but not my browner one. And now I see how I treat my daughters too – I tend to favor my chocolate daughter because of the family prejudice, and I KNOW that’s unfair to my fairer daughter. I want to break the cycle.”


Mom in the Dark

Dear Mom in the Dark,

I’m so glad you’re anxious to breaking the color struck cycle in your family. This social plague has overshadowed African-Americans and people of color throughout the world for centuries. In slavery, the lighter skinned blacks were assigned duties in the big house while the darker slaves toiled the fields.  This separation was deliberately implemented by slave owners to promote conflict and disunity among the slaves; divide and conquer. It worked. And it’s still working 150 years later -  even within families.

It’s time to break the cycle. Here are some ways to do it within your own family.

  • Tell family you will limit their time with your daughters if they continue to practice Colorism and favoritism
  • Read and discuss books with your daughters that talk positive about color and self-esteem. This can lead to conversations about family dynamics. Assure them you’ve got their backs equally and they should have each other’s backs as well. Book suggestions, “Chocolate Me” by actor Taye Diggs; "The Skin You Live In" by Michael Tyler and David Lee Csicsko; and “I Like Myself” by Karen Beauford.
  •  Remind your daughters (and yourself) how beautiful and unique they both are inside and out.
  • No favoritism, name calling or negative references to skin color, hair texture, features etc. will be tolerated by you. Be emphatic. And let your family see this through your example.
  • Remember this formula: One negative comment equals three positives. Practice that and encourage your family to do the same
  • Teach both your daughters to love the skin they’re in and treat others and each other with respect

Along a similar subject, I wrote a post about Blacks bleaching their skin on my Black Copy blog. It makes for interesting reading. Check it out:



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  • Thanks Edye for writing this powerful parenting post. For family harmony I'm just accepting the flaws of my parents/older generation in my family because we can't simply talk about things we disagree with. Voices get raised and other things get inserted in the discussion.

    But this reminds me although I can't change the negative cycle with my parents and the older generation, I should not lose hope and get tired of changing the negative cylce with my own kids.

    Our negative family cycle? People (including family members who are not wealthy) are getting treated with less respect in our family.

    Family is family. Everyone in the family should feel accepted and loved no matter how much they earn.

  • You're right, sometimes you can't change others, but you can change yourself. How you deal with other family members, wealthy or not, determines how your kids will respond. Also having a healthy discussion about it with your kids helps break the cycle because you're calling it out. It's not an unspoken evil.

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    I pursued a satisfying career in the advertising industry, served as a volunteer mentor and parent educator at my two (now grown up) sons' schools and have actually stayed happily married for over a quarter of a century. However, my most gratifying achievement was raising my sons well. I'm not saying there wasn't a little bit of hell raising going on, but you live and learn. Now I'm passing the knowledge on to you. My goal is to turn these nuggets of wisdom into reference books for parents.

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    Check out my other blogs: "Trending Over 40", An informational blog for those over 40 who find themselves social-media challenged, "Black Copy" Reflections of a veteran ad chick, You can find samples of my ad work on this site. Simply click on TV and Print tabs. Also check out my company, Hughes Who Productions We develop games and animation for casinos, marketers and educational institutions. Thank you for your interest. Blessings... Edye
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