Meet the Mother Helping Black Parents Understand Conscious Parenting
“Liberated children are our ancestor’s wildest dreams.”
Yolanda Williams wants to raise her daughter in a completely different environment than she was raised in.
In Long Beach, California, Williams was raised to be obedient and compliant, to not challenge the status quo, and to show “good” emotions. Anything else was disrespectful and punished severely.
Now the 40-year-old mother living in North Little Rock, Arkansas, is helping the community as a racial justice educator and positive discipline coach at Parenting Decolonized, empowering parents with tools to decolonize their mindsets, form deeper relationships with their children and raise the next generation of emotionally-well, liberated, free-thinkers.
Parenting Decolonized began as a podcast where Williams explored how colonization and enslavement have impacted the Black family. Today, Parenting Decolonized has grown into a social movement that recognizes the underlying systems that keep people stuck in toxic patterns which make conscious parenting difficult.
Black parents have been socialized to see punishment as the only means of compliance, and compliance is what has kept generations of Black children alive amidst racialized terror and oppressive systems.
About 66% of American parents believe that spanking their children is sometimes necessary to discipline a child.
“Oppressed become oppressor,” Williams said. “Some of it out of fear for our children’s lives, some of it out of a sense of powerlessness we feel in everyday life. Many of us cannot see any other way and we’ve been told by the punitive systems we all live in, that Black bodies need violence to learn.”
According to a recent study, corporal punishment has been linked to the development of mental issues, anxiety, depression, behavioral problems, and substance use disorders.
“It’s my belief that if we decolonize our parenting and practice conscious parenting, we’ll raise generations of liberated, emotionally well, Black children who will fight back against and ultimately help dismantle oppressive systems,” said Williams.
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After reading “Brain Rules for Babies” and how spanking stunts development, Williams went searching for more information on how physical punishments affect a child’s growth. She came across the book “Spare the Child” by author Dr. Patton and after reading it, she was determined to become a conscious parent for her 3-year-old daughter Gia.
“This meant no physical punishments, no punitive punishments like time-out, no respectability politics, and surrounding [Gia] with cultural images and messages to build her up from the inside out,” said Williams.
The single mother decided to educate herself and get certified as a coach when she saw that there weren’t many Black parent coaches. She now helps other parents with tools and techniques for conscious parenting.
“How parents handle their emotions, unhealed trauma, triggers, and how they respond to their children’s age-appropriate behavior,” Williams said.
She added the best thing a person can do to begin the conscious parenting journey is to start investigating and learning about themselves. Understanding yourself can help you see the work you need to do to your mindset to be able to adopt conscious parenting as a lifestyle.
Williams sees oppressive parenting and educational practices in several ways: Not giving children bodily autonomy or the right to express anger without consequences, adults abusing their power to withhold affection or attention as punishment, and adults not taking the time to figure out the ‘why’ underneath the behavior, only reacting after the fact to the behavior, then punishing that behavior.
“It strips children of their voice, of their spirit, and creates compliant and obedient tiny adults who are not able to fully be themselves,” said Williams “When you can see your child as equal to you and deserving the same amount of respect is when everything shifts.”
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Starting Friday, Williams will be hosting an upcoming conference called “Conscious Parenting for Social Justice: A collective reimaging for a liberated future.”
The three-day virtual event will help parents investigate how mainstream parenting and traditional educational practices maintain racial dominance and control with reimagined societies that are free of punitive norms by providing practical ways to utilize abolitionist thinking in schools and homes.
To find out more about the conference and purchase tickets, visit the event’s page on Parenting Decolonized’s website.