Parenting, Advice, Family, Racism

Parenting, Advice

Dear Care and Feeding: How Do I Parent Through Depression?

Parenting advice on mental illness, racism, and vacationing in a COVID world.

4/14/2021 1:58:00 PM

I try to close myself off in my room to cry away from my kids, but sometimes my sobbing lasts for hours.

Parenting advice on mental illness, racism, and vacationing in a COVID world.

Dear Care and Feeding,I have an eight-year-old daughter who has terrible coping skills. Whenever I ask her to complete simple chores like straightening up our shoes or cleaning up the toys in the living room, she has a complete meltdown. Tonight she broke a plastic cup that she got from a trip to the zoo. She cried so hard it was like someone died. Sometimes she takes out her anger over silly things on her four-year-old sister. She will stomp down the hall and bang on the wall. She will scream that she is an idiot and is stupid. Her father and I are so over the crying and temper tantrums. She never had them as a toddler, and they are getting worse and worse. We try to stay calm and talk her down. We send her to her room. But eventually we get angry and start to yell. I know I am supposed to acknowledge that her emotions are okay, that it’s okay to be mad and sad, and I try to coach her through it. I’m just tired of doing it. Does she need to see a counselor or something? Her teachers say she is well behaved in school. She is mostly compliant, doesn’t cry, and does her work. What is going on? What should we do?

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Advertisement—Tired of the Crying in BuffaloDear Tired,Oh, man—I know what it’s like to raise kids with big emotions, so I can definitely empathize with you. I coach my daughter’s basketball team, and when she was 6, I gave her some simple coaching feedback on something she did incorrectly. I didn’t raise my voice or disrespect her—but she decided to stand in the middle of the court with her arms folded refusing to move as if to give me her version of double middle-fingers. I had to call a timeout and carry her off the court while she was crying, kicking, and screaming. Every parent in the gym looked at us as if we were both insane.

AdvertisementI share that story to tell you that you’re not alone, and both of my girls have dealt with tantrums over things that aren’t a big deal. I also want to tell you that each of my daughters grew out of that type of behavior on their own. Children are generally trying to navigate their way through their feelings as best they can. Eventually they evolve and realize they can’t go through life that way. In both of my daughters’ cases, all it took was their peers to ridicule their antics, and it stopped pretty quickly. No kid wants to look foolish in front of her friends.

AdvertisementWhat concerns me in your daughter’s case is the negative self-talk and anger. If you’ve read my column before, you know how much I believe in the power of therapy, and it certainly looks like she is a prime candidate for professional help. This should probably be your top priority. Once the root cause is revealed, you can devise a plan to assist her—but like I said, I’m confident that she’ll grow out of it.

AdvertisementThe one bit of feedback I’d give you is to keep your own anger in check, no matter how frustrated you get. The main reason is because it won’t help any of you.Dear Care and Feeding,I’m white, and I live in a very conservative and Red town, but thankfully my white 14-year-old son doesn’t subscribe to the racism that’s all around our area. He constantly stands up for minority communities and fights for equality as if his life depends on it. The problem is that my brother moved into the area a few months ago, and he is by all accounts a racist. He recently told my son that being anti-racist is a code-phrase to mean anti-white, and that my son is just promoting reverse-racism. He also told my son that he needs counseling because he “obviously hates himself” in order to take part in a such a thing. Normally my son is unflappable in his beliefs, but he’s starting to back off on his anti-racism efforts. I know this is because of my brother/his uncle. He loves my uncle very much, and they share a lot of similar interests (other than racism/anti-racism). How can I get my son back on track to being an ally for minority groups while not messing up his relationship with my brother?

—Dealing with a Racist UncleDear Dealing,Sorry, but I chuckled when I first read this. Does every white person in America have a racist uncle? Maybe not, but it certainly seems that way. Anyway, there’s a lot to unpack here.Do you want to know what Bigfoot, a 3-dollar bill, and reverse-racism have in common? They don’t exist.

I define racism as a political, economic, or social system in which a dominant race uses its power to oppress others of different races. Spoiler alert — the dominant race in America is white people.I would ask your brother if he ever had to fear for his life during encounters with law enforcement. I have. It doesn’t matter how “polite and well-spoken” I am, either.

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AdvertisementAsk him if he was denied a job due to the color of his skin. I was when I tried to secure a literary agent for my first book, and an agent told me, “Sorry, but nobody is going to read a book about fatherhood from a Black guy.” Good thing I didn’t listen to him because I wrote that book and three others.

Ask him if he ever had childcare denied due to the color of his skin. It happened to me when I went to a daycare center and was told there would be a six-month waiting list for my daughter to get in. A few short hours later, a white mom spoke to the same white woman at the same daycare center and was told that her daughter could start on Monday.

AdvertisementI could go on for days here. The bottom line is white people can get their feelings hurt by people of other races, but they can never be victimized by racism. He and anyone else can miss me with that reverse-racism nonsense. Read more: Slate »

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