Some call them generational curses and I call them generational norms.
One day I drove by the laundromat in my hometown and I saw someone I went to school with there and I began thinking. I thought about how her mom washed clothes at the laundromat as well when we were growing up. Then I thought further and recalled seeing her grandmother there washing clothes… her aunts, as well cousins. That prompted me to ask myself, “Why doesn’t she just get a washing machine and dryer for her home?” And it came to me, going to the laundromat is a learned behavior for her because that is what she saw everyone in her family do, which is now a part of her norm. And because of this, she cannot see the importance of having a washing machining and dryer at home.
What do you think would happen if she bought a washing machine and dryer for her home? Will she break the generational norm of going to the laundromat? Will other family members begin to buy washing machines and dryers after she informs them about the convenience of having them at home and that it DOES NOT run up your light bill or water bill?
If we want to break generational norms in our lives we have to first understand the importance of breaking the norm. For example, my mom (just as most parents) never discussed with me the importance of saving money. She would always give me money but never educated me about being financially stable. Throughout my teens and my twenties, I would spend all of my money on things that I needed, as well as on things that I wanted until I had nothing. Now in my thirties as I am thinking about my career and the direction my life is taking, I understand importance of being financially stable. I understand that I need to learn about finances so that I can become financially stable for myself and my child. (and for that husband God is going to bless me with… no one wants to marry someone who mismanages money all the time).
When it comes to generational norms you have to understand the benefits that will come along with breaking them. For example, let’s say that my classmate’s mom washed 8 loads of laundry every week at $1.00 a load for eighteen years (and a $1.00 to dry them) … that will equal to $1.00 x 16=$16… then there are 52 weeks in 1 year… so that’s 52×18= 936… so then you multiply 936×16= $14,976… and if you divide $14,976 by 18 (for the 18 years) equals 832… the average washing machine and dry will cost approximately $1200.00 together… sooooooooo 🤔) NOW, I’m NOT trying to tell anyone how to spend their money. However, I am trying to get you to understand how sometimes generational norms will cost you more than what it’s worth.
Breaking generational norms is very hard once you have been practicing then for so long, but it’s also possible. For example, we use to take trips as a whole family. My brother planned a trip for us to travel as a family every year. On every trip we would have a huge argument because we are all opinionated and bossy. Because of the constant bickering, he started planning trips for his family to take separately and then another for us to take together; but eventually he stopped planning a trip for everyone and just planned for his family. At first, we (my sisters and myself) were a bit perturbed by this because we thought that he was being rude, therefore we started planning trips together without him and his family but eventually that went away because we would always argue (MY SISTER KTARI THOUGHT SHE WAS THE BOSS OF EVERYONE). Now I understand why my brother did that, he wanted to make great memories with his family. He wanted his children’s memories to be filled with love and laughter, not screaming, yelling, and cussing like many of our (my siblings and I) childhood memories.
When trying to break generational norms remember, just because that’s the way that things always happened in your house growing up doesn’t mean that it is right or that you cannot stray away from it. Take a moment and reflect on these questions… Why do you vote for the person and/or party that you vote for? Did you really do your research or did you just choose a person because the look like you or they are in the party that momma and daddy always voted for? Did you ever stop to think how will that person’s ideologies effect you, your family, and your community’s wellbeing? Or what about religion… why do you believe in the ideologies of the religion that you practice? Is it because that’s the way you grew up? Is it because momma and daddy practices it, so it must be right? Do you want to see change in your life, in your community, and/or in your family? Do you want to rear your children up with the same “generational norms” that you were reared with?
I asked myself these questions and I am guilty of it all and especially when it comes to disciplining my child. I started rearing my child using the same tactics that my mother used and if I can be transparent, he is going too need counseling as well… not saying that my mother was wrong in any way as to how she reared any of her children because we are all college educated and have never been to jail… (well Ktari and myself almost went to jail but that is another story for a different time). But, we didn’t talk to her… everything went her way… there wasn’t any democracy in the house… SHE WAS MICHAEL AND WE WERE TITO… WE BELONGED TO HER… SHE REMINDED US DAILY THAT SHE WAS NOT ONE OF OUR LIL FRIENDS… SHE WAS OUR MOTHER… SHE BROUGHT IN THIS WORLD AND SHE WOULD TAKE US OUT… PERIODT… I can’t speak for Derrik, Adrienne, or Ktari but sometimes I needed a friend… so I went to my friends who didn’t know anything either and together we formed our own understanding about things which were all wrong. If I had that friend at home (because you couldn’t trust Ktari or Adrienne because they would use the info you gave them to blackmail you later)… but If I had a friend at home that I could tell all of my issues to then maybe I wouldn’t have suffered in silence with depression and anxiety as long as I did… maybe I could’ve been helped earlier instead of silenced or called crazy. I am learning new strategies and its going to take a lot of practicing but I hope to be that outlet for Keeghan one day… I am still strict and NO I don’t want to be one of his lil friends but I do want him to come to me and release his frustrations… it’s going to take time… ROME WAS NOT BUILT IN A DAY.
What are generational norms costing you? It doesn’t have to be material things or money… it could be your mental wellness, peace, stress, happiness… whatever it is costing you is it worth it? If not, what are you going to do to change it? If the norms are not making you a better person daily… if the norms are not making you grow and stretch in all areas of your life, then that norm or norms are not worth holding on to.
HEAR ME: It is OK to stray away from the norms of your family… you will get push back… you will make others uncomfortable… you will lose people that you love… BUT you will gain so much more… a sense of self… peace… joy… happiness… understanding … and love!
BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE and do what makes you happy and set yourself FREE!
The Chic Educator 🍎