My Mom has lived with my husband and me for fifteen years now. At 85 years old, she is still parenting me, even though I am approaching the "young old" stage of my life. She still scrutinizes my wardrobe and offers what she deems to be helpful advice on my way out the door to work: "You aren't wearing nylons, today?" "Do those pants match that jacket?" "It's raining, don't you think you need a jacket?"
Lately, she channels her messages through Dr. Oz: "Dr. Oz says you shouldn't eat those 100 calorie packets." "Dr. Oz says you should stay away from drinking so much diet soda." "Dr. Oz says if you stop eating two hours before you go to bed, you might lose those 10 pounds you need to lose." "Dr. Oz says that dancing is the best exercise. Are you going back to Jazzercise soon?"
My friend, Jacquie, told me to check out the black parents quotes trend on Twitter. Reading through the quotes, I noted many familiar phrases I heard growing up from my own loving mother: "An allowance? I allow you to live and eat in my house." "What are you crying about? I will give you something to cry about."
A quick analysis of the thousands of black parent quote tweets yields a few themes -- disciplining by threats (Don't make me get my belt; I brought you into this world and I will take you out of it; Roll your eyes again at me and I will knock them to the back of your head), physical discipline (Slap... didn't I... slap... tell you... slap... move ya hand... slap), commands involving swearing ( Close the xxx door. In or out!) and life lessons on money (When we go to the store, don't touch nothing, ask for nothing, cause you ain't getting nothing; You want McDonald's? You got McDonald's money?).
There are many references to education (Where is your report card? I feel like it is a time for a report card; You better know your school work like you do the words to that song.) The overall theme that comes through is a strong sense of discipline.
What is especially interesting are when a black parents quote is compared to a white parents quote. For example, white parent quote: Jake and Connor, it's time for dinner! Black parent quote: DeShawn and Tyrone, get yall xxx down here. Food ready!
The white parent quotes depict a formal, patient, collaborative and often lenient parenting style, contrasted by the casual, implosive, demanding parenting style characterized in the black parent quotes. Although the quotes are clearly not meant to be data for any kind of empirical study, it is telling that the results mimic what has been documented as cultural differences in black and white parenting styles. Black parents tend to have a more authoritative parenting style and white parents tend to have a more lenient parenting style. Although the studies might come to a different conclusion, I believe that there are children raised by black authoritative parents that have not turned out to be reckless sociopaths and children raised by white lenient parents that have not turned out to be irresponsible drug addicts. I imagine it is because these parents know how to not only raise children but know how to love them as well. Loving parents use a variety of parenting styles to respond to the specific needs of the child and to what is required from the situation.
I acknowledge that I have a positive analysis of the tweets because I am reading the quotes through the lens of my loving mother who, to this day, has not given up on parenting or loving me. The quotes definitely speak to me of black parents who mean business and do not think of their children as friends; however, the quotes also tell stories of caring and parents who know how to raise as well as love a child. These are stories I hope that folks keep tweeting.