Raising a Black child in this world is miraculous, but is naturally unsettling. When I found out I would be a mother in 2018, there were so many unknowns, but there was one thing that was for certain: I needed to teach my child how to ground and protect themselves emotionally, physically and spiritually. I wanted them to be cradled by the stories of their ancestors to remind them of their resilience and establish a crucial connection. A strong sense of confidence had to be instilled to enable them to be the most authentic version of themselves.
This is especially important in a climate that works overtime to confine the perception of self. When rituals are established, especially at a young age, they become gems that grow with our children, fostering a space for them to be safe and recharge their energy. For Family Wellness Month, I wanted to share three wellness practices that are engaging for both you and your little ones. It’s never too early to relish in mindful moments!
The Power of the Tongue: Prayer and Affirmations
Teaching our children about the power of the tongue creates accountability and makes them more intentional in their dialogue with themselves and others. This trickles down to their thoughts, which, like words, can unconsciously manifest. Affirmations are simple yet impactful ways to reprogram one’s subconscious mind and call in new ways to manifest needs or desires. My favorite way to recite affirmations with my little one is in the mirror. With each word, I want him to see himself.
After bath time or next time they brush their teeth, try giving your little one a mantra that they can recite daily in the mirror. Here are a few that I love:
Anything that I desire is within reach.
I love myself wholeheartedly.
I am 1 of 1, and there is no one on this Earth like me!
The love that I give myself and my community is poured into me daily.
I am confident and powerful without anyone’s approval.
While affirmations are declarations, prayers are invocations. The intentions are different, making them entirely different practices. Depending upon one’s spiritual beliefs, prayer is typically a conversation between one and a higher power or source. Prayer is simply a conversation with the divine. Introducing prayer to our children cultivates an attitude of gratitude, being thankful and expressing thanks to the Universe. Instilling a prayer practice when they first wake up or before bed (or both!) is a grounding practice that nourishes your children’s relationship with their individual divinity.
Affirmations can teach them to be sovereign, whilst prayer teaches them to be grounded in their faith—whatever that may look like.
Energetic Awareness: Spiritual Baths and Teas
I grew up with a single mother who ritualized baths at an early age. Baths were her thing, and she helped me understand that it was her sacred time. I did my best to honor that. Naturally, after-school baths became a ritual for me, too. Once I learned more about spiritual baths in my teenage years, that’s when I became more intentional about that time and ritualized those moments. Water is one of the most powerful elements, taking up 60% of our body. Immersing ourselves in water is not just cleansing for our physical bodies, but also our emotional and spiritual bodies.
Making a bath (if you have access to one) is a standard routine in ridding our babies of the energy of the environment they’ve taken home with them. But you can amplify the bath by gathering up Epsom salt, essential oils and even flowers to boost its power. Salt has traditionally been a cleansing and purifying agent, and is completely safe for both adults and children. Assess what your child might need at this time and gather herbs and oils that support that intention. For example, if you’d like to protect them, you’d want to incorporate herbs or essential oils like hyssop, lavender or lemongrass. To calm their spirit after an active day, you’d want to work with soothing florals like calendula and chamomile. To boost their confidence and energy to prepare for an exciting day ahead, working with cinnamon sticks, orange oil and even honey will sweeten the day ahead.
If you only have access to a shower, you can create your own mixture, place it in a spray bottle and spray it instead.
Ancestral Remembrance: Share Their Stories
With each step that we take, we carry our descendents’ memories, gifts, traumas and experiences with us. It’s no coincidence that ancestral veneration is a foundational practice in all African spiritual traditions. Our ancient ancestors knew that in order for us to fully understand ourselves, we had to go back in time and understand the ones who came before us. Speaking the names of our departed loved ones keeps their legacies alive—the Disney movie Coco is a perfect visual depiction of unlocking one’s family history through ancestral veneration.
From Sunday dinners to potlucks and family reunions, food has always been the glue that unites generations. Cook family recipes with your children and as you prepare for the meal, you can share some information about the origin of the meal and why the ingredients and meal itself are so significant.
You can also continue to celebrate departed ones on their birthdays and share your favorite memories of them with the rest of your family. Keep photos and family keepsakes around the house so that your children are familiar with the matriarch and patriarchs of your family. The intention is to simply keep their name and spirit alive. Consider simple ways to honor your loved ones through practices that resonate with you and align with your family’s customs—the options are limitless!