Artwork By: C’Babi Bayoc, “Safety Net”
It’s Monday night and I’m curled up on my couch ready to indulge in my favorite form of self-care: ratchet T.V. (don’t judge. It’s my self-care J )And my guilty pleasure is none other than Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta. This episode focuses on Scrapp DeLeon preparing for a five to thirty-year sentence. As he prepares to tell his son about him “going away somewhere where kids can’t go”, Scrapp’s mom comments “He’s only three. He won’t even remember”.
KIDS BE KNOWIN’
It’s an honest mistake we all make as adults. We believe that a child is too young to remember things. What’s important to know is, they may not understand, but they DO remember. A three-year old child may not have the words to express these memories and feelings, but they damn sure have the actions. These actions are often disruptive, aggressive and depressive; misinterpreted feelings of abandonment, sadness and confusion. We as adults attempt to protect them from the truth, but in doing so, we’re only protecting ourselves.
I’ve worked with countless children who have a parent incarcerated. Some have the words (maybe not the most appropriate words, but hey, it’s a start). Others have the actions; the tantrums, destructive behaviors and aggression. He’s angry. He’s confused. He remembers. He just doesn’t understand.
THE CAREGIVERS ROLE
As adults, we must help children process the truth, not shield them from it. Even if they don’t know the details, they know that something is missing from what they’ve known. And as children, they will often blame themselves. This can turn into low self-esteem and attachment issues along the line. It may not be easy on us to have that conversation, but not having it can have detrimental effects on a child’s development, functioning, health and overall academic achievement.
Somehow Scrapp knew this and went against his mother’s opinion. He gave him the truth and continued to remind his son that they are best friends (go best friend, that’s my best friend) and he’s always there for him. He told his son different things they could do like write letters and draw each other pictures, and even did FaceTime with him for his birthday (still trying to figure that one out..). He showed the value in being honest with your children, and for that, I thank you Mr. DeLeon. #FreeScrapp