We can build up our children or tear them down with our words.

This blog post comes with a confession. I like trash TV. I watch reality TV religiously. One show my husband introduced me to (I blame him 😊) is “Black Ink Crew.” I watch the New York version and the Chicago show. The show follows the lives of tattoo artists. I’ve followed the show for a few years now and have grown familiar with the characters.

Last night, the New York “Black Ink Crew” aired. The show was lackluster, and the storyline was weak; however, one part of last night’s show broke my heart and still has me feeling sad. Sky, a main character, had a falling out with her son Dessalines. Sky was a teenaged mother and gave her son up for adoption. He was raised by a white family in Texas where he grew up in a suburban, stable, and loving environment. He graduated from high school. Dessalines was doing well, except he wanted to know his birth mother, Sky. Well, for whatever reason, Dessalines decided to move to New York City to be closer to his birth mother and biological brother he did not know growing up. The moment Dessalines appeared on “Black Ink Crew” as a regular cast member, I knew it would not be a good move for him. Anyone who watches “Black Ink Crew” knows the show is filled with drama, fights and debauchery. Last night’s show proved me right. Dessalines had a major fight with his biological mother that escalated to verbal assaults and near physical abuse. Dessalines is a young man now in his early 20s, but the abusive words his biological mother, Sky, said to him broke his heart nevertheless. Sky told Dessalines that she didn’t want him, his biological father didn’t want him and that nobody wants him. He broke down in tears with Caesar and said all he wanted from Sky was a mother’s love.

The clip of Dessalines talking about his fight with his biological mother.

My heart is still broken for Dessalines because I know what it’s like to seek and want love from a parent only to receive abusive and hurtful words in return. Now, I’m not throwing Sky “under the bus.” She is a broken woman who comes from an abusive past. She needs so much healing. She is so broken she doesn’t know how to be a mother or how to give and receive love. However, this doesn’t excuse her behavior. She has lived long enough to know better and has the resources to get the help she needs.

This horrible incident between mother and son on “Black Ink Crew” is a stark reminder for all of us as parents that words have power. Our words have power in the lives of our children. We can either build them up or break them down. We can bless our children or curse our children. Our words will have lasting effects in our children’s lives and will shape who they become. We cannot be careless with how we speak to and interact with our children. We have to become conscious of our pain and baggage and seek healing if needed. We have to be intentional about the words we say to our children and not take out our hurt and pain on them.

If you can learn anything from a trashy reality TV show, learn this: your words have power. You can speak life or death, blessings or curses. Choose life. Our children, Black boys and girls, catch hell everyday in daycares, schools, stores, doctors offices, on the street, and in their neighborhoods. Let us make home a place of safety and sanctuary. Let us build homes where our children and teens can rest and be in peace and receive blessings. Think before you speak. Your children will be all the better because of it.

Scriptures for reflection:

Proverbs 18:21 (NRSV) – “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”

James 3:8-9 (NRSV) – “but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God.”

Read all of James chapter 3

Proverbs 14:16 (NRSV) – “The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands.”

Ephesians 6:4 (NRSV) – “And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

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