Denene Millner is a pro when it comes to parenting. The 47-year-old mother of three boasts multiple books and runs My Brown Baby, an uber-successful website catering to Black mothers.
So what makes Black women turn to Millner for parenting guidance? Perhaps it’s because she has seemingly found the key to successful mothering: communication.
“There’s something to be said for having an emotional connection with your children,” she said. “I am their mother, but I am also open to communicating with them and letting them express their emotions without taking it personal.”
The result to her parenting approach has been hugely lucrative: Her three children are able to talk to she and her husband about anything. So how can you mooch off her mommying style?
Encourage honest conversations
Open and honest conversations start at a young age. Yes, it’s easy to freeze up when your 6-year-old asks where babies come from or your 16-year-old tells you that she’s thinking of having sex, but you can’t shy away from those convos, no matter how uncomfortable you may be. “There can be no fear when you’re talking to them because fear leads to ignorance,” she said. “And ignorance leads to your children possibly being harmed or walking into situations where they just don’t know how to feel.”
Spend time together on a regular basis
Sometimes some of the most meaningful conversations can take place somewhere as mundane as the dinner table. Millner should know: She and her family have dinner together every night. “You’d be surprised at how a conversation about how warm it is outside can turn into a conversation about what we wore to school today, which can turn into a conversation about somebody getting sent to the principal’s office because her butt was too round in those leggings that nobody noticed on the White girl, which can turn into a conversation about how boys look at girls and their bodies,” she said.
Let your kids express their emotions
Millner says it is crucial to let your kids know that they can express their opinions and emotions to you without fear of judgment or punishment. “If they’re angry or they’re feeling some kind of way about something that happened to them at school, even if it’s something that happened here in the house and they want to express themselves, they have the right to do that without judgment from me,” Millner said.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself
Lastly, it’s important to remember that you can’t always be Supermom (and that’s perfectly okay!). Millner admits that there are days when her work takes a backseat to her parenting duties, and vice versa, but she refuses to let that get her down. “I tried my damnedest to be perfect at raising the kids and be perfect at keeping the house in order and be perfect at being a wife and be perfect at doing my job, but he fact of the matter is that I’m not perfect,” she said. “None of us are, and the moment that we understand that just like our children are human beings, we are human beings, the better off we’ll all be…We just are not perfect; we’re human.”