Welcome back to BeREAL! In the first episode of this two part special, Diana and Ednesha are joined by the whole team at More Joy Parenting. It’s founder, Dr. Marcella Runell Hall calls in along with Nicki Henry, Annaliese Kittrell, Michelle Van-Ess Grant, Dr. Keisha L. Green, and Eden Jeffries.
More Joy Parenting is a collective of like-minded parents and caregivers interested in creating space to share resources, ideas and support. The passion for centering marginalized, and in particular youth experiences, stems from the lived experiences of all the More Joy Parenting (MJP) team members. The intellectual and creative work to formally create MJP began in early 2019 with a seed of an idea, and the website launched on December 1, 2020. But in many ways, MJP is a culmination of personal and professional work that has been lifelong for most of us. There is a synchronicity of minds, professional experience and shared narrative that creates the heartbeat for this work.
Dr. Hall begins the episode by highlighting the dynamic of the More Joy Parenting team. She points out that they have all been students, mentors, and caretakers of one another in some way and through their history deep bonds have grown. This was integral in the founding of the practice, because much of the work depends on being vulnerable and trusting. The practice was founded during the pandemic last December, and Marcella discusses how being at home with children inspired the women to take action. They had noticed that a lot of discussion about being a parent during the pandemic was around the things parents lost (alone time, private workspace, etc.). However, More Joy Parenting wants to shift the conversation to be about what you gain from spending much of the day with your kids.
The women all open up about how the joy of parenting was taken away from them when they were stressed about their kids invading Zoom calls or their workspaces. However, they realized that by hiding their kids away from their life at home on Zoom, they were denying that part of themselves. The women want to encourage other parents to own that being a parent is part of your identity, and if a kid interrupts work from home, that is not something that should be criticized or punished.
Eden hops into the conversation to discuss her role as a caretaker to her father. She talks about More Joy Parenting’s scope that goes beyond just mothering. The team realizes that it is not always biological parents who raise children. Sometimes it is a biological family, but other times your caretakers could be your chosen family or professionals. These roles must also be uplifted and celebrated so that they can instill joy among all.
After a short break, the women come back to discuss the fears of being a parent. Some of the fears parents are facing around COVID are the debates around whether they should send their child back to in-person learning. A few of the women give anecdotes about their children voicing fears related to going back to school. There is a fear in change and also a fear about one’s safety. Another fear that is brought up that is separate of COVID is the fear of raising POC children during the epidemic of police brutality. Michelle talks about finding her parenting voice in moments like these to be there for her son so he can continue to find joy by her side.
To finish off the episode, Eden discusses what you can learn from the people you care for. Diana adds on the idea that children don’t hold back their opinions so listening to them could shed light on how you function as a caregiver and as an individual. Thus, showing that More Joy Parenting teaches life curriculum and not solely parenting practices.
Thank you for tuning into BeREAL this week. Be on the lookout for the second part of this discussion with More Joy Parenting next Tuesday! In the meantime make sure to check out last week’s episode with Dr. Carlton Green on racial trauma and therapy.
For more information on More Joy Parenting and their team, visit the links below:
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