While there are plenty of things that parents teach their children, there are also many things that we can learn from our kids when there’s an open line of communication. That was the sentiment shared by actress Tichina Arnold and her daughter Alijah Kai for the ESSENCE Wellness House panel, “Breaking Intergenerational Patterns.”
While Arnold was raised by a more free-spirited mom, there were some conversations that they couldn’t have together because her mom wasn’t comfortable with them. But after becoming a mom and presently raising a 17-year-old, nothing is off-limits between mother and daughter, which makes for a healthy relationship.
“Never had mental health conversations with my mother. That was the era where we didn’t really discuss certain things,” the actress and comedian says. “Alijah and I have a lot more discussions. She forces me actually to have more discussions.”
“She has a harder time expressing herself due to the fact that back then she wasn’t able to really talk about her mental health,” Alijah agreed. “But because I take mental health into really deep consideration…I love to kind of force her to talk to me and force her to open up with me and force her to feel what I’m feeling.”
In addition to touching on mental health, mother and daughter also comfortably discuss the ups and downs of the entertainment industry, which Alijah is breaking into, navigating social media and more. They’re an open book with one another, sidestepping the idea that “I’m the parent and what I say goes,” as Alijah says.
“Your kids can teach you a lot as well. You can learn from your kids just as much as they learn from you. Just because we walk on two different paths doesn’t mean we can’t walk beside each other.”
While Arnold tries to lead and support her daughter as she lives, works and makes a name for herself, she’s grateful that there is nothing the two can’t broach. As her daughter grows and changes, she does the same.
“Being a mom is not perfect. Every day is just a different situation,” she says. “As long as I am her mother I’m going to be learning how to be a mother until the day I die.”