Hey Dolls, 🙂
I was talking with a male friend today, and one of our many topics of discussion was the state of our children and how we are raising them. I am a single mother of 2 handsome, smart and hilarious teenaged boys and he, a single dad of a beautiful, smart, 6 year old daughter and we are looking for answers. Before I get into the questions that we had and our inability to answer them, let me give you my version of being a single mother and how it relates to me.
In the begining there was my son’s father and me. He and I had a plan, we wanted to have children and each of us wanted the other to be the parent of our offspring. We were to become married, have children and grow old together with our children and grandchildren in tow. Well, things didn’t work out as planned. To begin with, we had the children first, then there was the brief discussion of marriage, which never happened (whew!). I’m not angry that it didn’t and wish him well. However, as it has often been the case for many single parents, when WE broke up HE broke up with his promise to be a responsible participating party in relation to the parenting our children. Now, this is not about man bashing or trying to make someone look bad, I’m simply stating facts. It has been close to 8 years that he and I seperated and I have been doing it pretty much on my own since then. Yes, there have been child support payments here and there and a coat or a bag of chips every now and then from him, but for the most part it has been all me. This, I think, allows me the label “Single Mom.”
Back to the matter at hand. How do I, a single black female, raise boys to be men? The only things that I’m sure I’m getting right, is teaching them how to be respectable and respected individuals, to be responsible for their actions, HOW to think and not WHAT to think and how to not be used by ANYONE (just to name a few). These things seem to be common sense to me as you would think that everyone would have these basic lessons. However, how do I teach a boy to be a man? I’m not a man, I don’t know what it’s like to be a man, I don’t know what goes on in the heart and mind of a man. So, what do I do? How do I have the conversation of the ‘wet dream’ with my son’s? What do I say about their ever changing bodies? I don’t know what that must be like for a young boy. I can’t teach them how to shave, hell, I nick myself while shaving my legs. I enjoy football, but I can’t teach them the rules and regulations of the game. You know why? Because I’m not running for a ball nor will anyone be knocking me over to take it from me. Besides that, there are some things that a young boy just does NOT want to discuss with his mother. So what do I do? Leave them to figure it out for themselves in hopes that they’ll get it right? I won’t even be able to tell them if it’s right or not, because I don’t know myself. I’m stuck. WHAT DO I DO?
While talking to my friend, he really didn’t have any answers either as he is the product of a single parent home where only his mother was present. In an effort to upgrade from being a good father to being great father, he relocated to another state in order to be closer to his daughter in hopes of instilling some very valuable lessons in her. The relationship between he and his daughter’s mother is a cordial one for the sake of the child. His question was, how do I teach my daughter to not be a “bust down” not to be stupid, not only in relationships but in general? He is not a woman nor does he knows what it’s like to be a woman or what goes on in the heart and mind of a woman. Like myself, he has the essentials to give to her, to be respectable/respected, to not be used and to stand up for herself. I had no other answers for him as we share the same plight. Although I came from a household where both of my parents were present, I unfortunately missed the lesson.
I can remember clearly being called (by my father) stupid,bitches and whores and that I would never amount to anything. After hearing that for so long and with no one to coming to my defense or to convince me otherwise, I began to believe it. It wasn’t until I was 35 and he was on his death bed that my father told me, without coaching, that he loved me. At the age of 42, I’m still trying to break free from that which has been embedded in me. It’s a daily struggle to convince myself that I HAVE amounted to something, that I AM valuable and deserving of love, real love. This is not a sob story and I’m not looking for pity, only answers.
My parents made me go to church every Sunday, and bible study on Wednesdays and choir rehearsal on Friday, and none of that helped me AT ALL, I still missed the lesson. I found no answers there and there were no lessons at home, only whippings when I was being “fast” or “flip” at the mouth. I didn’t ask questions, just did what I was told. But the lesson on how I should expect and demand to be treated by a man was not given, therefore, I failed at relationships, and have no lessons to pass on. I had to sneak to have boyfriends and boy’s certainly could not come to my house. Boys were nasty and stinky and I was told to stay away from them. They only wanted one thing from me (It took me forever to figure that riddle out) and just stay away! I did just that and missed out on a lot, including the lesson.
But the question remains…..
How do I raise a Boy to be a Man and how can a man raise a Girl to be a Woman if the lesson was never taught.
How do we teach what we don’t know?
I can only pray that I’m doing it right and that my son’s turn out to be productive contributions to society. I hope that one day in the future, the women in their lives will say, “Your mom did a great job at raising you. You’re an awesome MAN” This is my daily prayer.
Smile, Pray, Love, Laugh, THINK, Live and keep it FAB!
(((HUGS))) and MUAH!