“Being a single parent is twice the work, twice the stress and twice the tears but also twice the hugs, twice the love and twice the pride.”
In black America, we have an epidemic. Well, to be brutally honest and upfront, there are several epidemics that are and have been ravaging our community for quite some time. Some have been going on for decades; others have been around longer than that and can be traced back as far as slavery. Sometimes they change forms and reinvent themselves as time changes and goes on.
Despite their various forms and incarnations, they continue to ravage our community and we continue suffer the consequences from them and are dealing with their adverse effects. Again, there are many, too many to list, name, or try to cover in one sitting and in one article.
There is one, specifically, that I would like to discuss in this article. There is one issue that has been discussed by many people on many different platforms. However, I feel that despite this, it hasn’t really gotten the attention that it deserves. I also feel that way that it negatively affects the community, particularly the damage that has done and continues to do black men has been vastly understated and underrepresented. The issue that I’m referring to is that fact that the overwhelming majority of black children, currently 73% are born, to and are often raised by single mothers.
To be honest, I’m not surprised that the impact that this has on black boys, the same ones who will grow up to be the very black men that many sisters, many of whom are single mothers will vilify, goes understated. Men in general in society are valued less than women are. In the black community this holds especially true. Black women are exalted and are often seen as beyond reproach and without fault. Conversely, black men are always seen as less than our female counterparts and every problem in the black community is always dumbed down or otherwise simplified to either some action or inaction on the part of black men.
There have been countless studies done on childrearing. They may not come to the same conclusions on topics such as spanking vs time out, or verbal punishment vs loss of loss of privilege, or other parenting dilemmas. One thing that is universally agreed upon by all reputable sources be they behavioral psychologists, psychiatrists, sociologists, or what have you, is the fact that without question children do better, are more well-adjusted, and more productive members of society when they have both their parents and their lives. This is true whether in the traditional family setting where the child lives with both parents, or if the child’s parents aren’t together, but are co-parenting.
It is well documented what the adverse effects of being raised in a single parent, often a single mother household can and often does to children. However, in my opinion, more emphasis is put on the effect this has on girls. We often seen women who resort to drug use, prostitution, stripping, or doing anything for male attention, lament the fact that their father wasn’t around and that they came from a single mother household. Of course, upon hearing this there is often a degree of sympathy that is given them, and they are often absolved from any culpability in their situation. However, when brothers find themselves in similar situations, little sympathy is given and the fact that he raised by a single mother isn’t seen as viable excuse to justify their behavior.
If you are a brother that was raised by a single mother, you face a unique set of challenges that often goes overlooked and understated. Here are in my opinion, three ways that you can overcome being raised by a single mother.
Be Intrinsically Motivated
The sooner you as a man, especially a black man, are able to grasp and implement this concept the better off your life will be. You have to be intrinsically, or self-motivated. As I said earlier, men as a whole are undervalued in society. That holds especially true in the black community. Therefore, your motivation and validation must be internal. It must come from you. As a man, again especially as a black man, you don’t have the luxury expecting people to care about you. Sometimes, that will include your own family.
I’ll give a personal example to prove my point. I’m almost 36. I graduated from high school and went to college prior to joining the Air Force. I served for a decade and was medical retired. I’ve been on my own for basically half of my life. Since I left my parent’s house, they have not given me anything.
Conversely, my sister is 29 and has a college degree. However, she has 2 kids by and is married to a clown. My mother and father are constantly helping her with her bills, car repairs, child care, etc. Now, my mother told me flat out that I am a man and as such I shouldn’t have to ask my parents for anything. Yet, my sister who is college educated as well, and married, albeit to a bum, can continually be in their pocket simply because she is a girl.
My point is that often times, even in your own family; you will be undervalued and underappreciated simply because you are man. With that in mind, as I said, you have to have your own internal motivation and validation. You have to place value on yourself, because often times it will not come from anywhere else.
Find Men In Your Family or Community That You Know. Let Them Mentor You and Emulate Them
It has been said that it takes a man to raise a man. It is absolutely correct. A woman cannot now, nor will she ever be able to raise a man. Only a man can teach a boy how to be a man. There is no substitute. If you come from a single mother household and you don’t have a father or man present in your life, find men in your family or community to mentor you.
As a child growing up, I was fortunate enough to have both parents. My father was a strong influence on me. However, he wasn’t the only positive male influence that I had. I had coaches, teachers, uncles, and my father’s friends were all positive male influences on me. I joined the Air Force at 19, and in that environment I had positive male influences such as supervisors, 1st Sergeants, and older coworkers that schooled me not just on how to make it in the military, but they taught me life lessons as well.
Hopefully, if you are brother currently being raised by a single mother or perhaps you are a young adult brother trying to find his way, you can find other brothers willing to mentor you. If you are fortunate enough to find such brothers, be sure to learn as much from them as possible. Pay special attention to their mistakes so that you can learn from them without repeating them. Soak up as much of their knowledge as possible. Spend as much time as you can in the company of real men. Emulate their behavior.
Read About Men Who You Don’t Know Personally and Emulate Their Behavior
Again, there is no substitute for learning how to be a man other than to be taught be a man. However, not all knowledge comes from hands on experience. A large portion of what we learn, we can teach ourselves through study and observation. As I said earlier, growing up and into my young adulthood, and even now, I had mentors. I’ve been fortunate enough to have positive male influences during every phase of my life. I’m grateful for that. However those weren’t my only influences.
Growing up I loved history, and I still do. I often quote people such as Machiavelli, Aristotle, Sun Tzu, and other famous people as lead ins to my articles. I do so because while I obviously never met them, I read their work and were influenced by them.
As a teenager, I played all sports. My favorite sport was football and my position was wide receiver. Jerry Rice was my idol. His work ethic was legendary. I read about the hill he would run to prepare himself for the season. I found a similar hill and did the same thing. I modeled my game after his game. What I’m saying is that even though I didn’t know any of these men personally, they all had a profound effect on me in various ways. So, if you are a brother who doesn’t have a male figure, while not a perfect solution or substitute, you can learn a lot by simply watching or reading about other successful men and applying what you learn to your own life.