Raising a young man is very hard. As a man, I know that the main reason our young boys are so lost is because of us...men. Our level of absenteeism is alarming. If we aren’t absent, we are barely in our child’s life. Sporadic phone calls, infrequent visits and/or time spent. That's way too much for a young boy to understand.
Let Me Preface
This isn’t dedicated to bashing single mothers and it wasn’t written to absolve fathers of their responsibility to these young boys. My purpose is to shed some light on a regular occurrence I am seeing in the African-American community.
First, I need you to know, I am an African-American man with two boys that I have a great relationship with. So I know the challenges that I face (and will face) raising them. It is not easy… and I’m a man. No, I’m not saying that being a man means I’m better at raising a boy than a woman. I’m…. well, actually what I’m saying is, I have more experience. I’m more qualified. But isn’t that how God intended it to be? Two sides of the coin. Man and woman raising a child together.
A woman is a master at understanding the path of a girl. A man is a master at the path a boy would walk. The obstacles, encounters, barriers to life, even the successes and things that bring gratification in life. That is how it was supposed to be until we went and threw a monkey-wrench into his plan. And being the God he is (if you believe in that sorta thing) he folds his hands and lets us figure it out on our own. He gave us free choice. We are not mindless automatons that he controls. Although he wants for us to court, engage, marry then have children… he lets us go the path we choose for ourselves even if that path is often backward and in many cases, missing the marriage and courting portions.
Now, this isn’t a lecture in biblical philosophy, but I like to preface my points by taking you to a place you don’t know about, may have forgotten or don’t like to talk about.
A Closer Look
Let’s examine this a bit closer. Click the link below.
Vincent DiCaro, vice president of the National Fatherhood Initiative: Deal with absent fathers, and the rest follows.
People “look at a child in need, in poverty or failing in school, and ask, ‘What can we do to help?’ But what we do is ask, ‘Why does that child need help in the first place?’ And the answer is often it’s because [the child lacks] a responsible and involved father,” he said.
Also, another thing I notice is income. Married couples have an average income of 80k. Vs. Single mothers who average 24k.
We have one class that thinks marriage and fatherhood is important, and another which doesn’t, and it’s causing that gap, income inequality, to get wider,” Mr. DiCaro said.
So What Does All That Mean?
Now that can’t be real. But it is. Now, of course, there are exceptions. We know that. There is an exception to every rule. We aren’t talking about exceptions here. We’re talking about averages. What’s most common. And with loss of income, you have poverty. Or should I say…”American Poverty.” Each cause results in a far worse result. This means boys are in the streets instead of being in sports or creative camps learning. The mothers are not able to give them the essentials necessary to develop them into social and productive members of society. An idle mind is the devil’s playground. And when you don’t have money, you become idle and try to find things to occupy your time. In the case of these boys, it often turns into joining gangs, becoming thugs, destructive, rebellious, overly aggressive, confused, indecisive, passive and reliant on who? Mom. Who after a certain age loses control of the boy.
When you see all these things that you want to have and your mother can’t provide, you do whatever it takes to get those things. This results in a life of crime to come up quick instead of devising a plan that includes patience, tactics, and strategy. Our fathers should teach us these tough lessons. Our fathers should teach us how to overcome peer pressure and battle the temptation we are often faced with.
More Numbers To Blow Your Socks Off
Who occupies the jails in the largest percentage? Black men. Yes I know, those numbers are biased, based a heavily flawed judicial system. In this case, numbers CAN lie. However, we know there’s a certain truth to the numbers. What scares me are the numbers that state [more] black men are incarcerated than in college.
Approximately 12–13% of the American population is African-American. But they make up 35% of jail inmates, and 37% of prison inmates of the 2.2 million male inmates as of 2014”
source: U.S. Department of Justice, 2014.
Let that sit.
Now let this video sit…
Next is this statement….”Among blacks, nearly 5 million children or 54% live with only their mother.”
Source: US Census Bureau
How about this statement… “In all but 11 states, most black children do not live with both parents.”
For some perspective… “In every state, 7 out of 10 whites do.”
A Deeper Dive
Those numbers are simply alarming.
Of those fathers that are not around, they are either in jail, evading child support, barely supporting their children, completely absent, or simply send money but do not have a real presence in their child’s life. This creates a brand new cornucopia of issues.
So now, the mothers are left to play the role and attempt to fill-in for the absentee father. Yes, you can “play” the role, but you can never replace a father in a child’s life. Just like a father cannot replace the role of the mother.
Black Boy Parental Accountability – You’re Both At Fault
That being said, both the mother and the father are accountable here for the way the boy turns out. We can’t credit the mother when the boy turns out good and blame the absentee father when the boy turns to the dark side. There are many dynamics when it comes to raising a child. But are we as parents raising our sons to become the very men we take issue with? The men you wouldn’t date? The answer is yes.
Raising Boys into Boys
This is not a general or blanket statement. It is directed towards the mothers that enable certain behaviors in their sons.
These are some of the character traits that these men show:
- Lack of commitment
- Not providers
- Unstable financially, emotionally and mentally
- Anti-social (socially awkward)
- Not reliable
- Momma’s boy (I’ll explain later)
- Anger issues (typically because of daddy not being there)
- Criminal Record
- Inconsistent employment
- Inconsistent in their ability to be consistent in… anything!
So Where Do These Behaviors Emanate From?
I will always be a major proponent of solid parenting and how the lack of it creates issues within children as they grow into adults. In most cases, you will hear me point to bad parenting as a source of dysfunctional behavior within young men.
When a mother “babies” her son she is simply enabling his behavior. Making him less and less reliant on himself. Less independent. This is where you get men who use women for money or look for a woman to bail him out of situations. Or even his mother after he has left the nest… if he has left the nest. It’s unusual, but as mothers, it seems like you raise the girls independent, but unintentionally raise the boys dependent on you. You can say… ” girls mature faster” all you like… but how fast a boy matures has a lot to do with his parents and their rearing strategy. There’s always that often-heard statement, “That’s my baby!” That’s a grown man! Time to let him leave the nest, literally and figuratively.
My Own Personal Experience
I once knew a woman who had a 21-year-old son that was in college. I enrolled but hardly went to classes. Flunked out of one school, and was on the verge of flunking out of another. Any time he got in trouble or needed money, his mother, who was in the position to do so… sent him money. Hundreds of dollars gone in weeks. He had jobs that he quit without having another one lined up because he knew his mother would bail him out as she has done his entire life. This is why you have to give tough love to boys. Make them earn their keep from about 3 years old.
You may think that’s too young. But it’s not. I’m not saying that your 3-year-old can take out the trash and wash the car. But he should learn to pick up after himself, take his uneaten food to the trash, be respectful of adults, say yes and no, not, “yeah” “huh” or “what?”
Seems basic doesn’t it? But these small lessons go a mile and a half. Teach the boys and let them do it, don’t do it for them.
It’s Time For the Black Boy Tough Love Movement
Sticking to your guns is a hard one for mothers. It’s easy to, “buy a kid off.” You know… spoil them into submission. But this also enables bad habits that grow into even worse habits. It teaches them they don’t have to work for anything. Momma will take care of it. (ie; the man-child I mentioned earlier).
Saying, “no.” is very hard for mothers to do with their sons. Sometimes mothers overcompensate for the father not being there. And I get that. You do what you can. But saying yes because he won’t stop crying, or caving eventually is a bad precedent to set. Stop spoiling your sons. Because the world will have no mercy for him. I’m not saying don’t do anything for him. But be mindful of overdoing it. Make him earn everything he gets by keeping his grades up, doing his chores, being respectful, etc. Teaching him this lesson goes miles when it comes to respect-for-authority such as teachers, law enforcement, and especially you!
He’s Your Son, Not Your Boyfriend
Stop letting him sleep in the bed with you after he’s able to walk on his own. It’s OK sometimes, but eventually, your son will become territorial and the man you choose will have to deal with that. And as he gets older, he will treat you like his woman, not his mother. Possibly expecting you to choose him over your fiancé, husband or future mate. And not only that, it contributes to the way he will treat other women as he grows into a man. Reliant on them, dependent on them, never seeking his own. Always looking for women to take care of him and a passive-aggressive personality. A bonafide mama’s boy can’t do anything on his own.
Now being a mama’s boy might be cute when he’s 3-6 years old. But when he’s 18? Not so cute. And when he’s 28? Definitely not attractive to another woman. Consequently, these are the very men, most women don’t want to date. You can’t covet and coddle your son like he’s your man. I see that a lot. It’s creepy! Stop that! I know you love your son ladies but chill with that. Do not spoon with your 5-year-old son.
Inspect What You Expect
Look at what you expect (realistically of course) in a relationship. What qualities do you want and need in a man? If you know what you want, teach your son the lessons needed to show these character traits. You only get one chance at this because they are only toddlers and teenagers once.
No more lazy men. I hear women say… “he’s lazy” he doesn’t do anything to help me out, he’s not proactive when it comes to dating, he expects me to plan everything (and pay for it). Where did these behaviors start? I’ll tell you where. When the mother was a do-it-all superwoman and didn’t let/make her son do things around the house. She even cleaned up his room when he was 10. When he became a teenager, you gave him the money to take a girl out on a date instead of making him earn an allowance. I’m telling you… the small, tough lessons turn into life lessons when we become men. I know this personally. I was raking leaves, washing dishes, doing laundry, keeping my room clean and vacuuming when I was under 10 years of age.
So What’s the Priority For Our Boys?
We need to raise leaders… not football or basketball players. We will break our backs to get these boys into sports and won’t put the same effort into making sure they read. They want to play sports not learn. But making sure they master and understand critical thinking and decision-making is essential for a young boys development.
There are so many ways you can teach them lessons such as giving them an opportunity to work through things without your help. Giving them goals to meet financially. An example would be… for every 5 dollars they earn doing their chores, you give them 2 extra dollars. (sound familiar?) It should.. It’s how a 401k employer match works. See… small lessons.
Drop Your Pride
Always remember, you are raising a boy that will eventually date a young woman. If you want to make it harder for him, do the exact opposite of what I’m describing. Or in your case… keep doing what you’re doing. Boys will not… ”be boys.” Do not accept mediocrity from them. Don’t let them slide with certain behaviors because they are a boy. Breaking a little girl’s heart is not what a man does. Teach him about loyalty, honor, and discipline. Qualities a lot of men do not have because they were never taught them. Remove him from in front of those video games and social media sites with these young girls doing God knows what. Refocus him.
Since daddy isn’t around… and you know you can’t control that part. You have to do what you have to do with the situation you’ve been given. Drop your pride and ego, this is for your son. Try and find a man who already exhibits these traits to mentor your son(s). We know you can give the basics needed for him. But most boys need some type of male influence in their lives or they will have a longer growth curve than a boy who had a good man in his life showing him and teaching him what he needs to know to navigate manhood. Grandfather, brother, big brother, anyone willing. Don’t turn them away because you want to prove to the world you don’t need a man to raise your son.
Set Him Up For Success
Lastly, I respect and love all mothers:
- Mothers are in many cases willing to do whatever it takes to provide for their children.
- My great-grandmother raised me, and I even had a surrogate mother who was a great woman. This shows a woman can raise a boy alone. But I don’t recommend it. My grandmother raising me alone was not an ideal situation. I was missing a lot when I left the house. She had a hard time with me but did her best and did a great job instilling core values. But she couldn’t teach manhood. Only a man can do that.
That being said, a lot of the situations I mentioned above, I went through as a young man. I’m speaking from experience, observation, and conversation. The journey of a young boy into a man is different from the journey of a girl into a woman. Always respect that.
Your son will one day grow into a man. And a woman will like him enough to be his girlfriend and his eventual wife. Set him up for success.
For the work you’ve done and the work you continue to do, mothers…I thank you.