Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Manchild in Single Mother’s Land

This is tricky water to navigate as the title alone will bring up all kinds of defenses.

Note: my context is as the single father, raising a son. I know a plethora of single mom's raising boys , my mother having been one who also recognized the benefits of making sure I had plenty of male role models around, including some who didn't necessarily share all of her values, but she recognized that there were things I could learn from them towards surviving the world outside of her house. I was dating a women who was also a single parent of a boy, who had no problems giving me all kinds of unsolicited advise on what I was doing wrong in raising my child. No problems here, as I know my kid is a bit of a free spirit and a challenge to deal with. I also know that I'm not a hardcore authoritarian.

I, however, usually held my tongue when it came to talking about how she was raising her kid, as even when she sought my input it would often result in a semi-argument whereby she would lecture me on how her choices were the right ones. My honest opinion, she was raising her kid to be a punk, and was setting him up to fail big-time in the world outside of good grades, good manners and church on Sunday. No wonder the lad wanted to be a preacher when he grew up: their pastor had all of the flash and dash of a Pimp/ Hustler in a tailor-made suit.

I learned from years ago, before I was a parent and was dating a single parent to keep a lot of my opinions to myself... directly. I saw some mistakes in her approach and mentioned them and of course got hit with all of the "When you have children..." comments in the book. Interesting PS, her kid is not a teen in juvenile boot camp. I hate being right abut some things and this is surely one of them.

Okay, so you met a guy, started dating him, laid down with him, had un protected (or under protected) sex and voila, had a kid. Maybe he bounced before he ever found out you were pregnant, or he bounced eventually when things weren't working in his favor, or the two of you split up and either he gets to visit the kid, gave up on being a father or you chose to use the kid as the only weapon you have to hurt the no-good muphucca for leaving your narcissistic ass.

The bottom line is this: You now have a kid and it's not about you anymore, it's about the kid. We live in a world that is both sexist and racist. Gender-based racism is another issue as women are less threatening, socially and economically, Black women can move in places that most Black men would not have access to. Consider the unemployment rates and under-employment rates of men of color compared to women of color then look a them compared to their white counter-parts. My point, as women of color, you experiences the world very differently then men are and your experiences are not those that your son are going to have (one of the subplot themes of the play, "A Raisin In The Sun").

1. Your Son Is Not His Father - he might look like his father, or show some of his father's physical or personality characteristics, but he is not him. DO NOT take your frustrations with his father out on him; DO NOT keep putting his father down to him (he'll figure out that his father's an asshole all by himself); DO NOT try to correct the issues and character flaws that you felt his father has. Your not going to work or beat it out of the boy, in fact your going to make him resent you and evenutally women in general and possibly magnify the flaw.

2. Your Son Is Not You With A Penis - he might look just like you, have some or most of your physical and/or personality traits, but this is not the time to be narcissistic. This is not your chance to live vicariously through your son, this is not the time to make him a mini you, his is not the time to use him as the weather vein in your interactions with other men. YES model the values and behavior that you want him to grow up with, but he is not an extension of your ego and not your second chance to achieve the things you didn't. For example, if you were sexually experimental as a youth, don't think you'll be able to turn around and keep him a virgin until he's married. Aside from the fact that you're being a total hypocrite, self discovery is pat of the learning process. Along with the abstinence discussion (that worked so well with you), also talk about safe sex, feelings (emotional/ physical), and choices.

3. Allow for Him To Make Mistakes - most of the best works or genres of art have been the results of mistakes. Jazz musicians develop their chops out of their mistakes. Again, this isn't about you and your ego and if the advice and examples of your mistakes weren't enough for him to learn from, experience is the best teacher. You can't protect him from monsters beyond the ones under his bed as a little one. The other monsters that he's going to encounter (violence, drugs, alcohol, racism, law enforcement, etc.) he's going to have to learn how to deal with.

No comments: