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Single Parenting

Wanted: A Man

Around The House

by Coline Anderson

It happened again, and this time I wept openly when the teacher asked if there was a father in the home.  My ten-year-old son had been jumped by the school bully on the way to school, and the teacher suggested that perhaps the continuous confrontation could be prevented if my son could be escorted to and from school by a male figure.  I couldn’t stop crying as I drove home thinking about my son and my situation.

His father had never seen him, or been interested in his existence.  I became pregnant in the seventh month of our dating, and he had angrily told me that I was on my own.  I hadn’t seen or heard from him since.  At this time in my life, I had no male figure in my environment who could step in as a surrogate father.  The other thought that brought comfort to me is that I knew I was not alone.

To date, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 54% of African-American children under the age of 18, in the United States, live in single-parent households headed by single women.  This is an unfortunate statistic in the Black community because kids need both parents and usually when a woman is raising children alone, she often experiences feelings of hopelessness, isolation, and alienation. 

The two needs most single mothers express are a loving companion and someone to share the responsibility of parenting.  So many mothers without a father around for support try to be both mother and father.  However, children suffer also in single-parent situations because more than anything, most kids want their Mom and Dad.

These children often experience the same feelings of hopelessness and isolation, when they see other children with a father who is visible and supportive.  To the kid looking on, these children are enjoying a double dose of love, while he’s only receiving one.  When I was growing up, my friend and I was the only two in the whole neighborhood who had fathers in the home.  And our fathers, because of their stature as men, were latched onto by the other kids in the neighborhood who did not have dads.  By the time we reached our teens, our dads had become surrogate fathers to the whole neighborhood.

In those days, my dad could walk into the middle of a gang fight and rescue one of his “boys” and the offenders would flee in all directions.  The look on the rescued kid’s face was always one of pure gratitude and love.  My dad used to say, “A boy needs to know that a man somewhere cares about him.  Boys need men in their lives to teach them love and strength.  Men make men.”

Today, our young boys are growing up in households where they are being molded and shaped by women, who do not know how to be what they are not…men.  Single mothers should use all means necessary to foster a relationship between their children and their father or another male figure who they feel could have a positive impact on the lives of their children.  The child benefits greatly with these two perspectives in his life and the community benefits when these two molding forces are strong and supportive. 

The merits of a black male youth being impacted upon by a strong male figure was never so illuminated as in the movie, “Boyz ‘N’ The Hood.”  This was one movie that truly depicted one of life’s realities.  When a young man has a father who is loving, caring and committed, his chances to excel in life far exceed the kid who doesn’t.  Unfortunately, there are too many “Doughboys” in the communities and not enough “Tres.”

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