Can a Woman Raise a Son to be a Man?

BY: - 28 Feb '08 | Home

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Did you see the movie Boyz N the Hood?   The character played by Angelia Bassett drops  her son off at his father’s house,Laurence Fisburne, and tells him to  teach him to be a man.

I have heard at least two times recently that a woman can not raise a son to be a man.   That only a man can truly raise a boy into the man that he needs to be.   I heard this topic being discussed last week on the Michael Baisden radio show and I also heard someone say it on the State of the Black Union last week.

I do not totally agree with this statement.   I think it may be harder for a woman to raise a boy into a man..but I do not think it is impossible.   There are many many good men out there that are good citizens, good husbands and fathers…and they were raised by single mothers.   There are also good men out there that had fathers in the home that were there..but were not really there… meaning they worked a lot…or they just did not spend time with the kids.

What do you think BMWK readers? Can a woman raise a  Son to be a  Man?

About the author

Ronnie Tyler wrote 404 articles on this blog.

Ronnie Tyler is the co-creator of BlackandMarriedWithKids.com and co-producer of the films Happily Ever After: A Positive Image of Black Marriage, You Saved Me, Men Ain't Boys and Still Standing. The proud mom of 4 has been selected by Parenting Magazine as a Must-Read Mom and is one of Babble's Top 100 Mom Bloggers.

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43 WordPress comments on “Can a Woman Raise a Son to be a Man?

  1. King James

    Yeah, women can raise sons to be men… and by ‘men’ we mean men of responsibility.

    My reality, is that there are many things that young men can not fully grasp/learn/understand through a woman. So while my mom did a great job and I’m responsible in my adulthood by many standards, there is much that I am still learning concerning being a responsible man.. .and those things could never come from my mom.

    I think it deals more with ‘seeing’ it happen… vs hearing it..

    how to treat women, treat ourselves, be slow to speak, see through bullISH, taking the not so easy road… actually observing a man do these things is what women can’t teach.

    But sure thing, women do wonderful jobs…
    King James

    Reply
    1. Rat

      no not really because can a woman teach a man how to have courage to protect his family when the time comes because women are afraid of a lot of things

      Reply
  2. Shazza Nakim

    I am torn on the subject sometimes. There are no instruction manuals for Parenting (DVD’s, Magazines, Reality TV Shows) but no manuals … that was me being sarcastic.

    As a Black Man, there was a brief time when I was part of a single parent home and the transition was a bit jaring for a while but my Mother did all she could to make my life stable. And it was util she re-married. Years later as an adult we talked abouth those days and my mother shared that all though she did it, and it was hard, raising a child(ren) is much easier and psychologically better with a MAN or positive MALE role model in the house.

    We currently live in a society that holds Single parenting as a stigma and yet it promote it in our media and or the breaking down of its social values. The struggles of the single parent (MALE or FEMALE) are still there but without that gender balance, human beings are still adaptable enough to survive. As a community leader working with children caught in the system, I can honestly say that the center of their problems are HOME BASED, mostly single but also with both parents.

    I would prefer a child with two parents but in my personal experience I’d rather have a child in a Good Single Parent Household than living on a street with No Parents or Two Bad Parents.

    Reply
  3. kim h20s

    King James is right, a boy really has to see it happen in order to instill it in himself. But the smartest thing a single mom can do is realize that she needs to put some men in her sons life that he can learn from. I agree with Steve Harvey that the man a woman chooses to be around her son doesn’t have to be someone she’s involved with, it can just be a friend or a neighbor. It’s probably better if it’s not someone the woman is involved with “like that” so that the man can really concentrate on learning the boy. That’s what our community needs, I’m always proud to see a man step up and take an interest in a boy, not because of the mom, but just in the interest of promoting the community. The same goes for men who are raising daughters on their own.

    Reply
  4. Kemi in Canada

    I did it Lamar! Eni is now 21 and does all the chores. Alleluyah, he moved into his first apartment yesterday in Toronto. I had to do the mom things yesterday to help unpack brand new small appliances like microwave, coffee pot, pots and pans, clean, install things.

    Next week I shall be going to cook his fave home cooked meals he wants to freeze and microwave as he needs them. I just booked his cable and phone appointment and have to sit there 2-5pm next week for Larry the cable guy to show up for installation while he’s at work. LOL. Look out for our book soon. “AUTISTIC BOYS TO MEN.” Many that know me know that I struggled to raise 3 boys alone with the eldest being autistic. Profoundly autistic and did not speak till 9 years old.

    Today he is high functioning, can drive his brother to soccer, do my chores, speak well and graduated from vocational school and works at Cineplex in Toronto. My son is responsible for putting on the reel in the machine to show you your fave movies. Google Cineplex. Largest movie chain in Canada!

    I commend the government of Canada (the true reason I moved here. Free health and services), Baltimore County Police and Johns Hopkins Kennedy Krieger Institute. Meanwhile I shall have last night’s interview about autism with Larry King up on Keminications soon. This is a BRAND new one. Holly Robinson was back and that boy who got that basketball award and also Doug Flutie and Toni Braxton! Yes, Toni Braxton! Tisha Campbell was not on this time. We sisters all have autistic sons!

    I’m writing this book to set an example that there is HOPE!
    You can raise a boy to a man. Ms Roberta did it (Ludacris), Donda West (Kanye) MamaDee (L’il Scrappy) and more. Visit my single mom site sometimes. Thanks Ronnie and Lamar for letting me speak my mind out!

    Reply
    1. Ms. Tee

      naming Ms. Roberta, Donda West and MamaDee as mothers who raised boys to men is by no means a compliment.u00a0 Their sons are producing music and lyrics that degrade our youth, especially young women; they fail to be positive role models that direct boys to become good stewards of money, loving and faithful husbands to their wife, loving and caring fathers of their children, teaching good morals, encouraging students that education is more important than trying to learn their demonic songs and steps, etc.u00a0 These woman/mothers raised boys that defy what African Americans need most and that is a standard of holiness and reverance for God our creator by living a life dedicated to Him.u00a0 nI’m glad your son made it to adulthood but if Ludacris, Kanye and Lil Scrappy are his role models, you need to start storing up some serious prayers NOW.u00a0

      Reply
  5. Kemi in Canada

    http://celebritysinglemoms.blogspot.com/
    Lamar has it linked on his blogroll. Something is wrong when you click my name in my first 2 posts.

    One more thing. We cannot always do everything for our boys. My 21 year old son Eni is scared to shave as he feels he’ll be cut after seeing it in a movie. That has to do with his cognitive abilities but this boy can memorize 500 phone numbers. He comes here every Tuesday so I can shave him as he does not want to go to the ATM to take his money out to go to the barber. Most of you men shave at home and I believe that is something a man can show him….if I had one at home. We as single moms try but you can’t do everything. Last week I talked about the birds and bees and condoms. Pregnancy or being a grandma is not my problem as much as AIDS and HIV. We also talked about child porn. Talk to your teens about that. curiosity in news stories can lead anyone to just go look and there goes your IP address. The cops will knock at your door and take you and your computer. I try my best.

    Reply
  6. TheDad

    Kemi congratulations with your son! I constantly dream of the days when our kids reach the mystical 21 for various reasons :-)

    My view is that a mom can raise a boy to be a man. My mother was a single parent with 3 boys and we all turned out well but I definately think there has to be some things that go into it additionally. I don’t have time to elaborate now so I’ll probably write a piggyback post about this tomorrow from my POV so be sure to come back to check that out. I have to give kudos to the wife for coming up with a good topic.

    Reply
  7. Anna

    I love this question. I say “yes we can”. It is nice to have help but it is not impossible. The key thing to remember is even though there may not be a man in the household there still has to be male influences in a young males life. Teacher, Coach, Pastor, Deacon, Uncle ect. If you(a mom) only surround yourself with being both mom and dad the kid is the one who misses out. A mom may tell her son that real men don’t cry. But for her son to see a man cry and be passionate about something is different for him than to see that from the “eyes of a woman”. Kemi, I loved your tribute to your sons 21 bday and I can only imagine how proud you are of him and his accomplishments. To raise a child is a challenge, to raise a challenged child is it’s own gift.

    Reply
  8. Anonymous

    Dear E-mail Family,

    No. A woman cannot raise a boy to be a man…unless she has a lot of “GAME” to teach her boy.

    Survival is no longer simply a matter of going to church, answering to “pastor”, doing the right thing, and waiting for the “man” to give you a chance.

    Even the most educated black male professional needs “GAME” to survive. I know…I have a graduate degree. I know I would be ten times more succesful if I had a father to teach me “game”.

    Fifty per-cent plus of black men are unemployed and the american psyche is to hire everybody, including black women, and to hire black men last, if at all.

    This is no coincidence. If you do not believe that this is by design then…

    The masses of young black males are walking with a limp, deliberately speaking broken english, and walking with their pants on the ground.

    These habits hurt young black men as they try to interact with society. The police and criminal justice system have shown this,

    These habits don’t help when the ultimate test of black manhood occurs…trying to get a job so that when you date a black woman she will not look down on you because she is doing better.

    I see the only solution is the all black male school system or other social program where black males are mentored by older black males.

    Who better to teach the young black male the “game” than another black male.

    If you don’t believe me, then name any other ethnic group where the women dominate families and are raising boys like in the black commmunity.

    Reply
  9. Pingback: The Black Informant | On raising a son

  10. Derek

    I think this is more complicated than people think. I was “raised” by my mother alone in a single parent family. She kept us safe and fed and out of jail. She did an incredible job, and I couldn’t have asked for a stronger, better woman to be my mother. But, did she raise me to be a man? No. She simply raised me and tried to teach me the right values. The “becoming a man” part was an entirely different part of my life.

    Becoming a man was something that I had to pick up from other men in the community. My uncle (God rest his soul), was a strong positive influence. Some of the other men in the neighborhood also set a positive example. The more unsavory characters, the drug dealers, the pimps, the con-artist, etc…,showed me an example of what NOT to do as a man. So, in many ways all of these “men”, were responsible for raising me to be a man. And by some weird twist of fate, even the less than honorable characters were necessary in order to make me the man that I would become. Becoming a man without a father present is a trial-and-error sort of thing. With a father present I’m sure some of my earlier choices (mistakes?) would have been different.

    Reply
  11. Kemi in Toronto, Canada

    The Dsd and Anna, thanks so much for commending me! I fel GOOD because I did a job so difficult and I succeeded. Next is Oyin who is gonna be 17 and he is still in Maryland with his dad. I talk to him about CRIME, being a journalist, I e-mail him every crime story that has to do with a 16 year old/17 year old especially this one with Juvenile’s daughter and more. I don’t want to see him in jail or with guns. Now he does not have his mom in the house because of shared custody stuff. However things go, all parents must be involved in their kids care 24/7. My youngest is a 7 year old blogger, KJ

    Reply
  12. Anna

    Kemi, you have a 17 year old male child that is with his dad. It takes a srong woman to give permission to the childs father to help raise. Divorce or not usually a child is automatically given to the mother. I honesty wish I had given my son to his father. Funny thing is, they are just alike even though I raised him. (sometimes the apple does not fall far from the tree). lol. I can say that I tried. Kids will be kids and I am proud of my kid (sometimes), I have to light a fire under his ass and remind him to pick a goal and go for it.

    Reply
  13. NML

    What an interesting subject! I think that when a woman does the best that she can, she can teach her son to be a man. It doesn’t have to be the father that acts as the male influence, it could be another positive role model. I do think that a boy having a positive male influence does make a difference but we can only work with the tools that we have. Often women have no choice but to raise their sons alone and when this happens, they do the best that they can. It all depends on what ‘being a man’ means to you. It can be about the practical aspects of being a man like Kemi mentioned with the shaving or more the social aspects of being a man like the responsible element that King James mentioned. I think that the most poignant point was made by The Mum – you can have your dad at home and they are still essentially absent. I think parenting of either sex has a lot to do with emotionally schooling – if you can foster positive emotional relationships with your children, much of the rest follows.

    Reply
  14. PLB

    I have no idea!!! Im 19 and 26 weeks pregnant and the father of my unborn son is not around! I dont know how im going to raise him to be a man….but i sure am going to work my hardest!

    I know it’s going to take one day at a time , help from God and support from my family!!!

    Reply
  15. Sara Stanford

    Hey PLB. Raising a son is easy but keeping him on the right track is the hardest thing to do. Outside4 influences dictate how your child will become a man. You can install values but don’t be pushy or it will backfire.

    Reply
  16. Nique

    There might be things that a mother can not teach there son, but if you have well rounded men in your family or a mate that shows a good example of how to be a good man you and your son can have them to look to when in need.

    Reply
  17. Leslie

    Is this question a joke, or some type of blooper? This is one of those questions that shouldn’t be dignified with an answer. However, to nullify any confusion of what my answer might be, its a loud, resounding YES!!

    Reply
  18. Kim C.

    As having been a single mother before and raising my son alone, I was always insulted when I heard people saying/questioning this mess.

    I have always put a stamp on this “didn’t have a father” as being an excuse or cop-out for having a bad a$$ son.

    “why did you hang out with the wrong crowd?”–“i didn’t have a father.”

    “why did you rob the store?”–“i didn’t have a father”

    “why are you now in prison?”– “i didn’t have a father”

    Please! Any parent, married or single, rich or poor, young or old, is to raise their children in knowledge and reverence of the Lord. God says that he will be a father to the fatherless. Does he lie???
    Take your sons to church, teach them about the Lord, raise them in the way that they should go, love them, protect them, DISCIPLINE them, and you got you as good a man as any

    Reply
    1. Bre

      AMEN! AMEN! AMEN! I agree with you 100% Kim. After reading some of the responses to this question I think opinions on this are based on what a particular individual person has experienced and how they define what a ‘man’ is or should be. A godly, strong woman can certainly raise a boy to be a man.
      The final outcome is teaching him to live by the principles of God in every thing he does and that includes how to work, how to respect women, how to respect others, how to choose a wife, how to love a wife, how to be a good husband, how to love his children, how to teach them the virtue of wisdom that comes from God, how to care about his communit, how to nurture friendships with other men for the good of his community and theirs. Now the world tells us women can’t do it based on the world’s generational definition of what a man ought to be. I’m a 62 year old black woman whose generational expectations were different from my parents expectations and today’s expectations. We don’t all agree as to what traits can be instilled by whom, however I believe good traits can be instilled by either parent. In I Samuel, his mother Hannah asked God for a male child and promised that if He did, she would give him back all the days of his life and she did that. Samuel was a great prophet. So the world can say what a woman can’t do but God says she can.

      Reply
  19. ericka

    I think that a woman can only teach a boy how to be a man to a certain extent. If we did not need the opposite sex, then we would have been able to pro-create ourselves. It’s just the same with a Father…a father can only teach and overstand but so much about what being a woman is and feels like. So my answer is…yes, a woman does play a part in raising a Man..but she cannot play the full cast.

    Reply
  20. T. Rogers

    Boys need strong, productive, caring men in their lives. Period. A woman can not take a boy to a man without the help of other men. My mother did the best she could, but there came a point when her best was not enough. I entered a phase of life she could not truly understand.

    Boys need to see things modeled in front of them. When I was a teen I did not want to hear mom tell me things would be alright. I wanted to see another man, who understood what I was dealing with, show me how to navigate the situation.

    I applaud all of the mothers out there. However, fathers and men are not optional. Our children need us.

    Reply
  21. Heather in Ohio

    I am so torn on this subject! I have 2 young boys 2 and 6 and I feel like I won’t be able to teach them. I don’t like to be negative but I really struggle with trying to figure out how I can possibly teach them to be men. Do I even know MYSELF what that means? If I did would have really made the same choices in men that resulted in their being? Who should I look to? My own father, who although he was present in my household growing up was never really a part of my life? My brother who is too busy with his own life to help in mine? My aging uncle? How do I find positive role models in the community?

    Reply
  22. Pingback: In Response To: Can a Woman Raise a Son to be a Man? | Black And Married With Kids

  23. Anonymous

    I have a son love him more an the days are long. But sometime I need some help with him.because. I feel he needs a man and not his mother.

    Reply
  24. blackmothertobe

    Here is my opinion. A real man is one who can be compassionate when necessary, one who can show fear one minute and be brave the next. A real man is one who is willing to do what it takes to get what he wants, he is driven and understands himself in ways other people can’t. A real man is interested with his family and those close to him and knows when he is wrong. A real man knows how to apologize and knows when its time to let something go. A real man can fix the house, but knows when to ask for direction. There are plenty of men who were raised by single mothers who are all that and more. The trick is knowing when enough is enough. Try to put yourself in your son’s shoes. You are say 15, do you really want your mother hanging around you and your friends? probably not, so be understanding, but know how to kick his ass into line and with some luck your son will turn out to be all you could ever hope for.

    Reply
  25. DaMan4Real

    Boys need to have fathers and other men in their lives. Some single moms do the best they can do, but the simple fact is a woman was not designed to be both mom and dad. As men we have dropped the ball, but when we take responsiblity we can pick the ball back up. I am a father of a black boy as much as I can I try to be in his life. I have my issues that I am dealing with and sometimes is so hard just to make it day by day. I read the book “the Bond” by those three black doctors, and that the type of commitment to excellence we as black men have to committed to. We have to learn how to be friends with one another and develop healthy relationships not only with ourselves but with our women and children. It
    starts by looking within and seeing how did you get to this point in your
    life. I made lots of mistakes in my life it would have been less had I had an older Black man to guide me, to mentor me. But now as I struggle to get back on my feet I am trying to learn what I should have been taught as a black boy. My mom did her best unfortunately her choices with men were destructive to our household, Successful black men reach back and help young black boys by mentoring and taking an active role in their lives. The difference would change our nation.

    Reply
  26. Black Man

    A single mother cannot raise a boy to be a man. One major question that has to be asked is WHY she is single? If the man was a thug and is now in prison, then the woman was never ready for motherhood to begin with. If she raises her son to be like his father, then the cycle repeats. A single mother who thinks that church and teaching her son to do chores and obey her every command is raising a wimp who will later resent strong women or will be abusive. No, the only answer (short of finding a good man to marry) is getting her son to associate with other men (respectful ones) or to urge military service or other male oriented structured groups. Its not as important that these men be BLACK men as it is for them to be MEN.

    Reply
  27. Micky

    Why are women always coming under fire on this topic? Can a single man raise his daughter to be a woman????
    Of course a woman who has her priorities straight can raise a son to grow up to be a good man. The problem really isn’t the gender of the parent but what kind of values the parent possesses and what they instill in their child.
    For those who think a woman alone can’t raise her son, open your eyes and look at all these screwed up men running around who were raised with their screwed up (read alcoholic, drug addicted, philandering…etc.) fathers in the picture and ask yourself if THEY grew up to be good men.
    Furthermore, why are people assuming a single woman is somehow trapped in the house and incapable of exposing her son to the world?
    I truly believe that those who believe a woman can’t raise her son alone were raised by bad mothers. Period. By your reasoning a mother should be able to raise a daughter, but my mother was a complete screw up. I knew people who were raised by gay parents who faired better than I.
    You better open your eyes people. Love is not a gender.

    Reply
  28. Donielle Michele

    Ummmmm how do figure women can’t raise “good” men? Where are the statistics to prove this? Do you care to look at your current President Barack Obama? He was raised by his mother for most of his life. Is he not a “good” man. Being able to raise a child period has nothing to do with gender. It’s about the person and their values. Think about this, if you have a woman that sleeps around and doesn’t have any self esteem or value her self worth, do you think she can raise a little girl to be a “good” woman? I’m sure if you did research on this topic, you would find MANY leading, honest, loving, “good” men that were raised by, dare I say it, W-O-M-E-N!

    Reply
    1. Christina

      Not really weighing in on either side of the argument, but I don’t think President Obama was ever really without male influences. His mother married at one point and they lived with her husband. When they weren’t with him, they were living with his grandparents.

      Reply
  29. tcollins

    Please people I have raised to strong Black Men by myself. Both are lawyers. Teach your child how to pray and keep them busy. They played alot of sports and had summer jobs.

    Reply
    1. Ms. Bee

      u did tell whether they were married and happy, fathers and good fathers, faithful to their wife if he had one, etc.u00a0 Just because they are lawyers don’t mean they are successful inwardly and it doesn’t mean that they don’t resent the absent of their father and have a strong disregard for men would attempt to correct them now on issues.u00a0 Becoming a lawyers in itself gives most of them more pride, control over the unlearned – charging fees and manipulating people out of their hard earned money, etc.u00a0 I know some disgraceful lawyers.u00a0 So, being a ‘lawyers’ does not mean they are good fathers/husbands.u00a0 They may have it in their mind to never marry and/or to just use women until they reach midlife.

      Reply
  30. Christina

    So to the women who feel they have raised their sons to be men on their own, did your sons have any male role models growing up?

    I think back to my adolescence. My Daddy was and is the star of my world. My mother and I didn’t have the best relationship growing up. However, when at 12 that first spot of “womanhood” showed up, it wasn’t my Daddy I called for in the bathroom. When he came, I sent him away. lol!! I think my father had a huge hand in the woman I am today, but he’s not who taught me how to be a woman. That came from my mom and all the wonderful women who modeled strength and grace in front of me regularly. Does that statement negate my father and his influence on my life? Not at all! And I don’t at all take it as an affront to my parenting that there are certain intangibles about maleness that my two boys are only going to get from their father.

    Just MHO!

    Reply
  31. James

    Check your facts with the number of black men in jail. Check your facts with the number of young black boys who don’t finish high school. Then round up all the ones that made it and compare the numbers. There are more failures than success, and most raised by single parent women.

    Reply
  32. Misunderstood

    Why is it every other race will allow the man to raise a boy to be a man and also be allow to run a house hold as a king . No woman should try to take the roll of head of household if there in a joined relationship in the home. It is true that all men are not bound to be great leaders or roll models, but that comes from the same mistake that is still being made today. If woman continue to take the leadership skills from the man, how will the son learn to be a great leader himself. Being a leader to a boy is one of the biggest responsibilities of a man along with being a stronge husband and stronge father to that son or daughter. You see, when you take that greatness from a man how can he be proud of himself and fell needed. What a women does when she takes that greatness from a father. Is that that man loose his way as well has the son. You see the son is being brain wash that he grows up not needing that power any more because the mother of the child will do it for him. All single moms are not great leaders for boys. Other questions ask why don’t men take more young men under there wings as roll models. Why would I try to run another mans home when the woman will not allow a man be a father to his own son. This is the reason why you see the large number of divorce rates because the track record is to long to correct to teach boys to be good fathers. What good is a man if he cannot be a father to a child and have authority. Women help your man to lead the boy to not quit. But don’t show the boy his dad is a failure. The boy has no one to believe in and he grows up not believing. Ask yourself, would you follow someone who don’t believe in them self to be a leader.

    Dumb follow the dumb. Smart follow the smarter.

    Reply
  33. jeffrey

    See you miss the point. None of that stuff has anything to do with masculinity. That’s just being a grownup. What about steadfastness, integrity, leadership, discipline, rational thinking, sacrifice, endurance, diligence, fortitude, etc?

    Reply
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