You Can’t Raise A Man

BY: - 21 Jan '14 | Parenting

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There’s a song played on the radio titled “Can’t Raise A Man” by K. Michelle. In the song, K. Michelle counsels a woman about her relationship. The lyrics detail a relationship that is headed anywhere other than happily ever after. In fact, the song describes a theme that is all too common when it comes to Black men – -There aren’t enough good Black men.

Oh Where Oh Were Have The Good Black Men Gone

The media would have you believe that there are very few good Black men. The media is partially correct because our community – no different from any community that hopes to thrive and evolve –can never have enough good men. Good men are a requisite of a good community.

To put it mildly, the Black community has room for improvement. Thus, we could benefit from more good men. In part, we are lacking “enough good Black men” because we haven’t created an atmosphere and an environment where all Black men can have an opportunity to not simply be good men but GREAT men.

It starts with our sons. All boys deserve the opportunity to be great men. Sadly, not enough boys will have the opportunity to even be good men much less great men.  K. Michelle implies that part of the reason there is a dearth of good Black men is the mothers. K. Michele sings:

“If his momma couldn’t do it what makes you think you can train a boy to be a man, it’s too late”

While the song is catchy and the lyrics are cute, this assertion seems misguided. It is not the mother’s responsibility to solely raise a child. Why is there no reference to the father? Why is there no song about a daddy training his son to be a man?

Four Corners of Manhood

Whenever asked about what it takes to raise a man, I start by explaining that I do not believe it EVER appropriate to refer to a male as a boy. I consider a male child a M.I.T. (man in training). However, this is an explanation that goes beyond the purpose of this discussion.  For now, I would like to share four areas that all parents would be wise to consider and take heed, if you don’t want K. Michele’s song to be about your son.

  1. Chivalry – Parents who expect a man to be noble should raise a son who is good mannered. Does your son open and hold the door for his mother and other women? Does your son pull out his mother’s chair to seat her at dinner? Does your son stand until all women are seated? Does your son stand when a woman leaves and returns from the dinner table? Does your son get out of the car to pump the gas? Does your son give up his seat to women or the elderly when seating is limited? Does your son offer to pay for lunch, dinner or movies? Does your son ever refer to or speak to women in degrading or demeaning ways?
  2. Educated – Parents who expect a man to be refined should raise a son who is polished. Does your son take his academic success seriously? Does your son wear his pants like the incarcerated? Is your son taking challenging academic course, i.e. AP and Honors? Is your son capable of having a discussion with those already employed in the occupation he aspires? Are your son’s academic and extracurricular activities on track with those men considered “good Black men”? Does your son have plans to do anything other than live in your house for the rest of his life?
  3. Liberated – Parents who expect to raise a good man must make certain your son values freedom. Does your son know his family’s history and the responsibility he has to our people – to never be intellectually enslaved, economically confined or physically imprisoned? Does your son know the history of our people? Does your son have a police record? Does your son pay attention to the current world events and the geopolitical climate? Does your son maintain a Facebook page, Twitter account, Instagram account or other social media page that portrays him in a way that would keep him from being employed, offered a scholarship or that gives a poor first impression? Is it your son’s habit of using profanity and Ebonics to express himself?
  4. Independent – Parents who expect a man to be self-sufficient should raise an autonomous son. Does your son know how to cook which is not to be confused with microwaving? Does your son know how to wash, dry and fold clothes? Does your son know how to iron, wash dishes and other domestic duties? Does your son understand the value and power of working for himself? Is your son being taught lessons on business ethics and entrepreneurship? Does your son have a job or internship? Does your son give his time and energy to anyone or any cause that benefits the greater good?

These are just four of the areas of a man’s life that parents, not just momma’s, need to focus on. Not only do I believe we can raise a man, I believe we can ALL raise GREAT men. The advancement of the Black family and the evolution of the Black community is counting on all parents to do so. For without good to great Black men there cannot be a Happily Ever After.

About the author

Nathaniel Turner wrote 21 articles on this blog.

Nathaniel A. Turner, J.D. is the author of "Raising Supaman", a collection of life lessons written by a father to his son. Nate holds degrees in Accounting, Theology, History and Law. Nate blogs at The Raising Supaman Project which exists to CHANGE THE WORLD one parent, one child at a time.

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How I Appreciate and Value My Husbands Role as a Father

BY: - 22 Jan '14 | Marriage

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For the last few weeks, the article “ Six ways single mothers can raise a sorry black man” by Dr. Boyce Watkins has been circulating the web. With a title like that, of course the post hasn’t come without controversy.

I agree with Dr. Watkins that things like coddling, allowing laziness and rewarding “playa” behavior will result in a sorry man. I believe this is not just exclusive to single mothers, or black mothers, but as a society overall we have lowered the bar for many of our young men. We’ve granted the “boys will be boys” excuse too often for shoddy morals and sloppy lifestyle decisions to the point that we aren’t raising enough of our boys to become men.

However, the onus of raising a good black man vs. a sorry one can’t be put entirely on mothers themselves. One of the biggest pieces of the puzzle that Dr. Watkins only briefly touches on in the article is that as mothers we need, yes, need, strong fathers around.

I am not suggesting that it is impossible to raise a responsible child as a single mother. I was raised by a single mother and was once a single mother myself. But what I am saying is that trying to be it all, do it all and show it all is extremely hard. There are mothers out there doing their best to create that balance each day, but we cannot deny the stress that comes with stretching yourself thin trying to do all things, and the gaps that come with trying to teach manhood, something that as women we’ve never learned.

I am the mother of a son and a daughter, and having my husband there to parent with me gives me the freedom to parent in the way that comes naturally to me. I will not deny that my natural inclination is to be more nurturing while his is often to dole out discipline. But it’s for this reason that I need him there as much as he needs me.

I can tell my husband when I think he needs to ease up a little… just like he can let me know when I’m being too soft. My husband naturally does with my son all of the things that don’t interest me, like wrestling and playing football in the yard, while my son can learn from me the things that I already know how to teach him.

Even beyond that, I don’t have to always “show” my son how to be a good man, because the example is modeled in front of him every day. I don’t have to always tell him “this is how you treat a woman” or “this is how a man handles responsibilities” because he sees how to do that on a daily basis.

If it were necessary, I could step up to the plate and try my best to embody both roles. But having my husband there takes away the burden that comes with having the entire responsibility of parenting fall on my shoulders. My husband allows me to be mom in the best way that I know how.

Black women alone cannot be held solely responsible for raising good black men. In order to stop raising “sorry black men”  we need women willing to understand that fathers still have value, and men willing to step up and model something different.

About the author

Aja Dorsey Jackson wrote 203 articles on this blog.

Aja Dorsey Jackson is a freelance writer and marriage educator in Baltimore, Maryland and author of the blog and book, Making Love in the Microwave.

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