Having given birth to my first child at the age of sixteen, I’ve been a mother all of my adult life. Jumping into a mother’s role at such a young age was extremely challenging, but that was just the beginning.
I married at the age of twenty-one and gave birth to three more children over the course of about ten years. Unfortunately, I found myself raising those children on my own. Needless to say it was a daunting task; but the thing I found most challenging was being a parent to a son who desperately wanted and NEEDED his dad.
There I was in my early thirties, the single mother of Black man who would someday become a husband and a father.
I had no idea what do with that. I had no idea what a mother’s role was to her son. How was I supposed to teach him how be a man? A father? But I didn’t let that stop me. I worked diligently to succeed at the role I had been thrust into.
I was determined to make a man out of him.
He WOULD be a better a father, better man than his dad ever was. But, let me just tell ya….
I FAILED MISERABLY!
I was so focused on the man I didn’t want him to become until I completely overlooked the man he already was.
In my zest to make a man out of him, I overlooked the fact that he was already a man! He was a man when he was conceived and he was a man when I gave birth to him. He just needed to be properly groomed to become the man he was born to be.
I FAILED to groom him.
In my efforts to teach him how to be a man, I was constantly focusing on all the things he shouldn’t be doing AND what I didn’t want to happen to him.
I didn’t want him to become like the boys he often kept company with.
I didn’t want the streets to get him! I didn’t want to lose him to drugs.
I was always telling him what he shouldn’t do… what he couldn’t do.
I rarely (if ever) told him what he could do. I was so afraid that he would fail, til the possibility of success never even crossed my mind!
Big mistake! Big! HUGE
But here’s what I learned when I FINALLY realized that I was NOT his daddy.… because that’s what I trying to do.
I was trying to FATHER him.
But, one day it just clicked — ShirI!!! You are NOT the baby’s daddy.
I can teach him how to love, but I can’t teach how to be a man, a husband or a father.
Teaching him those things is not a part of my DNA. And I know some will disagree, but it’s just not how God created me.
He did, however give me a heart to love my son despite his shortcomings. That’s what I should have been using to groom him into the man he’s destined be.
My role as his mother is to help him develop his skills and discover his strengths — not to be his father AND not to teach him how to be a man.
I made A LOT of mistakes along the way, but after many failed attempts, I finally made the conscious decision to take off the cape of fathering him. I stopped trying to teach him how to be a man and start teaching him how to love.
I do that by showing him the same love that I want to him to experience and loving on him SUPER HARD even when he falls short of MY expectations!
If you’re a single mom raising a son, KNOW that a mother’s role — your role is NOT to be his father or teach him how to be a man. Your role is to teach him how to love himself and others. When he learns that, everything else will fall in place.
So, what say you?
Can a mother be a father to her son?
Can she teach him to be a man?
Sound off in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.
…AND be sure to check out the PODCAST EPISODE,
Raising a Black Son in White America on this topic.
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