Baby's Daddy


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 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.  

Want to continue the conversation outside of this post?
Tag me with your thought on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. 

Need more conversations about ALL THE THINGS that shape, make and
sometimes break the Strong Black Woman?  Listen to podcast episodes HERE