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To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it; I believe it.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

On Single Parenting...

Richmond Rose said (in response to a post on one of my favorite sites: The trials and tribulations of the average unwed black mother do not apply to Nia. I am in agreement, but I must note my understanding of the other comments regarding unwed parenting. I’m not sure that I would go quite as far as stating that unwed parenting has done as much destruction to the Black American community as slavery, but it has been all kinds of hellish-destructive in its own way.

I am saying this as an unwed mother, as an educated individual, and as one of the lucky remaining members of the "middle class" (which simply means that I can pay my mortgage, car note, student loans, utility bills, buy groceries and still have a little left over to give to my parents each month – all without child support): unwed parenting should be discouraged, and I am primarily concerned about my community, so I will say that unwed parenting should be firmly discouraged in the Black American community.

Putting aside for a moment the financial issues, single parenting is simply not an ideal way to raise a young person - not ideal for the youth, and not ideal for either of the parents. Young people need the constant (read: day-to-day and night-to-night) love, support, involvement, conditioning, discipline, the presence and the very smell of both of their parents, in order have the best possible chance to fully develop into their best selves. Dad needs mom to help him parent well; Mom needs dad to help her parent well. Parenting in the most ideal conditions is perhaps the most difficult (and enduringly so) undertakings of one’s life – it should NOT be done alone – it is NOT designed to be done alone.

I am the first to acknowledge the many, many, many instances and examples of super-fantastic, dedicated and devoted, educated and involved women and men who have raised awesome children as single parents (I am one of them!0. But trust and believe, if I had it to do over again, and if I am asked by my son, or my nieces, or my Girl Scouts, or a member of my youth group, or some random stranger on the street – I DO NOT HESITATE to tell them what I have learned over 15 very hard and long years – don’t make it harder than it has to be!

Seek and find a man or woman who is committed, who is like-minded, who shares your financial expectations, who is willing to build a future. And when you find them, date them, court them, engage with them, marry them, and have a child and raise a family with them. Single parenting happens (sometimes because of tragedy, sometimes because of poor decision making, sometimes because life just happens and you have to keep living or die trying) but in my very honest and humble opinion, single parenting should not be glamorized as an equally suitable option to parenting as a married couple.

Stepping down off my soap box now – sorry for the long post, but this is very close to my mission in life.

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