At 20, I found myself a single mother of a 12-month-old son, packing up and moving across the country, 1,200 miles away from my son’s father. I cannot accurately vocalize how I felt at this time, but if I had to try, I would say ashamed, embarrassed, lonely, enraged, like I had failed my son. I thank God for my parents, because they were there to support me and my baby. However, the dream that I had of Mommy, Daddy, and Moo had instantly turned into a nightmare of a 20-year-old child raising another child. I knew this was ultimately my responsibility. Whether he grew up to become a successful man or a complete psycho, I would get the ridicule or praise. I was determined to avoid “complete psycho” at all cost and raise a “real man”.
I would often hear people say “women can’t raise men”, which would immediately infuriate me. I felt like it was a direct attack on me and at this point, what choice did I have other than raise a man? You’re telling me that my son is destined for failure because his father chose not to be in his life? Or that I had to immediately find a man to raise my son? I hated this opinion to the core! I am a very independent woman and I was determined to show the world I could do anything, including raising a man.
Over the next 7 years, it was Mommy and Moo (yes, I call him Moo). I found myself over compensating, over explaining, and over analyzing every decision I made to ensure I was raising the “man” they said I couldn’t. I was going to put everybody to shame and show them there was nothing that I couldn’t do. I stressed to him the importance of hard work, taking care of family, protecting, providing, loving, all the things I thought he would need to learn. We would have frequent conversations at a very young age about how to treat women, what was expected of him as a young man, and to always be respectful and demand respect in return. I put him in a private Christian school so that he would be a man of God. Moo was my best friend, my confidant, my right-hand man. Where I went, he went, every decision I made began and ended with him, and he knew it. We were inseparable.
I did not need validation from anyone else. I knew I was doing an amazing job, with or without a man in the house. My son was respectful, loving, caring, hardworking, and smart! I pat myself on the back because although he had male role models like my dad, I was the person ultimately responsible for how he would turn out. However, I cannot take any credit from my dad, because he is an exceptional example of what a man should be, and when there was no one else around, he was there. So, my son has always had a great male role model, but not until he was 7 years old, did he have a father figure in the home.
So here I am walking around with my 7-year-old, thinking I’ve raised the perfect man, and along comes my husband Durrell, who was like a broken mirror showing me all of my flaws and things that I missed trying to raise this perfect man. It’s not that I did anything wrong, there were just so many things that having a man in the house 24/7 taught him that I didn’t. I have always disciplined my child and have had high expectations for him, but Durrell disciplines and expects things out of him that I never imagined. There’s a certain expectation that he has for him that I sometimes think is excessive, but months later, I look back and see the value in his tactics.
Even with Durrell in his life, day in and day out, I look at my son as what I once saw as a perfect angel and realize that he also has imperfections. So, is the saying true, women can’t raise men? I do not think this is necessarily true. I believe there is no absolute. There are men, raised by single mothers, that exude the image and are perceived as everything a man should be. So, I will not say women can’t raise men. I think women absolutely can raise men and sometimes have no other choice. But I can’t deny the impact of a man raising a man.
What I can say, is having a father in the home for the last 5 years has taught my son life lessons that I would have never thought to teach him. Every day he observes and learns what a man looks like. But men have flaws too which are also being observed every day. It is impossible to teach a boy how to be the perfect man, because perfect men don’t exist. What you can teach are the morals and values that you want your child to remember and apply as a man and it helps if you have a real-life example in your home being the model he aspires to be.
What do you think Mommies? Do you believe the saying “women can’t raise men”? What impact do you believe fathers in the home have on our young men? I would love to hear your thoughts.
Until next time,