By Anna Gibson
From slavery to the modern day corporate lifestyle, black women have been known for their resilience in the face of adversity and strength against all odds. One of the most remarkable victories we as black women face is the ability to raise, protect, and inspire our future’s most precious resource: our children. It’s no secret that single parenting can be difficult; and raising black boys to become strong black men can be a daunting task. From the preschool to prison pipeline to higher rates of police brutality among men of color, there are significant challenges to the growth of black youth. The U.S Census Bureau claims that children from single parent households grow up to have significantly greater challenges from more aggressive behavior to scholastic difficulties.
Despite the statistics, there aren’t any shortages of famous personages who have beat the odds. Success stories like Barack Obama and Sean Combs especially attribute their to their mothers who shaped and influenced them to become the men they are today. It’s clear that despite the statistics, black women have demonstrated the ability to turn boys with potential into great men of action.
The question is, despite the obstacles before us, how can we raise our sons to be the best they can be? I had the pleasure of speaking to Dominique Perrin, a single mother raising a beautiful and exuberant boy of only 8 years old. She expounded on the struggles of motherhood, as well as the joy of spending time with who she calls her ‘boo love’.
On Support and Strength
“It really takes a village”
Dominique is no stranger to motherhood. After taking care of her son from the ages of 3 to 8 years of age, without the father and on her own, she’s had to deal with numerous triumphs and challenges in his development. She recalls an incident where her son broke his arm and she had to take him to the hospital. In instances like this, she advises mothers to “Stay strong for them. Children today deal with a lot of self-esteem issues and the last thing you want them to think is that they’re doing something wrong. It’s really important to keep that poker face in tough times.”
According to Dominique however, ‘being strong’ doesn’t mean doing it alone. It’s ultimately the result of the numerous people around her that have helped her when she needed it most. She says, “For a lot of single mothers, it can definitely be a challenge, but you don’t have to do everything alone. Even if the father isn’t there, you can get support from your friends and family. It definitely takes a village.”
On Discipline and Practicality
There has recently been a ton of conversation around the topic of discipline. Everyone from psychologist to celebrities have chimed in on this controversial topic. According to Dominique, single mothers should keep in mind that every child is different.
She says, “I think if we disciplined our children more it would alleviate some of the high rates of our children in prison. I think sometimes society wants to discipline our children and in order to alleviate that, discipline needs to start at home. Explain to them what they did wrong. Even if they can’t talk you’re still mom and dad. They’re sponges that soak up everything at that age so discipline doesn’t have to be physical.”
It should be noted, Dominique’s statement is actually backed up by various studies. The American Humane Associates notes a strong correlation between children who are physically disciplined and greater rates of aggression, anxiety, and stress.
Alternately, positive discipline, (i.e rewarding or praising desirable behaviors, responding immediately, and listening) causes the child to grow up with an ‘inner locus of discipline’. This means that they don’t need an external force to behave themselves; instead they restrain their own behaviors. However, this doesn’t mean the parent has to be a doormat. Dominique states that “There are various things you can do, different tactics and types of discipline work on different children. You just have to know your child.”
All in all while single black motherhood can be difficult, it’s ultimately rewarding. Raising a son isn’t easy by any means, but with unconditional love, assistance from others, and inner strength we can raise our men to be a powerful force for good in the world around them.
*Feature Credit Image: The Huffington Post
Anna Gibson is a student at Wayne State University, Buddhist, social activist. She is passionate about illuminating the stories of the marginalized. You can catch up with her on Twitter @TheRealSankofa and on Facebook where she’s hiding under the name of Introspective Inquiries.
Get at us @BlkMillennials.