It’s Okay To Raise Black Boys-To-Men With Emotions
by Shannen Azuredee
In the summer of 2003, I became pregnant with my first child while planning my wedding to my then fiancé. When I discovered I was having a son, I feared that as he grew older I wouldn’t know what I could teach him about being a man. Fast forward to the spring of 2004 when my son was finally born, I remember holding him, just wanting to protect him. Knowing there would be nothing I wouldn’t do for him. I kept telling myself that it was going to be okay being a single mom, but was it?
I found out early that I would need to be that man that his father refused to be. It’s funny the strength we find in the face of certain obstacles. Have you ever tried potty training a male child? Every time I instructed him on what to do, he’d listen and then do what he saw me do. I tried everything including target practice with Fruit Loops in the toilet. Even though he mimicked me, at eighteen months he was fully potty trained. It still took a while for him to stand when urinating.
I’ve been a single mom for twelve years now, though it wasn’t by choice. I am a mother; unlike the mother I knew. Every day was hard. We’ve been homeless twice. I spent many nights waiting for my son to go to bed so that I could cry. I didn’t want him to see me fall apart. My son is now twelve-years-old and is an honor student.
It has been extremely hard at times but, also very rewarding. In the face of many obstacles, I kept going. I took part time jobs. I started a business. I lived. As parents, we tend to feel like we’re not doing enough but one thing I learned many years ago, is that you are your child’s first teacher. My son saw me struggle every step of the way and because it has always been just the two of us,we have a very strong bond. I have always encouraged him to express how he feels. One day on what felt like the worst day of my life, he came home from school and just hugged me. He told me that he thought I was the strongest person he knew. He knew there was nothing he himself could not achieve, because of me following my dreams. Wow! I’d managed to raise this beautiful human being who has respect, manners, love and emotions. I’d feared raising him to be too emotional in a society where men have historically been thought of as tough and macho. In the end, it is more important to raise a well-rounded human being by removing gender-types from your equation. I know I still have his teenage years to go, but I do believe the strong foundation I built with him will endure throughout his lifetime.
Guest Writer | @ShannenAzuredee