A Post Mother’s Day Reflection of Single-Parenthood In the Black Community By A 2-Parent Raised Black Man
May 15, 2012 § 3 Comments
With 70% (a decline of 4% from last year, according to the Center for Disease and Control, p.8) of Black babies being born out of wedlock, I decided to comment on what Mother’s Day in the Black community means to me. Many will dismiss my commentary, of course, and my insight is limited due to the fact I’m a man who was board and raised in a two parent household but the reader should look past that and understand the more important point I’m attempting to convey. Lastly, with these statistics at hand, I’m not short of friends and their firsthand accounts of being raised without a father.
How can one ignore the fact more than half of Black woman bear illegitimate children? Well, I can’t and I’m obliged to hold this statistic at its forefront whenever necessary. The socio-economic and psychological effects of a single-parent household affects us all, in more ways than one.
Assuming the father doesn’t pay child support, and two-thirds don’t according to several studies I’ve found, and the mother is unable to solely provide for her new family, she is forced to rely on her greater family, church and private organizations, government benefits or illegal means to provide for her family.
Indeed–single-mother households affect us all.
In regards to the social and psychological effects, several studies have discovered not having children before marriage or age 21 is one of the three things that keep people out of poverty (with the other two being completing high school and having a job, any job; of course, these are not absolute, as we can all find individuals who defy the general rules). So, upon birth the child is already disadvantaged, a step behind society, according to statistics, in reaching success. In 2010, 28% of Blacks were in poverty, double that of the nation’s average.
Another aspect that can be looked at is the simple fact the children have no male figure to guide them in the ways only a man can. No matter how well of a mother the single-mother may be, she can not and is not supposed to take the place of a man and his supposed duties.
A daughter can be be taught how a real man is to treat them–that is, like a princess–as opposed to looking for “fatherly love” in places where there is none. This leads to promiscuity On social-networking sites, you see females thriving for attention and recognition from the opposite sex; or in person you see females with boyfriends who you know is no good but “holds them down” (whatever that means).
Father absence also leads to the girl not being interested in marriage because all she knows, and sees around her with other family and friends, are dysfunctional marriages and/or families, as if marriage and family can only be dysfunctional.
What type of effects does a new man in the house every week or year(s) have on the child, especially the daughter? Perhaps, since the mother is exhibiting the behavior, that switching mates are fine. What of the relationship between the son and the new man?
Think of the film Baby Boy (I know it’s a movie but bare with me for these scenarios are not exclusive to movie screens). When Jody and his mother’s Juanita boyfriend, Mel, are constantly in conflict and in one scene Juanita was left to choose between the two after a physical altercation.
Furthermore, imagine if Baby Boy was a kid, say 15 or 16 years old. Would Juanita, or Jody’s teenage ego for that matter, allow Mel to discipline him should he get into trouble at school or with the law? The answer is up in the air but I’m assured this would further spark conflict; and if left unhanded, would leave Jody to act with, what economist call, no “moral hazard.”
Moral hazard also applies to the government benefits a teenage mother receives
With a baby bringing on new expenses, the single-mother may resort to means she might have not otherwise taken: acts against her morals, government benefits, more work hours or school for a better future–who knows. I’d like to focus on on the government benefits the single-mother receives after bearing illegitimate children.
The above graph shows single-parent homes accounted for the majority of welfare (or TANF) recipients., until recently.
Those who advocate since it’s the woman’s body and she has the right to it, she can do as she pleases and the government should just leave her body alone, usually advocate, after giving birth, society should pitch in–by government force–and help her care for the child. Despite the false cries from individuals that there is a “war on the poor,” there are an array of government programs and services served to help those in need: child care grants, housing grants, child tax credits, EITC, TANF, Medicaid, free lunch programs, section 8 housing, furniture vouchers, WIC, to name several of the 128 welfare programs (1).
The Department of Health and Human Studies offer comprehensive studies which display what age group and ethnicity/race bears children and whether or not the mother is married or unmarried. In 1970, the percentage of all births to unwed married women for Blacks was 37%; then 1980 it was 56%; then 1990 it was 66%. As the facts indicate, the percentage has gotten higher and higher.
A friend of mine recently remarked her Facebook newsfeed look more like a “baby shower” than a social networking site. Such words couldn’t be truer.
Each time a baby is born out of wedlock, Black culture is damaged, in the sense that it affirms the stigma. But it is only damaged in that sense because, surely, Black culture celebrates and praises single-mother through the arts and social-networking. It is not only Black culture that puts up with it but pop culture, too. Teen Mom, MTV’s highest rating show at the time bringing in over 2 million for its debut and 3 million for final episode of season, according the B&C, and 16 & Pregnant have a bad cultural effect, I believe, and further normalize illegitimacy.
No one is requesting that pregnant teens hide in the corner during pregnancy but to be presented a prime-time TV show is unacceptable.
Urban music also perpetuates that a woman, most likely one that solely heads the household, is strong and independent. One song that comes to mind is “Baby Mama,” Fantasia Barrino’s single off her debut album. The song praises the single-mother just for being strong and said it was “now-a-days it like a badge of honor” to be a baby mama. She even went further and made the point that single-mothers are ”the backbone (of the hood).” She’s right–single-mothers are the backbone of the hood and that’s a horrible thing. The hood is a horrid place full of fatherless boys that fight in schools, homeless beggars and low property value. Sure it’s tough being a single-mother in any environment but the correct direction to take is not to create baby mama anthems.
What kind of society do Black people want where a child is 1, her mother is 18, her mother is less than 40, and her mother is 60? Where will the guidance on how to be a virtuous lady come from? If it takes a village is to raise a child, surely the village must not be filled with kids raising kids.
If we continue to overlook the growing epidemic of illegitimacy, we are only normalizing unfortunate behavior, financially draining society, preparing our generation for failure and eliminating the Black family–society’s first and most important institution. For a more productive and efficient, successful and stable Black community, we have to place higher values on sex. If we aren’t teaching our children, siblings and other close females about sex, someone else, first hand experience (and then it may be too late), surely, the TV screen will. Which would you prefer? We musn’t rely on the schools or politicians to help us.
It’s imperative we do better Black people and stop pardoning this behavior.
(1) For a more in depth study of the 128 welfare programs, view Michael D. Tanner’s, senior fellow at the Cato Institute, policy study “The American Welfare State: How We Spend Nearly $1 Trillion a Year Fighting Poverty–And Fail“ and presentation on the same topic.
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