RAISING A MAN: Tips for single mothers AND fathers #5 of 10

Tip #4 suggested listening as a great tool for communication and understanding. It seems that my last tip conjured some reactions from mothers. I heard things like, “My son doesn’t listen to me.” or “I told my son the same thing but he didn’t believe me but when you said it, he’s all ears.”

Let me say this, I believe individuals, male or female, learn or comprehend differently. I’m not going to say gender roles because the male & female gender roles have been severely dissolved or morphed. The feminine behaviors that male children are picking up from their mothers is…hmmm.

Wait, I’m drifting.

I’ll take it a step back…this tip is not about listening or talking. This tip is about allowing your son or daughter to be with other men.

Where did that come from?!

Women are in the households, they’re in the churches, they’re in the schools…where are the black men? What I’m suggesting is you, mothers, take yourself out of the equation. He sees you all the time, he hears you all the time….you’re watered down, blah blah blah….all you do is hover and nag nag nag. (Joking, not joking)

I’m exaggerating but the point I’m making is…allow your son to be with other positive men. This will allow him to learn dynamically from other men.

YOU CAN’T SHOW HIM HOW TO BE A MAN! You can discuss it, explain it, describe it but a man lives it.

Look…no one is negating your ability and efforts as a parent…I dare not do that, women hold it down. I’m definitely NOT saying a mother or father is less than the other. I’m speaking of balance, as a race we have lost priority for the balance of a male/female household. What I am saying is that unfortunately for the last 3 decades there’s been an diminishing respect or latent attack on the black male. Since the inception of welfare, a black mans presence and value in black households has been squandered.

Resisting that rabbit hole…

So…allow you son or daughter to be around positive black men. I’m not endorsing the “thug” or the homosexual male friend. I’m saying a heterosexual black male that goes to work, pays his taxes, and has some spiritual base. Let your child see that dude in action. See him put on a suit, see him as a public speaker, playing ball, fixing the car, laughing with the kids, dancing with his woman…where is that dude? Find him and allow your child to see that because the nonsense on tv, the asinine reality series, the men in drag…those images are not helping the culture. These adult themes are not going to help produce the man you hope to see in families and in communities.

…back in the rabbit hole.

If he decides as an adult to be homosexual or dress drag that’s his adult choice but don’t obfuscate his choices or alter his values because of what he’s exposed to as a child.

So…the hope that your son or daughter will validate what YOU are saying when they’re out with other people. He will think, “Mom told me that” or another person will reinforce what YOU have told him. He will respect and appreciate you as his mother by choice not by obligation. You may be superwoman but you are not a man.

MPM

“If any human being is to reach full maturity both the masculine and the feminine sides of the personality must be brought up into consciousness” Mary Ester Harding

DISCLAIMER:  I’m not a psychiatrist or even a parent. This blog is my supportive opinion, which is based on about 26 years of mentoring young boys from the age of 7 to about 18.  While mentoring, I have also received formal and informal guidance from older black men/volunteers from the DC Chapter of Concerned Black Men, Inc. I also received formal training as a volunteer with Mentors Inc. My personal development and growth from the 7th  – 12th grade includes my attendance of an all male boarding high school called Girard College. While my opinion can be applied to young women, I believe most times I have an inherent bias towards masculine issues. My lens, for good or bad, is aligned to young males and men.

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RAISING A MAN: Tips for single mothers AND fathers Tip #4 of 10

I’ve recently imposed a philosophy of listening first. I have two eyes, two ears and one mouth…Shut UP. This is self imposed of course. Well… that philosophy goes along with my next tip, be quick to listen and understand what your child has to say.
This is where I provide a really good example for listening but, to tell you the truth, I don’t have one. Shoot, I’m not good at it…getting better but I’m not there yet. As I said before, I don’t have any children so that’s my excuse.
Let me present another side of communication.  The scenario is… adults are talking about adult subjects, family, sex, money, etc.  A child in the next room is listening…being nosey.  He can hear the conversation, but that doesn’t mean he’s invited to the conversation.  He responds to someone in the conversation between adults and they quickly realize he’s been listening, to which they respond, “Hey…keep your ears out of this conversation, ain’t nobody talking to you.”
Now…that was me in my teenage years.  Every time my mom would talk about juicy family stuff, I was right there.
My challenge to you is the opposite of that scenario…LISTEN to your son or daughter tell you something.
I’m talking about when you are alone talking to your son, listen really LISTEN to what he’s saying. Allow him to develop his own voice and opinion, then work backwards to try to coach his thoughts…understand his process of deductive reasoning before he speaks. Work with him to understand the timing of his statements…but again, listen to him first.
If you’re upset about something, use YOUR words and talk to your son. Try not to react, talk….don’t yell…just tell him why it’s wrong or right.
Let him speak up and for himself even knowing the outcome may not be something you want to hear. What’s more important is that he trusts you enough to tell you.
I’m publishing this around the same time a family is mourning the death of their 19 or 20 year old son. His relationship had ended and he choose to commit suicide. I don’t know if listening or not listening was a contributor…I can’t even begin to understand it. I just wish I can help this family at this time, I probably can’t. My hope is that maybe listening will help someone else not lose a child…maybe. 
MPM
“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” Dalai Lama

DISCLAIMER:  I’m not a psychiatrist or even a parent. This blog is my supportive opinion, which is based on about 26 years of mentoring young boys from the age of 7 to about 18.  While mentoring, I have also received formal and informal guidance from older black men/volunteers from the DC Chapter of Concerned Black Men, Inc. I also received formal training as a volunteer with Mentors Inc. My personal development and growth from the 7th  – 12th grade includes my attendance of an all male boarding high school called Girard College. While my opinion can be applied to young women, I believe most times I have an inherent bias towards masculine issues. My lens, for good or bad, is aligned to young males and men.

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RAISING A MAN: Tips for single mothers AND fathers Tip #3 of 10

Your son has hunt, fish and survive on his own.

Hold on…we’re not living in the “homestead” days any longer so I should say, educate himself, work (make money) and navigate life by making good decisions…on his own.

The most important three words in my statement is “…on his own.” My previous Tip #2 was, “Let him fail!” To let him fail, tip #3 appropriately is… STOP doing everything for him.

You can show him how to do it…but don’t do it for him.

…and please God STOP hovering over him! Tell him to do it and walk away. Five seconds after the instruction, don’t ask, “Do you need help?” You are not helping. If he needs help, let him ask for it. Don’t anticipate the “ask”…make him ask for help. Making sure he won’t mess up is not helping him to develop problem solving skills.

I was raised by my step-grandmother, I would watch her tell my cousin, her grandson, to take out the trash. You would think that such a menial task is easy to do but moments after telling him to take out the trash, she would immediately lose patience with him and start grabbing the bag or performing the task before he even began. She would start correcting him as soon as he started taking out the trash. She did this with the majority of everything he did. I mean, she ALWAYS did it. Over time, he had challenges working through the problem. I witnessed this from the age of 7 until about 13 years old. It was like he was slow or handicapped but he wasn’t…he just never developed those basic skills and started to always second guess himself. She didn’t do this to me, he was her favorite and I always had to fend for myself. In retrospect, her favoritism towards my cousin back fired because I developed the cognitive skills to problem solve, adapt, and excel at a rapid pace…faster than her grandson.

I know some of you mothers will say, “Well he’s too young to do it on his own.” You might be right but I’ll ask, “If not now, when?”  When will you know he’s ready if you’ve never tested or allowed him to understand his own capability?

As adults we want to immediately help children…I know I do.  I’ve learned to resist and ask, “Do you need help?” When they respond, “No”…I walk away with the confidence that this individual will navigate life just fine.

MPM

Be a coach because coaches coach, they don’t play.

DISCLAIMER:  I’m not a psychiatrist or even a parent. This blog is my supportive opinion, which is based on about 26 years of mentoring young boys from the age of 7 to about 18.  While mentoring, I have also received formal and informal guidance from older black men/volunteers from the DC Chapter of Concerned Black Men, Inc. I also received formal training as a volunteer with Mentors Inc. My personal development and growth from the 7th  – 12th grade includes my attendance of an all male boarding high school called Girard College. While my opinion can be applied to young women, I believe most times I have an inherent bias towards masculine issues. My lens, for good or bad, is aligned to young males and men.

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RAISING A MAN: Tips for single mothers AND fathers #2 of 10

 

 
The next tip for single mothers is probably the hardest to do.
I said it before, it’s hard for any well intended mother to not nurture, support and guide. As a man, I cannot measure exactly how incredibly hard it would be for a mother to resist when you have the best intentions for your son…especially when trying to resist doing what comes natural. 
 
You must let him fail.
 
By letting him experience his failures, he begins to problem solve. This is hard…trying not to save him from failure. If you allow him to fail, he develops the skills to get back up. He begins to make his own corrections. More importantly he doesn’t operate with a sense of a “net” is going to save him. If the hypothetical “safety net” isn’t there…then maybe he would be more careful about his decisions. 
 
It’s almost like a toddler learning to walk, if he starts to fall and you catch him…every time, he never develops balancing skills or reflexes or, more importantly, the ability to get back up. He learns to pay attention where he walks, to identify the unleveled pavers in the walkway to slow down his pace whatever the cognitive development necessary to not fall.  Even if he’s too young to let fall…when do you trust him to walk on his own?…if not now when?

Your son has to learn to survive and get back up without you. He will still be waiting for you to catch him from falling or…laying there waiting for you to pick him up.

MPM

DISCLAIMER:  I’m not a psychiatrist or even a parent. This blog is my supportive opinion, which is based on dating single mothers, mentoring young boys from the age of 7 to 18 for almost 3 decades and other various life experiences.  While mentoring, I have also received formal and informal guidance from older black men/volunteers from the DC Chapter of Concerned Black Men, Inc. I received formal training as a volunteer with Mentors Inc. Lastly, my personal development and growth from the 7th  – 12th grade includes my attendance of an all male boarding high school called Girard College. While my opinion can be applied to young women, I believe most times I have an inherent bias towards masculine issues. My lens, for good or bad, is aligned to young males becoming men.

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