Wednesday, January 29, 2014

How Single Motherhood Affects the Children
By Rachel Miller-Bradshaw

Video interview with Cynthia Grace PHD

Conversations about the black family in the United States usually focus on the roles of single mothers and absent fathers; at times, completely ignoring the direct product of these relationships- the children. But as we move forward in our conversation, more attention should be directed to the children. No need to go into a long statistical explanation, but it is necessary to mention that according to the 2008 U.S. Census, 8 out of 10 black babies were born out of wedlock. Now that this statistic is out the way, the greater question the community should be asking is, “What are the reasons children who are products of single parenthood are more likely to have lower self-esteem, commit suicide, become criminals and drop out of high school?”  Taking these effects into consideration, black men and black women must be mindful of how children are affected when the parents are not in stable, healthy marriages.

This is not a condemnation of single motherhood rather a closer analysis on the familial structure and how it innately affects children. Some single mothers might argue that they provide all of their children's needs, even overcompensating-which is counterproductive most times, because these children can develop entitlement issues and lack of responsibility.  It is clinically proven that fathers provide protection and shape our identities.  Two very important factors missing in the majority of black children's lives growing up right now in the United States.

To understand the effects a child growing up in single parenthood experiences, one has to analyze it from the psychological standpoint.  What are these children thinking about their familial situations and their self-worth.  Children develop their first feelings of belonging and worth from their parents from whom they are a direct extension.  When part of that extension is missing a feeling of void and abandonment develops which is clinically proven as the cause of behavioral and psychological issues. Think about it this way- how many more men would know discipline, respect and right from wrong if their father was present to teach and show them.  Little girls get their self-worth from their fathers whom they use as a role model for the type of mate to choose.  But in the cases of single mother homes, these children are lacking the important essentials that assist in socializing them. Children need to see their fathers at their sports tournaments and plays.  They need to see that daddy loves them and supports them in this brutal world.

"I feel so bad. I'd rather have a dead father than a father that's living who has nothing to do with me", is one of the most gripping statements Cynthia Grace, P.H.D, participant in the documentary ON MY OWN, remembers that one of her patients said to her.  Dr. Grace also talks about feelings of abandonment, anger and hurt felt by many children living in single parent homes.

The conversation needs to shift from one of condemnation of parents to the advocacy of raising healthy, comforted children. The bottom line is this, as our community continues to date, there should be more serious conversations placed on family values, more thought placed on responsibility, and more emotion put into dating and engaging in sexual relations.  Black males and females intimate interaction is bigger than sexual gratification.  Children, in many instances, are produced from these interactions.   Relationships must be in tact because children need both parents. Our children's psychological well-being is desperately important to the Black community.

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