I was listening to one of my favourite podcasts a couple of weeks ago – Pillow talk with Papa B and Candice Brathwaite – when Candice made a very provocative statement. She said she doesn’t believe a single woman can raise a boy. You can imagine my initial shock. She didn’t defend her statement or elaborate on it in any way. She went on to say that her mum raised her brother as a single mother and so she was making the statement even with that fact a part of her life.
It goes without saying that I disagree. I believe a woman can raise a boy and give him everything he needs – but here’s the caveat – I also believe in the idiom that it takes a village to raise a child. And I further believe one of the reasons for all the issues we have in society today comes from the fact that everyone is trying to do it on their own. As humans, we are social creatures, designed to live in a community and be a part of the bigger picture. With this new “do it all yourself” culture, we’re inhibiting our children from learning from their grandparents, other parents and their peers.
We look like we’re expanding socially with play dates and meet ups but have you ever seen a parent discipline a friend’s child? It doesn’t happen…because we’re all too scared to say anything to someone else’s child. I grew up being corrected by my parent’s friends and I think I was all the better for it. My parents also knew that there were other adults looking out for me when I was out and about. Anyway, I digress, that is a whole other blog post about how we all need to step up and raise our children together.
Going back to the village though…I have no doubt I could raise my son on my own…but why would I want to? By giving him a village, I am providing him with that many more people he can learn from, why limit him to just me? And in that village are male figures. Men he can look up to, men he respects and men who teach him things. There often seems to be this delusion that a son needs a father and while in an ideal divorce, a father would choose to prioritise his child, this doesn’t always happen. As a good friend once said to me, no dad is better than a bad dad…and I wholeheartedly agree.
More importantly, since the beginning of time, it has usually been a matriarchal society with women raising their children alone while men went out to work. There are societies where it didn’t matter who your biological father was, as long as children had a male figure in their village that they could look up to. I’m aware there are statistics that say boys have a higher chance of delinquent behaviour (and the likes) but statistics are broad strokes and most definitely don’t take individual cases into consideration. The statistics for delinquent behaviour are actually higher in boys who live in a 2-parent hostile home.
Back to my initial argument, I believe that women are the ones that can best teach a boy how to be a man. And this includes everything from keeping his ego in check to teaching him how to respect all women. Is it tricky raising a boy on my own? Ofcourse it is! I’ve had to learn my “Hazards” from my “Ronaldos” and understand what corners and goal kicks are. I’ve stood out in the rain watching him play football, held my nose when he’s taken off his football boots and watched his insatiable appetite when we go out to eat. I am the breadwinner, the role model, the nurturer and the disciplinarian. I make all the decisions (a huge weight on my shoulders) about education, health and my child’s welfare. It’s tough but it’s not impossible. I’m able to do this because I’m blessed with a supportive family who understand how important it is for a child to have a village and play active roles in my son’s life. And it’s not just the child who needs the village, I need it too. We can only parent to the best of our ability when our cup is overflowing. That means taking/making time for ourselves when we need it, ditching the guilt and leaning on those around us for support. Single mum or not, we were not built to live and raise our families in isolation.