men parenting

Single Parent Women: Raising Boys To Become Men

24 Comments

A few months ago, my 10 1/2 year old son, ran into my bedroom to make an announcement that made me choke on my water, literally.  I sat there with my mouth wide open and really didn’t know what to say.  I asked the first thing that came to my mind, “Well, where did you put it? I hope you didn’t touch the doorknob.”  Needless to say, he informed me he hadn’t and already washed his hands.

That moment will never be forgotten by either of us, I’m sure.  That night, I actually laid in my bed, and cried, because that was one of the moments where I wished I wasn’t a single parent, raising my son alone. It was at that moment, even though I always thought I’d be able to ‘raise’ a man, that I formed my first few doubts.

Jaden @ 4 yrs old

Sure, I’d be able to tell him how women should be respected, how he should always be a gentlemen and basic things like that, but I realized there were certain things that would probably be better if there was a man around to discuss with him.

I went on Twitter a few weeks ago, and reached out to other single women raising boys. One of the most poignant responses to a question I had in regards to women being equipped to raise men, came from @DaughterofPriam, she stated:

Being a “man” is one of those things that, as a woman, I know it when I see it, but I don’t know how to teach it.  I don’t know exactly what I need to teach my son in order to teach him to “be a man.”  There’s that balance between that natural desire to protect my son from all the “evils” of the world and makings sure he knows how to deal with them on his own.  There are different societal expectations for men and women, and I’m just ill equipped to fully teach him how to meet those expectations.

Another mom, Carolyn B. stated:

Unequivocally yes.  But I think women need to be honest with themselves that they cannot really empathize with what their sons go through in the same way they can with their daughters.  I do think raising boys requires the presence of male role models, and that is something that I need to do a better job of finding for my son.  Women should also seek advice from male friends when something comes up with their boys that they don’t really know how to handle.  In some ways, I think single moms have an advantage in being more free to allow their boys to be in touch with their emotions, without having to fight with their husbands/partners who insist that the woman is making him “soft” and that he needs to “be a man.”  But I think women have to be careful not to make their sons the “men” in their lives. So, in short, as long as women remain aware of their limitations in raising boys, and seek out male guidance/perspective where possible — including male role models — I think women can raise boys to become strong men.

I am in agreement with both of these women. Having strong male role models around my son is something I make an effort to do. My son has been involved with the Big Brothers program, since he was 9 years old, and has been matched with pretty great men during the past couple of years. Even though participating in these programs will never replace a full-time male role model/father, it definitely gives him the opportunity to hang out with men and do ‘guy’ stuff.

I appreciate the fact that my son felt comfortable enough to come to me and discuss his bodily functions that day. The next day, we actually sat down and discussed what it meant, he went over with me what he learned in health class that year. I truly hope that the openness that my son and I share is something that will always remain. Sure, I may not be able to properly throw a football, or relate to him when he’s going through stages of puberty, but I will definitely instill in him the common courtesies that all people need to have to become successful adults, regardless of whether they’re a male or female. Also, I have to instill in him, that women like the toilet seat left down. After all, it’s the simple things that count.

24 comments

  1. I’m a guy. My mom raised me essentially by herself. I know my father & he was there physically (at times) just not there mentally or emotionally.
    I think my mom did a good thing by not trying to teach me how to “be a man” but a person. Only advice on women she gave me was: 1) don’t hit them, 2) be nice, honest, and don’t cheat. But that’s how she raised me as a person in general, not to fight & not to lie, steal, and cheat.
    Everything else I learned by myself, including how to shave & sports. Let the child develop his own interests, not based on what society decides he should know. I say my mom did the best job she could do raising 3 boys & 1 girl almost alone: she taught us how to be good people first, and that helped the boys develop into decent men and the girl into a fine woman.

  2. Hey chica! You know I can’t speak from experience, but I will say that I believe you’re on the right track. Moms who think it’s possible to raise young men without any positive male role models are those who send up a red flag to me. Acknowledging the importance of men in the lives of the boys and young men we love is not to slight to single moms in any way, but to ensure this generation is adequately equipped to handle situations and life changes that women have no clue about.

  3. I don’t know much about raising a son to become a man. But I can say that from what I can see in your personality, that he is in good hands. Having male role models are great, but better to be raised by someone then no one @ all. Also, I have seen the presence of a male figure in physical but not in the more important ways. Its great the now with the presence of Social media, we can reach out to a broader group for support and interaction, rather than being limited to just what’s available to us in our communities.

  4. First there should be more conversations about what it means to be a man (and not the same tired cliche discussions either. ..)Becoming a man is a conversation that should be had more often from both ends of the spectrum – those raised in a two and one parent household. Just because both parents were there doesn’t mean you’ll come out “right” or just because you only had one there is a deficiency. I was raised in a two parent household and I love my mother and father to death (and they are two of my biggest heroes) yet there are things about how to be a man that I had to learn on my own. My father is an incredible man and was raised by his mother only. Often the best teacher in life is experience and no amount of “teaching” can help.

  5. I don’t have kids…but, I think it’s the mark of any good parent to know or want to know his/her limits with their children. To understand what you could do differently…or what’s not in your capacity to do at all. If only to say, “I’m not alone”
    I DO somehow believe strongly that your son will be a good man. I may be biased but that’s my story. lol

  6. First off, I want to say that it is awesome that he felt comfortable enough to tell you.
    I see way too many young kids who are completely clueless when it comes to growing up (sex, drugs… etc). Needless to say, I spend a lot of time talking about that with my patients.
    Many of these kids have both parents (physically) around. I actually have found that many of young men that are being raised by their mothers alone are much more open and comfortable talking about those issues. This of course is not the rule.
    You are doing the right thing. Keep talking to him. Having a (good) male role model does help but as it was mentioned in the previous comment, you are doing a good job raising him to be a good person.
    BTW, I don’t know how I would have reacted!

  7. I completely feel you on this as I am the single mother of 3 boys. Their father recently moved cross country because he liked the weather and now I am left with a 12, soon to be 13, 11 and 10 year old, that he thinks can be parented online and through phone calls. All I can say is check hope alive that we can steer these boys on the right path even if they don’t have the constant interaction of a man. I am so thankful that they have uncles and a grandfather that they can go to with issues that they may not want to discuss with me.
    Tiffany
    http://liferequiresmorechocolate.blogspot.com

  8. A friend posted this site on Facebook. I clicked just for fun, but I found many of quality material here. Thank you! I like it when there are good articles, blogrolls and things to entretain me. Just bookmarked it on Delicious, hope you get some extra visits from that! Have a good week!

  9. Someone I work with visits your blog frequently and recommended it to me to read also. Thanks for the insight you provide the readers!

  10. As a single mother of two boys, I can completely relate! I think the key in raising boys as a single mother is to keep the lines of communication open…make it comfortable so that no matter what they want to talk about, they’ll know they can come to us. The minute that we react with negativity, those lines shut down.
    Funny story…first time my oldest son ever woke up with an erection, he was horrified, thought it was something bad! So I just told him to go pee and it would go away…hilarious! I think they might be too comfortable with me now because it’s all about butt and penis jokes up in this house! Crazy monkeys…
    Clicked a link posted by a friend on Twitter, and then RT’d it…keep up the good work and know that you’re not alone out there! =D

  11. Hey there FBC! I recently discovered your blog and I’d like to say that the little I have read so far has been so strong!
    I am a young, black female who grew up being raised by my mother alone, without my father around. I know this is different from what you have written about here, but it reminded me of the saddness I have felt at my father never being a part of my life. I have grown to be a strong woman and a good person, more importantly. Although not having both parents will undoubtedly leave some “dent” in a person, if that person is good they will grow strong enough to heal the “dents” to become whole.
    I think you are definitely a great mother. You care about the well-being of your son and so long as you continue to surround him with your love and strength he will be just fine. I think all you can do is hope and pray that he grows up to be a strong man who will be a reflection of his mother’s greatness.

  12. I have been to your site a few times now, and this time I am adding it to my bookmarks 🙂 Your pages are always relevant, unlike the same-old stuff on other sites (which are coming off my bookmarks!) Rock on!

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