Brandy Williams reminds us to choose our words with care when speaking to our sons.
I combed the Internet. I searched using several, different search engines. I was surprised by what I didn’t see. Given the fact that so many families are single- parent led, and that for a vast number of them, mothers are raising sons, why is there little to no advice about how to lead boys in a good direction? Please, do not misunderstand me. I am in no way claiming that I can raise a man…alone. Rather, I am asserting that as a mother, there are still some things that I find important enough to teach to my little man. More so, as a mother of a Black man, it is my duty and honor to prepare him for the world, as best I can.
Will I understand his every waking trial? Absolutely not! Will I be able to answer the tough questions for him? Maybe so. However, I owe it to my guy, to try. I also owe it to him to set him up on a good path, even if just from a woman’s perspective. That being the case, here are some things that this mother will never say to her son….
1. Be A Man!
Let me be 100 percent frank; I don’t know what the hell being a man is about! Honestly, I will never understand how to be a man. Therefore, how dare I question or cause my son to question his own manhood? Who am I to belittle and demolish a burgeoning sense of self- worth. After all, I am the person raising him, so if I am questioning his manhood, I should really be questioning myself. There is nothing more deplorable than emasculating someone, especially someone that you are charged with raising and caring for. Further, and this is often a topic of conversation but, it is hard for a man of color. The world owes no one anything, however, the world can be an especially critical place for Black males. It is not only unfair, but despicable to take away the safe haven that a son has with his mother, by treating that boy as he will be treated by the cold- hearted and cruel society.
2. You are Worthless!
This seems like a no brainer, but I contend that I have heard this phrase uttered no less than 10 times, in the last week alone. In fact, it was this phrase that caused me to write this piece. It is wrong, on so many levels, to tell anyone they have no worth. I cannot put into words the struggle I feel within my soul, each time I hear someone say this hateful phrase. I literally want to throat punch people! First and foremost, if you are considering the worth of someone else so callously, it is probably because you have diminished your own worth. As a mother, my job is to build my son up. My job is to help in molding him into a productive, powerful and effective citizen. I cannot do that if I am squashing his dreams and identity due to my own misfortunes or anger. I cannot give the world my only son, when he is a broken, fraction of the man I produced due to my own words. It is maleficent and counter- productive.
3. You are just like your father!
On the surface, these words may not be so bad. After all, if daddy is a great person, why not hold my son to those standards? However, holding my son to the exact ideals and responsibilities of his dad, only makes my son a cloned copy. While his dad is an amazingly talented and gifted man, my son is, and should be, HIS OWN MAN. Think of it this way, as a mother, I would hate for anyone else to be my barometer of greatness. If I were constantly held to the standards of my mother, when would I be recognized for my own greatness? My own self? The ideal of raising children is that we give them enough knowledge to be successful in the world. As parents, and more so a mother, the job is to help create the best person possible. This doesn’t mean turn my son into someone else. This also doesn’t mean, regardless to the beauty that may have been meant by the statement, I likened my son to nothing more than his dad’s abilities and identity. It is my hope that my son becomes the man his dad is, AND far more.
Then too, and be honest, for some mothers, there is no joy meant in that statement. If the latter is true, please understand one thing. As you struggle to break your son of whatever bad decision or trait you see him emulating in his father, you also break your son with your words. He hears how little you think of his father. When you liken you child to the man you despise, you also tell your son that you despise him. How can he be any better than what you have told him is horrible, if you only show him horrible examples?
I cannot tell anyone how to raise their own child. But, I sincerely hope that I can get you to think about your words, before they become unintended choices and consequences. A son is a beautiful gift and I am blessed beyond measure for having one. But, as with any great gift, comes an even greater responsibility. As I seek to fulfill my duties as a mom, I will always remember these words and hold them in the forefront of my thoughts. Will you do the same?
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Photo: Flickr/Katie Tegtmeyer