Why Black Men Can Envision Themselves as Fathers and Not Husbands and How Women Can Help
Mood Music: Let’s have a Baby by Prince
First, I want to preface this post by saying two things: I identify as black and this is not an umbrella generalization.
There are lots of black men who do want to be husbands and fathers or husbands and not fathers.
This topic stemmed from multiple conversations I have had over the years with black young men in my social group.
In my life, I have had more male friends than female and with them I have had some of the deepest and most interesting conversations I have ever had in my entire life.
It is truly fascinating to listen to the male point of view on social issues, religion, and romantic relationships. If you are a woman I suggest that you make some platonic male friends, if you do not already have any. You will learn so much.
I have had conversations among my black male friends about getting married and starting families and from these conversations I see a trend- a strong desire to have children, but a great fear of marriage and commitment.
Why this Maybe the Case?
As a black woman having grown up in nuclear family structure, I always saw marriage and children as a mutually exclusive thing. I was shocked to learn that my guy pals had hang-ups about marriage.
The thought popped into my mind a few weeks ago and I began to ponder. What could make a man want to start a family, but not necessarily be tied to the children’s mother?
I feel that children are a bigger responsibility than marriage. Children are always family- a spouse is not.
I thought of the guys who revealed these things to me and I observed a trend- broken family structure. Deceased fathers, fathers who walked out of the home, marriages that ended in divorce or abuse, and even a case of a mother who had fled the home.
If my friends have never seen a strong example of marriage, how could I expect them to think marriage is hunky-dory? I mused over this for a while and thought also, “Why would these guys want kids then?”
Personally, I think a parent can either make or break a child. Though my parents were as loving as they could be, I am still living down some scars from childhood which makes me a little leery about kids.
Then I had another moment of clarity, these guys want to give a child something they did not have to heal themselves.
All of my male friends have discussed with me those grand future moments of being able to hold their child for the first time, the various lessons they will pass on to them like a love of sports, matching clothing they will buy, and how they won’t allow their daughters to every date.
The gleam of sheer magic I see in their eyes as they spin tales of future love and equal admiration melts my heart.
With new eyes, the idea actually hurts my heart. because I now realize that these guys just want to look down on a little face that looks like their own and give a child more love than they have ever experienced from a dad and in some cases a mom too.
What can Black Women do to Help?
So what can we do as women to restore the idea of marriage and family to men like these?
Most women no matter how broken the family structure they derived from, desire the security of marriage and children.
The best thing women can do is allow her partner to express weakness, sensitivity, and fears.
In the Black/Hispanic community there is the Big Boys Don’t Cry Complex where a man is thought of as either weak or gay if he expresses anything outside of the machismo image.
These complexes can make a man feel he has to decamp from the nuclear family structure when the pressure gets to be too much and his pride gets in the way of his feelings.
Women must let a man know that it is ok to express that everything is not ok. It is ok for a man to cry, it is ok for a man to have fears and concerns, and most of all it is ok for a man to express those fears and concerns with the woman he loves.
Restoring the Black Family Structure
For too long the black woman has had to be strong. For too long the black man has had to be strong. Among ourselves, it is time to share some vulnerability.
If a man can sit down and express to the woman he loves that he has fears about trying the knot, but would like to eventually, they should work as a couple to set up conditions that will heal both parties.
It is not fair for anyone to do parenthood alone. It is a two-person job, ordained by God for the health and benefit of both children and parents. Also, it is not ok for a man or woman to feel that marriage is solely a union for the children.
When the children are gone and living their own lives with their own children what will the couple have left? Lofty memories?
Keeping a marriage happy, healthy, and focused on the children but mainly focused on the couple is a daily chore, but it is feasible.
It is imperative that we all equally work together to restore the black family structure to restore our communities, but also restore the wounds of the past.
A happy marriage and happy children is something that can be obtained, but it is a matter of finding the right partner who God has chosen for you. Someone who will do all that needs to be done to ensure that marriage is not a draining responsibility, but a beautiful attainable thing- selfish intentions cannot exist.