While feeding my Twitter addiction, I came across this article, discussing Strong Black Woman Syndrome (“SBWS”). In short, the author portrayed SWBS, particularly as it relates to single parents, downright detrimental to the mentality of our children, and the family structure as we know it. On its face, it sounds very neat and tidy: Your kids must know that having an absentee father is not cool. They must realize this is not how things should be, and therefore, this will prevent them from perpetuating the cycle. And to that, I have one question: Word?
Certainly, transitioning to a man-basher following a break-up or abandonment is not a good look. I know more than a few women that take up the “I don’t EEEEEEVEN need a man” mantle as a defense mechanism. However, the large majority of the single mothers that I know are still actively dating, or at least waiting for the right opportunity. Still others, when dating doesn’t work for them, still occasionally deal with the individual who rejected the cow but enjoys sampling the milk. In the end, you’re looking at a woman with very human wants and desires on one hand, the seeming lack of options to meet those wants and desires on the other, and her world on her shoulders. The most important part of that world is her responsibility as a parent.
At best, Ms. Seals Allers assertion is misguided, at worst, unfair. Yes, I agree that Pops bouncing out, or acting the fool and ergo, forcing Moms Duke to bounce is by no means acceptable. I agree that our families are in grave need of healing, guidance and counseling. The topic of selecting a suitable and compatible partner is a discussion and/or post in its own rite. Additionally, not all SBW are single…or mothers. What of them? It’s an oversimplification of a rather complex issue.
More often than not, donning the SBW cape is born of necessity rather than bravado. I once read somewhere that the more you allow yourself to fall apart, the easier it becomes. There is so much that you sacrifice as a single parent; I don’t see where it is helpful to anyone that dignity be among those things. Children depend on their parents to have things in control. In a two income family, my parents went through hard times on a regular basis, yet, I didn’t realize how much so until I was an adult. As parents, we’re the pilots; tell your passengers of every single struggle, they’re going to lose confidence in your airline. Sure, passengers have responsibilities, but it’s our job to make the ride smooth.
There have been occasions where my kids have seen my cry or lose my cool, and it would leave them anxious and disjointed. THEY don’t need a big world crash course because MY mate selection was poor. When I recently had to drive to and from New Orleans on my covert ops mission, we hit a terrible rainstorm. I was agitated, nervous and frustrated, and it was evident. The kids had nothing to do with this, and yet, when they saw how the drive was weighing on me, THEY began to apologize for “making you come and get us.” (Author’s note: If you want me to wish for your slow and agonizing demise, create your own screw up and then have my kids apologize for wanting to escape your big bag of manure.) Losing my caca in front of them to let them know that it’s not “easy?” No thanks.
As a good parent, I share with them the importance of being responsible, choosing a spouse wisely, and forming a UNIT, rather than a temporary arrangement, with their spouse. I stress the importance of cooperation, single parent or not, in the family unit, as well as the unnecessary difficulties that can be caused by a lack of cooperation. They know that I budget. We don’t go to the movies or out to dinner as much as any of us would like. We have to wait to make purchases. But what family doesn’t? Just because this is not optimal, I am not going to beat my kids over the head with that fact. I’m not going to tell my son that every study shows that he has a greater chance of going to prison than college. I’m not going to tell my child that studies say that she’s got a greater chance of being struck by lightening than getting married. I’d much rather spend my time buying him books on astronomy and encouraging her in her desire to be a veterinarian.
We exist in a world of participation awards and A’s for effort. What world is this that you are criticized for displaying strength? Yes, I want a lot of the same things women the world over want, but I can’t rock in the corner until I get those things. I don’t break down because I want them to be contenders and champions, rather than bench-warmers and by-standers. I’m determined to show them what guts, hard work and determination can yield, even when you feel like life has handed you a shit sandwich.
So, in all of that, “ain’t I a woman?”