By: Kenah Lynnette Lyons, Guest Writer
Central Michigan University
Integrative Public Relations/Event Management/Journalism
In today’s society, how affected a young, African-American male becomes after being raised in a single parent household without a father figure is a serious topic of discussion. Scholars from all over write on the issue and the debate continues today on whether or not it is an issue in connection to violence and negativity occurring amongst the young men. Young men, African-American particularly, are becoming involved in street engaged activities and leaning on substances that may damage their futures if they have not already. These young men never plan to endure these difficulties or engage in dangerous activities, but feel the need to in order to fill a void that they are missing. Many suggestions have been provided in how to help these young men of color. Organizations and programs that can be beneficial to the type of service they need have been offered as well. Not only do some of the young men seek attention and help, but the mothers and grandmothers of these young men are searching for it too. They agree with the critics that their sons, who may be rebellious or looking for attention in wrong places, need some type of help or counseling. Some of the activities that they get involved in sometimes put their lives at risk. Mothers and grandmothers all over are worried sick about their sons. Some are even feeling as if they have done the best they can at raising them, but because they have pulled every technique of parenting as they know it, should they give up on these young men? The answer is no. There is something these young men can fight their odds with and there are ways of doing it.
What most of these people in discussion forget to realize is that young, African-American women are raised in the same or very similar situations. Many females are brought up in single-parent households due to a variety of circumstances. I, myself was raised in a single-parent household with just my mother. With that came many challenges similar to what males face under those circumstances and being a female of color did not make the situation that I faced more positive. My father was incarcerated when I was just three months old. He was sentenced to fifteen years in prison due to a high end crime leaving my mother with a new born baby to raise on her own. My mother never planned to raise me on her own. In fact, her and my father had a lot of plans for parenting together. Things changed quickly, but one thing that was not going to change was not having my father around. My mother made sure to give me special attention and to be there for me as much as possible. She worked hard to provide for me, the necessities, and did everything in her power to assure I had many of my wants. My mother was the independent woman who wanted her daughter, her only child, to witness that things may not always go as planned, but with faith, things will surely go. It took me a while to grasp the concept of that method and at times I learned the hard way, but eventually I learned.
Just like myself, there are African-American women who have been raised like this and young, African American women who are in those current conditions today. Although they may not endure and seek the same attention that the men do, they do undergo many trials and engage in substances that are not good for self. Just like the males, they may encounter these things because of the upbringing they were faced to experience. Not many women engage in criminal violence or anything crime related, but it definitely does happen. Our African-American men are criticized more for it and they are brought to the light before any women who may have committed the same types of things. Many of these women being raised without a father face emotional instability in different ways. They look for love in all the wrong places, especially in the male species because that is wherewith the lack of love lies. They look for young men to give them special attention that they should have known in a father. This is very dangerous and surfaces other issues following the matter. Females are more emotionally attached when it comes to those in their lives and those who are not in their lives. It takes them a while to deal with the fact that someone will not be there or has chosen to leave.
I remember always feeling unappreciated. It took me years to wrap my head around the fact that my dad did what he did. I could not understand how a person could have just helped bring something so precious into the world and do something to jeopardize his presence in that precious life. He missed seeing me grow up and watching me mature. He missed holidays, birthdays, and programs that I was in. My anger towards not having him in my life used to be my energy. I used that negative energy and got negative results. I fell for peer pressure a number of times and I did things I had no business doing as a young adult. My anger started to defeat me so much that I began to use it as violence, always physically fighting another female or feeling like I had to. The male species was my weakness. Almost every guy who looked good to me, I fell for. I believed in the sweet talk and the moments that were too good to be true until I realized that everything that looked good to me was not good for me. I fought my mom and went against her word for reasons unknown. I took it out on her when she was the one who had never left my side and wanted so much better for me. I let my struggle defeat me. I let my struggle get the best of who I was and I let my struggle stand in front of my possible successes in life.
Like we all can, male and definitely female whom I can relate too, I overcame it. I decided to stop seeking those vulnerabilities and to not keep grudging others because my dad made a few bad decisions in his life. Instead, I fought it with faith and success. My mother had a lot to do with that, being that she instilled morals in me that I decided to live upon. Instead of finding love in the wrong places, I looked to the higher power because I knew that for however long my father would not be around, God would always be there to protect me. I leaned on my faith and I learned that I needed to switch gears. My success became my motivation. If young, African American men and women set goals for themselves, then they will look no further than the intents of the success that they are obtaining. I got involved with youth programs and outreach organizations. I was as active as possible to stay focused on the things that would push me and make me appreciate my struggle. Criticizing and discussing young individuals in similar situations to me is the least that people can do. These young people need to be pushed, motivated, believed in and tried; all things that my mother along with mentors did with me. If no one would see their worth, then they will not see their own worth either. This is a struggle that is not small. This affects every individual differently. To be raised by one brings forth the feeling of feeling as one, alone. To feel like the world is being faced alone is a hard task to complete until one finds the most positive things to face the world with.
They proverb is true; "It takes a village to raise a child", and when a child is put in a compromising situation by the irresponsibility of a parent, then that village has to be summoned with a moral obligation to that child. With programs like the Motivational Foundation, Boys & Girls Club, youth groups etc., a child can have that village. Cities such as Flint should not bash the young people for the mishaps they encounter, but instead should recognize why they are going down the route they are going. Children and young adults do not lack visions, talents, and dreams, they lack motivation. They need power in their potential and strength in their struggles; some of the same things I needed to get where I am today. It is not the moment that one sees that they are struggling, but the moment that one sees that troubles do not last always. It is not always what one has been through, but how they got through it. There is no success with no struggle and when young, African- American women and men, no matter what their situations may or may not be, they will be the forces of the world and change agents of society if we all pull together and become that village.
The Motivational Foundation
P.O. Box 38083
Greensboro, NC 27438
313.389.ODUM (6386), Office