I am the single mother of a 9-year-old, through divorce, who never wanted to be a single parent or divorced. If you asked me as a teen or in my 20s, I’d tell you that I would NEVER have children.
As I wrote in my journal as a girl, I didn’t want to pass on/expose the negativity I felt in my life to another generation. I had different ideas of motherhood then, and couldn’t imagine what my friends who were teen moms were dealing with physically, emotionally, or mentally.
I don’t know where it comes from, but there’s a strong sentiment that something is wrong with a woman who doesn’t bear children by a certain age–or ever. Well-meaning and nosy parents and grandparents, friends and even acquaintances regularly weigh in on when a couple should have their first or subsequent children.
I know a lot of people with my situational status who find love again and start a new family, even though their present children may be in high school or college, but I don’t want to start over. Honestly, the primary reason that I consented to pregnancy and parenting is because my then-husband desperately wanted to actively raise a child of his own. We mutually agreed that I stop taking my (very effective) birth control and I got pregnant the following year. My main reasoning then–in my early 20s–was, “A wife is supposed to have children [if her husband wants them].”
Did you watch the “Kardashian Event” earlier this month? Celebutante Kim Kardashian got married for the second time to 26-year-old NBA baller Kris Humphries, and for most of the 4-hour glimpse into their wedding planning, Kim and Kris (her mother) made lots of decisions about the wedding with Kris’ (the fiance’s) thoughts and opinions about logistics (everything from the registry to Kim’s last name) as an afterthought.
It was this “event” that I thought of–wedding planning–when a married male friend of mine lamented about how many women do not consider involving their spouse in their daily activities of life post-wedding either. What follows is a guest post he penned. Single ladies, consider this as #foodforthought.
Life is good…..we start our life together, the rings are shiny, the weekend get-a-ways are fantastic, and there’s plenty of money in the bank. Things are looking good and I’m ‘da man.
Unfortunately, like millions of other men out there, I’ve found that life can definitely throw some curve-balls that keep you guessing what’s next. This shouldn’t be something that brings me down, but what happens when the person I’ve joined in covenant with turns out to be a fair-weather friend?
“For better or for worse” turned out to only apply to her.
“In sickness and in health” turned out to only apply to her.
“For richer, for poorer” turned out to only apply to her.
Many publishing insiders agree that a prolific writer/author is a working, money-earning one. Thus, I gotta keep it moving. So I’m on to the next project, party people. My cousin put a bug in my ear and I’m running with it.
After breaking the news that his nearly 20-year marriage was ending when he didn’t want it to, he admitted something to me:
He doesn’t want to be single, but he can’t keep living a joyless life.
He wants to be in a loving relationship with a woman who will support him emotionally, encourage him, love him unconditionally, make love to him unconditionally (these are wants, people), and celebrate his successes with him as they raise a family together. Is that too much to ask?
What will take to get the Black family unit unified? To keep people committed to marriage for the long haul? Why do some men have multiple children without marrying any of their mothers? What does it take for them to find and hold onto true love? How can we make broken home the minority, and the 50+ year wedding anniversaries commonplace?
We wrestled with these and other questions during a 5-hour impromptu brainstorming session (yes–FIVE HOURS on the phone), lots of pacing, lots of note-taking, and story-trading, and thus came up with an idea for a new book. For the sake of comparison, think of it as a cross between The Conversation by Hill Harper, and Steve Harvey’s books, with just one thing missing.
We want a variety of voices on this thing. I don’t want to just write what I think from my limited experience of being a man (that would be zip), or what experts say (although I will include them in a special capacity).
Black Men, We Need You!
As my friend and partner Myles W. Miller lamented to me recently, the media is on a campaign to make sure people believe that Black men are a lost cause, or a throwaway species that don’t care about love or family, but that’s of course not the case. By perpetuating this myth, the media continues to make money. There’s money in scandalous reality TV. There’s money in lots of drama-inducing behaviors we see in our community, but there’s no money in positivity? Positive news doesn’t sell.
By interviewing Black men directly, I can use their voices and allow women to “hear them out.” So I’m recruiting interviews from never-married/separated/divorced fathers ages 35 and up to contribute via written essay or phone interview, and will present advice and recommendations from experts as well.
Can You Help?
We’d love to say that our book will reduce divorce statistics, help marriages stay together, give solutions and ideals on how things could be better, help Black couples build together, and heal Black families. But we’d like to give it a shot.
My goal, my plea, my call to you, is to help me get 100+ participants in this project. I want to talk to men of color all over the U.S. , especially Black men, to give us their side of the story about what it’s like to:
be a single dad
be punished for being a responsible man because other dudes who ain’t $*#@ (a.k.a. baggage)
try to accept real love from a woman when you don’t know how to receive it
being a great dad when you didn’t have one or it wasn’t modeled to you as a child
______________ (insert your relationship/co-parenting issue here)
Are you interested in contributing your reflection via phone or written essay? I promise, I won’t put you on blast. Here are the criteria:
Age: 35 and up
Status: single dad/ divorced / separated / co-habitating (NOTE: If you’re newlywed, you can still be considered if you recently transitioned from being a single dad.)
Email me: info [at] dareeallen [dot] net and let’s get this party started.
I met Dr. Alduan Tartt a couple of weeks ago at an event that had a lot going on. We had small talk there, and then it got busy. Later, but a friend invited me to a more “settled” gathering that he hosted. There, he and another psychologist, Pam Thompson, talked to a group of us about relationships. Tartt is the author of The Ring Formula, and together they answered questions about relationships. I just want to highlight a few tidbits from the event.
One of the first things that caught my attention, early in the evening, is when Tartt explained a truth with an analogy: He said that a Rolex costs $10K, and because you know this, you would never expect to go into a store and buy it for $500. But the way some women give themselves away, they are discounting and grossly undervaluing themselves. Do you know your worth? Tartt went on to say that you shouldn’t discount yourself, or worse–discount yourself in the beginning, and then try to raise the price later. He said no man will go for it. I never thought about it that way. Furthermore, he said a man will not respect you being the side chick if that’s how you start off together. Continue reading “Want the Ring? Lose the Discount”→
If I had a buck for every time someone asked me this, I wouldn’t need investments. A close second is, “Do you ever think you’ll get married again?”
I’m a relatively young, attractive, well-educated, and self-sufficient divorced mother, writer, and speaker. Many of my professional and personal contacts are as proud of me as I am of myself. When men interested in me see this, the most common question they ask is, “Why is a woman as (fill in the positive adjective here) as you single?” As if that means there must be something wrong with me, or that something is wrong with being single. There’s so many ways to answer that oft-asked question.
My friend in my head, life coach/author/speaker Shanel Cooper-Sykes was on a panel last night entitled, “Why Black Men Don’t Get Married.” It was hosted by Pastor Jamal Harrison Bryant of The Empowerment Temple in Baltimore and streamed live.
Bryant was the moderator who preached a short message before opening the floor for questions from the panel. The panel consisted of five women, all of whom were ministers and/or authors (not sure why no men were on the panel). Below I share some tidbits of advice from the panel based on random questions from the audience.
Note: These quotes are not all-inclusive, and I’ve interjected a few notes. Unfortunately I did not catch the names of all the panelists, so in fairness, I will not credit anyone at this time.
Men are not getting married because women are not requiring it. We are giving a man everything of ourselves and not requiring anything in return. [Daree’s note: not requiring does not mean the same thing as not asking.] Stop shacking. Make requirements and put them on a list.