Unless he or she has been in a time capsule, there’s a good chance that you or any person you become involved with will have kid(s). In today’s relationship scene, it is a simple reality. I think I can confidently say that most of us are past the phase where dating a parent was an automatic disqualifier (except for a few primitive souls). Some of us were either married, in a serious relationship or simply slipped up one Saturday night. But we are not lepers or pariahs; in fact we may have developed several qualities that you put in THE OTHER category on your list. You know, the ‘requirements’ column. It’s time we stop thinking of kids as baggage, and start thinking of them as a precious community resource.
Black people have always been a communal people. Everyone looked after everyone else, and their children were everyone’s children. It used to be: if I saw your child erring while you’re not around I would discipline her or him (if not physically then DEFINITELY verbally), and by the time he or she got home they momma already knew about it and was waiting with belt in hand. Parents can’t be everywhere at once and this ensured that children minded their manners because they never knew who was watching.
But over the last twenty years or so, we’ve become more Americanized and bought into the nuclear family ideal that White America has fed us since the Moynihan Report came out in the 1960’s (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Negro_Family:_The_Case_For_National_Action ). Even if we don’t live like that (two parents two children), we’ve adopted the parental mindset that it implies. Now, most people don’t want you even SPEAKING correctively to their child, let alone disciplining them by hand. I am of the opinion that this has had a profound impact on our relationships, for the worse. How do we right these wrongs?
The hardest part of getting a good one who has doubts is convincing her or him that you are in fact a good candidate. I like to point out that we are home-oriented people and are more apt to stay in and not be out clubbing or looking for trouble. Our idea of fun has evolved into more pure, harmless outings that don’t attract much temptation. Second, parents have another element of wisdom, as we’ve learned to think for more than just ourselves. When you make it into that inner circle, you can rest assured that he or she will account for your needs just as readily as they do their children’s. There are several benefits to dating a parent, especially if you hope to be one someday. At the very least, you know that their reproductive Chakra works 🙂
But parents have to interact with the other parent as a necessity, and here is where things can get sticky. Each adult in the equation HAS to be mature enough to deal with one another on a level of respect. If you are in a serious relationship, I always encourage you to meet the BM or BD so you two can see each other and talk about goals for the child. I think when you are the step-boyfriend its easier because men usually have an understanding that the well-being of the child comes first, followed closely by the well-being of his or her mother. Sometimes women can be so territorial that it hurts the upbringing of the children, even if the parent’s relationship is over and done with. Women, yall have to regain your communal thinking, because they do not belong solely to you. They belong to God, then themselves, THEN YOU, then the community.
As a side-effect of our loss of complete commUNITY, discipline is the hardest subject of all. I am old-school on this: I believe that I should be able to discipline children that aren’t mine, just as I would expect a step-boyfriend to do to my Sun. If you expect me to provide for, shelter and feed your child(ren), then I reserve the right to pop them in the mouth or the behind when they get outta pocket. My reason is this: children (especially those 5 and under) have to see continuity in their household, otherwise they poke holes in your authority and develop obedience problems. They can’t be allowed to act one way with one adult and then another way with someone else, because eventually they will act out with their bio-parents. Kids are very smart.
Another pitfall to avoid is double-dipping. I know yall used to be boo-thangs and all, but ALL SEXCAPADES CEASE when you get serious with someone else. I was gonna emphasize this to the fellas, but I noticed that this is an issue that both genders need to put forth more effort. I don’t mind you having LOVE for your children’s father(meaning you wish them well, etc), but if you’re still IN LOVE then we have a problem. And guys, she may have some good-good, but keep it at home. Just because you have a baby with a person does not give you an 18-year license to drive that car. Park it. Better yet, sell it.
An Italian proverb says that raising a child is so hard that children need two fathers, thus the role ‘Godfather’. Well, raising a Black child in America is even harder, and they need ALL the love and protection that adults can give them. But we as parents need to do better to establish a working relationship with one another to raise these kids. Everybody talks about what our parent’s generation failed to do for us; well now WE ARE the parent’s generation. Do we want our children to say the same about us?
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