There is a debate going on in the African American community about whether or not the rise in single parent households is having a negative impact on the outcomes for children. These days, everyone seems to want to do what’s best for themselves, and most parents make decisions in their lives without thoroughly considering the impact of these choices on their kids.
But what about the children, do they have a voice? Sometimes that voice, when it is heard, is not fully developed until that child has reached adulthood.
Maria Lloyd, writing for the site NaturallyMoi.com, wrote an open letter to Tanya Fields, a woman on the Melissa Harris-Perry Show who had five kids with three different men. Lloyd starts the letter by stating that it is not her goal to attack the woman or make fun of her, but she did want to provide added perspective to help her understand that having a lot of children from different men may not exactly be a badge of honor:
On one of many sides of the argument, you have Black women slamming Black men for being absent fathers; and on another of many sides of the argument, you have Black fathers slamming Black women for intentionally keeping their children away from their father. The debate almost always results in nothing more than name-calling and gender-bashing — no mutual accountability for poor decision-making is claimed and no solutions on how to raise the children of these circumstances responsibly is formed. Nothing of substance comes from these debates.
She also says that she didn’t intend to attack the woman, but needs her to understand that from her point of view, it was very difficult growing up without the attention of her father. Her mother did all she could to provide for her emotionally and financially, but still it wasn’t enough.
“Not having my father in the household really hurt me during the times when I needed a dad, like when the other girls could go to daddy-daughter events and I couldn’t” she said. “My mother made the mistake of being a single mom, but she was wise enough to admit it was a mistake and to not repeat it. Had she simply brought bunch of other men into my life and random siblings from those men, it would have been even more difficult than it was.”
Lloyd says that those who are defensive of having multiple children with multiple parents out of wedlock are often short on providing solutions on how to protect kids from the damage that might be caused if both parents aren’t around. She and Dr. Boyce Watkins recently wrote an article on a list of reasons why “excessive baby-mama-ism” is not good for the black community. Lloyd says that we should not consider broken families to be the new normal in the African American community.
“My brother was killed in the streets, and I truly believe that he would be alive today if he’d had both parents in the household,” she said.
She says that the blame for the struggles of children in her situation doesn’t lie solely on single moms of non-custodial dads, but says that someone has to take responsibility.
“People should realize that when you sleep with someone, a new life could be brought into the world,” she said. “So, if women are sleeping with men because they are cute or have “swag,” they should realize that this man might be the absentee father of your child one day. By sleeping with that man, you could end up devastating another human being. So, either wear a condom or sleep don’t do it at all.”