Friday, April 2, 2010

Single Mom Breaks Stereotype

I’ve been sitting on this one for a couple of weeks, but after a conversation with a friend who works in higher education, I guess it’s time for me to purge and share some thoughts again. As usual, things are a bit of a stretch for me, so be patient.

There is this stereotype, all too often proven correct, that a child born to a single mom is destined for … nothing. Right now in college (especially community college, which certainly can be nothing more than a place for people to hide and avoid adulthood!) there are so many kids, especially males, who give their professors grief through disrespectful behavior and the attitude “You owe me, my life’s been rough thus far.” Plenty of these kids are from single-parent households.

The “you owe me” attitude is something people learn at home. My opinion, it’s all about the entitlement attitude that the United States has created through its welfare system. Start with one female, most likely with no education herself and coming from a family with the “you owe me” attitude herself. A baby equals a nice government check.

An attitude like this creates communities like Oakland, chock full of gangs and aimless young men who disrespect women. And they perpetuate the cycle, and their sisters, who may not be in gangs, perpetuate the cycle.

So when you come across someone who breaks—or rather, shatters—the stereotype, you can’t help but wonder why more families can’t get it right.

The mom in question was 15 or 16 when she became pregnant. My own daughter was a preschooler at the time. This young woman (let’s call her B) decided to keep the baby and finish high school. Her family rallied around her. Sure, they would have preferred she not do things that way, but her pregnancy and the eventual baby were never viewed as a tragedy or a source of a government check.

The baby, a boy, J, had plenty of good strong male role models who were not his father. He has a loving grandpa, uncles, cousins, and an uncle who was right there. His mom did eventually get married and when J was around junior high age, B had another son.

Fast forward 23 years. B is again a single mom, finishing prerequisite classes to apply for an RN program. She’s raising her second son, a great kid. J attended college and today is a talented journalist and gifted writer. Talented journalist and gifted writer are terms I do not toss about lightly.

Did I mention B inherited her grandmother’s cooking abilities and if she chose to do so, could probably support herself as a baker of fancy cakes?

Never has B looked at her boys at a source of cash. Her family circled the wagons and offered support and guidance to the young woman. Nothing but success was ever expected of her and her boys. B’s family is firmly middle-class, by no means wealthy, but they sacrificed to make sure B was able to care for J. J grew up knowing nothing but love, and his family expected nothing but good things for and about him. No excuses.

Why do B and J have to be the exception? Anecdotally, how many single moms do you know who did NOT end up on welfare for years, who did NOT continue to have babies (and plenty of deadbeat baby daddies), and whose babies used every excuse in the book to explain their eventual failures?

B will make an excellent RN within the next couple of years; I have no doubt J will someday end up winning a Pulitzer Prize, he’s that gifted. Son #2 will do whatever he wants and will no doubt be as successful as both J and his mom.

This family needs to write an instruction manual on how to successfully raise a kid! High expectations + no excuses + no sense of entitlement = successful young adult/human being who will make a difference in this world.


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