In passing, I read a tweet that read, "A lot of mothers are actually the reason why their sons are toxic narcissistic assholes...but y'all aren't ready for that discussion." Triggered into deep thought of the many examples of this man who I have stumbled across in my life, I mentally shook my hand like a polaroid picture in the air per Andre 3000's instructions, fervently murmuring "owww" as if I could get her attention to let her know I was ready from over on this end.
I've heard my aunt talk a million times about raising a strong Black girl with reckless regard for the type of son she is raising—one like her brother and many of the men I've come to know in my life who have been "loved" instead of raised.
It's no coincidence as she helped her mother to spoil and love her older brother to the impairment of his independence and ability to think in a way that reflects his physical age: 50! That of a grown-ass man. And now I watch shaking my head as the cycle of men who don't do dishes, don't cook, and are disruptive to their environment are carried on the teet due to society's desire to infantilize boys long past the age of boyhood.
We raise girls—especially Black girls—in a way that demands they grow up sooner than they should have to and etches the strong Black woman trope into them bankrolling on it making them rather than breaking them.
The prejudiced ways in which we treat boys and girls have dichotomous outcomes, to say the least. The aforementioned examples are lite by comparison. "So what he doesn't do dishes. He's a little spoiled." But I've seen the dangerous side of raising boys inadequately due to their codependency on mothers as well, as codependency often comes tethered to a lack of accountability and willingness to admit what your child is capable of while out of your line of sight.
I watched my best friend of 20 years work her ass off in high school for a new car after a car accident that was truly an accident while her brother was bought 2-3 brand new cars in a two-year period — rewarded for his poor decisions to get behind the wheel under foolish circumstances.
I've watched as she has had to table her education because her mother wouldn't sign for a loan for her because she chose to do it for her son to attend an out-of-state institution he hadn't earned after years of his time in high school had been spent doing damage control on his poor decisions, including being kicked out of school.
The men in my world are but a microcosm of the world we live in.
I believe Black mothers may be more gentle on their sons because they have a tough world to face once they leave the nest but that's all the more reason why we have to do better at finding balance and stop making acts of responsibility a gendered experience. What message does it send to little black girls when they're forced to carry little Black boys on their back with little to no reciprocity due to the lack of responsibility and accountability we place on boys and men?
Girls are taught to be responsible while teaching both boys and girls that "boys will boys." And for the sake of time and energy, I won't even go into how this lack of accountability plays out in rape culture but baaaaby. What I will say is that it also plays into the adultification of Black girls, or the belief that Black girls are held more accountable for their well-being as it concerns sexual assault and other issues they face starting at the age of five, yet for Black boys, this age is ten. It does however create a cesspool of men for us women to choose from as they seek out women who have been to them what their sisters and mothers have been to them: pacifiers who coddle them from the real world.
What's more is that Black women are here to lift Black men up out of reciprocity, not to be stepping stones.
Our role as Black mothers (present and future) means creating the aforementioned balance that allows all children to be children as long as time will allow but prepares them to be efficient and self-sufficient in adulthood. And our role as a Black community? Ensure that in Black love, whether familial or romantic, Black men are still learning the importance of pouring back into their women in the ways that we pour into them.
The trope of the strong Black woman -- the romanticizing of the Black woman's strength -- will be the end of us. Being taught we must pour into everyone but ourselves will be the end of us. We have to pour into ourselves and be poured into, and this must be taught early on. We cannot continue to carry the entire team on our back; it's not good for us or our Black male counterparts.
So when I speak of loving our boys to death, it's not just their detriment that I'm talking about but ours as well.
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