Raising A Man
Last week, Pastor John Gray set the internet ablaze when he appeared on Sister Circle Live to discuss how his wife “raised” him. His intention was to give her praise, appreciation and acknowledgement for her concerted efforts and contributions in helping to shape the man he is today. Needless to say, this wasn’t exactly well-received and both men and women had a lot to say about this marriage and the topic of Black women “raising” grown men. As a married Black women myself, I have several thoughts on the topic.
There is a major difference between a man stumbling upon hard times and needing support to get to the other side of a particular hardship, and an immature man that is either unwilling or unable to be a part of a healthy relationship. In the latter case, his partner has became a tool to guide and mold him into being the man she needed and wanted. Or, she puts her own needs on the back burner while she supports him to reach his own goals.
The former scenario is a part of all relationships. Both men and women endure challenges and look to their partner for support and ideally, should be able to receive the assistance needed to push through to a better place. That would be the “for worse” part of the vows, because clearly, unless you live a perfect life, most people experience their share of setbacks and difficulties. The beauty of being in a healthy relationship and marriage is that you do not have to be alone during these times and that you are fortunate enough to have someone with whom you can co-navigate those tough moments.
In the latter case, a man’s partner voluntarily decided that she, her dreams and happiness are lesser priorities than the man’s. While many people contributing to the conversation lamented the burden many Black women tend to take on in “raising a man up” to be the man he is supposed to be, they completely overlooked the most important component to the puzzle, CHOICE!
First and foremost, I vehemently and unequivocally do not subscribe to the bashing of Black men. I love my beautiful Black father, brothers, and man that I married. I gave birth to a future Black man and some of my closest friends are positive and accomplished Black men. Therefore, I will never subscribe, nor ever promote, the pervasive narrative and negative stereotype of Black men that is consistently presented to us in media. With that said, I believe that it is a woman’s choice to first, pick a partner she believes to be suitable for her. It is then, her conscious choice to stick by a man who is clearly not ready to be a part of a healthy mature relationship in hopes that she can “change” a man. Why turn around and blame a man for the sacrificial lamb that SHE decided to be? While I agree the “ride or die” chick is often upheld as some sort of aspiration to all women, it’s still a choice a woman makes. If you decided to stick by and teach a man how to be a man, then your bitterness and anger is your own burden to bear.
In all aspects of life, it’s important to take stock and ownership of your decisions and actions. Most of us do this in other relationships, whether they are familial or platonic. Why should your romantic relationships be the exception? It is absolutely imperative to recognize and accept where a man is currently at in life, as opposed to where you would like him to be or envision him to be, after you invest time and energy into him. It is also necessary to understand that a balanced and healthy relationship allows room for both parties to thrive and blossom. This approach will eliminate heartache and complete burnout. There is no absolutely no reason why a woman should be broken down from building a man up.