Recently, the article The Strained Relationship Between Black Mothers and Their Daughters was trending on my newsfeed. I didn’t pay much attention to it, at first. Then it popped up again in an online group I’m in. Initially, I felt an immediate need to reject it. I always get anxious when I see articles like this. I feel that Black mothers tend to already be overly criticized, so why add fuel to the fire. However, I decided I needed to be open-minded and read the article.
While I have mixed feelings about the article, I had to acknowledge that it was the author’s truth and the story for many Black daughters. There are some Black mothers who lack affection for their daughters. They have never dealt with their own unresolved issues. There are some who are simply narcissistic and even see their daughters as competition.
I felt the article was missing something. I think it’s important to examine the complexities of Black motherhood. Of course, this is not to condone emotional/physical/mental abusive behavior. There are some parents who are just rotten people. But there are certain stresses that Black mothers contend with that may affect their relationships with their children.
Black motherhood has never been valued in this society, and is always under attack. Since being brought here as slave labor/breeders, Black women had to quickly redefine what was being a mother/motherhood. This has contributed to a long, shaky journey of trying to figure out what is the “right” way to mother. Mothering outside of white ideology.
A few day ago, I came across a social media platform, where the male host highlights stories of domestic violence/and other traumas in the Black community. I thought this was admirable, especially since we need more Black men thoughtfully discussing these issues.
I found it interesting that in the cases of young Black women who had boyfriends/male partners, who later murdered them and/or their children, commentors begged young Black women to just stay single. That they should just focus on themselves and their children. They urged the women to “stop worrying about having a man.”
I was amused by this, because I’m sure any other time, these people are critical of single Black mothers. There is often the lecturing within the Black community, that single Black mothers have ruined us all. So, it’s not surprising that many single Black mothers take up with questionable men. There is tremendous pressure on single Black mothers to “right their wrongs” (get a male figure in the house), especially if they have sons.
Single Black mothers are also encouraged to be open to “all kinds of Black men” lest you be seen as having too higher standards, a gold digger, etc.
The community push for Black mothers to be in traditional relationships, creates additional stress on already regular motherhood worries. Then there is the racial aspect of being a Black mother. The fears of your child being mistreated, harassed, killed by the larger (white) society.
My 2-year-old is tall for his age. He is often mistaken for 4,5 years old. This has gotten him in a bit of trouble, at times. People who encounter expect him to behave at a certain developmental age. I have to frequently tell people he is only two. These incidents have caused me to be concerned as he gets older. He’s going to get taller and taller. One day, he will be a towering teenage Black boy seen as a threat. I think about that all the time.
Black mothering is a unique experience. Some of us make missteps, others of us cause pain. This speaks to the fact we need to address parenting skills, in general in the Black community. The stresses that haunt us as Black parents. We need to tackle our history in this country and it’s impact on our parenting. We must explore the issue of trauma and how it passes on to the next generation.
Check out this wonderful discussion on why we need to empower single Black mothers