MODERN BLACK MOM: Is Unwed Motherhood Part of the Equation?

As I was reading a recent Washington Post piece entitled “Blacks struggle with 72 percent unwed mothers rate,” I found that it raised some excellent questions about the modern Black mother.

Namely being this one: Is she destined to raise her child single?

Let me first of all be completely honest with everyone and not get on some pedestal that I myself have slipped off of. I had my daughter out of wedlock. My current husband and I were not married when I got pregnant and had to sit down and figure out what to do. As my mother always said, “every child is a blessing,” which is exactly why I chose to have my daughter with the knowledge that I may have to raise her by myself if things didn’t work out with my current husband.

So, he who is without sin cast the first stone.

However, I do feel like we (including myself) as modern Black women need to ask ourselves some very difficult questions about who we have children with and what we want for our children.

Blacks outpace all other races in this category, and it’s not one we should be proud of. But, where does the blame lie? Women. Men. Both.

I can’t help but put most of the blame on us as women.

Many of you may shout out in disgust, but I have to put the responsibility on us because we are the ones producing these children out of wedlock. We are the ones who choose to lay our standards so low that the result is “baby daddies” who are non-existent in their children’s lives.

As my mama also always said, “Men will only treat you as badly as you allow them to.” And, apparently we have let our men treat us very badly.

We have consistently lowered our bar and allowed men to treat us as badly as they see fit and never demanded more from them, so why should they give us more? I see it time after time with friends, girlfriends and just stories that I hear. Women so desperate to find and have a sexual relationship with “a man” that they don’t care who that man is or much less what kind of father he will be.

The larger issue at hand here is also the idea of unprotected sex. In order to have these children, we are putting ourselves at risk by having unprotected sex. It is therefore no coincidence that 72% of Black children are born out of wedlock and that Black women make up 60 percent of all AIDS cases reported.

We cannot continue to sleep with men we barely know to appease some kind of sense of self-worth. We cannot, as mothers, continue to let our men slide by with the title of “baby daddy” and have no responsibility when it comes to raising their children or marrying us.

If you did make a mistake and wouldn’t in a million years actually marry the man who impregnated you, what in the hell would make you think he would be a good father?

My apologies for my harsh language, but we really have to be smarter about this. If he isn’t good enough for you, he for damn sure is not good enough for your unborn child.

When you choose to have unprotected sex with a man, these are the things you have to think of. Would this man make a good father? Am I absolutely sure he is disease free and is faithful to me? If not, use some self control and use a condom.

Better yet, don’t have sex with him. Be choosier about who you sleep with. I’m not just preaching to others but also to myself. I didn’t always make the smartest decisions in life. Lord knows I didn’t! So, it’s by the grace of God that I’m here today. I did, however, only have unprotected sex unless I was in a committed relationship with a man because that was the absolute standard for me.

As women, we need to have absolute standards or else we’ll just continue to waiver from them.

I am not willing to give up on us as Black women. But, I am ready to stop making excuses for us and our race. We need to demand more from our community, and it starts at home.

If Black women are truly the backbone of our community, we need to start taking some responsibility for the struggles of our community. Once we start with fixing our families, maybe then some of the other major challenges of our Black community will slowly begin to disappear.

Until then, I’m taking a stand on unprotected sex, choosing our partners more wisely and not giving our children half of what they need to help them become productive, well-adjusted members of society.

Chavon Carroll is a married, 27-year-old mother of a boisterous and funny 4-year-old with a flair for the dramatic. Beyond her two full-time jobs as wife and mother, she also oversees all donor communication for a large arts and cultural organization in Charlotte, North Carolina. Chavon grew up as the youngest of four children in a small, urban Northwest Indiana city with a strong, intelligent and omnipresent black mother of her own whose sudden death five years ago forever changed the fabric of her family. Chavon knows much of her beliefs and own mothering style is shaped in large part by her mother’s influences, and looks forward to sharing the ups, downs and in betweens of motherhood with other women navigating the long journey of Modern Black Motherhood.

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