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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

First Comes Baby

Written By: Nicole Parker-Jones—What happened to the days when a family structure comprised of mother, father, and child(ren), was so engrained into our fabric that we would sing about it as young girls? You know, the days where like in our elementary poems we believed that we'd meet a boy, fall in love, get married, and then have a baby complete with a baby carriage? Somewhere between the K.I.S.S.I.N.G. and the baby, things changed. We have all heard the rhetoric backed by credible statistics that marriage and as a consequence family is disintegrating, particularly in the African American community.

At first blush, it is all too easy to categorize this issue as involving "other" black women; to be sure, campaigns targeted at educating women about family are typically messaged to "at risk" teenagers, and the women associated with such campaigns are "at-risk" women (read: young teens growing up in low income single-parent households with limited tools to survive the concrete jungle). But when I look within my circle of friends comprised of an eclectic group of African and African-American women with one thing in common—a solidly middle class upbringing—I see these very statistics replicate themselves. Without exaggeration I can say that half of my middle class black female friends with children are single mothers—some by virtue of circumstance (e.g. divorce) but more often than not, by virtue of a conscientious choice. None of my friends fit the "at-risk" profile—they are self-aware free spirited creatives, type-A educated high powered achievers, and everything in between—yet they too, save the income disparities, find themselves similarly situated to the stereotypical “baby mama”: raising a child in a single parent household.

What’s going on? Here I share the diverse stories of the single mothers in my life.

Read the rest of this article in MIMI's Love Africa, Always issue, in the article First Comes Baby.

(Photo Credits: © Jodie Coston / iStockPhoto)


Mon petite Niche said...

Our perception of culture and family values change as our society changes. Gone are the days when men where gentlemen and honour meant everything. Gone are the days when a woman had little or no choice in shaping her future. Like you said, most of these single mothers do so by choice.
This is because the dynamics are changing. The ratio of "responsible", family oriented males is less than its female counterpart.

So what are we as women suppose to do? Wait around?
Stay in unhealthy relationships?

The reality of the past is not the same as today. I wonder how many women in the past will make alternative choices if presented with the options available today?