It is now the norm for African American women to have children without benefit of marriage. Nearly 78 percent of African American children are born to single mothers. Children raised by a single mother have a higher incidence of being poor, dropping out of high school, not going to college, and ending up in prison.
African American families of the past, a model for today
Modern African Americans should reclaim the nuclear family structure of previous generations. The African proverb says, “It takes a village to raise a child,” but the village will only be strong when the majority of its families are two-parent ones. Then and only then can the village help raise all the children, because the village will be a stable one.
Unless a single mother is well educated with a high-paying career, raising a child without a father is financially difficult. I’m a single (divorced) mother who had my son at an age when I could have already been mother to a teenager. My boy’s father divorced me when our son was slightly over a year old. Although I’m educated and older, without much family support, the road has not been smooth.
Children of single mothers are poor and poorly educated
Schools in poor neighborhood are inferior, and inferior schools lead to an inferior education. Subsequently, the children’s futures are potentially dismal based on lack of access and lower standards. Thirty-three percent of African Americans who had a poor childhood remained poor at ages 25-27. There are exceptions to this, but they don’t occur as often as we would like to believe.
Poverty leads to lower achievement scores on tests, and eventually, to dropping out of school. Studies have found that chronic stress due to poverty impairs a child’s working memory. There are real consequences to not being raised by both parents, and it is the child who suffers the most. When my son was younger, I decided to homeschool him, because I couldn’t bear to send him, a gifted child with mega potential, to an inferior school.
African American married couples can help
African Americans who were raised in two-parent families can help those who weren’t. Middle-class African Americans who are married and raising their children must mentor young, single African American mothers and encourage them to continue school. Established married women can tutor young girls, and by example, teach them not to have children until they are financially stable.
Successful married men can provide support groups for young boys and encourage them to not become teen fathers, but to take responsibility if they impregnate a young girl. Showing these boys what a real father does will help–as many of the boys have never experienced a dad in their home. When we return to our pre-1970s type of neighborhoods and families, our children will experience the security, education, self-esteem, and nurture to succeed in life.
Child Welfare Information Gateway
Child Trends Research Brief, Publication# 2009-11