Earlier this week I was reading a blog that discussed the recent Essence magazine cover for the month of August that featured actress Nia Long and her two beautiful sons. The title of the blog was pretty much asking the question of whether or not Essence was "glorifying" single motherhood by having Nia on the cover with her boys (one cover includes both of her children and the other includes the baby). I kind of brushed it all off until our magazine came in the mail today. My first thought on seeing it was, "They are all so beautiful." My last concern was the fact that Ms. Long is 41 and yet to be married with two children under her belt. Then as I drove to my boyfriend's house a local radio deejay was discussing, or mentioning, the cover and people's feelings on it. I rolled my eyes because to my knowledge she is a single mother and I kind of got the feeling that she wanted to agree with others on the issue except it would be like the pot calling the kettle black. After much thought I came home and wrote a Facebook status on the entire thing.
1.) I believe the Black community has the highest rate of children being raised in a single parent household with the mother. So if anything Essence is just reflecting the trend in the Black community.
I am not about to sit here and tell you all this sob story of how my mother raised me by herself with no help from my Dad because that is nowhere near true. For the past 22 years of my life I have had the pleasure (somewhat) of living with both my parents. Despite my Dad being a truck driver he has always been involved in my life even though I did not see him everyday. I have one aunt and one uncle (recently remarried) who were divorced while I grew up, but they were involved in their kids' lives. I honestly thought everyone was raised by both of their parents until I came to high school. Yes, I was that sheltered from the world. I soon discovered that some of my friends had little to no contact with their fathers and my heart hurt honestly.
Here's the thing, the Black community has the highest rate of children being raised in households were the father is absent or either the mother and father have not been married. Because of that every Father's Day we often see people putting a status up about their mother being both mama and daddy. My favorite status was always from one of my friends who recently rekindled her relationship with her father that said, "I ain't have no daddy around when I was growing up." I'm not saying that being a single mother is a bad thing that Essence was wrong for "glorifying" with this cover, but it honestly reflects the trend that is going on in our community at the current moment. Therefore it's not "glorifying" it just showing the truth. It's time that we realize the dream of everyone having a family like the Huxtables that performs musical numbers for special occasions is not reality. Even if someone comes from a family that isn't "traditional" it doesn't mean the father is not involved in the child's life. One of my friend's was raised by her mother, but is very close with her father. This leads me to my next point.
2.) If Essence had included her youngest son's father on the cover ppl would have said they were encouraging young girls to not get married and settle on being the "baby mama."
If we know one thing it's that you can't please everyone and I think Essence knows that (remember when they hired somebody that was white which led to their Editor-In-Chief resigning because of the backlash?). The father of Nia's youngest child is a basketball player and I question if these same people would have preferred he be feature on the cover with his child. I believe if Essence had a cover with Nia, her youngest son, and the child's father if that would have made things different. People would have been up in arms over the magazine portraying being a "baby mama" as the all right thing to do. That same friend I just mentioned had a child last year with her longtime boyfriend. While she was pregnant I can't remember how many times I asked when she and her boyfriend were getting married. She always told me that having a baby didn't mean you had to rush and get married because marriage wasn't going to change anything about her relationship except make it legal. She's happy with how her life is right now. She and her boyfriend live together with their baby like a regular household minus the marriage license. She even calls her boyfriend "baby daddy" at times. Even though it's a title I loathe I can't say anything because he's highly involved in his son's life. Honestly, when I sit and think about it they're just like a married couple.
The most important thing that we need to realize is marriage isn't for everyone. This isn't 1950 were young adults were often married between 18 and their early 20's, it's 2012. Do you know how many times I've heard young ladies say they have no interest in getting married? Sometimes I even feel that way. Nia Long even says that marriage is not a top priority for herself. So discussions like this even make question if some people feel like married couples are the only deserving ones of children. Almost like God made it a reward reserved for these couples and miraculously some unwed couple found a loophole around it. Reality check, plenty of people that come from two parent households don't have good relationships with their parents.
3.) Both of her kids' fathers are involved in their lives so what is the big deal?
This is the amazing thing about this entire discussion. From my reading of the article both of Nia's children have relationships with their father. The oldest son is 12 and she made it clear that she made sure to get on good terms with his father as parents that don't get along often deal with the child picking sides of some sort. The youngest's father is shown in photos out and about with the baby and Nia. He actually has no family besides his sister and this baby as both of his parents are deceased. I could understand if Essence had put a mother on the cover that had five children with five different fathers that had no involvement in their child's life, but they didn't. Even if they had put Lil' Wayne on the cover with all four of his children I would have been all right to an extent despite the fact that the last three were with women who were all pregnant around the same time. Why? Because all of the mother's of his children say he is an excellent father and I'm not just talking about from a financial standpoint. I can't approve of him having so many kids with so many different women, but as long as he is taking care of them I also can't chew him out.
This whole discussion made me even ask my boyfriend what his feelings are towards having a child out of wedlock. We both came to the conclusion that the ideal thing would be to be married before we have children with whomever in the future even if it's with each other, but if an unexpected pregnancy came about we hoped that we would be in a stable and great relationship instead of one those that we often see on 16 & Pregnant involving a girl that's been in a relationship for a month.
What are your feelings on the whole subject?
What are your feelings on the whole subject?