Fountain: When a father is gone, a mother becomes a son’s ‘saving grace’

SHARE Fountain: When a father is gone, a mother becomes a son’s ‘saving grace’

I’m sorry, but I have to say it: Some mothers are their own son’s worst enemy.

I can already hear it: “But you didn’t say anything about those no good men who are nothing but sperm donors…”

To that I say: I’ve said a plenty about that and will say plenty more. But I’m talking today about the hand that rocks the cradle.


About women who manipulate their children, hold them hostage from good men, use their children as pawns. Mothers who denigrate the children’s father and seem to despise manhood.

Those women whose bitterness, anger and selfishness becomes a consuming toxic soup, which they feed their sons and then wonder why they grow up to be full-grown males, but never full-grown men.

I will never make excuses for fathers who are MIA. I was a son abandoned by his father.

But my mother was not perpetually hateful of all men, bitter. She loved her own father and deeply respected manhood.

Like plenty of other good mothers — precious jewels too many to count — she understood that her little boy someday would become a man.

Mama loved me enough to correct me, enough to challenge me and to hold up a standard. She required that I be responsible. That I act a certain way, dress a certain way, speak a certain way, respect others. She attended parent-teacher conferences, took me to the library, talked with me endlessly about building a future.

In these times, however, it is clear that so many young men — paternally abandoned in one way or another — miss these core lessons.

How do we fix it?

The answer lies in all men being responsible for the children they sire. It lies in women being more selective about the men they allow to impregnate them. It lies in all of us seeking to do the hard work it takes to raise productive good citizens rather than killers.

It requires a paradigm shift, a new hope and new vision. It requires educating children about our true value as humans. It lies in men stepping up to be coaches, surrogates, mentors.

But we won’t be able to simply “mentor” our way out of this. With 7 out of 10 African American babies born to single mothers, there are not enough mentors to go around.

Indeed the best mentor for a son is still a good dad. In his absence, a good Mama can be a son’s saving grace. I’m a witness.

My mother understood that for a mother to coddle her son beyond childhood was to potentially cripple him. That to make excuses for him was to hinder his metamorphosis to manhood. That to interfere with, inhibit or interrupt correction by a good and loving father, or some other male in his life attempting to instill discipline and lessons of manhood, is to potentially corrupt and undermine a son’s sacred journey to his God-ordained calling.

My mother understood that to call “all men” dogs because of the few no-good men she may have encountered in her life, or to dismiss men as being critical to saving our families and communities, is potentially to neuter and neutralize her own son.

She understood that there is a clear difference in what is required for raising a Ph.D. and a GB (as in a Gangbanger); an M.D. and a T-H-U-G; an MBA and an African-American male who will grow up to be M-I-A.

She understood that as my mother she could choose to be my worst enemy, or my best friend.


Follow John Fountain on Twitter: JohnWFountain

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