Raising boys alone
FOR a single mother, raising a child alone is never easy. For some moms though, doing it alone seems even more difficult when the child is a boy. And as statistics show an increase in the number of Jamaican homes headed by single parents, more and more mothers are faced with the prospect of raising their boys alone.
It's a massive undertaking for some, based on the long-held belief that a woman cannot raise a man. A male figure, they say, is essential to boys developing into real men with all the trappings. And no woman, no matter how good a parent, can fill that role, some say.
Below are some of the greatest fears of mothers we interviewed who are now raising their boys alone. The moms also tell how they cope, and how they are ensuring that their sons are well-rounded.
Fear 1: That he will turn out gay.
"Not having a male in the house to bond with, and also being always nagged by a younger sister and myself, I sometimes wonder if my 15-year-old son will turn out to be 'girlish'," Christine, mother of two, told All Woman. "What I try to do is to encourage him to be involved in sporting activities like football where he will be around boys his age and older," she said. "I also encourage his male friends to come over so they can rap together."
Fear 2: That they will be abusive to women.
Grace T said her husband was always very abusive to her in front of her children, including her two boys. So now as a single mom she fears they too will be abusive to women as this was what they were accustomed to from the only male figure who was in their lives.
"Now that he has left the home, I try to explain every chance I get how wrong it is for men to put their hands on women and that things like that only lead to broken families," Grace said. "I always try to explain that if men take care of their wives and vice versa, how happy the couples and the children would be. But I don't know if I am getting through to them."
Fear 3: That they will resent me for letting their father leave.
Johan B said she separated from her husband when their three children were under 11. They had a good relationship with him, but he left after she discovered his affair.
"My two young sons will ask why I let daddy leave and why I did not let him come back," Johan said. "So I know that they believe I am the one who chased him out."
She said she has tried time and again to explain that he was the one who wanted to leave and that she did not want him to go, but the questions still keep coming back.
"I try to let them have a good relationship with him but this does not always work because I am the one who has to keep calling and asking him to visit them," she said. "And since I am the one who has to discipline them and he gets to play with them, of course they resent me and are more drawn to him."
Fear 4: That he will never leave home.
One mother said she has only one child, a son, who is now 21 but still acts like five. "I think that maybe I spoiled him too much," she said. "He looks like his father so after his father died when he was nine, I felt the need to protect him. Maybe I did too much. I never hear him talk about girlfriends or going out with his friends or anything like that, so now I fear I may have spoilt him and he feels like he has to depend on me for everything."
She said she does not know how to remedy the situation.