Of Parenting and Culture

Supportive family structure

As a black woman I have noticed that in our community, children are associated with mothers and not necessarily fathers.

I was a single mother myself for about 8 years before getting married and having another child. The father of my first child skipped town when I told him about the pregnancy so I had no choice but to raise my son alone, but not really alone cause I had my two sisters helping and both my parents where there to help too.

Even today, married as I am, I still leave my children with my mother and I guess with the black community its first option. I also have noticed that whenever I take my young baby to the clinic with my husband, people tend to stare because most mothers there are unmarried and even if they are married, the fathers are not there to share the responsibility.

They consider you to be so well off if the father is there with you. I guess at the end of the day it is how things are, we are so used to broken families that we view that as normal and normal families as well off (even when you grow up in a family like mine, where my father was the one who was hands on with us, be it bathing us, potty training...that was my father and continued to do it with all his grandchildren)
Not a black or white issue

I don't think it's a black or white issue when it comes to men being "man enough" to step up to their responsibilities. My ex of 2 years was a white man, not only that BUT he was ENGLISH (a proper, full on pommy English bloke)

Well to come back to your article "EVERYONE" including my own family, thought "well you don't have to worry about doing the parenting thing on your own, because white men never run away from their responsibilities".

To cut the long story short, I smiled when I read your article 'cause I can relate.  Because my kids are bi-racial, people automatically assume that I'm still together with their father, not realising that the only relationship they have with their father is receiving the monthly maintenance (to clear his conscious). If I had I a choice I would not even touch it.
Needless to say, his absence is never felt as I've been blessed to have an amazing family and mother who spoil them rotten. And me? Well, I guess I'm working hard and doing my best to ensure that they never feel the absence of what society is slowly losing touch of... the guiding hand of a father.

A matter of having your cake and eating it?

White. British. And Single. What more can I say? I am lucky in the fact that my parents did help… to a point. Do still help… to a point.

But, you are right. The white culture, at least the English/British culture, not only dictates, but enforces that if you have the cake, you’d better damn well eat all of it. Alone. Going back to my family support, I have an ‘unusual’ set up.

My parents moved to SA when I was three. They came from a large family, but left and moved to a country where they were alone, with two toddlers (myself, and slightly older brother), and that is all they have had for the last 30 years. Family contact overseas is minimal. So although we have friends here, the only ‘true’ family members are the four of us.

My ex wanted nothing to do with my pregnancy, did not even recognize the baby as his own (from a big Afrikaans family). My father was the one who travelled 2 hours to get to me to go to a 30 min doctors check up monthly.

When the doctors picked up on certain problems in the pregnancy, my mother was the one who attended the rest of the doctor's appointments with me to keep me calm – and I had to move back to my parent’s home, move jobs etc, because I was in and out of hospital the last couple of months, trying to stay pregnant.

She was also the one who contacted my child’s father, and informed him if he wanted any future contact with the child, he’d better be present at the birth. He was. I wanted no contact with him, but couldn’t at that time be bothered to argue the point. I had other things on my mind.

My daughter is now four, her father (after 3 years of maintenance and custody courts) is involved in her life, but MY parents are the ones that got me through. And even then, all of the hard choices, the decisions I’ve had to make, the mistakes, I’ve had to learn the hard way, ALONE. My parents will be there to pick up the pieces should it ever get too much, but overall, I’ve carried the load, learnt my lessons, and dealt with them.

All of my Afrikaans, Indian and African friends have families surrounding them, maternal grandparents taking over parental duties without thought. I’ve found in even the White Afrikaans culture, whole families are heavily involved in raising a child.

Whereas the British, or English speaking friends, only the immediate parents (both mother and father EQUALLY) have the direct influence in child-rearing. And anyone who interferes is rudely rebuffed by one or both parties.

The extent to which my parents have supported me is unusual in our ‘culture’, and I am eternally grateful. They are there if I really need them, but truth be told, to keep the peace in the family, I’d rather not ask. One day at a time!


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