Monday, April 20, 2009

In Search of Gardens...

...scared to have kids and do like daddy did/'cause i'm so scared of failin'... ~anthony hamilton, "comin' from where i'm from"

so many black men are afraid to be fathers (or afraid to try to be good fathers) because of the failures of their own fathers. and i'm sure this is true of most men who lack good father figures, but i'm also sure it's more prevalent in the black community, given our history of fatherlessness, tracing back to slavery.

so, i was recently have a conversation on this very topic. and the prevailing question seemed to be: nature or nurture? what makes the difference between 1) men (of any race and/or background) who become bad fathers (or avoid fatherhood) due to fatherlessness and 2) men who become great fathers despite fatherlessness. for the sake of this conversation, "fatherlessness" refers to the occurence of absent fathers as well as seldom-present or emotionally absent fathers. so, is it simply an innate difference in personality and character of the young man (or can personality even be innate)? or is it a matter of the other male influences in his life? or is it a combination of these and any number of other factors?

as i approach marriage and hopefully parenthood, i am giving more thought to what experiences have made me who i am. as alice walker once wrote, "in search of my mother's garden, i found my own." in my life that means that in beginning to understand my mother as a woman (not just as "mama"), i begin to learn a lot about myself as a woman, and actually, vice versa. and to take it a step further, i'm naturally thinking of my future children's gardens and how they will be shaped by my own.

so, as this began as an examination of the effects of fatherlessness on young men, it seems to have come full circle as an examination of the effects of parents on children. what say you, sister(and brother)garteners?

fathers be good to your daughters/daughters will love like you do/girls become lovers who turn into mothers/so mothers be good to your daughters, too... ~john mayer, "daughters"


Kahree said...

I believe that our lives are shaped by our parents. I believe that its our responsiblity as adults to make the choices that best fit us. As far as being a parent I think that my parents have instilled all that they could have in me. By watching them, I have learned what to do as a parent and what not to do( that would ultimately effect my children). I think that life in general is a mystery that we spend our entire lives trying to solve... and our children's children will do the same. I have been blessed and cursed with a wonderful father! He is a blessing because he has shown me how a real man should act and love a woman. He's a curse because I can't seem to find that same thing! lol. Which is probably the reason I off people so much. Anywho... I digress... My mother is my life and I hope to be half of the woman she is when I have children( don't tell her I said that). I think it all comes down to love: the you have for yourself, parents ( doing the best they could, with what they knew how), and your future.... if you have that, no matter how you were raised... You should still break the mold.

octoberwildchild said...

I think that for the most part, children will be shaped by their parents rearing (especially in the first 5 years). There are, of course, those exceptions who become nothing like the environment they were raised in.
My boyfriend is terrified of being a father. But he was raised by a generally good, always present, father. So, i don't get it. I think people who know better have more to think about when deciding to become parents as opposed to those who beceome parents repeatedly without planning.

laura said...

One of the greatest things about becoming a mother, is trying to figure out how I can provide to my daughter all of the things that were missing from my childhood and enhance all of the great things that made me who I am. I know we're going to screw it up along the way, but we just try to embrace that fear so we aren't paralyzed by it. As long as we're trying to do what's best for our children, rather than what's best for us, I think we're moving in the right direction.


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