Of Parenting and Culture - Part 2
Are black single mothers so self-reliant because they tend to have matriarchal networks? And is it true that black men are more absent? Here's what some of you had to say.
Being a single mom is tough

I’m a black single working mom and have a 4-year-old daughter. I have to say that being a single mom is tough – and that’s an under-statement. As rewarding an experience it is - it is also exhausting and very testing.  

Then there’s the whole issue of balancing being a good mom and a good employee; let’s not forget how everything just falls apart when my little one is sick and wants nobody else but her mommy.

Other black girls that are in the similar situation have their little ones living with their grandparents. That’s a very common occurrence amongst black families. However, my parents passed away and thus that’s not an option for me – and even if my parents were still around I don’t think I would have exercised that option.

My sisters are all in Pretoria and I live in Joburg. I have a dependable live-in nanny without whom I would not survive. Yes, should anything happen my sisters would be there to support me but it’s not quite the same because they are not quite close enough for me to ask (at the last minute) that one of them squeeze in an extra trip and pick up my daughter from crèche when I have to work late. My nanny is therefore my rock.  

I still have to do all the driving around and pick-ups from crèche, but she’s there when it matters the most – be it when I’m sick and need some time-out, an hour of soaking in the bath, or a Cosmo session with my girls. My daughter absolutely adores her and I cannot imagine our life without her. However, as fantastic as my nanny is I’m considering moving back to Pretoria when my daughter starts school – simply because nothing beats having my sisters around.  

For my daughter her cousins will be there – and we all know that these little people also need other little people. Until then we will be trekking to Pretoria every other weekend.


An inherent part of culture

I was raised by a single parent, my mother. So my view will come from the perspective and also from being a woman.

I think in essence, when it comes to the black & coloured culture, it is inherent the idea that men are the breadwinners and hence should not be doing the “look after the kids” deal. That is primarily the woman’s duty. No question about it.

In earlier times, men would go out to work early morning and will return at night, when really, the children get ready to go to bed again. This precedent that was set, continues today still in some households.

So, from this, most women has learnt to fend for themselves and to rely on their mothers, sisters & aunts to assist with raising the children.

I think in this respect men and fathers have been spoilt rotten. That is how some get away with not paying maintenance.

But it is with the help of family members that single mothers are able to raise their children, to be both the mother & father. To give the necessary guidance that only a father can give.


I did it on my own

I know it from experience as my daughter’s father presence has been non-existent.

When I mention it, people are quick to judge me and usually accuse me of being the one that somehow must have done something wrong. My girl is 5 now, knows she has a father somewhere, who does not even remember her birthday and in all those 5 years he has supported her with R700.

I remember when I was still pregnant, attending pre-natal clinics, about 90% of us were young and looked single and only one woman came with her man (not sure if married or not). When I went for delivery, it was the same situation.

My child has been attending crèche/nursery since 2-months-old as I had to continue with my studies. Now she’s started school and we are coping very well. In June she proposed to my male friend asking him to be her dad and said she doesn’t have one. Black kids do need fathers. Most mothers do need support from dads (some do not admit it, just to prove their strength and independence).

As for black dads, it depends on how they were raised. Most educated dads are more present than illiterate ones. Married dads are more hands-on than single dads (NB. 80% of young, adult, single guys have a child or more somewhere in the country).


Click here to read part 1 of our reader letters discussion

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