Burton (2007) suggests that boys may be especially likely to act as their mother’s peer or spouse, filling the role of “man of the house,” yet she does not explore the gendered and racialized meanings behind this. They come first and foremost,” she told us. Some popular texts position fathers as indispensable in families (Blankenhorn 1995; Popenoe 1996), although others contest this (Pleck 1997; Silverstein and Auerbach 1999). Given this context, single mothers experience stigmatization and high expectations to account for their single status and their parenting. The Negro Family: A Case for National Action. Our analysis is based on 31 in-depth interviews with black low-income single mothers. This can change their thinking and behaviour to adapt to norms early on. This article is also available for rental through DeepDyve. We interviewed 16 mothers in 2010 and an additional 15 mothers in 2012. You can enter your child in mixed-gender activities, sports, and playgroups. If a child is raised without the concept of gender, they will become confused about their identity when they attend school and meet other kids. Foster Parenting Sinikka Elliott, Joslyn Brenton, Rachel Powell, Brothermothering: Gender, Power, and the Parenting Strategies of Low-Income Black Single Mothers of Teenagers, Social Problems, Volume 65, Issue 4, November 2018, Pages In an effort to socialize their boys into young men, eight mothers discussed enrolling their sons in community programs that provide boys with male role models. Help your children recognise stereotypes and biases, and how the society and world we live in has gender divisions. The belief in male primacy in the heterosexual household, coupled with mothers’ fears that their sons will seek manhood in the streets, may thus encourage mothers to give sons more power in family life, reinforcing male authority. He’s gonna feel like I’m controlling. He told his parents that though he identifies as a boy, he still would want to wear girls’ clothes. Especially in the case of phones and technology, mothers said they cannot always regulate their use because they are not paying for them. This research also adds to the literature by examining family power dynamics. The emphasis on the value of two parents and the signature role men play in family life can mean mothers feel inadequate about their ability to raise their children alone because they suggest that fathers play a role that mothers, as women, cannot—a notion that was contentious for a subset of participants. The mothers’ stories suggest that boys and men carry, or vie for, power through their masculine status. As Vanessa did above, mothers talked about their expectations for their sons to someday become the “man of the house”; a status that clearly means having power and authority (Anderson 1999; Burton and Tucker 2009) and a role they are already practicing by exerting power over siblings. As other scholars note, the “ideal family” and the “deviant family” are gendered, racialized, and classed constructs (Collins 2000; Kaplan 1996; Moore 2008). Much has been made about the rise in single-mother households in recent decades, with the emphasis largely on absent fathers and the challenges single mothers face. The bad road or the good road?” The bad road involves “being in the gangs, getting high, and stuff” whereas the good road means being “happy” and “successful,” having “money [and] a house.” With one in nine black men between the ages of 20 and 34 behind bars (Pew Research Center 2008), mothers also worry about their sons getting into “legal trouble” (Shironda). Sexual double standards and the politics of respectability rest heavily on girls and women of color (Johnson 2013; Jones 2010; Moore 2011), and mothers spoke at length about their fears for their daughters’ sexual safety and honor but were less concerned about their sons’. For example, Janelle said she told her daughters that they can date boys when they are 31, but not her sons because it is different for boys: “Because they’re boys. All rights reserved. The creative ways families labeled as “deviant” engage in strategies to align their family with the ideal provide insight into the ideological power of “the family” as well as the reproduction of inequality. Babyhug Brush & Comb Set – A Premium Set for Sensitive... Gender-neutral kids are more creative, thanks to the freedom of expression and choice. In the second round of 15 interviews, we included more questions to better understand how mothers think about family life and interpret and negotiate the help of male family, friends, and institutions when raising teens. In line with the societal valorization of marriage and heterosexual two-parent households, mothers uniformly said that children should have a mother and a father and stressed the irreplaceable role fathers play. Being gender-neutral can increase your child’s awareness of identity and self-esteem. But, nowadays, some parents are opting to raise their child as gender-neutral. He’s definitely all man.”. Victoria said she regrets the absence of a male influence in her 17-year-old son’s life: I can’t be a substitute for a father. Reviewing past research on black marriages and longitudinal data from low-income families, Linda M. Burton and M. Belinda Tucker (2009) find black women perform “a delicate dance” to both “elevate and honor manhood (especially those who have committed to families) while carrying out necessary obligations and tasks” (p. 142). Overall, however, the valorization of the two-parent heterosexual family preserves men’s power in the household. Let your child play with a wide variety of toys which are not segregated as being toys for boys or girls. These mothers described sons who assist them and play an active role in parenting by demonstrating male authority with their siblings, including threatening and scaring them. Gender-neutral parenting has less effect on sexuality than you would think. In discussing how she allows her son freedom and independence, Vanessa may also be responding to the idea, prominent in parenting books and popular discourse, that dominant, overprotective mothers emasculate sons (du Plessis 1993; Robinson and Spivey 2007) or the notion that single mothers are responsible for the so-called crisis of masculinity (Blankenhorn 1995; Popenoe 1996). There is no way of avoiding gender in the child’s future due to surrounding society, so giving them exposure early will help them decide who they are and what they want to be. But, you know, things happen and we learn from everything and even though I am alone and, you know, there’s nobody here to help me [crying], I still get up every morning with a smile on my face, regardless of what happens, no matter what … I take care of my kids regardless. Louisa worries about her teen daughter because she thinks “for females, if they don’t get a relationship with their dad, they’re going to look for older men.” She hopes her 27-year-old son can fill an absent father’s shoes to prevent this. You also acknowledge that owing to the limited nature of communication possible on interactive elements on the site, any assistance, or response you receive is provided by the author alone. Even as they discussed the lengths they go to meet their children’s needs, the mothers typically endorsed marriage as the ideal arrangement for raising children.
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