Monday, August 27, 2012

It Takes Two

During my recent ten plus hour flight to Okinawa, Japan with my three daughters and our tiny Chihuahua named Chip, I flipped through one of my favorite books, The Isis Papers from time to time. I figured this long flight would be a good time to reflect and evaluate how my wife and I are raising our daughters. The focal point of chapters 20, 21, and 22 discussed parenting skills and the challenges of raising African American children. Dr. Welsing discusses in detail the frantic need for more two-parent households in the African American community.

Little did I know, my first ten or so days in Okinawa alone with the kids would challenge me physically and mentally in ways that I could have never imagined. There are so many tasks to be accomplished every day in order to get the initial set-up process completed. The level of exhaustion I felt at the end of each day made me question how single parents do it day in and day out. I cannot imagine doing all the things my children need alone for a sustained period of time and still give them the amount of love and care they need.

When no one else is around to help take care of those daily responsibilities, one has to find the inner-strength to simply put a check in the box. This doesn’t allow much time for personal reflection, compassion, or sympathy. Accomplishing the mission at hand becomes more of a priority than does the emotional, psychological, and physiological needs of the children. The scale is tilted to one side and the children’s developmental needs are often left unfulfilled.

I realize that there are children reared in single-parent households who go on to be highly educated, productive members of society; however, they are in the minority. Like a strong majority of people I know and respect, I am adamantly opposed to child-parents, i.e. teenagers becoming parents to children when they are still children themselves. 

According to Dr. Francis C. Welsing, author of The Isis Papers, children born to child-parents will experience the following. “They will experience being inadequately housed, clothed and fed. They will experience abandonment to welfare systems and foster homes. They subsequently will experience failure to achieve academically, and then fail to perform adequately on scholastic achievement tests. Because of their frustration from being stressed and inadequately cared for, they will fail to attend school. Eventually they will drop out of school. Many Black children and youth will become involved with drugs-either to medicate often unrecognized major depression, or to sell drugs to solve their own or their family’s financial difficulties.” Pg. 252.

Upon first glance, I took exception to some of what she said, but when I re-read and re-evaluated this paragraph, it was clear to me that she was absolutely correct.  Certainly there are adults who grew up in two-parent homes that fall into the above stated conditions, but without question the slope is steeper for children of child-parents and single-parent homes. The numerous obstacles children born to child-parents must overcome make their plight to breaking the cycle of poverty and dependency nearly impossible.

I have the utmost respect for single parents who are working hard to ensure that their children have everything children of two-parent homes have, but it is obvious that it takes two parents to provide the loving, healthy, stable, and consistent environment children so desperately need.  Immature, unstable, and overwhelmed child-parents cannot provide their children with the tools they need to become independent adults because they themselves have not figured out or found out whom they are at this stage in their lives. 

I found myself as the parent to four young daughters by the youthful age of 23 and quickly realized that the fate of my family’s future was in the hands of a young man who was just beginning to find himself. I was immature, selfish, impatient, harsh, and way too overbearing. I was not a good listener and had a zero defect mentality when it came to disciplining my kids.

Six years into my young Marine Corps career, I had been married for four years, had four young daughters, and was stressed beyond belief. Simply said, I was not even ready for one child let alone four. The responsibilities that fell upon my shoulders were a load that would have been much too heavy to bear without the help of my wife.

We did our best to provide more than just the basic needs for our children, but that came with a lot of bumps and bruises that could have been avoided had we been more mature adults.  As challenging as it has been raising a family, it has been as equally rewarding to see the growth and development, not only in our children, but also in the two of us as parents.

I am convinced now more than ever that it takes two parents to provide all of the things children need in their journey towards adulthood. There has to be a greater emphasis placed on the need for more two-parent homes and an outcry to greatly reduce the number of children being raised by single and child-parents.

Our society as a whole will receive better-equipped young adult to lead the country into the next generation if these points are advocated for. We desperately need more mature adults as parents versus the extreme number of single and child-parents who have proven over a long period of time that they simply do not possess the tools necessary to raising productive, successful, independent, and healthy children.

Originally published by Steve Maynor Jr. on August 27, 2012 via


  1. Hey MSgt, as alway great blog ~ thanks for sharing. With the extensive parenting experience you have and the backing of academic references provided, this piece will benefit all readers ~ current and future parents. Enjoy Okinawa and be safe...respectfully sent.

  2. Hey Stu! Great piece. I found myself being a single parent when my hubby died 5 years ago and everyday I question myself as to whether or not I am doing a sufficient job of providing for my family all by myself. It's a tough job even for stable, mature adults.

  3. @Capt, Sapp, good hearing from you Sir. @T. Harris, I am glad you are mature enough to see that I was not taking a shot at single parents because I realize that situations like your happen. I'm sure you are doing everything within your control for your child because that's what good parents do, but the feeling of being stretched too thin is for the birds!

    My wife and I both are products of single parent homes and we are determined not to allow our children to go through what we went through as kids. We turned out to be pretty good people, but I think we could have been that much better if we would have had both of our parents at home. I do realize that the two parent household system won't solve every problem, because nothing is guaranteed, however, it's a start to healing a lot of the problems we have in our communities. The old saying, "it takes a village to raise a child" is an understatement!

  4. Great article! I agree. Single parent homes are very common place nowadays, especially in the african american community. So much so people may take for granted the difficulty it takes in not just providing for the children, but giving them the type of love, nuturing, and exposure they need to grow into mentally and emotionally healthy adults. Just the other day, I had a terrible headache that knocked me on my butt and I was on "Dad duty" as my wife was out and about. My son wanted to play and crawl all over me, but I just did not have the energy to reciprocate. All I could do was keep finding toy after toy to help keep him preoccupied. Eventually, my wife came home and looked after my son. In that moment that she finally came home, all I could think was, "I don't know how single parents do this." There is no opportunity for someone to pick up your slack if you are unable to be fully engaged. My hat goes off to all the single parents out there because it definitely takes a lot of strength and mental stamina to do it day in and day out without help or relief.

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  6. I'm a bit late here, but I had to commend you on this blog post. I couldn't agree with you more. The reason I don't have any children yet is because I am unwilling to subject myself and my child(ren) to the slippery, steep, uphill climb that my mother and I experienced. She, like those you reference in this post, was a teenage single-parent. The word "struggle" hardly begins to describe what my mother experienced...and with all of her might invested in my upbringing, she still couldn't equip me with all of the tools I would need to break the poverty cycle. She never had the opportunity to acquire those tools herself because she became a teenage mother. It's difficult to pass on what you don't teach what you never learned.

    I am still floored to this day when I think about the tools she WAS able to give me, against all the odds clearly not in her favor. I promised her and me, that I would do things differently. I have a ton of admiration for you Stu. You did things differently. You and your wife are breaking the cycle, and your daughters will keep it broken, as they now have a different world view then we did 20 years ago. Thank You brother. I promise to follow in your footsteps when my time comes.