I’ve discovered that when I work out alone I do better to listen to something inspirational, educational or motivational rather than simply music. It seems to keep my focus on the content rather than the workout which makes it go by much faster. Today was no different but when I attempted to listen to one message via YouTube it was constantly interrupted, causing me to stop abruptly too frequently to even get a rhythm going. Ultimately I just opted to listen to someone else and came across a message by TD Jakes- I don’t recall the title and it doesn’t really matter because the content is what captured my attention.
Basically he was saying how hard it is for a man to be a man and not give up. That women have access to the Big Mamma’s and Grandmothers for wisdom and advise as we get older, whereas men not so much because the older men die off too early. That thought hit me to the core because I looked at the men in my life. My father was the oldest of 9 and his mother divorced his father so he became the MAN of the house. He spent several years as a child with his grandparents but was quickly elevated to the responsible person as a teenager for his mom and siblings. Both his father and grandfather passed away soon after we were born (in his early 30’s). My children’s father was raised by both parents until their divorce and they moved from NY to SC-the transition didn’t provide many older men as role models and as the family split he was raised by a great aunt along with her children. His father died before we meet, so early in his twenty’s. My mother on the other hand was fortunate enough to have her father well into his late 80’s his wisdom continues to be profound in the life of my brother (the oldest grandson).
I was provoked by this question. How are men able to grow, develop and learn from other men if those experienced men die off before they hit those critical stages in life when they need the direction and wisdom of a man? Who feels in the gap? Or do they just learn as they go, the best way they know how?
As a female I have never attended a family reunion, wedding, funeral not even a church cookout where the older women weren’t giving advise, encouraging, re-directing and teaching the younger women something based on their own mistakes and experiences. I’ve always had access to that and always expected it. However, if I reflect back on those same type of events I can barely count how often I saw older men- teaching younger men anything, if they were present at all.
So are men teaching themselves? Are they learning from the perceptions and expectations of the women who raised them or marry them? Who do they call when there is a crises in their lives and they need direction? Where is the male support system?
I honestly don’t know where to find the answer to these questions and I’m sure that every man has a response that would be different and some would be able to attest that they had a father, grandfather, uncle or cousin who gave them what they needed and still provide that sense of encouragement and support. Maybe some are at a spiritually healthy walk with God that they can depend solely on Him. But I wonder how many actually are in the above state much like my father and ex-husband, learning only by doing and making the mistakes. As a parent I often have told my children, you learn best sometimes by doing it wrong- but my goodness I don’t think I ever considered that adult men are still having to live by that principle. Especially when they are leading families, running businesses, managing people at work and serving in ministries. Maybe it is different in other cultures but in the Black Community our men are dying or leaving way too young. As a mother of three sons I’m concerned for what happens when they are old enough for families and their father and grandfather and uncles are not around to teach them. What does it revert back too? The same cycle of learn by making mistakes?
That leads me to several follow up questions specifically as it relates to the Black Community- How does this affect our relationships as men and women? How does it affect how we raise or walk away from our children? How does it impact how we work and build as a community? How does it impact our faith? How do we change it?
Joshua 1:9 Amplified Bible (AMP)
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not be terrified or dismayed (intimidated), for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”