Mothers: When our boys are “out of control” — for example, if at a young age they are talking back, staying out late, skipping school, lying about their whereabouts — who do we turn to for help? Is it a sign of trouble or just boys trying to act like men?
We hear a lot of mothers complaining about these kinds of behaviours, but do you think there is any way to stop them before they become a “real problem?” If the fathers are absent, do we call on them to now step up and handle things — or is it too late? Do we tell our own families what is going on, or do we hide it from them in shame? Do we stage an intervention?
What did you do, or what do you suggest, when sons start acting out?
And please, let’s move the conversation beyond “beat them.” Scores upon scores of mothers could tell us: Been there. Done that. Doesn’t work. I mean, correct me if I’m wrong — it might have worked for you or for somebody you know. But it just does not seem like beating a child, or a teenager, or a young man (if you could actually manage it!) could really be a dependable or effective strategy at this stage of the game.
The best thing about being able to move a discussion forward is to learn about what some of the pitfalls might be, where the weak areas are, what is viable and what is not. During the call-in portion of yesterday’s conversation on CBC radio’s Ontario Today, the issue of rape and domestic violence was raised a LOT. Many listeners felt that “withholding” sex from men who have guns (we had to specify up front that we are talking about guns that are meant to be used to shoot other people) — saying NO to being with a man who is a negative element in our communities (aka. “thug gangster”) could result in violence against women from these men who seem to have a propensity for violence. We were lucky to have Dr. Roz (of Dr. Roz’s Healing Place in Scarborough) on hand to address this important factor.
What do you think? Does it come down to yes or no? Should women have to say YES because of what might happen if they say NO? Do we have the services and support that are needed to help women who want to say NO, who want to move on and get away from a bad situation but can’t? If you have any insight about this issue OR any valuable resources that you would recommend, please share them here. There may be someone reading this right now who KNOWS someone or who IS someone who would like to get away from a negative situation. We may not all agree on strategy BUT we can at least agree that if a woman wants to leave, she should have the support that she needs to do so.
It was also interesting that rape was presented as though it was the next logical step for a man that is not getting sex from his partner. I was surprised that this point was raised so often because I think that most men would never think of raping anybody! More likely if they were dissatisfied with the situation, they would either move on and find somebody else, or make whatever change was needed to keep the women that they really want. However I could not deny that most of the people who raised the point of rape were men so they certainly would have some insight into how a man might react.
Overall the conversation raised a lot of great points: the possibility of the rise of prostitution, mothers in denial, social programs, calling the police on your loved ones, stronger gun laws, self-esteem and mental health issues, legal gun ownership, absentee fathers, poverty, even sex as a commodity. I hope this conversation is continuing in the living rooms (and bedrooms). Especially for people who think it’s a crazy idea because they can even raise other strategies or help to strengthen other areas that the rest of us may not be looking at.
“There is a saying that black women mother their sons and raise their daughters; when it comes to my mother, the saying is too true. My mother raised me — there were a lot of hard times, times when we both were hurt and angry, nevertheless I am the woman I am today because of her. But my mother let my brother Malcolm walk all over her ever since he was a child. Her way of looking after Malcolm was something I emulated, not out of concern for my brother, but to please my mother. Eventually, though, I became so fed up that I got tougher on him. I felt sympathy and wanted to support Malcolm and all the young brothers in his situation. But unlike my mother and the black women of my childhood, I wasn’t going to support a black man at the expense of myself.” — Veronica Chambers, from her book “Mama’s Girl, a memoir”
Pearl Cleage’s compelling story of young women struggling in relationships with criminal or violent men and raising their children has all the bases covered: women who are facing cycles of boredom, poverty, low self-esteem, but come together to learn to be “free women;” men who are frustrated and angered by lack of opportunities and trapped in a fruitless quest for respect; a mother who is unwilling or unable to take responsibility for her sons that terrorize both the community that they live in and the women they claim to love; a well-meaning, overzealous social worker, the ever-present funding crisis, wise elders, community deterioration alongside hopeful innovation, and the requisite amount of drama, judgement, friendships and love. I Wish I Had A Red Dress is a must-read for anyone, male or female, committed to social programs for young people, gun control, stopping violence against women…and the list goes on. If you’ve already read it, share your thoughts. If you haven’t read it, please do, and then tell us what you think. I especially like the character Tee (Tomika) who is already on the “guns get none” ideology, turning her back on the kind of relationships she has always known and holding out for her own “Denzel” — her best idea of a do-right man.
Bottom line: you may not agree with everything, or anything, in the book but it’s still worth the conversation.
I just saw this movie on CTV tonight. Doomstown, a Canadian television movie about gang violence, was aired on CTV in 2006. I was amazed at how many of the issues that we have been talking about were so succinctly portrayed in this film. Drug dealing, the quest for respect, immigrant communities, the role of mothers (including young babymothers), the absence of fathers, harbouring, snitching, children, religion, responsibility, love/attraction, and of course violence and death. The character of Monica was especially interesting, the local unattainable woman, who won’t let certain kinds of brothers get next to her…but they sure do want to! What would a man be willing to give up for a chance to get with a woman like that? It was kind of like that Chris Rock line: “Damn baby, what do I got to DO to get next to YOU??”
Apparently it’s almost impossible to find the movie but I’ll be keeping my eyes open and would be glad for any information from anyone who knows how to get this film. It would be great to have a discussion about this film. I would sure want to talk about the threat of violence against the families of people who “snitch” or talk to police. Question: Do you think that there is any excuse for violent retribution if someone that is known in the community shoots your mother? Your sister? Your child? That situation evoked a LOT of outburst from the people watching the film with me. Your thoughts?
Being a parent can be a humbling experience. One of my favourite sayings is “children make a liar of us all” . We must be honest to know when we have lost the power of influence over our children. Harbouring is making excuses for our children. WRONG is WRONG. I have a nephew who was shot and killed as a teenager. The most hurtful thing was finding out he had been involved with some wrong tings…his mom never shared with us (could have been the shame). Regardless, when do we admit we tried our best but our children have wills of their own? We love them but discipline is also one the greatest forms of love.
One of the greatest wisdom ever shared with from my Elder Paul Hill Jr. is that we don’t have a Youth Problem but an Adult One. Adults, lets meditate on that. — Paul O.
“Yes i would lie to the police straight up the justice system has failed society and im sure we have all lied to the police at sometime…sometimes we lie to protect i would hate to know i was the cause of my childs incarceration and imagine how they would feel…prevention is the best medicine teach and guide your children and you shouldnt have anything to worry about that all you can do!!!” — D.J.B.
“I think the real problem is our community has been harassed and abused so much by the police that even if we need their help we are reluctant to ask for it. almost as reluctant as they are to give it.” — Dene S.
“The more I ask this question, the more I appreciate the fact that there is a sliding scale of where we will “handle it on our own” and where we will flat out call the po po. So stealing a bike vs stealing a car. I guess what i can’t wrap my head around knowing my child has committed a more heinous crime and feeling that they are being protected by not turning them over to the police. So what they have done being wrong is not at issue, just that one doesn’t trust the police so justice will be served better at home? What if this same child commits another crime, or one more serious?… I am no big fan of the police for various reasons, but I feel I can talk to the issue, because I have worked with them many times trying to find solutions to these ‘silence’ problems. It has been said many times, we all hate the police until its our own child’s murder that they have to look for, then we are all up in their ass for them to “do their jobs!” But this isn’t about the police or anyone outside of our community… Our children are killing each other, and we need to keep talking, and asking questions, and sharing information. We need to engage these kids in activities that keep them off the street. Not wait for another program to be created by the city, create engaging activities on our own! When is the last time you grabbed your ‘neighbours’ kids and went to the park? Sat and read a book with you niece? We are willing to work second jobs to afford the car, how about taking the bus and saving a child. I’m not speaking to any one person’s life, so please don’t try to make it about that… I am just saying if we all made a little sacrifice, WE could be the change needed versus waiting for a city run program to do it.” — Mikey W.
On the issue of harbouring and supporting the “criminals” in our homes and communities: The men (yes, it’s mostly men) who do the shooting and killing and drug-dealing and terrorizing ARE our lovers, our husbands, our brothers, our sons, our FAMILY, our friends. So WHO IS OUR ENEMY? Is the enemy the people who are committing the crimes against our families and communities? Is the enemy the police who we can’t seem to trust? Do we protect ourselves against the criminals who may be our very own children? Or do we protect OUR criminals (because no doubt, they are OURS) against the police? This is a hard question that requires some REAL talks.
If you son or daughter committed a crime, would you lie to the police to protect your son or daughter from prosecution? Do you believe that crime is better handled at home or in the community? Let’s say it’s what we often consider “serious” crime. Violence. Drugs. Stealing. If the police come looking for your son or daughter, do you lie? Do you help your son or daughter escape, hide, destroy evidence? Really, how would you handle that?
Suzanne L: “Let’s put it this way; I would NEVER stand in the way of Real justice. Real Justice. Many times this would mean, me actually turning my kid in, standing there and watching them go to jail, knowing that no matter how painful, this is the right way to mete out justice. Other times it would mean, me smuggling him out of the country or destroying evidence. Oh yes. It could mean that. I would kill for my kids. Lying for them would be nothing.
Our goal AS PARENTS is to raise our kids up to their fullest potential. Not to enable or condone illegal or violent behaviors. Of course not. We have to teach them to be accountable for their actions. That accountability has to be braced up by consciousness though. I’m not gonna turn my kid in BECAUSE everyone in society thinks I should. My motivation will be firstly, the betterment of his Self and SECONDLY, my societal obligation. I’m being honest here. My kid’s soul comes before society’s lust for his punishment.
If I know that doing some jail time will straighten up his ass, then I’m gonna help him get some of that jail time. BUT, if I believe that NOTHING will be served by that (and, People….very often…nothing is), then I will do my best to help him. Justice is NOT ALWAYS served within the Justice system. This is a system that has, by and large, not served the needs of our young, black men. Justice doesn’t ALWAYS mean Punishment. Sometimes Yes. Sometimes No. I have to consider all this in making my decision as to what I would do. This issue is not black and white and not a question I can answer absolutely from a hypothetical vantage point.”