Beating the Odds: Raising Academically Successful African American Males

By Freeman A. Hrabowski III; Kenneth I. Maton et al. | Go to book overview
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3
Mother-Son Relationships: The Mother's Voice

I always tried to look at the world through his eyes and listen to what he was saying.

He didn't want to be the best anymore. He wanted to be accepted.

Any serious consideration of the African American family acknowledges the central role of the mother. She, more than any other person, is the core around whom the children, the father, and other relatives revolve. Whereas the father's involvement sometimes has been diminished, the mother's role has been consistently strong. Black women generally place great value on motherhood and have within their family many role models of women who have been self-reliant and have persevered to keep the family together. 1

In this chapter, the mothers describe their own upbringing and how they raised their sons and continue to help them succeed. As the mothers reflect on their own childhoods, we see the strong hands of their own mothers and fathers working in tandem. We see the centrality of the woman's role (as mother, grandmother, or aunt) in the family of every mother we interviewed. Like the fathers in the previous chapter, most of these mothers were raised in two-parent families, which were the norm during their childhood years in the 1940s and 1950s. Roles were often shared in these families, and their parents were traditional in their values and emphasis on work. These traditions have carried over into the present generation.

Unlike the fathers in the previous chapter, a significant number, 40 percent, of the mothers we interviewed are raising their sons without another parent in the home. Even though a father was not in the home,

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