Monday, June 28, 2010

It Takes A Village of Men To Raise A Single Mother

As I face the reality of raising a young man to be a man as a single mother, I am clear that I cannot do this alone. I am also very clear that that state of being a single woman does not absolve my responsibility from participating in the effort, and even designing and coordinating the process. Becoming a man just doesn’t happen because one turns 21, it is a process, and a process that requires desire, guidance, love, understanding, support, prayer, overseeing and men as examples of manhood. That goes for both mother and son.
Not long ago I was increasingly concerned about my son’s changing attitude. He was cranky, short, irritable, annoying, withdrawn and a real pain in the tush. Not sure how to handle it, or to be frank not wanting to get locked up for going upside his head with my bat, I called a good male friend of mine to discuss the matter. What I learned in that conversation propelled me into nonviolence, and another dimension of mothering. Our conversation reinforced for me that the village for a single mother must include consistent, healthy, strong, wise, confident and sensitive men.  I have relied on a village of predominately men for over 22 years to help me raise my son. The village has always been as important in mentoring me as it has been in helping me to raise my child.
 My friend shared some very valuable information with me, and in response to that conversation I wrote him a letter (yes I still write letters) to thank him for his time. I decided to share the letter with you here. From my response, you will be glean how important it is for men to talk to and introduce women to manhood on a deep , even cellular level. While I may just be a spectator on the sidelines of manhood and masculinity, I listen and learn and continually readjust my position. I am no longer the mother of a boy, I am mothering a young man- that is a completely different role.  I have revamped my village, and continue to sacrifice and evaluate myself as a woman so I can do what it takes to raise a man, with the help and support of my village of kings in my corner.  Here is the letter I wrote to my friend after our conversation about single -mothering a young man.  Whether you are a man in a village or a woman building one, there is a lot here to ponder. I am not saying it will all work for you, but it should push you to think carefully about how you are raising the next generation of men to be men. Names have been changed to protect the innocent. Enjoy.
Dear D.L.,
“This conversation reminded me why I brought my son to meet you in the first place. Instinctively, after knowing you only for a short time- a couple of days actually, I knew my son needed to know you.

It is my prayer to God that only men, who understood life in such a way that they could speak into Sean's life with love and understanding and who can help him understand himself, who could direct him with the example of a life and living that would be a blessing to him, only men of that caliber would appear and speak into his life.

 You mentioned that as his mother, I set certain standards and established a proclamation for his life-“son, you will be this sort of person: good, smart, mannerly and do these things (get a good education, work hard,etc.) as my child. The operative word in that sentence, child. So as I move to emancipate my son from the proclamation of his childhood- as you recommended, I see the need to replace that with a proclamation for manhood, and that is simply something I do not have. I thank God for your willingness to talk over these things with me and to mentor me in the things of manhood.

Yes, I would like to ask you to have an open discussion with him.  I respect your wisdom and I appreciate that you understand and respect my role as his mother so much so that you would ask my permission to speak freely to him. That you want to be careful not to confuse him or dispute me by speaking something to him that goes against what I raised him to believe. However to avoid the possible problems that are so common in young men today, i.e.  illness, anger, skin disorders, rebelliousness, premature fatherhood, emotional and identity issues, and sagging pants - the things that can happen to him if he does not have an outlet to deal with his stress - I humbly yield to your wisdom, I seek to know more and to do what is necessary to support him in this next level of his life.

I will reevaluate all of the teachings I laid down as brilliant science when he was younger, to make sure they are now gender and age appropriate, as I cannot expect that principles that are applicable for women will also be applicable to him as a man.

I cannot expect, nor can any mother expect that solely teaching a young man how to be polite, independent and self-sufficient – the same things we teach our daughters, will make him into a good man.  He may be a good person, not a good man. Nor will teaching him how treat women help him to become a man. Dealing with women is not the essence of manhood. It is important, yes, but it does not teach him how to be a man. He must learn that from a man's position and perspective, not the perspective of a woman on the outside of manhood looking in. 

I recognize having walked thus far through life that what is best for men is not always best for women, but that men will and must do what is right for them, a woman's needs, desires or wishes notwithstanding. Surely a great man will accept a woman in his life as a helpmate, but he will, he must go forward with what he determines to be necessary for himself as man, and seek what prepares him for life as a man, a provider, a leader. To do otherwise is to live for and as a woman.
To do otherwise is to negate the indispensable, intrinsic nature and characteristics of manhood and masculinity.

It is a misguided woman, conflicted by this reality who ignores this fact, yet believes she is effectively raising a man.  A woman would perceive herself a hypocrite if she were to teach this to her son, and she would be placing herself at a disadvantage to promote this concept, even to her son, unless she is totally at peace with herself, her role and her identity as a woman.

Women raising men alone often raise them to cater to women, not to be men. The two are not mutually exclusive, however the under developed mind of a woman in the matters of manhood, or the woman unfamiliar with this balance in the developed man has no idea what this balance looks like. Therefore the focus of most women raising men is on women. Not on manhood.

And how can her focus be on manhood if she has no concept or vision of what it is to be a man? It cannot, for she does not know what she does not know!

Worse yet,  oftentimes women disagree with men on what manhood is, or what it means to be a man, and often rightly so, because we have often been so mistreated by men. Our concept of men is too often negative. When our sons do something we dislike or do not understand, the mumbling begins... "he is acting just like a man"- as though that is a bad thing. That to be a man is negative and directly opposed to or less sensitive or mature than to be a woman, sending the message to a man (her son) that to be a man is to be someone your mother will not like.

The ultimate dilemma exists in that a woman is striving to raise a man to be something she has distaste for. The truth is that in many cases, a woman has never, in her own life really experienced true manhood. Many of us as mothers have not had positive experiences with men, not even with our fathers. How then can a woman raise a young man to be something she has never touched, smelled, held or experienced. How can she raise her son to be something she has never, ever seen up close and personal- an authentic, wise, confident, sensitive good man? Our definition of a good man in short tends to be "a man who is more like a woman." Not even a man in touch with his feminine side, but a man who is his feminine side.  Hence why some women affirm and so love to talk to and be in the presence of men who are gay. They want a man around who is straight but has undercover gay characteristics, a man who is her girlfriend. I have all to many friends who are unconsciously seeking men who believe and treat them as gay men do, yet are not gay. I doubt there is such a thing. Our society tends to castrate men, and ridicule alpha men while simultaneously promoting the nature, fashion sense and sensibilities of gay men. When women do this, what message is sent to our sons? Our daughters? What does it do to women?

It is so rare, in these days and times of single parenting and female headed households that a woman meets an alpha man face to face, that she is likely to reject, challenge or discredit him when she does. Why? Because, he is not like anything or anyone in her memory or experience. The alpha male is an anomaly to her and she would be correct. An anomaly being a deviation from the common rule, type, arrangement, or form; an incongruity or inconsistency, the authentic and confident complete man is inconsistent with what she is familiar with, and she seeks to either quiet him or change him to meet her own personally and self serving model of manhood, or in so many words she wants to create in him a man who is more like her. Neither of which encourages, supports or produces a man. It does not work in a relationship; it does not work with a child. The infamous vicious cycle then occurs in that men who are authentically men become uncommon. Women thereby unfamiliar with authentic men and manhood perpetuate the new uncommon man by raising more men to be anything but authentic men. The uncommon man being something she despises, she seeks to change into something more like her, which of course backfires because she is now re-designing man to hate himself and become intrinsically woman. She is essentially playing God- making man in her own image and likeness.

That is partially what is destroying the fabric and fiber of young men. We as single mothers have to seek to truly understand that men are not on earth merely to serve and treat women the way we want to be served and treated. Men have their own path to blaze and it is not at all about us.

I clearly understand, God told me this 22 years ago, raising a man is not a self-serving experience, it is a God given responsibility. Doing it alone is not God's plan but with his support and the heart of The Father, single mom's can provide the foundation for the next generation of men, who will shift the paradigm by becoming men and fathers who reverse the trend of depositing sperm and abandoning children. Single mothers must pave the way for our sons to become men/fathers who will raise the next generations of men alongside the women that bear them---women who understand, love and support men because they are men; not because of what they can do for women. We can do that by effectively building villages filled with men as dynamic and supportive as you are.

Thank you for sharing your perspective on mothering a young man. Thank you also for showing in your daily walk what it means not only to be a man, but to truly be a king. Mothers, sons, daughters and men need your example. God bless you and thank you for being a part of my village. It truly takes a village of men to raise a single mother. That has always been my mantra, and it is no less true now that my son is a young man, because motherhood is never, ever over. I appreciate your willingness to pour into our lives, and thank you for helping me to further define and articulate my purpose.

© 2010 Cathleen E. Williams Enterprises

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Are you single by choice? 8 Ways to Make Sure You Are Not Unconsciously Single

I used to hate when men would ask me why I was single,  as though I had the option of getting married whenever I wanted to. If that were the case the majority of the single women I know, especially the ones approaching 40, who have never been married and never had children would be married! Then I got quiet and really thought about it. That's when I realized I was single by unconscious choice on my part.

For the last ten years or more, especially on New Years Eve as I prayed the New Year in, I asked God to send me the man of my dreams. "Let him find me this year Lord." Every woman who knows anything about the Bible has heard Proverbs 18:22: He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord. Not unlike other singles, men and women who heard this scripture for years, I  was inclined to focus on the "he who finds a wife" part of that scripture. Once I meditated on that Word,  it dawned on me that I should be looking to the part that pertained to me- the woman, the good thing.  That scripture is applicable to you if you are wife material that is a good thing. You do not automatically or magically become a good thing just because you have been found. You can be found by a different man every day of the week, but if you are not that wife type, that good thing- he will throw you back in the pack and keep right on looking. Are you a good thing?

Men and women seeking a mate are often told to make a wish list of all the characteristics they want in a mate. What should he look like, smell like, how tall, how much money, what music does he like how does he treat you on so on. I have nothing against making a list and checking it twice, if it is good for Santa it cannot be all bad. However I offer you the most important advice I can give to anyone male or female who is interested in finding a mate (or being found); concentrate on you. Work on you. Become the good thing that "he who finds a wife" cannot mistake for anything but a good thing. If you are male, then be the he that a good thing would want to be found by! A good thing will not consent to being found by something reprehensible. Therefore my friends, draw unto yourself that which you are.

Women and men who shared their lists with me usually start out with things like he needs to be honest, kind, treat me well and look good.  I have more than one girlfriend who wants that tall, dark, muscular man who can sweep her off her feet and make her the envy of every woman on the planet. Only problem is if he sweeps some of these women off their feet he may break that gorgeous muscular back, as those same women are 50 pounds or more overweight. Women who have not seen a muscle in their own stomachs in so long they have to look at a picture of LL Cool J to remember what stomach muscles look like-- want Adonis to be attracted to them.  It seems a tad unfair to expect a man to be in perfect form while you can be any weight you want. Women with anger issues, Mommy issues, Daddy issues, ex-husband issues baby daddy drama, filthy homes and rotten kids wonder where all the good men are. Hint, they are in the laundrymat washing clothes, cleaning their own kitchens after they cook a decent meal, cleaning and washing up after their kids go to bed. Yes, men, even single men know how to take care of children and keep house too.

Many of the men I have spoken to and counseled have complained over and over about the lack of quality women. They are looking for a good thing. They run off their lists too- she needs to be beautiful, have a nice body a wonderful spirit, not contrary or controversial and I want her to appreciate me. I do not want a woman who wants to change me. I am who I am they say. At this point I am hoping they are willing to at least change the halitosis that is causing me to step back from them while I search my purse for a tic tac or piece of gum to offer so we can continue our conversation without burning my nose. Out of shape, alcohol abusive behaviors, commitment phobic, marriage phobic, separated not divorced, divorced not separated, kids all over, not supporting any of them but wanting more...some of the men who want Halle Berry or Michelle Obama have major issues too! And I would be remiss if I left out my Christian brothers who believe what the Bible says about fornication, except as it pertains to them. Issues.

My tip to you today, Concentrate on becoming the person you want to date. What does that take? A heck of a lot of work, and I do mean work. Check out these 8 critical ways to make sure you are not unconsciously single by choice:

1. Be willing to be uncomfortable. In order to address your issues you have to be willing to step out of your comfort zone. It is never easy to deal with your stuff, after all, if it was easy you would have already done it. Deal with the things that people will not say to your face, but that everyone is saying behind your back. And you cannot do it alone. You need a life coach, someone trained in behavior, social science or spiritual things - to help you see what you don't see. Barbara DeAngelis says comfort is for babies. Let go of that security blanket and get to working on your stuff.

2. Admit that you don't know it all. But be willing to listen and learn.  It is not easy for adults who have been in relationships for years to suddenly say: I do not know what I'm doing. However, that is exactly what needs to happen. Just like an athlete, no matter how good he or she is, if she is not winning titles she will seek out a different coach, change her strategy and if necessary go back to the drawing board to develop new techniques. Do nothing less in your love life. Evaluate where you are and the results you are getting. If they are not what you want, it is time to make some changes.

3. Get coaching from someone who is willing to go the distance with you. Find a great life coach, a person you trust and feel comfortable with. Your coach should have great insight and be able to see what you cannot see. She or he should help you evaluate where you are, how you got there and how to change. It takes courage, time and sweat equity on your part to look deeply at yourself and your issues. It's hard work. If you are preparing for a mate, allot  time to get yourself through the process first. Keep in mind that the person you might have chosen before you do the work is not likely to be the person you would choose after. You will change so your choices should too.

4. Assess your Love Readiness Quotient (LRQ) .  When my son was younger, I was raising him as a single mother, working a full time job as an attorney, going to law school at night for a graduate law degree, taking care of my mother who was housebound and needed 24 hour care and I was launching a speaking career and television show.  I never stopped to smell the roses and there was absolutely no time for anyone to be a part of my life. I realize now that I routinely packed my plate as high as Mount Everest. Part of that is because I am Jamaican and we all have 15 jobs. It is also because working day and night made it okay for me to be emotionally and physically unavailable. I was never around. I was always working. A woman who is emotionally unavailable will attract the same in a man. I would leave the unavailable guy and go right back to work- being busy, my security blanket. The truth was I was afraid of being vulnerable, hurt and rejected. Work never left me alone, it was always there to keep me company and I began to love it. My LRQ was 0 on a scale of 1-5. What is yours- see quiz below?

5. Prepare yourself and your environment for a mate. Examine your patterns, habits and actions. If you have experienced hurts and battle-scars from past relationships, leave them there-in  your past. Now to really ruffle some feathers, is your home neat and clean so that you can entertain someone at a moment's notice? If a date is coming to pick you up, can you easily find everything you need to go out, or are you usually searching for keys, shoes, wallet etc. when it is time to go out? Is your bathroom presentable? When was the last time you scrubbed the toilet and the bathtub( please not with the same sponge). Men, please know that a woman will make a determination about how clean you are when she uses your bathroom. I don't know many women who will not sneak a peak at your bathtub when she uses the facilities. If there is a ring around it that looks like you have been washing oil rigs in there, if she is afraid to sit on your toilet seat, or if you have three months worth of hair shavings in your bathroom sink you may never see her again. A word to the marriage hopefuls, men and women: Clean it up!

6. Get your health in order. Your spiritual, mental and physical health is essential to being marriage ready.
a. Being spiritually grounded is important so you will know what to look for in a mate. Many spiritual people will want someone with whom they are equally yoked, do you? If you do not know what your spiritual beliefs are how can you determine if you are equally yoked with your mate? 
b. Mental health is one of the most overlooked areas in many people's lives. Most people men in particular will not discuss their mental stability or lack thereof. Anger management, addictions, obsessive- compulsive behaviors, bi-polar, post traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, sexual disorders are not to be taken lightly, and should be addressed by a professional who can help you overcome and or recognize these health problems in you or your mate.
c. Your physical health will affect or be affected by your spiritual and mental health. Your being is interconnected! Paying attention to one area of your health is not enough. It really is all or nothing.

7. Get moving, eat well and get some sleep. Exercise! You feel better when you look better, you look better when you feel better. And there are so many more benefits to maintaining a physical regimen that is designed for you, your lifestyle and any condition you may have or be at risk of developing. Many physical illnesses can be eliminated or reduced by maintaining a consistent and persistent exercise and nutritional regimen. Hypertension, diabetes, bone disorders, stress and more are related to obesity. Get moving, and make a commitment to eating right and getting the rest you need to stay beautiful, happy and focused on your wedding!

8. Listen, love then listen some more. Probably the most important part of relating to people is the ability to listen and unconditionally love your partner. People rarely listen 100% to what anyone is saying. While your partner is talking are you figuring out what your response is going to be? I always know when someone listens to me because it takes them a moment to respond to what I said. They have to take it in and then think about their own response- even if for a moment. If they cut me off, especially repeatedly, or if their answer is immediate and does not completely address what I said, the little voice in their head was chattering away while I was talking. That said, there is no way they really heard or received the fullness of my comments. Communication is more than just language- only 7% is words, 38% tone and 55% body language. Not paying attention to all of these elements means you could have a lifetime of misunderstanding your mate. Unconditional love is what you pledge before God and a bunch of witnesses on your wedding day. It might be a good idea to get to know what that could mean before you say I do- so take your time getting to know your partner and letting her get to know you- AND the two of you need to know yourselves.

These points are not all inclusive and they are not a one time fix. I suggest striving to make them a lifestyle. As Arthur Ashe said "Start where you are, use what you have and do what you can"---and then do some more!
I wish you all the best in your love preparation and marriage plans. Take the LRQ quiz below to see where you are starting from!

Love Readiness Quotient
1. Are you still married to your spouse ( separated/divorced/living apart in the same home) but are actively seeking a new relationship?
Yes ________    No _________

2. Are you so busy that you have to schedule telephone calls with your partner via text message? Is your communication primarily via text and email?

Yes _________ No __________

3. Do you often think of marriage and can  you see yourself married in the next 1-3 years?
Yes _________ No __________

4. Do you talk to your children about how their lives might change if you get married? Does your mate talk to his/her children about you?
Yes _________ No _________

5. Is your home life so perfectly set up for one that you cannot imagine sharing space with another individual?

1. Yes 0   No 1
2. Yes 0   No 1
3. Yes 1   No 0
4. Yes 1   No 0
5. Yes 0   No 1

Score 5 Highest LRQ Congratulations send me an invitation to your wedding!
Score 4 Good, you have a little work to do but you are on your way to the altar.
Score 3 Hmmm, you need work, get counseling and personal development classes under your  belt before you head down the aisle.
Score 2  Uh Oh Spaghetti-O's See #3 and double-up on your personal growth and development classes
Score 1 Single by Choice no doubt about it. If that is your choice, woo hoo! If not, back to the drawing board. Re-read this article and write to me at or on Facebook at cathleenwilliamsesq and I will send you some advice.

Live your most powerful and positive life!

Cathleen E. Williams, RN, Esq. author of Single Mother the New Father is the host of her own talk show "I'm Just Saying" which airs in New York City on Time Warner Cable and on line at She is a seminar and workshop leader in the area of men's issues, fatherhood and raising young men. She leads workshops for parents, single and married, and corporations in the area of health, wellness, legal issues in health care and more. Cathleen is the New York State Regional Co-Chair of International Men's Day (11/19/2010) and co-chair of the Father's Forum to be held on August 28, 2010 at the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral in Jamaica N.Y.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

To the Father's Of the World
                           by Cathleen Williams

You have the most magnificent role on earth
the most inspiring and expansive ability to affect and influence lives
You walk and people watch
You talk and people listen
When you act, people are acted upon
When you move you move people
And the world experiences your Soul

When you embrace the role of father
In the lives of your children
They hear and respond to you
At the sound of your voice
Like no other voice they will ever hear
They stand at attention
Alert, still, awaiting direction
Your children know the scent of your voice
One that cannot be mocked, mimicked and never replaced

With gratitude and admiration
I watch you with your children
The way you direct them
Correct them
Empower them and touch them
I watch you carry them effortlessly
Smile at them and
Wipe their tears and their noses
Replenish and refocus them and send them out into the world

I watch you feed them
Ask them questions and
Demand quick efficient answers
That are logical, thought out and make sense
I watch you prepare them for the art of war
That you know they will experience daily as they walk this earth
I watch you extract excellence
Morality, responsibility, accountability and power
You prepare them for life, survival and deposit in them providence

You are irreplaceable
Your's is not an every other weekend hobby
You are a full time position
Your accessibility is critical daily, on the phone
In emails, in text messages
Your hugs, your voice your correction and your interest is essential
Your daughter's are affirmed by you
Your sons model you and especially need you
Not to the exclusion of mother
In addition
In balance
In harmony

You are essential to the accurate, balanced and mature growth and development of your children
Your presence and power needed
In a way only a man, a father can fulfill
Without you family is possible
But it is incomplete, not nearly as effective and never, ever, ever
Will you be replaced.

If you didn't know, you are important
If you didn't know, you are needed
If you didn't know, you are necessary
If you didn't know
You are your children's breathing living Superhero
God made you first in His image and likeness and you are a wonder
You are father, you are man
You are magnetically powerful beyond measure
In your unique brilliance, anointing and savvy
You lead you rule and
I salute you
 Happy Father's Day

copyright Cathleen E. Williams Enterprises

Cathleen Williams, RN, Esq.
CEO, I'm Just Saying TV, LLC
Speaker, Trainer
Author: Single Mother The New Father