Have Black Women Set Up Their Daughters To Fail In Relationships?


The other day I was speaking to a family member about relationships and she commented that it’s sad that the women in our family are all single (three generations). I agreed that it is indeed sad but I also said that I felt that my upbringing  whilst growing up has had a negative affect on my attitude towards men and relationships.

My parents were married, had a very volatile relationship and later divorced when I was 7 years old. I grew up surrounded by very strong opinionated women, the advice that I was always given was to ‘be independent’, make sure I got a good education, so that I will have my own house/car and in turn will not have to rely on a man for anything.

The general view was that men were no good and to basically think about myself and have everything in place for when he eventually fu*ks up (cos he will of course), this ideology led me to feel that most men were no good. My father wasn’t a good example of a good husband, then as I got older and started to date, I ended up meeting so many no good men. I also looked around and saw that a lot of the women I knew were treated badly and so I myself started to feel that most men were no good and I definitely was not going to be catering to a man.

I further explained that I was always given advice regarding being prepared for the worst but I was never given advice on what to do when I have found a good man. I was never told to aim to be some one’s wife, how a woman should contribute positively in a relationship, how to treat a man well and with respect so that he will want me as a wife. Most of the women that I grew up with have never been married, I would say that their attitudes towards men (and choosing the wrong partners) is more than likely a contributing factor as to why.

The family member agreed and said that she was also told to be educated and to have her own material things, but was not advised on being a wife and being in a loving relationship. That is not all that we have in common, not only are we both black women in our thirties but we are also of Jamaican heritage. What does this have to do with anything? well I have included our ethnic back ground because predominately Black British Caribbean women are single and also known as (the term I can’t stand-‘baby mothers.’ 

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The majority of the women that I know who have children are single mothers and have never been married. An Equality and Human Rights Commission report in 2011 found that as many as 65 per cent of African-Caribbean children are raised by one parent – nearly always the mother. 

Whenever I attend a family get together, I’m always asked when am I going to have children? No one ask’s if I’m engaged?, when am I getting married? (apart from my nan, who brings it up almost every time I see her). The attitude is very, it’s ok to have children and be raising them alone, it doesn’t matter if you’re not in a loving relationship or settled and married.

I’ve asked the question ‘have black women set up their daughters to fail in relationships?’ maybe the question should be ‘have black women of Caribbean/American heritage set their daughters up to fail in relationships?’ I’ve included American black women because they too seem to have an independent woman, don’t need a man /can do everything for themselves attitude.

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On the contrary, I have seen a big difference in the African community towards marriage and relationships. They seem to more aspire to marriage and have the expectation that their children will eventually settle down and get married. I was good friends with a girl from Congo and she would always talk about her sisters who had husbands and her desire to settle and eventually be married. She informed me that in her community marriage is a must and that if you were single in your thirties people would look at you in a negative way. Obviously I don’t agree with people looking at you in a negative way if you are single and over a certain age but I very much admire the encouragement to be settled and married.

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I personally believe that one of the reasons for the difference in the attitude towards marriage and relationships could possibly stem from slavery. The slaves were taken from Africa and shipped all over the world including the Caribbean and America. They had their whole culture and identity ripped away from them, and were forced to ‘breed’, with the male slaves having sex with countless female slaves in order to produce as many children as possible, who would then also ‘work’ for the slave masters. They were allowed to marry although it was not seen as as legal in the eyes of the law. The family would be ripped apart with the female slaves often left alone to keep the family together (this is if she herself hadn’t been separated also from her children).  

According to renowned family psychologist and chief executive officer of Family Life Ministries, Dr Barry Davidson, countries in which slavery existed have the highest rate of children being born out of wedlock. In Jamaica, more children are born out of wedlock than anywhere else in the world. Fourteen per cent are born to parents who are married to each other, while 86 per cent are not. He also says that if you also look at black Americans you will find that they too have a very high rate of children being born out of wedlock when compared with Hispanics or white Americans.

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In my grandparents generation most of them were married, from what I’m told, many of the women were not happy but they depended a lot on their husbands financially and many were unable to leave.

With my parents generation things were very different for women. They were working, successful with their own houses and cars and looking after their children with out help from a man. The attitude began to arise that men were not needed or important. A lot of black men that I have spoken to, have said that they don’t feel needed by black women and have instead turned to other races of women to have relationships. Is it the case that our attitudes towards them is to blame?  Is it a coincidence that a lot of black British Caribbean men are with white women and African British men tend to more date and marry within their own race and culture?

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As much as Africans are strong on marriage, I wonder if they encourage their children to find the right one and be happy? to love themselves and work through their personal issues before seeking a partner? or is it a case of it’s more important to find someone and get married? I understand that marriage isn’t for everyone but whether you want to get married or not, everyone needs love and most people do want to be in a healthy relationship and don’t want to spend the rest of their lives alone.

I understand that the women that I grew up with had experienced negative relationships and they meant well trying to protect the next generation of women. I also believe that what you focus on, you have a high chance of receiving. Expect the worst and that is what you will get. Or if you do meet someone who has good intentions, your negative mindset will most likely break down the relationship. 

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My expectation for myself is to one day be settled down and married. Whilst growing up, I had to learn for myself about having a healthy loving relationship through my own life experiences, and from my own experience, I would say love your self first, work on your self and any issues you have in order to attract that person that is for you. Pray on it and ask God to send you the one. When you do find someone special, communication is also one of many things that’s important, it’s essential to express your feelings, whether it’s how much you love them or if they’ve upset you (in a respectful way) and lastly be open to giving and receiving love.

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