Not long ago, Tyler Perry was a guest on the Steve Harvey Show and expressed his desire to have children one day. The media mogul, at age 43, didn’t mention anything about marriage, even though he’s said in the past that he’d like to be married one day. However, it’s not surprising that many men and women feel the need to fulfill their desires to be parents without necessarily walking down the aisle first.
It seems more and more men and women are putting off marriage so that they can build their career and having children has been pushed back a little too. And then there are those who are deciding not to do either altogether so that they can focus on building successful careers rather than child rearing. Lately, I’ve been reading articles about the double standard between single, Black, 40-something year old men who are successful, but choose not to get married or have children and their female counterparts who decide the same. It appears that some women are considered “selfish” if they choose their career over parenthood, while men may not be judged at all for making the same choice. If Tyler Perry decided to never have kids, would we care? I’m not saying we’d care if Janet Jackson or Oprah never had children, but for some it just seems “odd” when a successful woman decides to never have a child.
But for those African American men and women who DO want to have children but don’t have any prospects in sight for a mate, what do they do? Statistics state that 72 percent of black children are born to unwed parents and they led me to wonder: if a black man or woman, for whatever reason, decided that they never wanted to get married, should they NOT have children? Ever?
I ask because it seems that even though we’re not getting married the way we used to, we’re certainly still having kids. Now, I’ll be the first one to tell you that children are never a mistake. They may not always be “planned” but I believe that if you are here, it’s because you were meant to be here. Period. But there are those who say that black men and women who have children out of wedlock are “polluting” and/or “diluting” the gene pool of “desirable” parents for the next generation of our children. Basically, that means that successful, educated black men of a certain age with the means to take care of a child are opting NOT to get married and have children, while “Pookie annem” are having babies all willy nilly and not taking care of them. The same can be said for successful, black women who are choosing their career over a family, but the “Shenene’s” of the world are popping them left and right.
I’m not saying this is true, but that is the perception. Don’t shoot the messenger.
But what if the successful, educated black man/woman with the means to take care of a child actually decides to have one, but still doesn’t want to get married – then what? Should he/she be criticized for bringing a child into an “unwed” situation, even if they are an active parent in the child’s life, can provide for them financially, teaches him things, spends time with him and loves him? Or would they be contributing to the breakdown of the black family – even if they’d probably end up divorced if they got married anyway? As we’ve all heard by now, many feel that marriage is becoming obsolete – but being parent doesn’t seem to be going out of style any time soon.
Not everyone is meant to be in a monogamous relationship. Not everyone, regardless of education or status, has the tools necessary to compromise or make the sacrifices necessary to have a successful marriage. Success in a career is VERY different than success in a relationship in many cases, so marriage may not be for everyone. Success and happiness no longer have to include a wife, a husband or a child. Sometimes a job and the freedom of singlehood are really enough.
But can you be a great parent while not a great spouse? Or do you think they should go hand in hand? Is a person who would be considered a “desirable” parent selfish for not choosing to have children, or are they smart for knowing what they want or what they can or cannot handle? I’m curious to hear the answers to this one because some folks can clearly see themselves as a mother or father, but not a spouse – just like Tyler Perry may be ready to be a father, but not a husband. With so many celebs (Kim K. and Kanye come to mind) and non-celebs these days opting to have their family the way they see fit, do we care about marriage the way we used to? Should parenthood be limited to those who want to also be married, or should people who are committed to being good parents have children without saying “I do?”
Check out Tyler Perry’s interview with Steve Harvey and tell us what you think.