While it is true that on average, children who grow up in families with both their biological parents are better off in a number of ways than children who grow up in single-, step- or cohabiting-parent households, that fact is largely dependent on if the marriage of biological parents is stability, healthy and nurturing for their children.
And I do realize that young Black adults in particular look to mimic values associated with our parents and grandparents generation. Perhaps this is why we cling so hard to the Obamas, the Smiths and yes, the Carters as they seem to encompass the standards we seek for ourselves. However, we don’t really know these people, their childrearing habits or even the extent of their marital bliss. What we do know about these couples comes courtesy of highly-sanitized inventions of happiness spun through the offices of their PR firms. Not suggesting that it’s not true but what we see of them cupsing hands, coddling and vacationing together on the pages of People, on TMZ and US Weekly, may not always reflect what goes on behind closed doors.
And before anyone gets all up in arms, I do not “hate” on Beyonce. We have watched this woman grow up right before our very eyes and now she is on the verge of another journey of her life: motherhood. Likewise, she and Mr. Carter look genuinely happy, and thus I am happy for them. But what I don’t appreciate is using them, especially without their permission, as the measure for the Black family. There is no right way to make a family work. Let me repeat this: there are also unmarried, cohabitating parents, gay parents, families with adopted children, and yes even single parents in your own family and in the community, who all should be celebrated too for taking on the daunting, often thankless task of child-rearing.
Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.