They say that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. Mothers are their children’s first teachers and have a tendency to protect their sons and prepare their girls. And when their fathers aren’t around, boys are less prepared to take on the responsibilities of manhood. Michelle Obama says that needs to change.
Loving Our Boys, Raising Our Girls
The former First Lady sat down with poet Elizabeth Alexander on day two of the Obama Foundation Summit in Chicago to talk about a variety of issues. The women chatted about the power of words and finding your voice. But the conversation took a bit of a different tone when Obama addressed the question about raising men. Considering the state of the world and the fact that men are running it right now, women have to accept some responsibility for why they act the way that they do.
“We raise our girls to be strong, and sometimes we take care not to hurt men. And I think we pay for that a little bit,” Obama said. “Are we protecting our men too much, so that they feel a little entitled, a little self-righteous?”
Obama continued the discussion adding that women hold their daughters to much higher standards than they hold their sons. While she is rearing two Black girls, Obama had to accept that part of preparing them for life means allowing them to experience some of the tough stuff on their own.
“That’s on us as women, too,” Obama said. “We nurture men and push girls to be perfect. But you can’t be so afraid that life will break them, that you don’t prepare them for life.”
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) November 1, 2017
In the Black community, the modern-day family dynamic makes parenting even more complex. Because roughly 40 percent of Black families are headed by single mothers, women have to make a concerted effort to be more balanced in their parenting styles when teaching their sons and daughters basic life skills. Let them take their lumps, so to speak.
Don’t Cherish Your Boys To Death
Alexander pointed out that it is just as important to cherish Black boys as it is to cherish Black girls. Obama agreed, but she also asserted that women cannot cherish their boys to death. They still have to get up everyday and go out into the world and be men.
“We have to raise our children to be people,” Obama responded. “Whether they have had struggles or whatever the world has for them, we have to raise them to be ready to be independent, well-meaning, kind, compassionate people. And I don’t know if that that’s different for boys or girls regardless of what they are confronting in the world. Sometimes we treat our children too preciously because of the issues they have dealt with.”
It's been an amazing two days here in Chicago, and I want to give a shoutout to our inspiring community leaders and to all of YOU who have been part of the #ObamaSummit. Tonight, @BarackObama and I were joined by some of our friends, including @ChanceTheRapper, to celebrate the South Side. Thank you!
Ultimately, Obama says that it’s important to accept that life has challenges that must be met with the right attitude in order to overcome them. When rearing boys and girls alike, mothers have to let their children find their way in the world–even when times are tough. In the end, they will be better for it.
Do you agree? Watch the whole conversation here and let us know what you think.