Raising Young Black Sons as a Solo Mother
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An engaging documentary, Little Brother, discusses what it means to be black and male in America
Little Brother is a 10-chapter documentary film series and interactive media project that features one-on-one conversations with black boys as young as nine years old. They share their thoughts on everything from their heritage to love to violence in their community. Filmmakers Nicole Franklin and J. Tiggett have traveled across the United States to create short, intimate films on different themes designed to spark conversation. The emotional beginning of chapter 3, “A Do Right Man,” shows the boys reacting to Trayvon Martin’s death.
Solo Moms are always keenly aware of dangers for their kids, and they strategize ways to protect their children from the realities of daily life. Jeff Menzise, Doctor of Clinical Psychology and parenting/relationship coach, consulted on the film series. He offers some tips to support Solo Moms’ ongoing challenge:
- Engage in honest conversation. Children often eavesdrop and then operate on partial information. Children know when they are being lied to, so it’s important for you to be honest, even as you tailor the information based on your child’s understanding.
- Show appropriate amounts of emotional expression. This is tricky as emotions are tough to contain; however, steer away from completely suppressing your emotions but also from hysterics like those demonstrated on reality TV. Your children will take cues from you as they learn how to express themselves.
- Become culturally competent. Listen to their music and watch their television programs. Then talk about the content in fun and nonjudgmental way.
- Model healthy and beneficial identity for your child by participating in activities that inspire.
Seeing boys engaged in heartfelt dialogue in this documentary project is moving. Their perspective on girls, sex, and what it means to be a man is delightful and insightful. This is great documentary for Solo Moms of young black boys, educators, and anyone interested in what young, black, male children are thinking about.
Tanisha Christie is an interdisciplinary performing artist and filmmaker. After years of working at the nexus of arts, media, social justice, and healing, she is currently finishing her master of social work (clinical specialization) at Hunter College in New York City. A child of a Solo Mom, she loves to ride her bike to the beach.
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