Washington Watch: In The Absence Of A Father, Can A Woman Teach A Boy How To Be A Man?

Roland Martin and Washington Watch traveled to the Potter’s House to discuss the importance of fathers in the African-American community.

In this segment of the show Roland talks with a panel of guests who debate if a woman can teach a boy how to be a man.

MR. MARTIN:  Folks, welcome back to “Washington Watch.”

We’re talking about fatherhood in the African-American community, and now we go to the question, “w

All of you, welcome to “Washington Watch.”


OFF CAMERA:  Thank you.



MR. MARTIN:  I want to start with Patrick.  A lot of guys out there say, “Look, a woman cannot teach a boy how to be a man.  There are some things that simply – that are innate.”  You say, “I’m sorry.  I’m not buyin’ it.”

MR. TAYLOR:  Not buyin’ it.  Not buyin’ it, really.  My mom, who’s in the audience now – I mean she raised me.

MR. MARTIN:  All right.  Where’s your mom?

MR. TAYLOR:  Actually –

MR. MARTIN:  Mom, wave.

MR. TAYLOR:  — right here.

MR. MARTIN:  Mom, wave.  I – I[’ve] got to give mom a shout-out.  All right.


MR. TAYLOR:  I mean she actually instilled in me the values that I think every man perceives[?] to have.

MR. MARTIN:  Such as?

MR. TAYLOR:  Such as respect for women, love for women, just – I want to be there for my kids and my son.  My mom made no mistakes.  She never – and I – I’ve heard Bishop say it.  She never talked ill of my father.  She said, “You’ll know him when you want to, or when he wants to know you.”  She never ba- — badmouthed him.  She never talked ill of him.  And I also have a brother and a sister, and she made a way for all three of us.  So, I’m not the only one that – that she actually raised.  She actually raised another son and another daughter, and she instilled in all us – I mean she was there for all three of us.

MR. MARTIN:  Now – now, Y- — now, Yolanda, you have a[n] inter- — interesting story.  You said, “Look, I just can’t do it.  [My] son’s doing all kind[s] of different stuff.  He’s got to have that male presence in his life.”  And you actually moved from where you were living –


MR. MARTIN:  — to come to Dallas.

MS. WILLIAMS:  Um-hum.

MR. MARTIN:  Tell us the story.

MS. WILLIAMS:  My son stayed in trouble.  He was fighting in school all the time, and I – I was a disciplinar[ian].  I – I spanked him and did everything that I could; and, you know, I tried to teach him things.  You know, I gave him his values and all of that – but it didn’t keep him from getting in trouble in school.  He got suspended for fighting.  He would come home, go back, get suspended again.

When he was 11 – his father is in the military, and he came to Georgia – praise God.  And he met him, and – and they started building a relationship.  And then – not – not that it was all perfect at first, because he was still angry at him.  His father left, and he still had a difficult time.  And I eventually, you know, moved to Dallas, where his father – his father lives here in Texas.  And he still got in trouble when we went here.  He went to AEP[?], which is a school that they call – for “bad kids,” and after developing the relationship with his father and, you know a couple of ministers – youth ministers – a male that took an interest in him after he left home – of course, he ran away – he started – he has changed.  He is a[n] A-B student now.  He hasn’t been in a fight –


MS. WILLIAMS:  — in two years at school.  He hasn’t had any referrals, and so I’m a – I believe that, you know, his father being in his life, you know, helped him to b- — to be able to know who he was.  He used to s- — be angry because my daughter’s father was there; but, you know, when he got his father there, he – he completely changed – eventually.

MR. MARTIN:  Well, I certainly want to ask Avery a couple of questions, and so I want – you can stand up right now.  And I’ll ask you, was it the military aspect of your dad that –

MS. WILLIAMS:  [Laughs.]


MR. MARTIN:  — just straightened – that got you straight?  And was it a situation where even you knew, “You know what?  Mom just can’t do this all alone”?

MR. WILLIAMS:  I think – it wasn’t the military aspect.  It was just – my dad was, like, the missing piece to my life.  I mean I no longer had to look at other kids with their fathers and [them] be able to talk about their dads and me not be able to say anything and just sit around and watch and be miserable.  And fighting ‘n’ mouthing off was my way of getting my anger out.  So –

MR. MARTIN:  And dad took care of that, huh?

MR. WILLIAMS:  — n- — uh, n- —

MR. MARTIN:  Yeah.


MR. WILLIAMS:  [Chuckles.]

MS. WILLIAMS:  [Laughs.]

MR. WILLIAMS:  A little bit.

MR. MARTIN:  [Chuckles.]  A little bit.  Look it.  The dad came here – I certainly appreciate it.  Look it.  Dad can’t even get some credit right there!

You know your dad jacked you.  Go ’head.  Take a seat.  You know he did.


MS. WILLIAMS:  [Chuckles.]

MR. MARTIN:  You know he did.  You know he did.


MR. MARTIN:  Now, Yolanda, you certainly know that story in terms of – in terms of having to deal with your son that way, and I — I[’ve] got to ask you, Pamela, you had to face the situation of, “Look, I’m trying to do this thing.  I’m trying to raise this kid.”  And how much of it – was it a struggle for you, and when did you say, “Look, I” – “I need help.  It’s just not happenin’”?

MS. PAMELA STEWART:  Well, you know what?  I knew when I started to potty train my son that I knew – that I needed some help.


MR. MARTIN:  At potty training!

MS. STEWART:  At potty training, because boys are different from girls.  And so –

MR. MARTIN:  Uh, yeah.

MS. STEWART:  — I was – [chuckles] –


MR. MARTIN:  News flash!

MS. STEWART:  — [chuckles] – and so, to be a little bit personal, I was having him wipe after he used the bathroom.  And so my ex-husband said, “That is not good.”

And I said, “You know what?  I am not a man, and women” –

MR. MARTIN:  [Laughs.]

MS. STEWART:  — “we wipe.”


MS. STEWART:  And so – [laughs] – and so I knew – I knew at that point – I said, “Lord, I don’t know anything about being a man, and so I know I’m going to need some help.”

Now, after we got past that, I – I didn’t have a big struggle until he got a little older.  And I could see the frustration, and I recognized very early on that I’m just a – I’m a woman – and a strong woman, and I can teach him values, and I can teach him how to be the kind of man that I would like for him to be; but I still can’t teach him how to be a man.  I can’t teach him how to think like a man.  I didn’t want him to think like me, because I am a woman, and he’s a man.  I didn’t want my son acting like me.  I didn’t want my son to process like me, because men process differently.  And a lot of times –


MS. STEWART:  — women have a – have a tendency to want their boys to act like them, because they don’t know anything else.  I don’t want my son watching me put on my pantyhose and do my – my makeup and that sort of thing.  I wanted him to have some balance.

MR. MARTIN:  Patrick, whe- — w- — when you hear that –

MR. TAYLOR:  Uh-huh?

MR. MARTIN:  — that there is just something that a woman can’t teach, you differ with that.

MR. TAYLOR:  I differ with that from – from one standpoint, because I always had strong real mo- — role models of male figures in my life.  My grandfather, which was pivotal in – in all of our lives – all of my cousins, brothers, so on and so forth – he was the central male figure in all of our lives.  He gave us what we didn’t have from a father.  We [saw] him.  My grandm- — my grandfather was short on words.  He didn’t mix [sic] his words.  You – [chuckles] – seen exactly what – what he said, you did.  [Chuckles.]

MS. STEWART:  But you still –

MR. TAYLOR:  And he didn’t –

MS. STEWART:  — had the influence of a male –

MR. TAYLOR:  — I still –

MS. STEWART:  — in your home.

MR. MARTIN:  Right.  And that’s –

MS. STEWART:  And that makes a difference.

MR. TAYLOR:  — I still had that – that influence, but my mom poured in me so much that, from a standpoint – like you’re saying, she put me out of the room, or I had to go away when she had[?] –


MR. TAYLOR:  — to do those womanly things.

MS. STEWART:  — absolutely.

MR. TAYLOR:  I didn’t get wiped – [chuckles] – so – [chuckles] –

MR. MARTIN:  [Laughs.]


MR. TAYLOR:  — that – that was not one of the – the –

MS. STEWART:  I learned –

MR. TAYLOR:  — the parts –

MS. STEWART:  — very quickly.

MR. TAYLOR:  — I remember.

MS. STEWART:  [Chuckles.]

MR. TAYLOR:  But I mean she poured so much into me, brother and my sister, that it – it was easily, you know – and I’m not – I’m not saying – every man was different.  I just look back over my life, and I see those figures in my life.  And I have integral figures –

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

MR. TAYLOR:  — in my life as it is now.  I mean I have a mentor that’s poured in me so much.  I have my father-in-law, who’s poured in me so much, and – from the standpoint that some of the things I may have didn’t learn at a younger age –

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

MR. TAYLOR:  — I’m now picking up on.  Like I think one of the gentlemen interjected a little – little while earlier was just am I – when you walk in a room, you hold your head up.  You stand.  You walk with attention – those kind[s] of things.  Those are the kind[s] of things I picked up through my walks.  And my mom also.  And she also told me that.  When you walk in, you pronounce [sic] yourself.  You – you look people in the eye – things such as that.

MR. MARTIN:  Well, Pamela, Yolanda and Patrick, we certainly appreciate it. Thank you so very much.  And one thing we did learn:  boys do not wipe like girls. Gotcha.

  • Thanks for hosting a good and necessary topic. To the question, “Can a woman teach a boy, her son or otherwise, how to be a man?” — the answer is both yes and no, frankly.

    A woman can teach a male child general or universal values and principles, but addressing certain emotional and physical circumstances may be better suited for a [positive] male role model, particularly as he faces certain challenges as a teen and young adult.

    A huge contributing factor to [negative] emotional challenges young males often face is the reality of experiencing his father leaving the home. If, however, a male child is raised by a single woman without having known his father, minus an ability to create a father-son emotional bond, a single mother may not experience, to the same degree, the emotional turmoils of her son.

    Each circumstance is different, and while positive parenting, provided by both male and female parent, has proven to be a child’s best chance for survival and success (a relative term) in life, the customary power of two is still no guarantee for positive results.

    At some point and time during a youngsters life, she or he becomes aware of what is fundamentally good and inappropriate with regard to personal behavior and accountability. When troubled youth behave poorly, they are quite often reflecting what is emotionally unstable at home and with regard to one parent, the other, or both.

    There’s a reason why there’s a surplus of African American or Black children languishing in group and foster care homes throughout the country; many of whom were taken from homes provided by two adults – male and female.

    The question, therefore, is not IF a woman can teach a boy how to be a man — many single women have, do, and will continue to do so in the future. The question should and must be:  How do we address the ‘real’ issues that keep men wanting to leave their families, and more specifically the mother of their child[ren]?