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Busta’s Person of the Week: Single mom shares her guide to raising Black (gentle) men

Busta’s Person of the Week: Single mom shares her guide to raising Black (gentle) men
May 11
15:59 2022

By Busta Brown

“As single mothers, we have to set and respect their boundaries when our boys are adolescents,” said Sanya Simmons.

“There came a point when they reached puberty when I realized I needed to stop them from sleeping in my bedroom as well,” shared Sanya. She’s the author of  “A Single Mom’s Guide to Raising Black (Gentle) Men.”

She continued, “We must teach them how to cook, clean, shop at the grocery store, do laundry, financial management, etc. You want him to be self-sufficient, because these are life skills every child should have.” 

I loved how raw, open and honest Sanya was about sex. “It’s supposed to feel good, because God made you that way. Sex should never be a taboo subject. It’s better that we have that talk with them, than another adult or even one of their friends.”

Sanya’s book is a guide for single moms, but men can also benefit greatly from this book. There’s a chapter that talks about not allowing our sons to be yes men, how to be the man of the house, the importance of getting to know their teacher, and more. It’s a great read!

Another one of my favorite chapters is where Simmons talked about allowing your sons to fail. When my now 22-year-old sons were adolescent age, I unknowingly micromanaged their every move and it backfired on me. You’ve heard it said time and time again, a woman can’t raise a boy to be a man. I disagree. Natural order will turn a boy into a man. But it takes effort and guidance to be a (gentle) man. What Sanya’s book teaches is that there’s also strength in softness.

 “I teach my sons the importance of love. They should always know they’re loved. My son Matt told me that he stays out of trouble because he knows he is loved. He said that he wants to make it home safe each night because of my love for him. A mother’s love also makes it easy for them to bounce back from failure. I think it’s important to allow my boys to fail, so they know that they don’t have to reach this unrealistic expectation of perfection. No one will ever reach that bar,” said Sanya. 

She added, “If they fail while they’re at home, then I can help them overcome that failure and teach them how to navigate to reach a solution. Failure also teaches them coping skills, and they can’t learn that if we micromanage our children. When a child fails, parents will get a true assessment of who their child is.” 

The NC A&T alum has always been open and honest with her sons about her failures. “As parents, we shouldn’t shield our kids from seeing us fail. Yet, let them see us as humans,” she said. 

As I was reading the chapter about allowing our children to fail, I thought about all the valuable lessons my oldest son Adrian learned by watching me fail. Now at 43, he turned out to be the best man I’ve ever met; one of the few men I know who has complete peace.

Sanya has a beautiful message for divorced mothers with sons. “Always remember the good in your ex. Never forget there was a time when you were in love with that man, and that he is your children’s father. We shouldn’t carry that anger over to our children. Get rid of the anger, and I’m not talking about the stereotypical Black woman anger. That’s not real. I’m talking about real, and often justifiable, anger. If we don’t get rid of it, it will inevitably hurt us and our children in the long run. And no mother wants that, right?” said Sanya. 

I asked Sanya to elaborate on what is justifiable anger. “Not paying child support and not being there for the kids. You have to dry the tears when they’re missing their father. But the anger doesn’t help, so let’s get rid of it,” she said with a very pleasant smile and vibe. 

Sanya said that watching how well her parents got along after divorcing inspired her to be cordial with her ex-husband, so their sons can maintain a healthy relationship with him. “I don’t mind making the necessary sacrifices for my sons. My job is to make sure they grow up to be men. I believe a real man is trustworthy, holds his righteous place in the world, and does the right thing by his family. My dad gave us that kind of love, so I had a great example of a good man. And my mother was amazing as well,” said Sanya.

Like every parent, there have been some challenges. “One of my sons is autistic and we had a tough battle with the education system. They want to label our Black children, but I fought for my son. The education system sometimes fails our children, so we must encourage them. I learned my son’s triggers and tapped into his talents, and helped him find where he fit in and was able to be successful in school. He loved band and theater, and those classes made school more tolerable for him. I chose not to punish him by taking those away, because they were too important to his overall emotional well-being,” said the proud mom. 

Years ago she had to overcome her own battles. She suffered from depression, bipolar disorder, and also postpartum depression. “Therapy, medication, and support groups helped me tremendously. We can live in a state of denial, or get professional help from someone to walk us through it. Therapy is very important,” said Sanya. 

In every chapter of her book, “A Single Mom’s Guide to Raising Black (Gentle) Men,” I’m reminded how vital it is for parents to take care of their mental and physical health so we can be our best for our children. In the chapters “You Are His Example of a Woman” and “Man vs. Gentleman,” they make it very clear how important it is to be on top of your game as a parent.

Sanya Simmons moved to Greensboro in 1986, from St. Louis, Missouri. She now lives in Atlanta, where she narrates audiobooks, is a voice actor, and a Reiki master. She believes that everyone has worth and purpose in this life and is deserving of love. These two beliefs are the foundation of her parenting style. “I’m extremely passionate about the social issues affecting our sons, and believe that we must do everything within our power to set them up for success,” said Sanya. “If you’ve done your best, it’s all you can do. My success as a mother is measured by the love and relationship I have with my sons. Not their career, money or material things.” 

My phenomenal Person of the Week is Sanya Simmons. For more info about Sanya, visit sanyasimmons.com, IG @iamsanyasimmons and sanya@nullsanyasimmons.com.

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