by Dr. Boyce Watkins
I speak to my daughters regularly about how to choose a good man. Of course, their preferences often differ from my own, and I accept that. When one of my girls said that she would marry Lil Wayne, I had to explain that you may not want to chase after a drug addicted man who says he wants to sleep with every girl in the world, who also gets two girls pregnant at the same time. I hope she got the point.
I sometimes write about the conversations I have with my girls, mainly because I believe that a lot of our young women make mistakes because they don’t have a father’s advice to guide them. Right before our New Paradigm forum this year, Dr. Steve Perry and I were discussing his show, “Save My Sons,” and I told him that, in the same vein, we need to make similar efforts as black men to save our girls from all the things in the world that might seek to harm them.
Finally, I believe that every young woman deserves to have at least one older man around to protect them, who is not trying to sleep with them at the same time. So, I use my platform as a chance to be that man for whoever is in need of good advice. That’s why I’m writing this article.
A recent conversation I had with one of my girls led me to believe that I should share the advice with anyone who might want to listen. It had to do with how to choose a man who is going to have a good future. Some people are so caught up in what a person offers today that they can’t see what they will (or won’t) be able to offer in the future. So, the popular athlete that you’re dating in college may turn out to be an uneducated, washed up, bankrupt, STD-infected clown 10 years down the road because he spent all of his earliest years throwing away all of his potential: That’s what some of the rappers on the radio taught him to do.
So, here are a few ways for young women to know that their man will probably have a good future:
1) If you call and ask what he’s doing, does he usually appear to be doing nothing? A man who is usually doing nothing is creating a life that has no basis. You can’t build something on top of nothing, that defies the physics of success. Most of us forget that what you do everyday serves as the building blocks of the life you’ll have in the future. When I was in college studying eight straight hours on Friday nights, I was becoming a scholar. Had I been doing something else, I would have been becoming something else. The same way they say that you are what you eat, the fact is that you also are what you do.
2) Does he talk about his goals a lot and then back them up with action? If you don’t have a plan to get where you’re going, then you’re probably not going to get there. Also, talk without action is nothing but wasted breath. Where a man is in his life doesn’t matter nearly as much as where he’s going and what he’s doing in order to get there. Just ask Michelle Obama: I’ll bet she nailed the first black president after a lot of other women passed him up.
3) Is he into drugs or alcohol? Almost nothing great has ever been done by a group of people who sat around getting high and drunk all day. Drugs and alcohol increase the chances that the person is going to do something stupid, and weed makes you lazy. You don’t want your family to be headed by a lazy man, because a lazy man is unable to protect your children and face the challenges that life will put in front of him. I won’t even discuss how many families have been destroyed by substance abuse.
4) Does he already have a child or two that he can’t afford? A man with baby’s mamas may bring unnecessary drama in your life. He may also bring a slew of financial difficulties, since child support is expensive. It’s hard enough to be the instant step mom that his kids resent, let alone knowing that you’ll always be trying to play catch up financially. I’m not saying that a woman shouldn’t date a man with children (I had a child when I was 18), but if the load is already too heavy for him, it might be indicative of an even heavier future. Most brothers I know with a stack of baby’s mamas are flat broke and dodging the police on a daily basis. It’s very sad to watch.
5) Is he getting an education and working hard to be a good student? Every person should get some kind of education or training to allow him to compete in the world. I also advocate for all black men to learn to be self-employed, since white folks just aren’t giving us the same jobs they are giving to each other. But being in school isn’t enough; he should also be a serious student. A man going to school and studying hard is likely going to possess values that are consistent with hard work and education, which are going to be the values that you want to pass on to your children.
Remember ladies: Every date is a potential mate. So, before you give that man your phone number and let him enter into your body, make sure that he has proven himself worthy: Scrubs need not apply. At the same time, you must also work to step up your own game so that when the right man comes along, you are able to identify him and also add value to his life. Good men don’t want scrubby women either. Productive love must be reciprocal.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is a professor at Syracuse University and author of the book, “Financial Lovemaking 101: Merging Assets with Your Partner in Ways that Feel Good.” To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.