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Erykah Badu: ‘No One Chooses to Raise Children Alone’

04/18/2010 at 08:00 PM ET
Bryan Bedder/Getty

A single mom-of-three, songstress Erykah Badu says that while she’s holding her own, “no one chooses to raise children alone.”

“When you’re in a relationship you want it to work,” she tells the UK’s Telegraph. “My parents did, I did. But we are not taught how to make it work.”

Noting that school prepared her academically, Badu laments that she wasn’t “taught about human interaction, about relations with the opposite sex,” and that she could have benefited from “compassion lessons.”

With that said, the fathers of Seven Sirius, 12, Puma Sabti, 5½, and Mars Merkaba, 14 months, are “present a lot,” insists Badu, who has plenty of female role models to draw from.

“I come from a long line of strong matriarchs,” she explains. “I live in a queendom, ruled by a womb-iverse.”

“My maternal grandmother’s advice is: ‘Keep living — it’ll come to ya,’” Badu, 39, continues. “My paternal grandmother says: ‘Just let God do it.’”

Describing herself as “a woman who has gone through many heartaches, enough to dedicate my whole life to trying to figure them out,” Badu says that music has been cathartic.

“Being honest is my job,” she explains. “That’s what music is for me.”

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Showing 27 comments

Frost on

When did her and her 3rd baby daddy break up? Last time I checked, they were still together. This must have been recent…

adi on

I get what she’s trying to say, that the typically desired situation is to have two parents for a child, to have backup, but … a lot of people do choose to have a child alone. I suppose that can be debated. Just what I picked up on.

NettieB on

I listened to (and love) the new album and tried not to take anything too literally but I figured she was single again. It’s hard being in the limelight, being more educated, or successful and being black and female. This issue has been covered by mainstream media outlets (42% of black women have never been married)…yada yada. No solutions, just statistics.

MW on

At 39, the excuse “We’re not taught how to make it work” seems a bit lame. At some point in your life, you have to stop blaming previous generations and take control of your own life. If you already have two children and two failed relationships, maybe you need to rethink how you approach your interactions with men instead of bringing another child into the world.

Anna on

I agree with MW.

Also, she may not have made the decision to be a single mom consciously but if you just have kids with whatever man you happen to be in a relationship in than you have had to know you could end up a single mom (again).

“Just led God do it” sounds like the easiest way of living life. No personal responsibility whatsoever.

Lara on

Exactly MW.

Elizabeth on

My mom was a single mother to my two sisters and I. I hated it. As the child, I had no father and everytime he’d catch up with our location, my mom would pick us up and move. She did this for 10 years. She CHOOSE to be a single mom, but at the same time, sentenced her 3 daughters to a life of not understanding or respecting the men we would get involved with. I learned how to relate to men through my friends families and have been married (and I’m black) for 9 years this July. I will never forget the longing I had and still have for my father who eventually gave up and is now permanently absent. My son, however, will never be without his mother or his father. Relationships are work – you can’t send your marriage to Daycare while you go to the spa.

NettieB on

I don’t agree with MW. It’s a national trend, not a personal choice.

adi on

@NettieB, it’s a national trend because it’s a personal choice.

Mrs. R on

It doesn’t surprise me that Erykah would have issues with maintaining coupledom when she grew up in a ‘matriarchal’ family. If your grandmother was a single mom, your mom was a single mom, and all your aunts were single moms… where WOULD you learn about how to be married or even be in a long term relationship with a man? All you would really know are short relationships with men who breeze in and out of your life.

I don’t agree with her, nor do I think the situation is right, but I do have some sympathy to her experience.

MW on

@NettieB: It is a personal choice. It becomes a national trend when enough women choose it. It’s 2010. If you have 3 kids with 3 different men, it’s because you CHOSE it.

MW on

@Mrs. R: My mother was a single mother. She didn’t allow men to breeze in and out of her children’s lives. She never HAD boyfriends when we were growing up. She worked full time and raised the two children she had. When we were grown, she met and married a wonderful man and they had 10 incredible years together before he passed away.

We knew other families with single moms and they had a new man at their house every couple of years. The neighborhood I grew up in was full of families that had lived there for generations. In many cases, the parents and grandparents of these women had been married for decades, so what was their excuse?

Kristen on

It is surprising that we are objecting to Erykah being a single mom, either by choice or circumstance but we are not objecting to the three men who have left her life also. She says that her children all have relationships with his or her father.

As to the women who find it so easy to judge single mothers; I am a single mother to a daughter whose father decided he just wasn’t ready. Was I supposed to wait? Was I supposed to drag him into fatherhood? Or was I supposed to raise my child myself. Sure I could have spent the last 12 years finding her a new daddy or I could have taken care of her myself; I chose the latter.

Sarah K. on

Kristen, I don’t think anyone here is opposed to single motherhood in general. But your situation is different from Erykah’s. Obviously Erykah is taking care of them and it’s great that their fathers are still involved. But, what she said about her relationships makes it sound like she repeatedly doesn’t wait for her relationship to be stable before having a child. It’s hard to argue that a child shouldn’t ideally be born into a stable relationship if it’s possible

MW on

@Kristen: No one has criticized her for being a single mother. However, you proved a point. You had one child and instead of getting into relationship after relationship and having MORE children, you focused on raising your child. You didn’t make the same mistakes over and over again. Ms. Badu has 3 kids with 3 different men. Clearly, there is some sort of unhealthy pattern here. Perhaps it is the way she chooses the men she gets involved with. Some women make the poor choices their entire lives.

Crimpe on

I love Erykah’s music, find her intriguing, and have no criticism for single moms. I do think she is starting to sound as crazy as loon, however.

Erika on

I agree with MW- It’s a poor excuse. Yet it seems everything is everyone else’s fault these days. A kid fails a test in school, it’s the teachers fault because they didn’t teach it well enough. Someone gets a ticket for speeding and it’s clearly the police officers fault because they didn’t pull everyone else over. You eat unhealthy food and get fat, and it’s the restaurant’s fault for false advertising. Nobody takes responsibility for their own actions, or admits wrongdoing. Now I don’t care if her parents split up or whatever, if that happened to me, I would be trying hard to make it different for my children and set a greater example for them, and having 3 kids with 3 different men doesn’t seem to be doing that IMO. I’m not saying she didn’t work hard to make those relationships work, or even saying that they should have stayed together for the children, but last I checked she never married any of these fathers and *that* seems a little irresponsible IMO. If it didn’t work the first 2 times, why would you think it would work a 3rd? Uggh I just get so annoyed when people make themselves victims, when clearly they acted irresponsibly.

NettieB on

@MW: I disagree. I do not think Badu chose to be a single mother. She definitely didn’t want to raise her son on her own and her heartbreak was made public not only by her but also by Andre Benjamin, her son’s father. It is because these people are artists and in the public eye that we can see their views (and choices) expressed.

Plus all these people commenting are comparing other women to Erykah Badu who is a successful performer and internationally known even before her latest album and controversial video. It’s not the same thing. Not the same attention, success, or lifestyle.

Tearra on

Technically she did choose to be a single mom because she chose not to stay in unfulfilling relationships that had run their course. No relationship is guaranteed to succeed no matter how long you’ve been in one. If you wait for the perfect relationship before getting pregnant you might never GET pregnant. She is rich, successful and not living off the government or asking for handouts. If she ends up having 20 kids from 20 different men I guess that is her prerogative.

happygolucky on

I believe teh children’s fathers are still an active part of their lives. The men have not just disappeared.

Sarah K. on

Lee, Nettie, Happygolucky, etc. Erykah herself said that relationships are not something she’s good at. She opened herself to commentary. And, I fail to see how her being a performer makes that much different from the rest of world. Sure, she has a different career and “lifestyle,” but what does that have to do with choosing to keep having children when you aren’t in a stable relationship and then regretting it later? If she didn’t want people commenting on her life, maybe she should have kept her private life private

JillSummers on

I don’t like people judging me and i don’t like to judge others.

Gina on

why is she irresponsible because she did not marry one of these men…Who is anyone to judge? Further more who knows maybe they planned marriage, we do not even KNow Ms Badu or her plans for life so lets stop acting as though our impulses are the way she must live her life…Let us all live as we see fit for ourselves and stop JUDGING…Live and let live…does it mean Ms Badu is a bad person or mom because she is unmarried and has three children…Her choices and conscience belong with her and she lives with her decisins just as nayone else has to.

Brooklyn Betty on

The REALITY is that as a woman, you should ask yourself “Am I willing to BE single mother should circumstances change?”

Change is the only thing constant in this world yet people act as if having a ring on your finger means you will have a guaranteed man for at least the next 18 years. Things happen. People fall out of love, meaning YES, you may want to stay together but your man may not. You can’t force a relationship. He could die, remarry or commit to someone else, disappear all together, divorce you, leave you at the alter, or cut out after deciding he’s just not that into family life.

The point is, if you have a child, you may find yourself raising the child alone whether by act of God, your personal choice or your partner/husband. So convincing women that having a husband means there is NO CHANCE you will ever have to raise the child alone is foolish . A partner is great but no guarantee. Make sure before having a baby you are ready and willing to go it alone IF and/or WHEN it happens.

Erica on

I have more of a question. Does anyone know the second childs father? My sister is telling me that its Common. I know they were together, but didnt know if she had a child with him.

Erika M. on

For all of those who are commenting on how this sister should live her life remember this you may or may not agree with her choices; however her choices are hers to make and hers alone. Secondly she is not asking for anyone of you to help her provide for not one of her children! They are living better lives with more resources afforded to them than all of us.

TL on

I don’t totally agree with what Erykah has stated. Anytime you lay down and have unprotected sex a child can result from that union. And if you are not married the most likely result will be you raising a child alone. Avoid this by protecting yourself at all times or just be willing to accept the responsibility and own up to the fact that this was a choice you made.

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