Hip-hop group Migos have a popular song called T-Shirt in which the hook advises “mama told me not to sell work”, a lesson about the perils of selling drugs. In the car with my son one day, the in heavy rotation song came on the radio and I looked over at my son and said, “In case I need to say it, don’t sell work plus no student loans and no side chicks.” He laughed, then realized I was dead serious when I had him repeat the lesson in return demonstration. No student loans and no side chicks.
The student loan sermon was not new. He has heard me caution against the peril of incurring such debt, as I tell him all the time they will bury me and then dig me up to still collect. That lesson he understands. You don’t want to have the financial burden of student loan debt so take advantage of the opportunities being afforded to you.
The side chick mantra was new to him, at least hearing it from me and I had no clue how he was interpreting this message. At first I didn’t ask him what his understanding was, part of me feeling it may be introducing a dialogue neither he nor I was fully ready to explore. He is sixteen going on seventeen and pretty tight-lipped about his thoughts on dating and relationships.
I know why I felt the urge to introduce the dialogue. I want to know if my voice resonates as loudly in his ears as the messages coming through his red Beats headphones. I look at him and, as much as I would like him to stay my baby forever, I see a man emerging – peach fuzz and all. I watch him turning into a man and wonder if I have done my due diligence in imparting the values to guide him in becoming the man I want him to be.
Yes, I said and I meant the man I want him to be. Now some may take issue with that statement. You shouldn’t impose your ideas on him. Let him experience life and figure out for himself who he is and become the man he wants to be. Yeah, yeah, yeah I hear you and for the most part there’s no argument there. I look forward to, and slightly fear, him coming into his own.
That doesn’t negate the fact that there are basic values I want to see in him. I want him to be a man that respects himself and others. When it comes to relationships, I want him to be honest and considerate. I want him to demonstrate empathy. I want him to be happy and fulfilled.
In my opinion, a man who maintains side checks is the antithesis of those basic values. He does not respect his role as a partner, husband or father. It is impossible for that man to be honest in his relationships and the only needs being considered are his own. A man with side chicks has no empathy, failing to consider the hurt he is causing. Finally, that man is neither happy or fulfilled because clearly for him there is never enough.
In Lemonade, Beyonce says ashes to ashes - dust to side chicks. I wish death on no one, the side chicks or the men that have them. I do think the onus is misplaced. Yes, the women who knowingly enter situations with men already in relationships share responsibility but the truth is if the men didn’t make it possible there would be no such thing as side chicks.
In today’s culture, the one with the wife, mistress and girlfriend is the man. What a twisted badge of honor! Call me old-fashioned but I don’t get it. What makes this the new standard to strive for? If it’s the idea that the more women you have makes you more of a man, then do it in earnest.
Some subscribe to the school of thought that monogamy is a restrictive, outdated confine doomed to fail. Others point to biblical references of polygamy. To both arguments I say ok. Have an open relationship then. That may work for some but open relationships typically work both ways and the men with the wives, mistresses and girlfriends are the men who would go ballistic if their partners did the same in kind. If my son grows up to be a man with many wives he can still be the man I want him to be provided he is honest and upfront, giving his partners the opportunity to choose.
If you’ll lie you’ll steal. A man with side chicks lies to his main partner, allows her to feel she is the only one and robs her of the ability to knowingly consent to the arrangement. A man with side chicks lies to himself when he says what they don’t know won’t hurt them. He lies to the side chick in giving her false hope of more.
Based on the lyrics to T-Shirt, Migos didn’t heed mama’s warnings. Now I don’t know enough about them to know whether they actually sold drugs or just made a song about it. Perhaps they did at one point to launch the music career, who knows.
I finally worked up the nerve to ask my son what he thought about my message, what he thought the lesson no side checks meant. Clearly uncomfortable and wanting to end the discussion, he offered “It’s self-explanatory. If you’re in a relationship you shouldn’t have people on the side.” As my son comes into his own, grows into a man, he will have his own experiences to learn from. Should he ever find himself faced with the dilemma, I hope he hears his mama’s voice in the back of his mind much like a catchy hook. Mama told me…