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Many mothers will say that raising one child is a handful, but taking care of six that are close in age can be downright overwhelming.
But no one told that to Michelle Roberts, a District resident who has birthed a half-a-dozen children and did the best she could to raise them right.
“It wasn’t easy, but I did it,” Roberts, 42, said. “My oldest child is 23 years old and the youngest is six.”
In addition to raising her children on her own, Roberts managed to complete a bachelor’s degree at the now-defunct Southeastern University in 2004 and a Master of Business Administration at Trinity University in Northeast in 2007.
As the main parent in her children’s lives, Roberts would face long odds for success, according to an August 22, 2022, blog by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The blog, “Child Well-Being in Single Parent Families,” reported in the U.S., nearly 24 million children live in a single-parent family. This is one in every three children. Within single parent-families, most children—15 million—live in mother-only households like Roberts’. The blog reported 64% of Black children live in single-parent families as opposed to white and Asian and Pacific Islander young people, who have rates of 24% and 14%, respectively.
In terms of family structure and socioeconomic status, the blog reported 30% of single parents live in poverty, while just 6% of married couples fit the same statistic. Plus, single parents are more likely to live in poverty when compared to cohabiting couples, and single mothers are much more likely to be poor when compared to single fathers.
The Roberts Family
Roberts’ oldest child is MaKayla Roberts-Grose, a 23-year-old entrepreneur, followed by Ronnell Grose, a 22-year-old blue-collar worker. Ronald Grose, 21, the third child, is a student at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania and the fourth is M’nayi Roberts-Grose, an 18-year-old first-year student at Morgan State University in Baltimore.
The young children are Roman Roberts, 9, and Miche’ Roberts-Kave, 6.
Roberts said she started early in her adult life going to school, working, and raising her kids simultaneously.
“I was 23 years old with four children already,” she said. “I started college with an infant in my hands.”
Roberts said she forged ahead with raising her children as a priority “skipping out on partying and going out to the clubs.”
“I did my homework while caring for my children,” she said. “Later, we would do our homework together. I did a lot of things with my children. A lot of people had doubts about me. When they would see me, they thought I was the stereotype. I would even get questions from people such as, ‘Do they have the same father?’”
Roberts has worked in the property management field for over 19 years with many of the properties she supervised in the city’s low-income neighborhoods. She has noticed how children have changed over the years, even among her own.
“My youngest children are exposed to so much negativity,” she said. “Society is much more different for them than it was for my oldest children with the type of music they listen to and the availability of drugs.”
Roberts credits men in the city for providing positive role models for her sons. She said the key to her success in holding the family together is prayer.
“Prayer, it really works,” Roberts said.
The resilient mom explained single mothers or women who are raising their families should hold their heads up high and do what needs to be done for their children to be successful.
“Don’t give up,” she said. “Keep striving. Keep going. Your children look up to you. Be the best Mom you can be.”