The importance of Black fathers can’t be stressed enough as we approach Father’s Day. The list of responsibilities of a father goes far and wide: from protecting and providing for their children to being a beacon of stability on whom the family can depend.
There are many reasons why fathers are an important part of the family dynamic and society as a whole. But, considering the cultural tendencies for many fathers, including Black fathers to abandon their responsibilities, they put a strain on the dads that are doing what they’re supposed to do. When a father’s love is not felt or appreciated it negatively affects the role and view of men as a whole. It’s time to dig deeper into the topic of Black fatherhood and why the narrative about it needs to change for the better.
Black Fathers are Doing Better Than You Think
On the surface, absent-father statistics by race tell a damning story of Black fatherhood, at least according to the media. Statistics show that close to 70% of Black families have been single-parent households since the 2010s. That’s by far the most among all ethnicities in the US. However, part of the reason for such high statistics is the fact that Black American men are being killed for being Black, leaving many widowed. After a record number of police brutality cases in Canada last year and with Black people being shot to death by law enforcement more than any other ethnicity in 2021, it’s clear that many households are fatherless because the lives of so many Black fathers have been taken before their time.
Many statistics the media perpetuate are misleading, and they do Black men a huge disservice. Even some officials are perpetuating the stereotype without looking at all the facts. According to the CDC, considerably more Black men live with their children than not and are more actively involved in their children’s lives than fathers of other ethnicities. Deep-rooted misogyny and assigning blame in parenting have encouraged fathers in other cultures to leave parenting responsibilities to women. To change that, South Asian culture, for example, uses cultural brokering to help families take a more empathetic approach to family conflict. Also, by addressing sexist parenting and gender stereotypes, Black men will feel more inclined to step up to the plate.
Other studies show that Black fathers share responsibility more often and have displayed more effective co-parenting than other groups, like Hispanic or Latinx people. It’s time that Black fathers get more credit for their involvement and for the end of the stereotype of the absent Black father. The media play a major role in this as well, misrepresenting some Black fathers by branding them as absent and using images that manipulate perception. This must change.
What Are the Responsibilities of a Father?
A father’s top responsibilities range from being a leader to providing security and direction for their children, among other things. What are the qualities of a good father? We believe they include:
Emotional advancement (being engaged, proud, and confident)
Keeping the household safe
Developing stable relationships (with the child and child’s mother)
Spending quality time
Being a provider
Being a role model
Each of these factors is key in developing stability within the Black household and the Black community at large.
Why Do Dads Matter?
The role of a father is paramount. The duty of organizations and institutions should be to promote the importance of this role so other Black fathers feel inspired and motivated to deeply involve themselves in their children’s lives. Offering financially viable and educational opportunities for Black men will arm them with the necessary skills and confidence to provide for their children and improve their children’s knowledge based on what they’ve learned.
Disparities in healthcare to address mental and physical issues are also preventing some fathers from providing in the ways they desire to. Poor health deprives children of the quality time they yearn to spend with their fathers. Black men often have to suppress their frustrations caused by anti-Black racism and stereotypes, among other things — which have proven to lead to rapid health deterioration. Only in addressing these issues will we see more Black men empowered to step up to their responsibilities consistently.
Black fathers’ organizations like The First Time Father, The Black Daddies Club, Young and Potential Fathers, and Black Fathers Incorporate help promote consistency and stability for Black families. Doing your part to show how Black fathers are increasingly getting involved in their children’s lives will go a long way in dispelling the myths perpetuated by systemic racism, cultural nuances and unethical media practices.
Tough conversations like these need to be had — and not just on Father’s Day. The new narrative that should be told is Black fathers are dope! Highlighting Black excellence at every turn is a sure way to move beyond old, damaging stereotypes, and propel those same men into fantastic father figures and community role models. Encourage your team to have a Custom Convo about things that matter to them personally so that they can bring their whole selves to work.