I have recently come to the realization that fathers (of course parents in general) are very much responsible for the adult behaviors of their children. Usually we aren’t aware of how large an emotional impact our father’s presence—or even lack of it—have on our personalities. Oftentimes mothers receive the bulk of the credit—and blame—for the type of person their child becomes. I feel particularly troubled about this because I have a seven year-old nephew whose father is dead. The man is my brother, for whom my blog ‘For Shawnel’ is named.
Many boys are emotionally distant and incapable of expressing their feelings in constructive manners. Especially Black boys. We have this warped sense of masculinity and fatherhood. Many of the fathers of my friends who are Black were either completely absent or womanizers (including my own dad) or like my nephew’s father, no longer living. So when boys grow and don’t know how to be faithful in their relationships or are unable to take charge of their lives, I am not surprised.
The deification of Black mothers (although definitely worthy) is problematic because many Black males only learn to respect their mothers while continuing to treat other women—their wives, girlfriends and female co-workers—like crap. This deification of the mother-son dynamic also plays out in men who expect the women in their lives to reprise the maternal role and provide the unconditional love of childhood.
We need fathers, father-figures, coaches and mentors to be celebrated year round, but we also need them to be present every day. We need them to be role models for being men, for having adult relationships with women, and as fathers who are actively parenting their children.
Whether we want to admit it or not, there is a father crisis in communities of color and it won’t be addressed until our society admits that fathers do matter.
—Photo credit: Elvert Barnes/Flickr