A man’s relationship with his father is a pivotal influence on the man he becomes. Whether or not a father is present emotionally or physically, can have multigenerational effects on their children.
Let’s talk about facts
Contrary to popular belief, black fathers are just as involved in their children’s lives as any other group of fathers. In fact, a 2013 study by the CDC found that black fathers were more likely to be hands-on with their young children and are more likely to be the primary caregiver to their children, than fathers of any other race.
Despite the negative stereotypes and systemic obstacles that black fathers face, they remain very dedicated and involved in their children’s lives, and it’s important to recognize and celebrate their role in their families and communities. Times are also changing and the younger generations are adamant about breaking bad habits.
Unfortunately, these positive contributions are often overlooked in the media, where black fathers are unfairly portrayed as absent or disengaged. This harmful narrative not only perpetuates negative stereotypes but also undermines the hard work and dedication of black fathers who are actively involved in their children’s lives.
If all of this is true, why does the black community suffer from a lack of positive male role models?
The answer to this is two-fold. Media has a big influence on our society. So if young black boys are seeing fathers who are not there, this can trigger a manifestation of this very reality. Another hard truth is that many fathers in the baby boomer generation were great fathers and providers but may have lacked emotional availability and transparency. Their sons are now raising children in a society that is very different.
Black fathers also often face a unique set of systemic obstacles that make it more difficult for them to be present in their children’s lives, despite the desire. Racism and discrimination can make it harder for black fathers to find stable employment, secure housing, and access to quality healthcare. These challenges can affect their ability to provide for their families and be involved in their children’s lives. Despite this, black fathers remain an important and positive influence in their children’s lives. And continue to be role models, teachers, and caregivers.
As men, what can we do?
Be adamant about breaking generational habits. Just because your father and your grandfather operated a certain way, does not mean that you need to. Admire those who came before you and their contributions, while also realizing that you can forge your own path.
Do not let statistics define you. These statistics likely looked a lot different 50 years ago, and they will look different 50 years from now. The question is always, “What will you decide to do?” This question should not be answered by what the media or society says you should.
Address your trauma head-on. Not addressing your issues can break up families and create more generational impacts. You have to 1) acknowledge that you may have some trauma and habits to address and 2) get the help that you need. Unfortunately, time is not on our side, and the longer we take to address the more it becomes ingrained in who we are and how we behave.
Make the decision today that you will make the changes necessary for the life you want to live. At the Howard Group, we specialize in helping African American men get to the root of their issues and provide the tools to build a lasting legacy. If you are seeking mental health services do not hesitate to contact us.