• Tori Owens

Black Fathers Matter: Breaking The Misconception of Broken Black Homes


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We’ve all heard that black fathers aren’t around, and while this may be true in some households, the fact is many black dads are more present and involved in their child’s life today than ever. Even with repeated reports and articles stating black fathers are overwhelmingly absent and are neglected from the conversations regarding fatherhood, black fathers are smashing many stereotypes and are positive examples in their children’s lives. Here are some of the biggest misconceptions of black fathers and their absence that leads to broken homes.

Single parenthood is exclusively a black struggle

FACT: Single parent households have increased dramatically since 1960, according to The Pew Research Center, and 6% of those single-parent homes are headed by single dads.

Myth: Single parent homes are only a problem faced by the black community.

Due to the increase in single parent homes, single parent households are in every race across the country, with the majority being in homes of people of color. The problem of absentee fathers in America is not only affecting black communities but the entire country. The definition of single parent households also doesn’t include father’s who are living outside of their children’s homes. The reasons for this can be – work related, imprisonment, separation or divorce. The assumption is that all of the single parent homes that are headed by single mothers, do not have a father present or involved in their children’s lives. This assumption is associated most with black dads.

Black Fathers are uninvolved and absent

FACT: A percentage of black fathers are uninvolved and absent but so are white fathers. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a report that said African-American dads enjoy more time spent in their children’s day-to-day lives than fathers from other demographic.

Myth: Black dads are never present therefore contributing the ever-growing number of fatherless children.

African-American fathers are defying stereotypes about black fatherhood. The Pew Research Center has found comparable evidence that backs the CDC reports on the increase of black father’s involvement in their child’s life. The Pew Research Center reveals “Black dads don’t differ from white fathers in any significant way, and that there isn’t the expected disparity found in so many other reports. “

Deadbeat Dad

FACT: “Children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings, and, as they grow older, have better social connections with peers. These children also are less likely to get in trouble at home, school or in the neighborhood.” –Yeung, W. J., Duncan, G. J., & Hill, M. S. (2000). Putting Fathers Back in the Picture: Parental Activities and Children’s Adult Outcomes.

Myth: If a man comes from a fatherless home, he, in turn, will either be a deadbeat dad or an absent father.

There is no doubt that a fatherless home can create negative outcomes for children, however, assuming that the child will grow up to also become an uninvolved parent is unreasonable. Children who grow up in father-absent homes are almost four times more likely to be living in poverty and being raised with no father increases the risk of teen pregnancy and getting into a marriage with less than a high school degree. It is important to note that men, black men in particular, who didn’t grow up with their fathers are not incapable of being a good parent themselves. Unfortunately, this is an assumption disproportionately assigned to black men as they are usually categorized as a ‘deadbeat.’

Absent by choice

FACT: Many African-American fathers are living separately from their children.

Myth: Black men are pathologically prone to leaving their children.

We have all heard the “If only black men would marry the women they have babies with…” rhetoric which suggests that black fathers are primarily responsible for the family dysfunction in black communities. This rhetoric is far from true as 78.2% of African American dads live with their children – particularly those aged 5 and under, this percentage ranks higher than white and Hispanic dads. And while black fathers may not marry the mother of their children immediately, most of them opt to co-habitat. Many Black fathers are not absent [in the home] by choice; most factors for fathers in these situations are:

• They have multiple children in different households

• Mass Incarceration

• Early death

Mass incarceration has disproportionately trapped young black men, stripping hundreds of thousands of marriage-age men from the community. Early death as a result of police brutality and gang related violence are also contributing factors to absent black fathers.

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