Father’s Day was not celebrated as a civic holiday in the United States until the early 20th century. It complements Mother’s Day and celebrates fathers, paternal bonds, male parenting and the contributions of fathers to society. This year it will be observed on June 16.
Unfortunately, too often, the value of fathers is not often understood. In the Black community, over 70 percent of children are raised in families without resident fathers. It has basically become rare for Black children to be raised in two-parent households. This issue exposes a real crisis; the absence of fathers indicates an absence of a societal backbone. When we look around today, this is apparently true.
Fathers have been the traditional breadwinners, the protectors, and the disciplinarians, especially where boys are concerned. There are many people who believe that the problems with gangs in the Black community has its origins in the lack of available fathers; that gang members seek surrogate fathers in their street institutions. Actually, almost all of the issues related to male parenting could be positively impacted if more fathers remained in their offspring’s life. Mothers share some of the blame for family dysfunction, but it has often been said that a mother cannot teach her son how to be a man, for example.
With this said, if the Black community is to capture and demonstrate vitality, it will be imperative that the value of fathers be appreciated. People seem to think absentee fatherhood is okay, and it is actually often expected! The seat of this may come from the notions of distrust between partners; there is a saying “Momma’s baby, daddy’s maybe.” In other words, many men have used the excuse that the child does not belong to them, basically because the mothers actually give birth. This has changed in recent years, however, since the advent of paternity tests where it is now possible to determine with a great deal of certainty, the paternity of a child. Now the issue is getting men to take the paternity test and to accept responsibility for their offspring.
Along with the obvious value that men bring to a home that can help ensure domestic stability, is the modeling that a father does for his male and female children. Boys look to their fathers as role models. The way fathers interact with mothers provides a template for how a child will view male/female interactions as an adult. A father’s treatment of the mother provides a model for girls as to what they can expect from men. If fathers treat women with respect and love, the children will see this as a pattern of behavior that they may adopt during adulthood.
Because a lot of people don’t understand this, there are generations of Black children raised without a clue as to what domestic tranquility entails; they learn their behaviors in the street. Girls seem to aspire to become “baby mamas,” and boys are seen as “baby daddies.” The notion of marriage and the goal of the creation of functional nuclear families is becoming an ancient notion. This is a catastrophe, and is actually the beginning of the demise of the Black family. If families become non-existent, children will be left to figure out how to cope on their own. Along with this is an attendant poverty that is the outcome of this condition. Consequently, the absence of fathers is one of the most crucial issues facing the Black community.
Fortunately, there are a number of men who take fatherhood seriously, and when this is observed, it is wonderful to behold. Some of these fathers even take on paternal duties with children that they did not produce. Children who grow up in these homes tend to go farther in school and they are more likely to evade incarceration due to gangs and drugs. Children who grow up with fathers are less likely to suffer the slings of poverty, and very often they seek to keep their own families intact once they mature into adulthood. We laud the men who understand the “Father’s Way,” i.e., the extremely important value that they bring to their families and, by extension, to the community as a whole. We send our blessings and love to all of the fathers who are following the positive path, and encourage more to do the same. HAPPY FATHER’S DAY! A Luta Continua.