It’s Black Fathers Week: My Special Message to Single Moms
It’s Black Fathers Week in several cities across the country. And to celebrate the many, many strong, positive Black dads out there doing their thang, we’re giving away, FREE!!, our popular “Strong Black Father Under Construction” tee shirt every day to the first 10 people who post a comment to this blog every day until June 9th.
In the meantime, I’m sending a special message to single moms everywhere this Black Fathers Week. This week is a time to encourage, celebrate and support Black fathers everywhere. I like this. We know there are so many great Dads out there who don’t get their props. Remembering the importance of black fathers is so much more important in our community, where black women are disproportionately single parents. According to Census data, 45.4% of black homes are headed by a single female compared to 13.7% for whites and 22.3% for Latinas. Other studies show that black children are eight times more likely than white children to live with an unwed mother.
And though we are notorious for taking good care of our families—and the list of prominent, successful adults raised by single mothers runs long– our children still need their fathers. As single parents this is particularly important. I’ve seen all too many black single moms let off a triumphant, “my child doesn’t his need his father.” “Her father doesn’t deserve to see her,” –add neck roll. And it just isn’t true. In fact, we should never want that to be our truth.
My girlfriend and I have been having an ongoing debate ever since my husband moved out and I joined the ranks of the single moms. She has been one for years. She laughs at all my efforts to keep the “wasband” involved in the children’s lives—continuing to notify him of doctor’s appointments, school conferences, recitals and soccer practices—even though he doesn’t show up half the time. She thinks I’m foolish for letting him see the children after he breaks the appointments, doesn’t call or has some other lame excuse. Of course, it annoys the hell out of me. Sometimes it makes me cry. But the truth is, my son still breaks into the biggest Kool-Aid smile when he sees his Dad pull up in the driveway. He often gets so giddy at pick-up he starts running around like crazy. I can’t help but smile. At five years old, his memory is short and his standards for what a Daddy should be are pretty low. My husband won’t have this luxury for long. My 9-year old daughter is already hip to his game and very much less enthusiastic about his arrival and pick up. But that is a call for my children to make. Pretty soon, they will see their father for who he is, good and bad—children are so discerning, aren’t they? But it is not my place to paint that picture for them. Their Dad will have to deal with that with them when the time comes.
My girlfriend on the other hand, has a laundry list of the things she dislikes about her child’s father which she points to a “character issues” and “lack of responsibility” which quite frankly, are the farthest thing from her 3-year old’s mind. That little girl just wants to run and play and get a Happy Meal every now and then. Other times her anger about their broken relationship gets in the way. Either way, she’s caught in a control game, insisting on him playing by her rules. Her daughter is the biggest loser in this one. Now, I don’t play when it comes to safety issues of any sort. But outside of a child being in some sort of physical or emotional danger, there isn’t much reason, in my opinion, to keep children away from their Dads.
And as my mother will quickly tell me, when I launch into a complaining tirade about the wasband, “Well, you picked him and you slept with him.” There’s not much I can say to her after that.
So this week, I ask all single mothers to think about their children. Recognize the importance of our black men in our children’s lives. Not everyone has a perfect Dad. This is the reality of the world. But do something even small this week to support and encourage your child’s father presence in your little one’s life—despite his shortcomings. When it comes to raising strong, confident black children and revitalizing our communities—we need our men.
Leave a comment and your email address to get a FREE “Strong Black Father Under Construction” tee shirt. The first 10 people who leave a comment each day are guaranteed winners!!