On this Father’s Day, we pause to honor fathers in our community, and men who fill the role of a father, for the important work they do in raising Black children. The role of fathers cannot be overstated. Fathers are a stabilizing force in the family, an important presence for daughters and sons, and the glue that holds communities together.
The Black community suffers because of the absence of fathers, whatever the reason for their separation from their families. It is why we encourage all Black men to engage their children, be present in their lives and find a way to be a supportive force in the family even when conditions do not allow you to be physically present. We have watched in horror the devastation caused by fathers who are missing in action. It is time all fathers stepped up and made a commitment to fulfill their responsibilities.
We know it is not easy. In some instances conflicts with spouses or “significant others” complicates the relationship with children. We can only encourage fathers who are in such a situation to put the welfare of their children first and do whatever is necessary to be supportive. We also know that the current recession has put a tremendous strain on Black men, devastated by unemployment and long-term joblessness. While financial support of children and families is important, emotional support is just as necessary. What better way to teach your child real values than to find ways to be a positive influence despite your financial situation?
For Black men who are not fathers, there is a role to play. Embrace a child whose father may be deceased, incarcerated, or ill, or has a father who is failing to fulfill his responsibilities. The idea is not to displace a father but to be a support system for children in need of a positive, male role model. This goes for girls as well as boys. Too often, the importance of father-daughter relationships is overlooked. It is why we embraced television journalist Ed Gordon’s “Daddy’s Promise” campaign because girls need their fathers too. We must restore a sense of “community” among Black Americans and return to a day when men understood the need to extend themselves to children beyond their offspring.
Dads, as you enjoy your special day, take a moment and hug your children. Rededicate yourself as a father and make a commitment to stay engaged in the life of your child. It will be worth the hard work, tears and frustration.