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Single Moms: It's Black Fathers' Week

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It's Black Fathers' Week in several cities across the country -- a time to encourage, celebrate, and support black fathers everywhere.

Kimberly Seals Allers: Remembering the importance of black fathers is so 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.

Happy family

If you're one of these single moms, like I am, I want to talk to you about the importance of keeping your "wasband" in the picture. We women are notorious for taking good care of our families -- and the list of prominent, successful adults raised by single mothers runs long -- but our children still need their fathers. I've seen too many black single moms let off a triumphant, "My child doesn't need his father." "Her father doesn't deserve to see her." And it just isn't true. And 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 pickup that he starts running around like crazy. 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 pickup. 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 himself 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 as "character issues" and "lack of responsibility" -- which, quite frankly, are the farthest things from her 3-year-old's mind. That little girl just wants to run and play with her daddy, and my girlfriend's anger about their broken relationship gets in the 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 if it's small, this week to support and encourage the presence of your child's father 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.

next: 5 Things My Husband Hates about Marriage
12 comments so far | Post a comment now
scholarlymama June 4, 2009, 2:42 PM

Black Father’s Week? Are you being facetious? I’m a Black single monther (my children’s father is a Black Latino), and as far as I’m concerned, fathers of all nationalities, especially Black fathers, need to step up and take responsibility for the children they help to create every day, not just during the holidays, birthdays, and Father’s Day.

Jessica June 4, 2009, 4:49 PM

I agree with both the article and scholarlymama. I have two children with my boyfriend and we live together and our relationship is pretty strong, and I’m very grateful that he is present in their lives. Especially since they are boys, and they need that male influence.

Re Re June 4, 2009, 6:07 PM

I am a 65 year whose father never did the right thing. It was too easy for me to survive with women and it was t-o-o easy for him not to care once he “GOT” what he wanted from my mother. She was young and pretty and not as responsible. He was “S-o-o-o-o handsome, had a”KILLER_DILLER LINE” that would have gotten to almost any woman. But here is the big “BUT”, I would like to have had a few good memories of his presence in my early life. Now, he is gone and all that remains are bitter, ugly, uncaring memories left in my existence. HE DID WRONG AND MY MOTHER SHOULD HAVE HAD SOMEONE IN HER LIFE TO BETTER GUIDE HER IN THE “LIFE LESSONS DEPARTMENT”.

Sherrie June 4, 2009, 6:40 PM

So now we should celebrate when people do what they are supposed to or is that so uncommon in the black community that we need to declare holidays for that?

notamused June 4, 2009, 9:09 PM

Why “black fathers” week? This is perfect example as to why some black people feel that everyone discriminate against them due to their race. It’s only because they discriminate themselves and segregate themselves by putting them in a category all on their own. Pot, meet Kettle.

N June 5, 2009, 1:14 AM

I completely agree with notamused

mercaties June 5, 2009, 2:58 AM

So, since Black Father’s week is two weeks before Father’s day does that mean that Father’s day is only for white father’s? I agree with notamused 100 percent.

In Agreement July 8, 2009, 7:35 PM

I am glad you have made a statement about this one. As much as these black father’s have been irresponsible many of these “baby mama’s” have too, and use the irresponsibility of these father’s to act childish. We black women have very strong minds and use it against these men when they break-up our home. Instead we need to use these capabilities to keep these families strong, instead of relying on these systems that actually destroy the situation even more. No one outside your family (including dad who will always be that) and God can do that. I mean the reason why many of us have ended up in this situation (not all) is because we have grown up in single-mother homes. Our boys have no example of what it is to be a man, and these women have no example of how to be treated. What are we going to do the same thing to our kids. At least, even if the man is a bad example, knowing him will teach our kids how to do better. I know plenty of men who stay in their children’s lives because they do not want to abandon them like their own father did…I do stand in agreement with “Black Father’s Day”. Just as we mother’s have a day to celebrate us doing what we are supposed to do, there should be a day for dad’s too. Especially black father’s who have been factually proven to own difficult hurdles than any race/gender combo in this country. But as long as we play the victim, and as long as these systems legally allow it, the black community will not rise as a whole. Individually yes, but not as a whole…

ohnoes July 15, 2009, 2:29 PM

Why would somebody have a child with a man who had “character issues” and “lack of responsibility?”

Besides, whether or not to be a parent is a freedom of choice issue. If a father, black or otherwise, makes it clear that he does not want to have a child, and then the mother goes ahead and has that baby and keeps it anyways, he shouldn’t have any obligation beyond financial to the kid. (It’s a different story if he promised to be there and help raise the child before birth).

sam March 24, 2010, 4:07 PM

This ought to be a short week….

Optimus July 17, 2010, 11:42 PM

What a nice gesture; I hope they’ll feel appreciated!

arbitymntromy April 6, 2011, 9:20 PM

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