Fatherhood from the Black/Brown Experience

I was tuning in to a live video of an African-american male describing his experience of fatherhood from the perspective of being a black/brown male in America. One of the responses from a woman was, “I wish that I could say Happy Father’s Day to my father and my son’s father, but neither of them are present in our life.”

I can definitely share her sentiments in terms of growing up without a present father. Just this year, at the age of 30, I finally let go of resentment for my father and allowed him to share his VOICE. When I did that, I realized that he wasn’t present because he was MENTALLY UNABLE TO BE PRESENT. He suffered from depression and other internal conflicts that made it impossible for him to be present for himself! So how in the world could he have been present for me?!

Black/brown women and men who have been raised without our fathers…have you given your father a real opportunity to express his WHY? Or have you shut him out because you feel there is no excuse for a father to not be present in their child’s life?

I’m here to say that we are human. Never will I claim to know the mind of man or fully comprehend the black/brown Male’s experience. But from a human perspective, I do believe there are circumstances that require men to be absent from their children so that they can heal the best way they know how before they can be of any assistance to the mother of their seeds OR their own offspring. And to place a burden on someone to be something they cannot be, because we want it ON OUR TIME, is selfish.

Sure, we can say to these men…”Well he should’ve known he wasn’t ready before he laid down and made the baby.” But as the woman who allowed that particular Male to enter into your lovely gates, what was your reason? Were you not fully aware of his mental health? Were you anticipating pregnancy with this Male in hopes that he would somehow transform overnight and magically become a great father or assistant? Women, we have to take responsibility for the types of men we choose to procreate with. The blame can’t be all on the men. It takes two to tango. We have to make thorough evaluations prior to any sexual encounter. It can’t always be lust and physical attraction that leads us to intercourse.

We have to be accountable for how we treat sex. We live in a world where sex is sold like a loaf of bread at the grocery store. As a result, people have become so disconnected to the sacredness of intercourse. It’s just fun now or something to do when you’re bored. Or on the other hand, people see it as an opportunity to cop a monthly check or trap someone into dealing with them consistently. Too many children are conceived due to these reasons and it’s sad because the children are the ones who suffer in the end. We have to do better in our communities and stop falling for the division tactics. Giving our children the best of both worlds really is a choice that takes maturity and healing because it’s too easy to shut the father out with all of these government assistant programs that require the father to be poor or absent in order for the mother to receive help.

I think we can help our future offspring more by overthinking outcomes prior to conscious sexual encounters. Is this male or female totally committed to me? Do they have other commitments that could lead me to be a single parent if I become pregnant? What is this person’s idea about coparenting with me? We should ask these questions PRIOR to sex not after.

I find it odd that we’re taught to use condoms to keep from procreating when the nature of sex IS for procreation. So I say if you have to use a condom with someone you probably shouldn’t be in it in the first place!! Get up!! Leave!! 😂😂 Find someone you can safely share sacred encounters with and you both mutually agree to coparent if the mother gets pregnant…no matter what!

Even when the circumstances do arise where we, as women, have to raise our children alone, let’s be accountable and willing. We can’t always be victims. We have to move forward with vigilance and persistency and less blame. And realize that if the biological father cannot be present for whatever reason, our children can still have a healthy present father-figure that can offer his masculine guidance, protection, love, and devotion to the child.

It’s also important for us to not get caught in the cycle of blaming the father for his absence while praising the woman for her strength. As a society, we really are quick to tear down the father for not being present as if his contribution outweighs the mother’s contribution. Just this year, in Arkansas, the child support calculation changed to include the mother’s income. Prior to that, the father’s income was the only thing considered. This change shows that both parents are equally responsible for the child’s wellbeing, which solidifies my point above.

We can assume that getting married prior to sexual encounters will somehow solve the problem of single parent households and hold adults to an oath of staying together for the sake of the offspring. However, I think it’s important not to enter into this type of obligation blindly. There is still a chance that children will encounter a traumatic experience down the road. I always hear stories of adults suffering emotional pain from their parent’s separation.

Being married for almost 10 years now and deciding to take a different route for my offsprings’ wellbeing, I am able to say that this move definitely does not guarantee that a mother and father will always be together in order to raise their children together. We can be fully ready at the beginning of the committment and then encounter obstacles during the committment that unfortunately ends in divorce. We cannot control another human being with a contract. We still have free will. So at any point, I or my husband can abandon the committment for just causes.

To me, being a successful parent means choosing to coparent from a space of love even when the partnership ends. And that’s not something that can be done immediately.

I like how Beyonce says in her song, “Forgiveness is key because we’re fighting something way bigger.” The fight to give children the best of both worlds, from a masculine and feminine experience, is a real struggle ESPECIALLY when we have all of these obstacles in America. This society is oversexualized AND we have much easier access to so much (pornography, drugs, social media, etc.) that can destroy families.

The key is finding balance through it all in the best way we know how. We can all pack up and leave America and abandon the American dream, but those internal battles will still be there. Most external problems stem from an internal issue. And it’s unfortunate that many of us wait until age 40 or 50 before seeking professional help for deeply rooted issues, especially in the African-American community. Seeking help from a therapist is like an admission to the “crazy hospital,” as we so loosely call it.

It’s unfortunate that children have to suffer behind our decisions as parents. But in all fairness, I don’t think we can ever say we’re fully ready to become parents. Sometimes it’s through parenting we recognize the issues that weren’t resolved prior to having children.

In any of these circumstances, forgiveness and the power of heartfelt understanding can heal so many wounds. I’m a witness of this. Displaying empathy doesn’t mean that you are an ally to someone’s excuses or shortcomings. It simply means you are able to take self out of the picture to gain knowledge of someone else’s struggle. You can be an observer with boundaries. This method has worked and is working for me. It keeps me from having this “sitting on a throne of perfection” mentality and allows me to exercise compassion, something that is lacking in our dynamic as African-Americans. We are always more haste in throwing stones at one another than we are coming to each other’s aid.

I was able to transcend abandonment pain from my father’s absence by simply listening to my father’s story and understanding WHY he couldn’t be there for me. I’m no longer the hurt little girl who didn’t have a present Dad. Instead, I became what I wanted to experience in my journey.

I’m also appreciative of my father’s truth and his courage to create a better experience NOW versus being stuck in the past..constantly having to relive his failures. He has suffered enough. And it hurts more for me to kick a person while they’re down. His healing is on his time. I’m just here to experience him. So I WILL say to my father as the man he is today..HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!! I am not ashamed of my experience and I’m certainly unashamed of my father.

Through this experience, I have become more aware of my intentions. I speak what I would like to see instead of harboring on the things that I am not fond of seeing. What HAS HAPPENED is the past. Now what can we learn from it? Let’s not allow these experiences to be in vain. Let’s be more accountable. Let us all be the change we want to see. Let us declare that the black/brown experience of single parent homes is done. WE WILL HEAL and we will turn this around for all black/brown children of the future no matter what obstacles are thrown our way.

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