The combination of Father’s Day yesterday, and the horrific statistics about fatherhood which have become common in America, we were treated yesterday to many columns and speeches exhorting men, particularly African American men, so step up to the challenge of being fathers. “Get involved in your kid’s life” was the refrain. It is excellent to see so much attention being paid to the importance of fatherhood. Only a few years ago, it was widely assumed that fathers were optional for the well being of a child and potentially a bad influence with all their aggressive, competitive tendencies. Thank heavens we’ve moved past that. It’s too bad that a generation of people had to be sacrificed in order for us to provide proof to the shrinks and sociologists that fathers really do matter, but whatchagonnado?
While it is all to the good that fatherhood is getting more attention, I’m very concerned that the call to “get involved in your children’s lives” is so generic and out-of-touch with the difficult realities on the ground that it will end up as a joke. “Just say no” for the war on fatherlessness. The fact of the matter is that there are reasons that men are not involved in the lives of the children they father. They run the gamut from the very selfish to the practical to the heart wrenching. Continue reading “Complicated Fatherhood”