My Blended Family Busts the Absent Black Father Myth
A conversation with my dad and stepdad about the keys to positive parenting
The landscape of the modern American family has changed over the past few decades. Family structures as a whole have become more fluid and unique; finally, unconventional types are becoming more universally acknowledged and accepted.
Black families, however, were never entirely allowed the freedom of the modern family landscape. From the moment they stepped foot on this continent, they were ripped apart from the seams. That general separation set a nagging stereotype in place. Unfair? Yes. But the idea of the “broken home” serves as our nail in the coffin. Religious leaders, politicians, and an overflowing reservoir of others believe that children can only thrive in a family that lives under one roof.
We’ve bought into the idea that development, morality, and success are directly attributed to nuclear households. We’re told repeatedly that two parents are better than one. So much of that pressure falls on fathers — specifically Black fathers — who get painted as the reason for chaos. But Black fathers can be the cornerstones to healthy parenting environments, and plenty are.
On Father’s Day, the stereotypes and frustration all come to a head. Some men deserve the scrutiny, but a good majority do not. According to a 2013 study by the CDC, Black fathers (aged 15–44) who live with their children are more likely to have “bathed, dressed, diapered, or helped their children use the toilet” than their White and Hispanic counterparts. (That’s to say nothing of the factors in reporting that misrepresent data in ways that perpetuate the aforementioned misconception of Black fathers.) Myth notwithstanding, great Black fathers do exist and blended families don’t stand in the way of that.
If your children are the focus, then working together has to be at the top of the list. They shouldn’t have to suffer or live through animosity. It’s about making two households operate as one.
I am the product of two great fathers. Despite different backgrounds and philosophies, they…