Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Why Systemic Racism in the Police Department is a call to focus on Black Families

By Rachel Miller-Bradshaw
As people of color in this country it is really time for us to construct an organized national agenda.  The deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Sean Bell and other black males by the hands of police officers coming to the light, it appears that the national agenda might be systemic racism within the police department towards black males in particular.   I don’t think this should be our national agenda. 

I’m pushing for getting the Black Family together and here’s why.  I was shocked when I heard that half a million dollars was raised in a crowd funding campaign for Officer Darren Wilson.  Now that is organization and a community coming together to protect and support one of its own.  Strong families are the premise of strong communities.  Where is the Black community’s organized initiative to support the Brown Family, the Martin Family, and the Garner etc.? What's the strategy to push our national cause to Congress? 
We always look to see what Reverend Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson is going to do while the youth, myself included,  take to social media, which really produces no results.

I was listening to Troi “Star” Torain’s show “Stop the Police” a few days ago and he factually stated that there is no “Black Community”.  “If we do not own the local bank, credit union or supermarket in the neighborhood, we just live there.”  I wish we would really get this.  I think this is why the police and other institutions feel they can treat us the way they do.

I look at all of the young men protesting in Ferguson and I can’t help but feel like their fathers should be guiding them on more effective ways to deal with how they are treated by the police and their overall feelings of disenfranchisement in American society.  But most of these young men most likely don’t have their fathers in their lives, which continue a pattern of instability, misplaced anger, and lack of guidance.  This is why stores and churches, some black owned, are being destroyed in Ferguson.  We have to understand that we are going back to these same communities to live.  

I am not trying to steer attention away from the many black males that are killed or mistreated by the police but I am merely saying that the Black community in America has a lot of other problems to honestly face.  This is the time to tackle all aggressively! I definitely believe that Hip Hop music needs a total lyrical overhaul.  Many artists out now like Rick Ross, Lil Wayne and Nikki Minaj lyrics do nothing to motivate our people to be modern day freedom fighters and innovators.

Looting, social media, and protesting is not the way to enact change!  We've done this many times before.  It's not working for us.  I am totally a grassroots philosopher starting with family structure. I believe black mothers and fathers together in stable households must raise our young men and women to be positive leaders and upstanding citizens.  My documentary "On My Own" made me realize that fathers and traditional families are so important to our community's future and our movement to attain equal human rights in America.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Why Step Fathers Must Bond with their Step Sons
By Rachel Miller-Bradshaw
A colleague of mines was telling me about his 15 year old nephew who now lives in a group home.  He told me that his nephew’s father isn’t around but his sister did remarry years ago and has since given birth to two more children.   He told me how his nephew’s stepfather would administer strict and aggressive discipline when he misbehaved but failed to spend time with him to develop a loving relationship. 

Then my colleague gave his own assessment of his sister’s current family dynamic.  He said to me, “I told my sister when my nephew was younger to make sure that her husband was bonding with his stepson to establish a genuine relationship between the two.  She didn’t make sure it happened.”

Lately I have been hearing a lot of stories of boys still rebelling in their households even if there is a father figure there. What I am specifically addressing is boys who grow up in homes where there mother has remarried.  What then happens is a battle between a grown man, and a boy, that believes he is the man of the house, and it’s all-out war.  This leaves the mothers in a comprised position. 

The age of the boy when the stepfather marries their mother is a major factor on how the stepson-stepfather relationship in a lot of instances will blossom.  If the boy is really young and doesn’t really know his father and the step father asserts himself and takes on the role from day one this could fill any psychological abandonment issues or unfamiliarity that the child has.  The step father and mother are the adults in the situation and have to do all they can to ensure that the child feels loved and acknowledged by his new stepfather and also develops the respect for the new “father” figure that is now in the household.  If the boy’s father is co-parenting with the mother, a discussion needs to be had where all three adults establish positions and the real father and mother must let their son know that you have a bonus father that you must respect and listen to also.

I will say this.  Mothers must allow their husbands to parent their sons from previous relationships.  The bigger picture is that boys needs fathers to raise them so the mothers must take a step back if they want their boys to get the full lessons on being disciplined, being effective, and manhood that the stepfather inherits teaching to the boys in the household. 

Stepfathers must also understand that they have a responsibility to step up and raise their stepson putting the same effort as they do with their biological children.  It’s very important that the stepdads of the world know their duty.  A substantial percentage of families are comprised of children from previous relationships.  Since the traditional family is believed to be one of the factors that socialize boys, stepfathers must fully embrace that stepsons despite biologically belonging are their responsibility and fall under their parenting.  Their progress in life falls just as much on them as the biological parents.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Why Boys Need Men in Their Lives to Keep Them in Line
By Rachel Miller-Bradshaw

The Good Men Project
I have a serious situation going on in my family right now.   One of my nephews is acting out in the worst way.  At first we all attributed it to him being a teenager and his hormones are raging.  We figured it is a teenager’s job to put their parents through hell.   But then my nephew began to get really disrespectful and full of rage.  This of course pushed my sister to point of feeling like he couldn’t live with in her home anymore.

We are close knit family full of women with my mother being the matriarch.  During a trip to the beach recently my nephew, usually a guarded young man, expressed that he feels like part of him is missing since his father isn’t in his life.  He honestly admitted that he knows that this is the cause for most of his behavior.  I explained to him that no matter what he feels about his father’s absence that he should always love his mother because she loves him and provides him all he needs and even sometimes desires.

But there is one thing that is missing and my sister can’t provide it… the discipline, brawn, and effectiveness of a constant male figure in his like.   As women we pretend like we can do it all and be it all but we can’t take away the fact that children respect and even at times fear their fathers or male figures in their lives in a way that we as women don’t evoke.  Maybe it’s our loving and forgiving nature, our nurturing, or just our physical makeup.  Whatever it may be, I’ve seen boys act up with their mothers and straighten up quickly when their father or another male figure in the picture steps in to check them.

This isn’t the first nephew I’ve seen go through this.  Time and time again I have heard stories from friends, colleagues, and church members, all single mothers, expressing the behavioral difficulties of raising their boys.   The commonality is the reality that these boys’ fathers aren’t active in their lives and there isn’t a male figure who has stepped in to fill the void.  The community of earlier times doesn’t exist to help chip in to make sure boys aren’t in the neighborhood getting into trouble.

Today’s young men need constant structure in order to prepare them for tomorrow’s life challenges.  I see this with my nephew who likes to go to bed late at night and then struggles to get out of bed in the morning for school or other daily events planned.  If discipline is needed, a boy, is more likely to listen to his father whom he won’t even dare consider being disrespectful to or stepping out of line to.  Boys need visuals.  If they have a direct male figure to use as a model of what being a responsible man is, it teaches them in a more effective way than any program could do.

I believe my nephew will be okay because he does have male figures.  He inherited a great uncle and has a great god father in addition to the pool of professional female family members that are helping to structure him and praying for him every day.  My concern is really for the boys out there that don’t have this support.  How to do we reach those?   Do we continue to do all we can to get these fathers back in their sons’ lives, do we continue to tell women to make better choices in men or do we get back to a community mindset?

Whatever should be the plan we have to do it soon because we have a lot of boys stepping out of line and we need the men in our society to pull them back in. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Why Communities Must Encourage Black Fathers to Commit to Marriage
By Rachel Miller-Bradshaw

The Good Men Project
As the country gears up to commemorate fatherhood, this representation will mostly be in a traditional family fashion. Though we are living in a society that acknowledges various family structures, it is still conservative in promoting marriage. The commercials that will be airing will present men not only as fathers but husbands also. For the black community honoring its fathers, we should also praise black husbands that have committed legally, and for many, religiously, to the mothers.

In my household I was privileged to experience the importance of marriage through my parents. When I was 11 years old, my parents divorced and my sisters and I never had the same close relationship with my father. Though proximity played a major role in our distance, I believe my father’s commitment to us changed because his commitment to our mother was gone. It’s simple to say fathers should be committed to their children despite the relationship with the mother, but in reality many fathers don’t handle it that way.

According to the National Fatherhood Initiative, married fathers are more likely than unmarried fathers to parent their children. In my feature documentary On My Own, the mothers expressed their belief that the fathers would be parenting their children if they were married to them. It is notable that marriage still offers higher probability of stability than dating and cohabitation.

The community must band together in our advice and message to encourage our young men to be husbands. Marriage makes fatherhood easier when both the mother and father are parenting in the same house. Black fathers gain from the wealth building that the institution of marriage ensures. This is imperative if we desire to decrease the fatherlessness epidemic.

The greatest commitment black fathers can make to their children is showing their commitment to their wives. It is a beautiful display that lets children know that they are an extension of the union. Moving forward, we have to set the tone that this national appreciation day is just as much about marriage as it is about committed fatherhood. In the Black community this is an effective strategy that will help raise young black boys into great men and fathers.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Why Don't we focus our marriage ideologies on Young Black Men?
By Rachel Miller-Bradshaw
From the time I turned 28 the pressure was on for me to find a husband.  People would ask me if I had a boyfriend, and when I would say yes, they would get on me to get that ring.  When I turned 30 and was still single it was a state of emergency for my family and friends.  Many would tell me “get on it soon while you’re still desirable.”  All of these statements started to get to me and it made bitter, anxious and quite frankly depressed at times.  I come from a Guyanese-West African household where marriage was important, even a dysfunctional one. 

I understood how important the institution of marriage is. I always knew that I wanted to be married. I proclaimed that I would be some man’s wife. I got that marriage is important and productive for family structure and wealth building.
The pressure made me aggressively pursue marriage and I realized that I made “being married” to fit in line with people’s opinions more important than who I was looking for to marry.

But there was another aspect to my situation.  I could not force or pay a man to marry me- well maybe, pay, but why should an attractive, independent, good-natured woman have to do so.  I was holding my breath waiting for my future husband and I was able to exhale 3 years ago when I met my husband, the love of my life, my best friend.   I remember a church member telling me “I was lucky to find a husband”; another told me “I beat the statistic.”  These weren’t personal slights against me but it is just the reality of so many women, professional or not, especially in the African American community.

I often wonder why the focus society places on women to marry are not directed towards men.  Women can’t marry if their male counterparts are not willing.  A man can enjoy his single life well into his late thirties and be viewed as a catch.  The community has to place more emphasis on socializing young boys to desire to be husbands and family men.  Music and television often glorifies a man’s singledom.  It’s perpetuated as being cool.  It is not cool to say I desire to be a “husband.”

As parents we have to raise our boys to prepare for marriage. We have to change our mindset to reflect a gender balanced belief on when individuals should be married if we consensually adopt this as a community.  We have to make them understand that women do have a biological clock and work on a different time schedule.  If we focus on commitment with our boys they won’t fear it.  In our households we have to display happy marriages to leave a good impression on our boys.  If we can do this our boys and girls will be on the same page and women won’t be the only ones answering the dreaded questions about getting married.

Monday, May 5, 2014

ON MY OWN Film Premiere Shows a Passion for Repairing the Black Family
By Rachel Miller-Bradshaw
The Black family in America has become a matriarchal structure, and is doomed to stay that way.  So warns Wikipedia, and while not everything Wikipedia says is true, there is more than a modicum of truth in this declaration.  A large proportion of Black mothers and expectant mothers simply accept as fact that they will raise their children alone.  And many Black fathers have sadly been conditioned to believe they are not needed in the home because Black women are strong enough to raise their families by themselves.

During the past decade it has become increasingly clear within the Black community that many of its problems – everything from crime, to substance abuse, to teen pregnancies – stem from fractured families.  The family is the bedrock upon which every society is built, and our family structures need a lot of shoring up.

The premiere of the highly anticipated documentary ON MY OWN, which took place at ALOFT Harlem on Saturday, April 26, was well-attended, and included film participants, community leaders, media, and special guests.   ON MY OWN opens a refreshing dialogue that helps offset the onslaught of negative discourse about Black families in this country (for example, constant reminders from conservatives about family instability within the African American community). 

The panel discussion that followed the screening was filled with passionate comments and suggested solutions.  It was clear that everyone in attendance deeply cared about the Black family.  Veteran filmmaker Nicole Franklin said, “Rachel has such a sensitive touch with the subject matter.  The film presented multiple sides of this critical issue in a brave new light.  I suspect this film will be referenced for many years to come.”  

ON MY OWN is a sincere effort to get people in the Black community engaged in the fight to put our families back together again.  It underscores that major pro-fatherhood, pro-marriage, and co-parenting movements are ongoing, and need more community support and involvement.  Everyone – from legislators, fatherhood organizations, and black churches, to the general public must get involved and instill healthy family values in young African Americans.  If we all do our part and work diligently to fix our broken families, the positive results will be reflected in our children, our communities, future Census reports and eventually, perhaps even in Wikipedia.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Love and Hip Hop’s Mimi Faust is not the true representative of the black single mother
By Rachel Miller-Bradshaw
Black social media is on fire right now!  The release of +VH1's super trailer has plenty of ratchet (slang word meaning outrageous ghetto behaviour) story lines. But the most disturbing story line is the degrading and unbelievable behaviour of single mother +Mimi Faust, who has gone from an entrepreneur to an adult entertainment star in a matter of months.  In the +VH1 trailer Mimi says while shedding plenty of rehearsed tears, during a +Vivid Entertainment meeting that “she has a daughter.”  Interesting statement since she should have remembered this before she let her current boyfriend Nikko, a struggling rapper, press record on the camera.

Let’s be clear Ms. Faust is a single mother due to her choice in men.  Her child’s father, formerly successful producer,  Stevie J, is most known for his own leaked sex tape with rapper/actor Eve.  Despite his antics Mimi’s been dating him for over 15 years and in this time he has fathered 5 children by several women.  Not to mention during the first season of the show it is revealed that he is sleeping with his artist, Joseline, who later reveals to Mimi that she is pregnant with his baby that she later aborts.  By the end of season 2 Mimi is no longer with Stevie J and hooks back up with Nikko, her ex boyfriend, whom many speculate is an opportunist.  That’s all but proven now.   Ironically, Mimi ridiculed Joseline for her stripper past but she is now married to Stevie J and has never stooped as low as to enter into the porn world.

The one person that loses out in this situation the most is Faust’s five-year old daughter who will soon be taunted about her mother's sex tape by her schoolmates and judged by educators who have the job of teaching her.   Mimi has sent a negative message to her daughter.  Her actions have taught her daughter that she can exploit her body for profit, have men denigrate her, and easy income trumps achieving academic success.  Faust, a woman in her 40s, has also taught her daughter that she is not worthy of marriage.  Faust comes from her own broken family.   Her mother abandoned her when she was 13 years old to dedicate herself to her religion.

Let’s be clear if Faust was married or professionally accomplished she would not be making sex tapes.  This single mother’s behaviour doesn’t help in eradicating negative images of black single mothers.  That’s for sure.  Faust is not the average black single mother.  In the documentary ON MY OWN, premiering the end of April, the three mothers featured struggled to get their college degrees, worked hard, and accomplished material gains the dignified way.  They are the faces of the average black single mother, not women like Mimi Faust, who many corporate media entities keep projecting out to viewers. 

The bottom line is this.  Young girls get their value from their fathers.  
As long as we continue to raise young girls in situations where their fathers are inactive in their lives, there will continue to be women like Mimi Faust with low self-worth.   These young girls grow up, start to date, and choose men that don’t have their best interest at heart.  The end result is more single mothers, who unless they get a parental intervention, continue the cycle by executing Mimi’s Faust mistakes with men in particular, and then the low self worth materializes in the daughters they raise.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Black Women Opting out of early motherhood will help with stabilizing the Black Family

By Rachel Miller-Bradshaw
In the early 90s young black women would rush like it was their duty to birth children in their late teens or early twenties.   Many African American women were socialized to value the mothering role above anything else.  Times have changed and women of other cultures are focusing more on their careers and enjoying their lives.  However for black women the mindset of early motherhood still lingers. 

According to the National Fatherhood Initiative 60% of non marital births are to women in their twenties.  70% of African American women between the ages of 25-29 have never been married.  These two statistics indicates something quite telling, and reveals what could be one major solution to the high percentage of single parent, female-headed households, a rising epidemic in the Black community. If black women could engage in responsible and thoughtful dating, using contraception and practice abstinence till age 30 the number of out of wedlock black births will decrease.

The current economic instability and the many social issues affecting black males in particular, such as high unemployment, mass incarceration, and significant high school dropouts’ rates, have all affected the number of eligible mates available to black women. Most of the black males affected by the aforementioned issues don’t regain their footing until their thirties and forties.  Also men are socialized to believe that their primary role is to provide financially for their families and most will refrain from marrying until they feel they can support a family.  Research also proves that married fathers are more likely than unmarried fathers to parent their children. 

These aforementioned cause and their effects on black males suggests that black women may want to give their black male counterparts time to catch up.  There is also a maturity and psychological element to this discussion that must not be omitted.  Young women in their twenties are still trying to find themselves and figure out who they are and their purpose in life.  This is a journey one must figure out alone before marrying, which could arguably be the most important decision of one’s life.  People in their thirties are more stable emotionally and financially and are more mature in handling interacting with a spouse and children on a daily basis.  Other cultures seem to understand this and don’t subscribe to the “I still want to be young when my children are in their twenties” mentality that really has contributed to the black community’s issues, specifically high non marital births for women in their twenties.

In their 30s African American women are better equipped with a higher likelihood of marriage, financial stability, and youth now coupled with some experience will guarantee higher successes of accomplishing traditional family structures.   It’s a win-win situation. Black women can still continue to value the “mother” role while also valuing the “wife” role, and even the “career woman” role.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Why Marriage is the Ultimate Commitment Partners Can Make to Each Other
By Rachel Miller-Bradshaw

Marriage is more than a piece of paper.  Let me repeat that statement.  Marriage is more than a piece of paper!  Depending on your religious convictions, it is a prerequisite to marry before starting a family.  Putting religious beliefs aside, the institution itself is encouraged in our society through tax incentives, retirement compensation, and benefits.  Spouses or parents are the only ones who can make health and legal decisions for incapacitated people.   An episode of the reality show Love & Hip Hop in which Mendecees Harris’ attorney reminded Yandy Smith that he couldn’t disclose much information about her fiancĂ©e and son’s father because they aren’t yet married, painfully reminded viewers that many benefits are exclusively for married couples.

In the African American community, marriage for various reasons, including negative socialization and economics is not valued as it is in other racial and ethnic groups.  Studies have shown that this has played a major role in the current epidemic of broken black families and the disproportionate amount of single mother homes in the Black community.  Black women must establish early in a relationship that marriage is their goal.  According to the National Fatherhood Initiative, a pro-fatherhood organization, married fathers are more likely than unmarried fathers to remain in the household.  When most men marry their thinking psychologically and morally shifts to a family mindset versus a single man mindset when in happy and healthy marriages.

African Americans have to feel that they are capable of functioning productively in a marriage which begins with a change in the mindset.  African Americans must also stop pointing to the 50% divorce rate and referring to their few experiences with dysfunctional marriages as indicators that theirs is destined for failure.  For black women in particular, these reasons should stop being used as excuses after unsuccessfully attempting to get boyfriends or the fathers of their children to marry them.

Ideally, marriage brings a sense of eternal partnership and belonging.  It makes you feel like you have someone going through this crazy thing called life with you.  The studies show that people are healthier and happier in good marriages.   It’s also the best visual a parent can give their child when teaching family values.  They will learn what they are supposed to do by just seeing their married parents interact.   Let’s encourage marriage in our community and set this standard of expectance and follow through when dating.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Why Fathers Leave

By Rachel Miller-Bradshaw 
There is no acceptable excuse for able-bodied men to shirk the financial responsibilities for children and leave the burden solely on their mothers.  And the label “Deadbeat Dad” is hung justifiably as a badge of shame around the necks of such irresponsible fathers.   It is well established that children are better off psychologically, socially and morally when both parents are present in the home to provide nurture, education and security, and our society promotes the ideal that a family should include a mother and father.  

In the documentary ON MY OWN, scheduled for release in April, former NBA star Allan Houston, founder of the Legacy Foundation, discusses how his father’s teaching gave him “the mental capacity to work, to not quit,” which he says made a big difference in his life.

National statistics on absentee fathers are shocking, but nowhere are the numbers more alarming than in African American communities.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 70% of black children live in a home without a father.  What might be referred to as a “fatherlessness epidemic” has long been raging out of control in these communities.   The problem is overwhelming and widespread, and while analyzing the great migration of these fathers away from their households may be a useful academic exercise, the problem needs a lot more than just research and discussions; well thought-out strategies and workable solutions are mandatory, but sadly they are either in short supply or non-existent.

A New York Times article entitled U.S. Women on the Rise as Family Breadwinner (May 29, 2013) discussed how women with children under the age of 18 are either the sole or primary breadwinners slightly more than 40% of the time.  Men are socialized to derive their sense of self-worth from providing for their families, as opposed to teaching values and giving time to them (the mother’s traditional role).  This is an even greater issue among African Americans, where men face higher levels of unemployment and disenfranchisement due to institutionalized discrimination and criminal convictions. 

ON MY OWN also presents Scott Leach, formerly of the Forestdale Fatherhood Initiative and now the founder of Daddy’s Toolbox, Inc., who reminds fathers that “their worth is not in their wallet.”  Some men choose to remove themselves [from the household] when tensions develop over their inability to contribute financially.  Leach notes that when sole financial responsibility falls on the mother, even though the father is present in the home, it can be “very taxing on a marriage or relationship,” especially in a society that aggressively promotes on-time bill paying and the acquisition of material possessions.

The problem of absent Black fathers is deeply rooted in American history.  African men, forcibly transplanted to these shores, were not socialized here for traditional fathering roles due to a practice by slave owners in which these men were used as “bucks,” reproducing with various women, after which they were removed from the home.  Although this practice is 150 years removed, it is believed still to be a strong factor in the condition of fatherlessness in the Black community.  This long-entrenched behavioral pattern, combined with excessively high unemployment rates, help legitimate family abandonment by Black men.  As an example, in the 1950s and ‘60s, inner-city factory jobs were mostly filled by low-skilled Black male workers.  When these jobs were outsourced, many of these men moved on without their families, and there was a corresponding increase in the number of Black women who became single mothers and applied for welfare benefits.

At a time when greater numbers of women are graduating from college, opening more businesses, and filling workforce vacancies at higher percentages than men  (that is, when woman are encroaching on turf that had once been largely the exclusive domain of men), there has emerged a movement that is trying to help redefine what it means to be a father.  This fatherhood initiative is attempting to boost the morale of fathers, address the way society judges men, and inspire women to encourage men, and to be empathetic to them as they confront this period of role reorganization.   These fatherhood organizations are actively trying to promote this new definition of fatherhood.  

And the government has a role, too.  President Obama’s much publicized “My Brother’s Keeper” program – an effort to help young men of color succeed as long as they are willing to do their part and work hard – has the potential to bring about positive change by helping men who might otherwise abandon their families “reach their full potential, contribute to their communities and build decent lives for themselves and their families.”  All of which are important stepping stones on the path to alleviating the “fatherlessness epidemic” that has become the scourge of the Black family in America.

Friday, February 28, 2014

President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Program has to Focus on Family Values
By Rachel Miller-Bradshaw
 “If we help these young men become better husbands and fathers they will not only become better citizens but pass this on to their children,” said President Obama during his speech yesterday about the newly enacted My Brother’s Keeper program.  This program will concentrate on young men of color, an extremely disenfranchised group in the United States.  Black and Hispanic men’s likelihood to commit crime, drop out of school, and abandon their families is largely attributed to growing up in fatherless homes as well as other oppressive factors.
In President Obama’s speech he referenced his own life growing up.  He spoke about being angry and abusing drugs to numb some of the pain he felt from not having his father present in his life.  Watching the president, an African American man, a member of this same group represent young men of color, really drives this message home.  It now creates an empathy factor among the non-black community that was obviously missing.  What President Obama’s status also represents is the possibility that with governmental intervention and parental responsibility, the majority of young men of color can have bright futures in a society that has clearly oppressed them.
In the documentary ON MY OWN, a young man, who is a member of the Ocean Baptist Church Youth Fellowship talked emotionally about his deep thought about what his life could have been if his father was around.  This displays that the My Brother’s Keeper program must continue to promote fatherhood aggressively.  Young men of color futures depend on it. This program should focus as much on family values as it will on education and jobs.  The program should also focus on educating young men of color on the history of the Black Family in the United States.  It will give them a better understanding of how many of their forefathers were negatively socialized in regards to their position in the nuclear family in the western world.  Maybe they’ll understand and abandon some of the anger they feel everyday wondering why in their community having a father is a rare experience.
The My Brother’s Keeper program should use the 200 million funding on more of a grassroots level.  This effort needs a street level approach to reach young men that are not in the educational system.   There are many young men that have already fallen through the cracks and can’t be enumerated. President Obama also rightfully stated, “that government cannot play the only role or even the primary role.”  The community must also step in and uplift these at risk youths.  This program is another great step in the movement to repair the family structure.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Co-Parenting: The Best Solution for Single Mothers
By Rachel Miller-Bradshaw
Marriages dissolve and relationships end.  Though the goal and message should always promote life- long partnerships, the reality is sometimes relationships don’t last. When there are children involved mothers and fathers must find a productive and respectful strategy to continue raising their children.  In most cases, children continue living with their mothers whether by consensual agreement from the parents or court ordered.  To ensure that children of these circumstances are raised morally, economically, and psychologically sound, their fathers must remain in their lives.
During the Bronx Fathers Taking Action Forum, in New York City, featured in the documentary ON MY OWN, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. posed a question.  He asked “why do fathers feel like they can’t be in a child’s life if they are no longer married or in a relationship with the child’s mother?”  He then ended by saying, “a father should be in a child’s life whether or not he’s in a marriage with the child’s mother.”  This has to be the mindset of fathers and mothers.
Most of society agrees that mothers should raise their children alongside the fathers. Research included in the 2011 National Fatherhood Initiative highlighted that 69% of Americans believe more single women having children without a male partner is bad for society.  The overwhelming opinion most likely derives from the drastically higher percentage of children raised in single parent,  mostly female-headed homes, compared to two-parent homes, likelihood to commit crimes and drop out of school.   Not to mention single mothers are more likely to fall into poverty.
Conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation provide a one solution cure all for single mothers which is marriage.   This solution doesn’t address if the parents are divorcing or ended relationships that never resulted in marriage.  Though marriage is a great solution for single mothers, co parenting with their children’s father(s) is a more realistic approach.  A great approach is for single mothers, at all times, to encourage their children’s father to be active in their lives.
In order to accomplish healthy co-parenting single mothers and fathers must continue to maintain respect and open communication with each other.  Issues that plagued the marriage/relationship shouldn’t prevent parents from jointly raising the child.   The objective must always be what’s best for the children.  Once that is established, the intrinsic details about visitation, child support, education, and faith based dynamics can take place successfully.   The end result is for children to have all the necessities and even luxuries at times, to grow up loved, complete, and well taken care of.  This will result in significant decreases in single motherhood.