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.