Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Importance of Black Fathers in Parenting Black Girls

The importance of a father in a child's life cannot be overstated. Mothers and their influence in nurturing goes unquestioned but what significance do fathers play? Fatherhood is something that must be done rather than just thought about. And there is always something to do: PTA meetings, taking my son to practice, helping my daughter and son learn to read and cook, ironing clothes, and listening. Being a father has to be more than introducing a sperm cell to a precious ovum and seeing one’s child on occasion.

Responsible fathering is paramount for both girls and boys and the differences in raising them is important as well. It's easy to discern the difference between a woman who was raised with a father in her life versus a woman who had no such influence. As a father of a young girl, my son and I joke about how she will make a fine wife because she watches football, and she will not accept some thug for a man, because she will expect more and know what a man is supposed to be because her father and brother have active roles in her life.

A girl who never sees that dynamic will not know what a real man is, and will not know what qualities she should expect. As a result, she won't know how to treat a man and sustain a meaningful relationship with one. It may be my own conjecture, but if a man's duty is to provide, shelter and protect his family, and he does, then a woman who doesn't know that he is a strong mate will not know how to reward his actions, and may even complain or take him for granted. Or worse, she may end up with a man that regularly beats and disrespects her.

A girl who is raised seeing loving and caring interaction between her parents will learn how mates reward each other and take care of each others needs. From a woman, they should learn how to treat a man and keep them happy. However, I feel that girls raised in households with just a mother may not learn these lessons (just as boys without fathers). With that, they will add to a more dysfunctional society by not knowing what defines a man, how to select a man, or even how to keep a man. Such people will be never satisfied with anything they see in their mate because they will not know what qualities merit respect, value and appreciation. I don't desire for my daughter to grow up like many of the young girls who think their value is in their appearance instead of their mind. –torrance stephens, ph.d.

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