Health & Fitness

Navigating Fatherhood as a Black Man

This 12 months Father’s Day will fall on June 19, or Juneteenth, a federal vacation commemorating the emancipation of enslaved Black individuals in the US after the Civil Conflict. And for Michael D. Hannon, an affiliate professor of counseling at Montclair State College in Montclair, N.J., that’s “an superior coincidence.”

“We are able to have a good time Black fathers who’re doing their finest to guard, present and put together their households for fulfillment, whereas additionally acknowledging the spirit and the resilience and the pursuit of freedom amongst Black individuals on this nation,” he mentioned.

Dr. Hannon, the self-described father of “two dope Black youngsters” — an 18-year-old son and a 19-year-old daughter — has been counseling Black fathers for the final 10 years. And because the editor of the brand new e-book “Black Fathering and Psychological Well being,” he now seeks to raise the voices of Black fathers — and aspiring ones, too — who additionally occur to be psychological well being counselors. By way of a collection of essays, every author gives distinctive views on the wants, challenges and victories of Black fathering in an “anti-Black world.”

The e-book can function a useful resource for different counselors to assist them present culturally affirming and related assist to Black fathers, however the private tales within the assortment are additionally meant for a basic viewers, who might establish with most of the joys and difficulties introduced inside.

“It shouldn’t be this tough, am I proper?” requested one of many essayists, S. Kent Butler, a professor of counselor training and faculty psychology on the College of Central Florida. “No, I’m not proper. On the subject of our Blackness, little or no is simple about self-acceptance and others’ acceptance. So, the place does the power and resilience come from? What makes all of it proper? I imagine it’s my tribe.”

Questions and solutions have been edited and condensed for readability.

What impressed you to create this e-book? And why now?

A lot of the analysis I do is about Black fathers. So this has, fairly frankly, been a very long time coming. I actually wished to do at the least three issues.

The primary was to amplify the voices of Black fathers. Interval.

Second, I wished for different individuals to have the ability to learn and listen to these voices in ways in which perhaps they hadn’t earlier than.

After which third, all the individuals who wrote chapters on this e-book are psychological well being professionals. I requested them to reply some very particular questions: What may be helpful for psychological well being professionals who’re treating or serving Black father purchasers? What influenced their fathering follow? Did they search counseling assist if and once they confronted challenges and obstacles? And in the event that they did, what did they study? And in the event that they didn’t, what stopped them?

One of many essayists, Linwood G. Vereen, an affiliate professor of counseling training at Shippensburg College in Pennsylvania who has fathered 5 biracial youngsters, wrote: “What I’ve discovered in my journey via counseling is that my wants are legitimate. I’ve discovered that it’s OK to launch the unrealistic expectations of others that harm my soul, and that my Black life issues. I’ve discovered that as a lot as my youngsters have to see success in life, they need to additionally study humility via seeing their father present humility.”

Inform me extra about why it was notably vital so that you can characteristic the voices of Black fathers.

It’s very simple to devour content material about Black males that focuses on a number of the challenges which were systemically positioned earlier than us.

You already know the stereotype of the absentee Black father, or the overrepresentation of Black males who’re incarcerated. However there’s a way more nuanced, wealthy and sophisticated set of experiences that Black males have. There’s a lot to know and perceive and respect about who Black males are within the context of their communities and the way they serve their organic youngsters, and their fictive kin — or the youngsters for whom they’re “play uncles” and “play cousins.”

And that’s vital as a result of we’re all topic to stereotyping and having prejudiced viewpoints, and nobody deserves that. Issues like going to the pediatrician along with your little one and the medical professionals telling you that they’re stunned to see you. Or going to a different specialist appointment, perhaps along with your accomplice, and the medical skilled or the specialist not even addressing any inquiries to you. Custody instances can transpire within the court docket methods, as nicely, which will place Black fathers to not have the ability to be as engaged as they could wish to be.

Are there gems of knowledge from the e-book which may be useful to Black fathers?

We’re socialized to be protectors of our households, protectors of our companions; to offer for our youngsters and households; and put together them for fulfillment. And that’s lots of stress. And lots of occasions that means has been influenced by any individual’s socioeconomic profile. What we all know now’s that fathers, and Black fathers in particular, are contributing in methods a lot broader than monetary provision, and discovering methods to emotionally present for his or her youngsters. I can’t overstate how vital these issues are.

“My youngsters are the poster examples of robust, sleek, resilient, fearless and highly effective, and most days they use their company in an unapologetic method,” Dr. Vereen wrote. “My best hope as their father is that they are going to at all times do that.”

How can Black fathers defend their psychological well being?

It’s not simple. What I’d remind all Black fathers, and folks generally, is that we’ve got to seek out individuals and areas that permit us to be as clear as doable. Now we have to seek out neighborhood.

For me, personally, my skilled community — whether or not they’re counselors or my fraternity brothers — there are teams of males to whom I can go and be as brutally sincere and as susceptible as I must be. It permits me to share all the victories and the issues that I wish to have a good time — and it permits me additionally to share essentially the most difficult, essentially the most susceptible components of my experiences, hopefully with out worry of judgment.

For those who simply hit a wall, and you may’t get previous or over the wall, perhaps it will be useful to speak to an expert counselor to assist set a objective and attain that objective, since you haven’t been capable of do it in any other case.

“I’ve undoubtedly sought counseling when wanted and typically not sought it once I wanted it,” Dr. Butler, the College of Central Florida professor, wrote in his essay.

“I did search household counseling providers to assist me assist my stepson, which was tremendously helpful for us as a household and for me as a father determine to him,” he mentioned. “I used to be reminded that I didn’t have all the solutions, nor ought to I count on to have all of them.”

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