BLACK FATHERS MATTER
3 Keys for Black Fathers
Written by: Gabriel Yung Semaj Dunham
A black man should always provide for his children. When talking about provision I'm talking about for 3 essential things. Food, Clothing and Shelter.
I realize for a black man in our society today that this may feel like the hardest of the 3 keys to accomplish and maintain. Right here, I could bring up stats about the unemployment rate of Black Men and compile many other statistics supporting that statement. Part of the blame is on the individual but most of the responsibility for the economic state of the Black man lies on the shoulders of America's system of White Supremacy. But I want to tell you that you can do it, you can be the provider your kids need!
Even if you are unemployed you can still find creative ways to make money and provide for your children! I remember when my first daughter Jessica was about to be born. I quit the job I was working to relocate and be closer to my child. This meant for the time being, I did not have a steady income!
I was younger then and I really didn't know what I was going to do to provide consistently. Nevertheless, what I did know is that I had a few music gigs lined up in the upcoming weeks. So I did the smart thing and I used a major chunk of the money I made to purchase essentials for a newborn. I bulked up on about 3 months worth of stuff.
In the end, I was able to get a job in much sooner time than I realized. But the fact that I had utilized the finances I had to support my child gave me the peace I needed to remain level-headed throughout the strenuous job search process.
What can we learn from this?
A. No Job= No excuse
As Black Fathers we can not buy into the lie that a job (in its traditional sense) is the only way to make money from our children. We need to have the attitude that by any means necessary we will be the provider our kids so desperately need. I would love to see black fathers start to pursue entrepreneurship more.
B. Work Odd Jobs if needed
I believe that The Black Man possess the most creative mind on the planet. You have to be creative in a world where the odds are stacked against you. Did you know that the average income of a Black household is approx 50% less than a White household? I honestly believe that a big reason for this is that Black Fathers and men don't pursue the avenue of owning their own business! Going to work for someone else is just more comfortable for us because of what we have to face on a daily basis. But my prayer is that we will not cave in to the pressures of life.
I urge Black Fathers to think outside the box. Even if you have a job already you should still be finding other streams of income to help support your child and/or family! One reason I say this is because not even your "job" is a guaranteed pay check, you never know when you could come in and get handed a pink slip. Or receive notice that the company you work for is going out of business. That's why I'm all for thinking out of the box and working odd jobs. A lot of time working odd jobs is what leads to proof of concept and ultimately a thriving business!
C. Preparation leads to Peace
Just as I told you in my story earlier when my first daughter was born. There was peace I had because I was able to take some of the income from the concerts I was doing. Which allowed me to purchase the essential things that were needed, in preparation for the arrival of my little princess.
In efforts to shorten my story previously I left out one important factor that help me to prepare for my child. I had a great support system! Honestly the pride in me wanted me to be like " I'm her Father so I'm paying for everything!" But I had to realize that I had to allow my love ones to express there excitement for a new member of the family as well.
The point there is to realize that Black families are going to stick together! I'm not telling you to ask for handouts or beg anyone for anything! But what I am saying is that your friends and love ones deserve the right to show their appreciation for new life and their support for you! So as a Black Father who wants to ensure his children are provided for, you should leverage that!
Don't wait on the mother of your child to do a Baby Registry! Go and do it yourself and do it early! Your cousins, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles etc are going to so excited to buy gifts. Tell them what you really need! Help them, help you and not throw away good money by getting gifts or stuff you already have! That's just being a good responsible Black Father!
A Black Father must protect his children. Statically when it comes to Fathers we are the most absent from the home! But even if you are not in a position to have full custody of your children you definitely should be seeking some type of custody or visitation arrangements.
And when your child is in your home your job is to make them feel like not even King Kong himself can't harm them! Be sure to ask your children's mother questions about how they plan to protect your children when they are in her care if you are not living with her.
A good friend of mine once told me of a time when he and his family were living with his parents. They were in the process of finding a home of their own. When one day at a family gathering his son came to him and explained that my friend's father (the grandfather) had just referred to the little boy as stupid!
This friend of mine did the right thing and addressed his Dad with his son standing right there! He said that things didn't turn out so well but what he did for his child was amazing!
What can we learn from this?
A. Stand Up at any cost
My friend protected his sons identify even if it meant that he and his family my be homeless! I think that it was more important for my friend's son to see his father stand up for him than it was for them to continue to live there. Somethings are just too valuable and its your job to protect your children's identity and emotions as well as physically keep them out of harms way.
B. You are the solution
My friend son didn't hesitate to go directly to what he felt like was the solution to his situation. His Father! As Black Fathers we have to understand that our children look to us to be that strong and protective figure in their lives. My daughters look to their Mother for things like how to carry themselves but when it comes to Dad they require my security.
C. When the time comes, TAKE ACTION!
My 5 year old daughter is Madison. We call her Maddie. She is our fearless one! I can remember a time when she was a baby. Like always she was dashing across our apartment but this one day we had a candle burning. Chasing her big sister she ran right into the table it was on and it tipped over. Maddie was right beside me but it all happened so fast! All I could do was snatch her out of the walker as quickly as possible! So that's exactly what I did.
I was fast enough to save her from getting burned but some of the wax from the candle hit her right on her face! She was crying and of course we were frantic! I think my wife (at the time) went in shock because she just held Maddie and begin to cry as well!
But as a Black Father and her protector I could allow the situation to cripple me! My daughters well-being was at stake! So as soon as I saw the wax on her quickly took action and put a wet cloth to Maddie's face!
Next, We took Madison to the ER to make sure everything was alright. She had a few spots on her face where the wax hit her that look to be burned. The Doctor told us she was ok and it was minor and would heal rather quickly.
We were extremely grateful to God that things didn't turn out worse. As parents my kid's mom and I were both obviously disappointed in ourselves because we both realized the magnitude of the situation and how things really could have turned out! On the ride home from the ER still feeling like a crappy parent I started to say bad things about myself.
Then out of nowhere my kids mother compliments me! Telling me how my quick reaction to the situation saved Maddie from being burned and how my positive attitude about the outcome made her feel more relaxed in the midst of all the chaos. She said she froze up and didn't know what to do but thankfully I was there and I took action!
A Black Father should always Prophesy to his children. It is the most important of the 3 Keys. Because we are imperfect and were raised by imperfect people, we will at times undoubtedly fail at this. But we must be sure to make it a priority to guard our tongue and be careful what we say to our children.
As a Black Father in your home you are the prophet. A prophet is someone who utters divinely inspired revelations! In other words your job as the prophet of your family is to authoritatively speak into the lives of your children. The Black Father must reach inside his children and bring out the greatness in them by revealing to them who they are!
I make the claim that prophesying to your children is the most important key because I realize that nothing is more important to a child than the approval of their Father. My children often take for granted the provision and protection I have provided for them. But I've never seen them take one ofour talks lightly.
A. Blame it on my Mom!
Blame it on my Mom! She did a great thing for me. Before she left for work she would always come into my room, lay her hand on my forehead and speak many great blessings over me!
I say blame it on my Mom because the choice she made to take the time and encourage me daily is what put the drive in me to be so ambitious. By speaking into my life, my Mom gave me the confidence that is required to accomplish greatness, she allowed me to see myself for more than what my circumstances were!
B. Your children hear you!
Just recently my daughters were involved in a Vacation Bible School program at the church. I had to work all that week so I was not able to see my girls as they participated in their class. But that Sunday I was scheduled to speak at the same church. I gave my message about Fathers.
I also got to talk with the teachers from the Vacation Bible School! The teacher told me of a time during class when my oldest daughter was called upon to do a task. My daughter stated that she could not do what was asked. The teacher informed me that she told my daughter to never say you "can't do something". My daughters reply was " Oh yeah, my Dad tells me that all the time!"
That was a proud moment for me as Black Father. It proved to me that when you consistently instill things in your children they are going to remember it! The things you place in them will be the things that make or break them in this world! You are dealing with a delicate thing when it comes to a child and their identity.
C. See the good, Say the good
So as a Father remember that your children are fragile and they need more positive reinforcement than negative reinforcement. Remember that the most important thing you can give them is love! Give your children love that is followed up by the action of believing in them! We must invest time in building them up and helping to shape their identity and character instead of criticizing their every mistake. We need to see the good in them and be sure we SAY IT it when we do!