Barack Obama Talks About What Fatherhood Really Means
My own father died when I was 7. Despite my parents divorce, I still remember those weekends he came to take me with him. Even as a young child, I felt a sence of strength and security when I was with him. He was always a heavy drinker. My mother would repeatedly warn him, that if she smelled alcohol or thought he had been drinking, she would not let me go with him. So I pleaded with him not to drink. He worked in the post office by day and went to drafting school at night ,hoping to get a better job. But one day alcohol got the better of him and he drowned. Despite being a good swimmer, after jumping off a manhattan tour boat , he could not fight the currents. 3 days later they found his body.
When my mother told me what had happened, I was devasted. As I got older, my devastation turned into anger. I was angry that he did not have the strength to fight his addiction. But I had friends and neighbors who had strong Black fathers who were truck drivers, garbage, police men. I saw them getting up every day going to work and coming back home to be with their families. As the years passed, my anger at my father's alcohol weakness turned into a determination that I was going to be the father I didn't have. In my 20's I found out from relatives that my father's father was not around when he and my uncle were growing up.
This leads me to say that real Fatherhood is learned. Despite the unique obstacles and challenges we face as Black men in a society that underestimates and does not expect much from us, we must expect and demand more from ourselves. Our children do need our financial support. But what they want most of all is our time and attention. When I talk with my teenagers now, what they remember most are our trips to the zoo and the museum. Our Sunday morning big breakfast and our long walks and talks. My holding up their bikes, as they learned how to ride. Fatherhood is about a committment of time and attention that will be pasted on to the next generation of Black fathers. I came across this interesting article about fatherhood and our daughters:
Black Leaders Empasize The Importantance Of
Father Daughter Bond