Teen fatherhood provided focus

The term “father” is more than a title. It is a responsibility, a moral obligation that extends beyond the ideals of paternal support. Public debates over what constitutes a responsible, wholesome father have been dominated by misguided logic that a father’s sole duty as a parent is primarily financial one. Current research debunks this myth, specifically within the black community.

Recent studies highlight strong father-child involvement within the black community, regardless of the parents’ relationship status. These informative findings help to challenge many general views embodied by the American people claiming that black fathers are simply “deadbeats.” Despite unfortunate economic and social circumstances, black fathers are committed to the day-to-day role of parenting.

I admit I share a personal and professional attachment to this subject. At the age of 16, I was blessed with the birth of my daughter, A’mari Jha’ale Boyd, my only child to date. I say blessed because I believe her birth provided me with the focus, drive and determination that was lacking during my adolescent years. I have taken a great deal of pride in knowing I was responsible for someone else’s life.

There were naysayers who quickly placed me in the category of “deadbeat father” before giving me an opportunity to prove otherwise. Many people believed I would fail miserably as a parent due to my age.

Overcoming the obstacles of being a young father was a constant concern of mine during my high school and undergraduate careers. Nevertheless, I managed to navigate through parenthood by refusing to provide only the financial necessities. My parental techniques have always been grounded in the belief that children benefit more from socio-emotional support than financial resources. It’s become more concrete in my latter years.

I am now 25 and feel more confident than ever in my ability as a father. Though temporarily removed from the physical day-to-day pleasures of parenting due to my Ph.D. program, my presence is still felt in my daughter’s life. I video chat with her several times per week via FaceTime to help with homework, provide guidance and nurture her ambitions as she blossoms into an outstanding young lady. With encouragement, reassurance, support, nurturing and love, my daughter will become a productive adult.

I strongly believe a father who can say he has raised his child or children to think independently and rationally — regardless of the situation — deserves to call himself a great parent. Hopefully, when my daughter comes of age, I will be privileged enough to consider myself a great parent.

Clinton Boyd, a Chicago native, is a doctoral student specializing in race and urban studies at Georgia State University.

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