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  • Fathers disappear from households across America

     

    Big increase in single mothers.

    Nicole Hawkins‘ three daughters have matching glittery boots, but none has the same father. Each has uniquely colored ties in her hair, but none has a dad present in her life.

    As another single mother on Sumner Road decked her row-house stoop with Christmas lights and a plastic Santa, Ms. Hawkins recalled that her middle child’s father has never spent a holiday or birthday with her. In her neighborhood in Southeast Washington, 1 in 10 children live with both parents, and 84 percent live with only their mother

    In every state, the portion of families where children have two parents, rather than one, has dropped significantly over the past decade. Even as the country added 160,000 families with children, the number of two-parent households decreased by 1.2 million. Fifteen million U.S. children, or 1 in 3, live without a father, and nearly 5 million live without a mother. In 1960, just 11 percent of American children lived in homes without fathers.

    America is awash in poverty, crime, drugs and other problems, but more than perhaps anything else, it all comes down to this, said Vincent DiCaro, vice president of the National Fatherhood Initiative: Deal with absent fathers, and the rest follows.

    People “look at a child in need, in poverty or failing in school, and ask, ‘What can we do to help?’ But what we do is ask, ‘Why does that child need help in the first place?’ And the answer is often it’s because [the child lacks] a responsible and involved father,” he said.

    Dangerous spiral

    The spiral continues each year. Married couples with children have an average income of $80,000, compared with $24,000 for single mothers.

    “We have one class that thinks marriage and fatherhood is important, and another which doesn’t, and it’s causing that gap, income inequality, to get wider,” Mr. DiCaro said.

    The predilection among men to walk away from their babies is concentrated in the inner cities. In Baltimore, 38 percent of families have two parents, and in St. Louis the portion is 40 percent.

    The near-total absence of male role models has ripped a hole the size of half the population in urban areas.

    Tiny selfless deeds trickle in to fill that hole as the natural human desire for intimacy is fulfilled: One afternoon last week as a girl hoisted a half-eaten ice cream sandwich high over her pigtailed head, Larry McManus, the father of the girl’s sister, bent down to eat out of her hands as he picked up the girls from school.

    “I know dads that say they ain’t their kids. I see dads being disrespectful of the mothers. And I see ones who take other men’s kids to football games because they know their fathers aren’t around,” said Mr. McManus, an ex-felon who said he is “trying to make a lot of changes right now.”

    Asked his daughter’s age, he consults with her sister.

    “Five. She’s in pre-K,” the girl answered.

    “She’s 5,” he echoed. “Mmm, that was good,” he said gently of the ice cream sandwich. “Can I have another bite, please?” 

    Racial divide

    Though income is the primary predictor, the lack of live-in fathers also is overwhelmingly a black problem, regardless of poverty status, census data show. Among blacks, nearly 5 million children, or 54 percent, live with only their mother. Twelve percent of black families below the poverty line have two parents present, compared with 41 percent of impoverished Hispanic families and 32 percent of poor white families.

    The schism is most apparent in the District, which has a higher portion of two-parent families among whites, at 85 percent, and a lower share among blacks, at 25 percent, than any state.

    In all but 11 states, most black children do not live with both parents. In every state, 7 in 10 white children do. In all states but Rhode Island and Massachusetts, most Hispanic children do. In Wisconsin, 77 percent of white children and 61 percent of Hispanics live with both parents, compared with more than 25 percent of black children.

    “Something has to be done about it, and it starts with the culture and reversing the attitude that marriage is not important. The president has a role to play in that. He’s a married African-American father who can probably make a huge difference with words alone,” Mr. DiCaro said.

    But the move toward single-parent homes has included every race, and from Curtis Bay in Baltimore to Millcreek outside Salt Lake City to Vancouver, Wash., just north of Portland, there are 1,500 neighborhoods with substantial white populations where most white households lack fathers. Maine, Vermont and West Virginia have the lowest dual-parenthood rates for whites. 

    Southern Cross

    The decline has hit disproportionately in the South, which considers itself a bastion of traditional family values.

    Even in places where the percentage of the black population declined, single parenthood increased over the past decade, The Washington Times’ analysis of census data shows. In South Carolina, where the black share of the population fell by 2 percent, single parenthood rose by 5 percent. In Kentucky and Louisiana, where the black population was constant, single parenthood increased 6 percentage points.

    “In places you’d think values are at least talked about, they are not lived out necessarily. Education and income seem to trump them. The people who might not be preaching family values, like coastal upper-class communities, those are the people who are waiting to get married,” Mr. DiCaro said.

    The largest geographic area of sustained fatherless ness contains the rural, largely black poor across Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana, tributaries of broken homes running 400 miles along the Mississippi River from Memphis, Tenn., where in some neighborhoods 82 percent of children live with their mothers alone, to Baton Rouge, La., in parts of which less than one-fifth of children have both parents at home.

    Black families differ from other racial groups in that the average black single mother has more children, not fewer, than her counterpart with a father present. Hispanic single mothers were most often dealing with the most mouths to feed but still had fewer children than their married counterparts. 

    To have and to hold

    Mr. DiCaro points to a desire among the poor to produce something.

    “When you have very little going for you in your life, having children can give purpose to it. If you’re married, you’re going to be much more cautious. There’s health care costs and our jobs, whereas if we were both just kind of doing whatever, then why not just have another kid?”

    Mr. McManus is quick to blame the absence of fathers to deaths or incarcerations, though women point out that many absent fathers live around the corner. Mr. McManus attributes that to the young age of many parents who are not ready to be “tied down.” He said women who need help with their children will seek the companionship of other men who they think can be father figures.

    Ms. Hawkins, the mother of three, lives with her youngest child’s father but considers herself a single parent.

    “When he’s home, he’s watching TV; it’s his time. I get no help. Financially, he’s been a good provider,” she said, even for the children who aren’t his. But “as far as being involved in activities, not so much.”

    Her relationship with her eldest child’s father ended over his refusal to support their offspring, and her second child’s father is in prison.

    “My oldest was raised by both parents, so it’s just selfish,” she said, but “my middle one, he wasn’t raised by either parent, so he doesn’t know how.”

    “We need more fatherhood initiatives,” she said, pointing to government- and nonprofit-funded programs at churches, prisons and community centers, such as those offered by Mr. DiCaro’s group, “so they can see what they’re missing.”

    Just then, her daughter Nadya picked up a tree branch and strummed it like a guitar, jumping up and down, all smiles. Ms. Hawkins reconsidered her thoughts on government programs.

    “Though to me, that’s the initiative right there,” she said. “You can talk till you’re blue in the face about how to do it; but ultimately, you just have to do it.”

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  • Child Support: Enslaving Black Men

    Last week, on my facebook page, A Sister asked me if I am “for” or “against” child support. I posted a picture, of a Black woman holding a wheelbarrow full of money, and the words above the picture said “Child Support, Way Better Than A Dad”, then I proceeded to answer the question. What I am “for” is choosing wisely when deciding to reproduce and deciding who will reproduce you. What I am “for” is adults being mature if the relationship ends so that the child won’t suffer, become molded in the bitterness of its mother, and caught in an emotional tug of war. What I am “against” is women hustling their wombs SPECIFICALLY for the sole purpose of collecting a child support check. What I am “against” is child support being limited or perceived as just financial assistance. Child support means to support your child mentally, emotionally, spiritually, being there for events, listening to them, encouraging them, showing them love and teaching them lessons so they won’t have to learn lessons in the streets.

    What I am “against” is Black Men not even given a chance to WILLINGLY give, contribute and add to the life of their child or children, before the Mother of his child (or children) runs down to the overseer to handcuff him with a child support order. I am “against” Brothers being violated in such a system that  was designed to destroy the Black Family and children being treated as assets and property of the Mother, with no regard to the Father.

    What I am “against” is the Bitter Mama Syndrome. Bitter because the relationship ended, the child’s first words are probably my daddy ain’t shyt because that’s what he hears all the time. I am “against” Mothers turning the hearts of the children AWAY from the father, because HER heart didn’t get what it wanted.

    I also understand that bitterness is NOT limited to JUST women, that men can become scorned and vengeful, and attempt to drag mothers through court as a means to be vindictive.

    I understand that not all women seek child support and maintain to the best of their ability. I understand that if you are on state assistance, the state will go after the father, and does not need your permission to do so. I understand that there are some women that are understanding of the financial climate for Black Men, and while that does not excuse a father from his obligation, the mother still helps facilitate a healthy relationship between the father and the child. I also understand that there are men that are not fulfilling their duty, but the Men that ARE, rarely get any airplay.

    What I am EMPHATICALLY against is the message in that picture. Some of us are of the warped mind frame that a child support is better than a father and that ALL a child needs is a check. I have posted a youtube video several times of a young lady rapping about how she is going to collect a child support check while rubbing her pregnant belly. I have spoken to young teenage Sisters with the career goal of being a Baby Mama, with a child support check as part of the benefit package. In short, if a judge wasn’t need while the seed was planted, then a judge isn’t needed to cultivate the seed.
    I see both sides of the coin.   I get it. A child needs to eat, be clothed and sheltered regardless; again does that absolve the father of his duty including finances? No. However in this financial climate, where the unemployment rate of Black Men is at an all-time high, and if the father has the desire, the will, and the sincere intentions to take care of his child but isn’t able to at the moment, could not his time be just as valuable? I would think that his time would be more valuable than the money.

    Let’s be honest here.  A single mother with children will always have more options than a single man. When I was single mother of two at the time, I was a recipient  of state assistance until I was able to get on my feet. I received food stamps and a childcare voucher, while I looked for work, until I was able to find a job. I have also worked for the State as a Food Stamp Worker, an Intake Specialist and a Children’s Medicaid Technician in two states, and while both had programs that would assist in job training or resume building for both genders, majority of the programs were geared towards Single Women. Even in public housing, in some cases a man couldn’t be in the home, and if he did, he couldn’t make over a certain income, combined with the Mother’s income or they wouldn’t qualify, so that was another way to lessen his role as “man of the house.”

    Again there are so many options for Single Mothers, but for a Single Man there are limited options. He will hear BE A MAN ABOUT IT! As if he is attempting to be anything else. Sometimes as women, I think that we have become desensitized to the pain and struggles that our Brothers go through. Now with MOST men, do you think they WANT to be shiftless? Do you think that not being able to provide for their family REALLY makes them feel good? Do you think that for most MEN being labeled as a dead beat dad is something they proudly wear like a badge of honor? I mean, let’s step out of our stilettos, and try to slide our feet into his shoes. 

    When a Black Man enters the world he has a bull eye on his back. Not only does he fight to against our common enemy, he has to also fight against his counterpart; i.e. The Black Woman.  I am not going to say that Black Men don’t have issues within themselves that effect our community, but with the Black Woman, it seems that we can’t even ADMIT that WE HAVE ISSUES as well, and that we have also contributed to the breakdown of the Black Family, and our most CONSISTENT, most EFFECT and MOST destructive contribution is what we first produce in our mental wombs, followed by what we produced in our physical wombs. 

    I normally don’t knock anyone’s hustle but this Child Support Hustle has GOT to end. To every woman that reads this article that comments or says to herself “Not everyone woman hustles her womb for child support payments, “you are correct. Now let’s take that same thinking and apply it towards Black Men. Not every Black Man negates his responsibilities. Not every Black Man leaves his seed to grow wild and uncultivated on its own. I am often asked why don’t  I  write about fatherless homes, or the faults and flaws of Black Men more often, and my response is the same: there are PLENTY of sites that tell a Black Men everything he ISN’T, I prefer to tell him everything he IS.

    To portray Black Men in a positive light would be too much like right to the masses, as the overall agenda is to make him appear trifling, doggish, immature and lazy, in other words an undesirable BEAST.  With all the controversy surrounding Basketball wives and shows of that nature, that portray Black Women a certain way, even though it does represent a spectrum of reality, why don’t we as women get up in arms when BLACK MEN are portrayed a certain way? You know why?

    Because we are STILL suffering from not only SELF-HATRED, but also HATRED of one another, and that’s why the womb has become  the most dangerous place for a black child to be, because in the womb is where he or she is taught to HATE their father. It is also in our wombs, were Black Men initially become prisoners of the Child Support Enforcement Agency. How many more children have to suffer? How many times are we going to go before a judge to instruct US on how to take care of a child that WE created? We love our slave master that much that we can’t make a move without him? When will we get tired of depending on a system that NEVER has and NEVER will have the best interest of the BLACK Family in mind?
     
    It’s time for a MUCH needed family reunion between the Black Man, the Black Woman, and Black children; we have been estranged long enough.

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