Fatherhood navigates like a black man

This year, Father’s Day will be celebrated on June 19, or June, a federal holiday that celebrates the emancipation of black slaves in the United States after the Civil War. And for Michael D. Hannon, an associate professor of counseling at Montclair State University in Montclair, NJ, this is “a tremendous coincidence.”

“We can celebrate black fathers who are doing everything they can to protect, supply and prepare their families for success, while also recognizing the black spirit and resilience and freedom of blacks in this country,” he said.

Dr. Hannon, who describes himself as the father of “two doping black children” – an 18-year-old son and a 19-year-old daughter – has been advising black fathers for the past 10 years. And as the editor of the new book “Black Fathering and Mental Health,” she now wants to raise the voice of black fathers — and those who want to, as well as mental health counselors. Through a series of essays, each writer offers a unique insight into the needs, challenges, and victories of the black father in the “anti-black world”.

The book can serve as a resource for other advisors to help black fathers culturally affirm and provide important support, but the personal stories in the collection are also aimed at the general public, which is identified with the many joys and difficulties presented. .

“It shouldn’t be that hard, should it?” asked one of the essayists, S. Kent Butler, a professor of education and school psychology at the University of Central Florida. “No, I’m not right. As for our Blackness, it is very easy to accept oneself and others. So where does strength and resilience come from? What does he do well? I think it’s my tribe. ‘

Questions and answers have been edited and summarized for clarity.

What inspired you to create this book? And why now?

Much of the research I do is about black fathers. So this has actually been a long time coming. I wanted to do at least three things.

The first was to increase the voices of Black Fathers. time

Secondly, I wanted other people to be able to read and hear these voices in a way they might not have before.

And third, all the people who have written the chapters in this book are mental health professionals. I was asked to answer some very specific questions: What can be useful for mental health professionals who are caring for or serving Black Dad clients? What influenced their fatherhood practice? Did they seek advice if they faced challenges and obstacles and when? And if they did, what did they learn? And if they didn’t, what would stop them?

One of the essayists, Linwood G. Vereen, an associate professor of counseling at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, who had five children, wrote: “What I have learned in my counseling journey is that my needs are valid. I’ve learned that it’s okay to release the unrealistic hopes of others that hurt my soul, and that my black life matters. I have learned that just as my children need to see success in life, they must also learn humility when their father shows humility. ”

Tell me more about why it was especially important for you to have Black Father’s voice appear to you.

It’s easy to consume content about black men who focus on the challenges that have been systematically put to us.

You know the stereotype of the absent black father, or the over-representation of black men in prison. But there is a much more nuanced, rich, and complex set of experiences that black men have. There is much to know, understand, and value about who black men are in the context of their communities and how they serve their biological children, and their fictional relatives, or children who are “uncles” and “cousins”.

And that’s important because we’re all subject to stereotypes and prejudices, and no one deserves that. Things like going to the pediatrician with your child and being told by a medical professional that they are surprised to see you. Or go to another specialist appointment, perhaps with your partner, and without answering any questions from your doctor or specialist. Cases of custody can also occur in court systems, which may not involve black fathers as much as they would like.

Are there any gems of wisdom in the book that can help black fathers?

We integrate into society to be the protectors of our families, to be the protectors of our partners; providing for our children and families; and prepare for success. And that’s a lot of pressure. And often that ability is affected by someone’s socioeconomic profile. What we now know is that fathers, and fathers in particular, are making a much wider contribution than financial provision and finding ways to provide emotional support for their children. I can’t say too much about how important these things are.

“My children are an example of a poster of strong, elegant, strong, fearless, and powerful people, and most of them use their agency in an unforgiving way,” Dr. Vereen wrote. “My biggest hope as their father is that they will always do this.”

How can black fathers protect their mental health?

It’s not easy. What I would like to remind all black fathers and all people in general is that we need to find people and spaces that allow us to be as transparent as possible. We need to find a community.

For me personally, my professional network — be it counselors or my siblings — there are groups of men to whom I can go and be as honest and vulnerable as I need to be. It allows me to share all the victories and all the things I want to celebrate, and it also allows me to share the most difficult and vulnerable parts of my experience, without fear of judgment, thankfully.

If you’re just hitting a wall, and you can’t get over or over the wall, it might be helpful to talk to a professional advisor to help you set a goal and help you achieve that goal, because you couldn’t do it. otherwise.

“I definitely seek advice when I need to and sometimes I don’t seek it when I need to,” Dr. Butler, a professor at Central Florida University, wrote in his essay.

“I was looking for family counseling services to help support my stepson, and that was incredibly useful for us as a family and for me as an image of a father to him,” she said. “I was reminded that I didn’t have the answers, and that I didn’t expect to have them all.”

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