UK VOICE: Black fathers are more hands-on - study
Mary Isokariari, UK Voice writer
Black men are often portrayed as deadbeats and the main contributors to a breakdown of family values, playing little or no role in their children’s lives. A UK study has revealed that this trend is changing
The new study suggests that black fathers are more hands-on and contribute more to the upbringing of their children than white and Latino men.
According to a report from the US-based National Center for Health Statistics, published in January, 70 per cent of black fathers said they bathed, diapered or dressed their children every day, compared with 60 per cent of white fathers and 45 per cent of Latino fathers.
Researchers spoke with more than 3,900 fathers between 2006 and 2010.
Nick Makoha, 39, a poet turned screenwriter from Croydon, south London, and father of two children - Olivia, 9, and 3-year-old son Iden – described the findings as refreshing.
Having grown up without a father, Makoha who wrote and directed the play My Father and Other Superheroes Superheroes based on his journey from childhood to fatherhood, told The Voice: “My heart expanded the day my children were born. I don’t have the same heart that I did before, so I always wonder how [some men] allow [themselves] to walk away.”
He added: “In my mind I always wanted to be a good father, but I didn’t know what it looked like, I didn’t know how to be a good father.”
Statistics show that African Caribbean children are twice as likely to be brought up by just one parent than their white British peers.
According to 2001 Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures, 49 per cent of African Caribbean children are raised by a single parent – usually the mother.
Makoha said he wanted to show his children the importance of relationships. He said: “It’s my role to make my children feel special, so when or if they decide to become parents, it’s something they will enjoy doing.”
The report showed that among American fathers living apart from their children, black fathers were as involved as other dads or, in some cases, even more involved.
More than half of black fathers who lived separately from older children, said they maintained a good telephone relationship – a higher percentage than white or Latino dads.
Andrew Bryan, 45, a secondary school teacher from south London has an eight-year-old son with his former partner.
Having never known his father, Bryan was single-handedly raised by his mother.
He said: “When there is divorce or separation, the UK family court only give men one weekend per fortnight and half the holidays (as standard contact time), which limits what a father can do.
“Anymore is at the discretion of the mother. However, if they don’t get on, minimal contact time means minimal fathering. This is a serious problem.”
Bryan believed the results of the survey would show even greater involvement, if parents had equal access to their children.
“There is an unfair bias towards women when it comes to separation and divorce,” he contended.
The study also found black fathers were more likely than white or Latino dads to stay close to their children after having more children with a new partner.
Having worked at a school in Lewisham, Bryan said overall, regardless of ethnicity, there were fewer fathers at parents’ evening.
“As a teacher I would have liked to have seen more black fathers considering the number of black students at the school was three to one,” the teacher said. “Of those I did see, for the most part, their children did well at school or if there weren’t doing particularly well at school, they didn’t play around at school.”
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