As a newly-minted Dad, I searched my mind to find what’s the true meaning of my first Father’s Day celebration as I held my beautiful baby daughter in my arms. I marvel at her recognizing me and the happy baby sounds she makes in my arms. Is Father’s Day about enjoying this “miracle of life” I hold in my arms? Or is it something more philosophically illusive, perhaps some gradually learned experience?
For me Father’s Day is extremely important because it helps acknowledge the contribution of fathers to individual families and to the wider society as a whole. Besides, observance of Father’s Day provides children with an opportunity to express love and respect for their fathers. This sentiment goes a long way, especially today when many Black and Brown fathers are absent from the home or in prison. Studies show that strengthening the father-child relationship greatly aids in the emotional development of a child.
A lot this “bonding” is missing today in at-risk communities with poor health outcomes, high unemployment, crippling crime and families struggling to care for their children. Under these heavy unrelenting social pressures, and a lack of opportunities, many fathers have simply given up. With little means to put food on the table and keep a roof over the heads of their children and families these fathers feel “less than a man” and not worthy of being called “Dad.” They have become victims of an unforgiving social reality.
This is the other side of Father’s Day. The side not spoken about, blotted out our collective memories by the fawning super-hype of the day that ignores the true realities of “fatherhood” in places like Brooklyn’s 41st City Council District where there are many single-family, female-headed households. Where the criminal justice system has devastated the insides and outsides of our homes. We must come to terms with the fact that we, as a community, must work to change this narrative and give all our fathers, Dads, Granddads and Stepdads, hope again by creating more job opportunities, better education for young Dads like me, and help them become positive, productive citizens that their children and grandchildren will be proud to say “Happy Father’s Day.”
We must do more to embolden fathers so that they too will be regarded as a nurturer of a child. The fact is that children depend on their father for their spiritual, emotional, physical, financial and social well-being. For daughters, father is the ideal man in the world and also the first man they adore, while for sons, father is an idol and the strongest man they aspire to emulate.
That’s how I want my daughter to see me when she grows up. And how I would like all of the families in the 41st Council District that I hope to represent at the City Council to also see me. Happy [belated] Father’s Day to All Fathers in the district!
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