BCN – Brooklyn – Hurt, scared, disappointed and at a lost, are just some adjectives that describe the feelings of a young boy growing up without a father.
On Friday June 15th, Hope Christian Center hosted “Fathers Rising to the Challenge – A Panel Discussion on Fatherhood.” Two NBA veterans Etan Thomas, former Washington Wizards and John Starks, former NY Knicks; joined J-Ivy, Grammy Award winning HBO poet; and Pastor Tyrone Stevenson, Senior Pastor at Hope Christian Center, in a thorough discussion on how the lack of a father has affected them as men and fathers today.
“I learned [how to be a father] from watching other men and how they teach their sons and daughters; and I [would] try to emulate that” said John Starks. ”As a man, I have to continue to push myself to be a better father just as I did on the basketball court.”
In the United States alone, 21.2 million children (26% of all children) are growing up in a household with only one custodial parent.1 Among Black children, 48.5% are growing up with a single custodial parent.2
“Men [of color] need to understand that you can be a father even though you never had” said Pastor Tyrone Stevenson. “Our church recognizes the need to teach men how to be fathers, because it’s kind of hard if you never seen it. We have so many areas where we have fail in our lives as African American men, and we don’t want to fail in this area, so we find it easier to walk away. But we need to recognize that this is an area that we can’t afford to fail…”
In his new book “Fatherhood: Rising to the Ultimate Challenge“ Etan Thomas shares how standing up and taking an active role as a father, helps men find their own lives more joyful and fulfilling. “Young men are always bombarded with a lot of negativity. [I like to] let them see and hear from people they recognize (entertainers, celebrities and althetes) that they can be whatever they want to be and they can make the right decisions”
For many young boys father figures where made out of family and church members. “My grandfather, my uncles, my [friends] fathers, my football coach have all served as good examples on what it was to be a man and a father” said J-Ivy. “My great grand father founded a church, my grandfather was a Deacon, my uncle is a Pastor, so the spiritual side has been an influence in my life.”
So how can African American men begin to set a new example for their children? Men in the community can begin by: “1. Just being a father, 2. Ask someone for help, 3. Find your way back to church” said Pastor Stevenson.
To Purchase “Fatherhood: Rising to the Ultimate Challenge” by Etan Thomas, click here. For more information about Hope Christian Center go to www.hopetouch.org or visit them at 369 New Lots Ave, Brooklyn NY.
1U.S. Census Bureau, Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2005, P60-234, August 2007http://www.census.gov/prod/2007pubs/p60-234.pdf
2U.S. Census Bureau, Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2005, P60-234, August 2007http://www.census.gov/prod/2007pubs/p60-234.pdf