Fatherhood forum seeks to do more for dads

theGRIO REPORT - There have been several discussions on legislating fatherhood at the federal level for years, but much of that discussion centered on child support payment and little else...

This week Congressman Danny Davis (D-IL) hosted a Congressional Hearing on fatherhood, bringing together organizational leaders, fatherhood advocates, elected officials, and real dads to discuss the promotion of legislation and public policy that improves opportunities for fathers to be connected with their children and families.

The main forum consisted of leaders of fatherhood organizations providing presentations on best practices and models for not only policy, but also programs that promote fatherhood, prepare men to father effectively and encourage re-engagement and responsible fatherhood.

There have been several discussions on legislating fatherhood at the federal level for years, but much of that discussion centered on child support payment and little else. Activists and fatherhood experts alike agree that it is essential for custodial mothers to receive the support that they need.

However, fatherhood advocates like Thabiti Boone believe that sophisticated legislation that supports both responsible mothers and fathers is essential to empowering children. Boone, a Brooklyn native, has gained national notoriety as a father who gave up a promising college basketball career to raise his daughter alone after her mother was not prepared to be a parent.

[youtubevid http://youtube.com/watch?v=vZpFi-hk7Dg]

Nearly two decades later he has seen his daughter graduate from college and begin a successful life of her own. He stated, “Although I should have become a father at a more appropriate time in my life, not interfering with my basketball career, I would not change a thing. Being a father is one of the greatest gifts a man can have.”

Boone, like many at this weeks hearing is fighting for an expanded national movement that has the layers to make transformative impact on this issues that is plaguing the nation. He outlines five areas of immediate action that communities should take:

1. We need to push our congressional representatives as the Julia Carson Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families Act needs congressional co-sponsorship.

2. We need to hear more from the Congressional Black Caucus on Fatherhood.

3. We need community-based forums on this issue, particularly hearing directly from fathers.

4. We need more support from black media giving spotlight on the importance and concerns of fathers on policy, legislation and role of government officials.

5. We need to organize and mobilize Father’s to take a stand in their on their own interest.

President Obama has been an advocate for expanded resources through his White House Fatherhood and Mentoring initiative geared towards closing the gap on father absence and uplifting the importance of father’s in the lives of their children, families and communities.

In fact $25 million in additional funding was allocated this fiscal cycle for a total of $150 million towards fatherhood programs and healthy marriage initiatives. But the real change will come when men decide to be committed to fatherhood, good fathers are lifted up as examples, and communities mandate fatherhood a cultural value. In the June issue of Ebony magazine I had the chance to talk to a roundtable of men about relationships and black women. During the discussion there were many thoughts that came out that typically remain buried in the secret circles of men. That made me think about the fact that we seldom ask fathers to express what fatherhood values means to them. I asked several men just that. Take a look at their expressions of fatherhood and to all the dads out there, Happy Father’s Day.

Van Jones, Former White House Green Jobs Czar

“When they were born, I made a deal with my sons: I would teach them everything I know, and they would teach me everything I have forgotten,” said Van Jones, founder of Rebuild The Dream. “Having a basis of mutual respect has made a huge difference in my fatherhood journey.”

9th Wonder, music producer

“For me, fatherhood is the perfect symbol for legacy. You work and protect your family everyday to ensure that the legacy of love, honor….

……And family will live on for generations. You are the leader of that legacy, that’s what make me proud to belong to the fraternity of fatherhood”

Bun B, hip-hop artist

Fatherhood is not about who plants the seed, but who tends the garden.

Ben Jealous, President and CEO NAACP

Fatherhood means loving your child with all your heart, and fighting for a better future of all children with all your might. Even as we are called to prepare our children for the world, we are called to prepare the world for them.

Rev. Otis Moss III, Senior Pastor Trinity United Church of Christ

It is the role of every father, especially African-American fathers, to teach our children strength is rooted in love, real power is connected to faith and success is determined not by the cash in your pocket, but the character of your soul.

Hosea Sanchez, BET’s The Game

To be a father means to embrace your past present a future, it’s the ultimate sacrifice of ones self. To be accountable for the life you created because creating a life is indeed the closest thing to godliness. Being responsible for a life other than ones own, Is the true meaning of fatherhood.

Ed Gordon, TV Host

Fatherhood, for me, is hands down the most important, challenging and gratifying job I’ve ever had. I am reminded everyday, when I look at my daughter, just what a blessing it is to be an engaged father. Too often, men forget how important their roles are in nurturing and raising children. I love being a father and I love all of the happiness, heartbreak and responsibility that comes with it.