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As we look to celebrating the men in our lives on Sunday, June 17, there’s no doubt the role of the father has a complicated history in the African American culture. While acknowledging these complications, we look to offer hope, support and encouragement to men who are seeking ways to show up in the lives of their children–whether they are toddlers or adults. And we are ever grateful for those who have become “father figures” and cared for the village. Truly, we all benefit from healthy relationships with male figures.

We hope the features in this week’s edition of the Chicago Defender will provide inspiration and help to fathers, and help them realize that they matter to their children and to our community. – Katara Patton, Sr Editor/Copy Editor

We often leave it up to the courts to decide on what to do with men who have children they don’t or can’t financially support, but fathers who intentionally dodge their financial obligations to their children may have other problems they suffer from related to inadequacies from their own life experience of growing up in a fatherless household.

The lessons young men learn about fatherhood begins at home. However, fatherless young men who never learn what is expected of them when they eventually have a family of their own. These men often detach themselves from the experience of raising children out of fear of reliving past feelings of abandonment and neglect that they themselves may have experienced as a child.

It’s challenging in many ways for some men to accept their responsibility of being a father, especially when you’re told growing up that you will never amount to anything, or that you’re just like your dad–which can have a negative connotation.

All young boys need their fathers to teach them how to be responsible dads, and how to take care of their family. When a father leaves his home and tells his son, “I’m going to need you to be the man of the house when I’m not here.” It means a lot to a young boy to know that his father has entrusted him to take good care of his family. He grows up knowing he can handle the responsibility of fatherhood. But when a young boy grows up in a fatherless household, he is often denied the experience and reassurance that he can handle the job.

Moreover, if the solution is to lock up every father who falls behind, or fails to pay their child support, many young men will never learn how to be a good dad. It’s children that hurt the most when fathers are absent from their lives. Courts and policymakers must understand and consider all of the challenges children of incarcerated parents face when making decisions that affects the lives of millions of children.

Clearly, there is a disconnect that must be addressed, but incarcerating men because they have failed at being good providers to their children is not the solution. Despite the challenges, let’s hope that all men can find the experience of becoming a father a blessing, and learn how to become a good father and provider by spending less time in jail, and more time with their kids.

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