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Will The Young Dads Please Show Up?

by Allan Appel | Jan 1, 2014 10:27 am

(4) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: West Rock

Allan Appel Photo William Knox wanted to tell his story to despairing – and maybe deadbeat—young dads from the neighborhood. They didn’t show up. At least not yet.

Knox grew up motherless and fatherless in the Jim Crow South. He came to New Haven, where he made a family and a life for himself as a postman for 40 years, with his first route out at West Rock.

That story—and a commitment to lasso in the elusive young audience of New Haven’s single African-American fathers—emerged at Dad’s Night Out, a recent event organized by Lensley Gay, the director of the Family Resource Center at the Brennan-Rogers School in West Rock.

As about 20 people finished up their pizza, salad, and melon at the school cafeteria and settled in for a discussion about the need to mentor young fathers, one of those few young fathers in the audience, Theodore L. Brooks, Jr., stood up and threw down the first of several gauntlets of the evening: “I see three in my age group, one a little younger, several older men, and the rest women. Our problem is the men have not shown up. There should be men here with their children. That’s what I expected.”

No one contested what Brooks said, but they called the gathering last week a good beginning.

Organizer Gay said that she had done extensive outreach, especially with the parents at the K-8 Brennan-Rogers. Only three, all single dads like Maurice Coleman, had appeared.

You have to start a long journey with a single step, Gay said. “We’re going to grow this.”

There is in fact a deep recognition in the African-American community and especially among its social work professionals that young men, especially young fathers, need help simply absorbing the concept of fatherhood as well as help visitation and custody questions, said David Asbery.

Asbery founded a group calledFixing Fathers, Inc, one four heads of father-focused not-for-profits present at the meeting to offer their services.

Asbery offered his kudos to Maurice Coleman, one of of three young single dads at the event with his son, Maurice, who attends Brennan-Rogers.

Young Maurice lives in West Rock with his mother. His dad, who lives in Dixwell, is a recent graduate of yet another father or male-focused initiative, the male-involvement program at STRIVE New Haven

“He’s a young father and he ‘got it,’” Asbery said of Coleman.

What he got was “my responsibility [as a father]. I come through the door [at home], it’s business off, dad on. A lot of these dads don’t get it,” added Asbery, the author of a recent book on single dads, called My Wife, My Kids, My God.

Blannie Bostic runs a new organization called P.R.E.P., which recently received its not-for-profit status, he said. Bostic until recently ran the male involvement network at the New Haven Family Alliance. He said his new organization offers a place for young fathers, especially those recently out of jail and struggling to support themselves and their offspring, to cover the whole range of help for support, including co-parenting skills.

Traditionally agencies focus on the mother-child relationship. His group’s aim is the father-child, he said.

“I’ll be there [tomorrow] in the morning when the dads drop off their kids,” and I’ll tell them what they missed, Gray said afterwards.

“I’m stumped,” Knox added, “but I’m not giving up.”

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posted by: Threefifths on January 1, 2014  12:02pm

Black men are perpetually targeted by police and punished at a much higher and much harsher rate. Discriminated against in every aspect of life. Society has destroyed the black men.Educate yourself more in these aspects and you will see how and maybe why this has occurred. Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow” is a great resource for this.

How about this which is never talked about.

When White Fathers Leave Their Black Children
AUG 19, 2013 4:45 AM - BY BEA HINTON
Much ink has been spilled on the epidemic of black fathers who abandon their children. But in Bea Hinton’s case, she grew up as the black child of a missing white dad—a legacy that has defined her life.

Researcher Defends Missing Black Fathers
A University of Kentucky graduate student says there’s more to the story than just irresponsibility.

By Cord Jefferson

A doctoral candidate, Akende and others from UK’s Department of Family Sciences are doing an intensive look into the minds of Black fathers who don’t live with their children. Akende is a divorced mother herself, but she says the portrayals of absent Black fathers in media have tended to give a distorted view of what many are actually thinking and how they behave. “Black men face different challenges,” she says. “There are obstacles some fathers face that others may not.Akende says that because many young Black fathers are unemployed or underemployed, they don’t have the resources new dads of other Ethnicities do. Beyond that, because Black men tend to have a disproportionate number of felony convictions, they also have less of a chance to make a good amount of money to support a child.

My Bad.Slavery also broke up the Black family.

posted by: darnell on January 1, 2014  12:34pm

Ok, where to begin?
First, what is the goal of this meeting. I live in west Rock and didn’t hear about it, but even if I did, what would be the sense of someone like me to attend; I am married and raising my children with my wife. So is Ted Brooks. I thought the goal is to reach those guys who are not participating in their children’s lives.

Second, Ted Brooks is by no means a “young” father…lol..sorry Teddy.

If the goal is to mentor young dads, I’m in.

posted by: Mike Slattery on January 1, 2014  3:51pm

Turnout is hard, the first few attempts might not reflect the average down the road.  If they are able to keep a regular meeting going eventually it should gain numbers.  Good to see there is a positive outlook from the team.  Good luck in the new year.

posted by: sandstorm on January 2, 2014  9:26am

Sustained efforts are key to this important and urgent initiative. Outreach to unlikely partners, i.e. parole officers to elicit support and enthusiasm for the program may be productive. These young men must be recruited where they are now, not where you would wish to see them. Perhaps they are at methadone clinics or in CT Works offices.

Ted will be a great role model because he is the product of a wonderful family; all of the strong ethics, morals and values were instilled by his magnificent parents. His volunteerism is reflective of his blessed background. His strength and broad network may serve in enlisting other volunteers.

Persevere! A generation depends on it.

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