Navigating Fatherhood as a Negro

This year Father’s Day will fall on June 19, or June 13, a federal holiday commemorating the liberation of enslaved Negroes in the United States after the Civil War. And for Michael D. Hannon, an associate professor of consulting at Montclair State University in Montclair, NJ, it was “a wonderful coincidence.”

“We can honor the black fathers who are doing their best to protect, provide for, and prepare their families for success, and recognize the spirit and resilience as well as the pursuing the freedom of the blacks in this country.

Hannon, the self-proclaimed father of “two black kids” – an 18-year-old son and a 19-year-old daughter – has been counseling Black dads for the past 10 years. And as the editor of his new book “Black People and Mental Health,” he’s now looking to raise the voice of black fathers — and aspiring ones — as well. mental health consultant. Through a series of essays, each writer offers unique perspectives on the needs, challenges, and triumphs of Black fathers in an “anti-black world.”

The book can serve as a resource for other counselors to help them provide culturally affirmative and appropriate support to Black fathers, but the individual stories in the collection The episode is also intended for the general audience, who can recognize the many joys and hardships presented within.

“It’s not as difficult as this, am I right?” asked one of the essayists, S. Kent Butler, professor of counseling education and school psychology at the University of Central Florida. “No, I’m not right. When it comes to our misfortune, very few people easily accept themselves and others. So where does strength and resilience come from? What makes it okay? I believe it is my tribe”.

Questions and answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.

What inspired you to create this book? And why now?

Much of the research I do is on black fathers. So this, quite frankly, has been going on for a long time. I really want to do at least three things.

The first is amplifying the voices of black fathers. Stage = Stage.

Second, I want other people to be able to read and hear these voices in ways they might not have been able to before.

And third, all of the people who wrote the chapters in this book are mental health professionals. I asked them to answer some very specific questions: What might be helpful for mental health professionals who are treating or serving clients who are black fathers? What influenced their paternity practices? Do they seek counseling support if and when they face challenges and obstacles? And if they did, what did they learn? And if they didn’t, what stopped them?

One of the essayists, Linwood G. Vereen, an associate professor of educational counseling at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, who has five children of two races, wrote: “What I learned in my counseling journey was the need My request is valid. I’ve learned that it’s okay to let go of other people’s unrealistic expectations hurt my soul, and that it’s my Black life that matters. I have learned that just as my children need to see success in life, they must also learn humility through seeing their father show humility.”

Tell me more about why introducing the voices of black fathers is especially important to you.

It’s very easy to use Black Men content that focuses on some of the challenges that have been systematically laid before our eyes.

You know the stereotype of the absent black father, or the over-representation of incarcerated black men. But black men have a much more nuanced, rich, and complex set. There is so much to know, understand, and appreciate about the people of Black Men in the context of their communities and how they serve their biological children, as well as their fictional relatives – or children. children in which they “play the role of uncle” and “play the role of cousin”.

And that’s important because we all have to conform to stereotypes and have prejudiced views, and no one deserves that. Things like going to the pediatrician with your child and medical professionals telling you they were surprised to see you. Or go to another specialist appointment, maybe with your partner, and the medical or specialist doesn’t even solve any of the questions for you. Incarceration cases can also move to the court system, which can prevent Black fathers from participating as they would like.

Are there any gems of wisdom from the book that might be useful to Black Dads?

We are socialized to be protectors of our families, protectors of our spouses; to provide for our children and families; and prepare them for success. And that’s a lot of pressure. And many times that likelihood has been influenced by someone’s socioeconomic profile. What we know now are fathers, and Black father in particular, are contributing in ways that are much broader than providing a financial one, and seek to spiritually provide for their children. I cannot overstate how important these are.

“My children are role models of strength, grace, resilience, fearlessness and power, and most days they use their agency unrepentantly,” said Dr. Vereen wrote. “My greatest hope as their father is that they will always do this.”

How can Black fathers protect their mental health?

It’s not easy. What I want to remind all Black fathers, and people in general, is that we have to find people and spaces that allow us to be as transparent as possible. We have to find community.

For me personally, my professional network – whether they are my mentors or my sworn brothers – is full of groups of men that I can reach and honestly brutal and vulnerable like I need. It allows me to share all the victories and things I want to celebrate – and it allows me to share the hardest parts, the most vulnerable parts of my experience, hopefully without fear. judged.

If you’ve just hit a wall, and you’re not able to get over or over the wall, it might be helpful to talk to a professional counselor to help you set goals and reach them. because you can’t do it. if not.

“I certainly sought advice when I needed it and sometimes didn’t when I needed it,” Dr. Butler, a professor at the University of Central Florida, wrote in her essay.

“I sought out family counseling services to help me support my own child, which has been incredibly helpful for us as a family and for me as a father. for it,” he said. “I’ve been reminded that I don’t have all the answers, and I shouldn’t expect to have all of them either.”

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