3 Key Insights from the Fatherhood Conference

By Nikia Owens, Ph.D., President, and CEO of Campaign for Working Families

I extend my heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Rufus Sylvester Lynch, Ph.D., ACSW, Chair of The Strong Families Commission, Inc., for inviting me as a panel facilitator at the Commonwealth Citizens’ Council for Greater Father Family Involvement. My relationship with Dr. Lynch traces back to my days under his deanship at Clark Atlanta University.

Distinguished Panelists:

Tracy Robison-Chandler (Erie Family Center, Erie County)

Jeffrey Scott Steiner (Dads Resource Center, Centre County) 

Ruth Fox (Allegheny Family Network, Allegheny County)

Dr. Jay Cherney (Dad Lab at Einstein Medical Center, Philadelphia County)

The Indispensable Role of Fathers

Fathers are more than financial providers; they are pivotal in shaping their children’s physical, mental, and social development. Recognizing parenting as a core aspect of their identity (85% of fathers with children under 18 do), fathers profoundly influence their children’s prosocial behavior, self-concept, and social interactions.

Redefining the Narrative of Black Fatherhood

In Black families, fathers are pillars of strength, resilience, and cultural identity. With approximately 75% of Black fathers living with at least one child under 18 and actively participating in diverse parenting roles, it’s crucial to challenge the stereotypes surrounding Black fatherhood. Their presence offers children emotional security and a firm sense of self-worth, especially vital amidst societal challenges like racial discrimination and economic disparities.

Societal Advantages of Supporting Fathers

Engaged fatherhood significantly benefits family dynamics, contributing to stable, nurturing environments that promote individual and community growth. The positive impact of a father’s involvement transcends emotional, academic, and social aspects of a child’s life. Thus, societal attitudes and support systems must progress to recognize and foster active fatherhood, regardless of marital status or living arrangements.

In summary, the conference underscored the need for a holistic view of fatherhood, recognizing its multifaceted importance in family and societal structures. As we move forward, it is imperative to continue advocating for inclusive and supportive environments that acknowledge and enhance the vital role of fathers in all their diverse forms.

Dr.Owens speaking at the conference.

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