As Fathers, How Are You Helping Your Child Navigate the World?

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Like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day is a special moment for love and gratitude; to honor the work our fathers (living and who’ve passed; biological and non-biological) put in to help cultivate young minds, navigate awkward coming-of-age phase, and offer useful advice during the uncertainty of adulthood. But, as Pope John XXIII said: “It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father.” To that end, the lessons men instill in their children and the ways fathers move in the world while in the presence of their children, serve as the blueprint for how children will maneuver their own lives.

Does the precedent you set contribute something substantive and valuable to the world? Are you teaching your sons and daughters to be socially aware, conscientious, self-aware, and sensitive? Or do you uphold the status quo to serve your own needs and encourage your child to not only internalize the tenets of toxic masculinity, but to become dysfunctional parents themselves when or if they have children?

It goes without saying, that fathers—particularly Black fathers—have a lot to grapple with these days with popular culture and the negative tropes about [Black] fatherhood, with trying to help dismantle the dire effects patriarchy and toxic masculinity has wrought, and with struggling to raise productive and civic-minded sons and daughters in a cult of personality (and current White House administration) that isn’t always kind. But if there’s one important thing men can do to, not only commemorate Father’s Day, but help themselves navigate fatherhood every other day, it’s be open and communicative. Have the difficult discussions with your child and teach them to be autonomous and respectful of their peers’ boundaries. Set a great example for your child and demonstrate the societal change you want to see and them to exist in. And sometimes, to do that, it requires doing the internal work within yourselves to unlearn a lot of damaging and oppressive social conditioning; to include antiquated and regressive things you’ve learned from your own fathers and grandfathers that harm others, particularly women, girls, and young boys.

This Father’s Day teach your sons and daughters to be bold and creative but kind, tolerant, and accepting of others. Teach your sons not to feel entitled. Talk to them about consent and let them know they don’t have to adhere to harmful gender norms that tell them they aren’t allowed to cry, or wear a certain color or outfit, or play with a certain toy. Teach your daughters that their voices matter and that they’re truly heard; that #BlackGirlsRock and they don’t have to fit mainstream beauty norms to be worthy. Teach them they can be anything they want to be with hard work and determination and that you’re their biggest cheerleader.

This Father’s Day, decide whether you want to be a father who celebrates the importance of raising conscientious and socially aware children, or a father who upholds regressive ideas that contribute nothing to the world at large. Remember, children are precocious and they’re watching. Future generations can make their own mark for the better, or they can repeat and continue to perpetuate virulent behavior.

May God’s Love, Peace, Health and Prosperity Be Yours

Sasha Allen Walton, Editor-In-Chief