Fatherhood.gov teaches black fathers to care about their kids



If you're a black father reading this, have you ever wondered whether you should spend time with your kids? The federal government thinks this question stumps a lot of you, so has set up a website called Fatherhood.gov to give you some clues to the answer. The site doesn't explicitly say "black", but most of the photos and literature for it feature black dads.

By way of example, I was in a mall this weekend and saw a giant poster of a black man playing cards with his kids. The ad, produced by fatherhood.gov, implored fathers to spend time with their children, but the ad was obviously geared to black dads.

So I went to fathergood.gov, and found a wealth of information available.

1) There are ideas for things that black dads can do with their kids. For example, they can cook food for their children. The website implies children need to eat at regular intervals. Black dads can also spend time outside with their kids. Not only that, but the website also suggests that black dads can spend time inside with their kids as well. For indoor activities, board games are especially recommended:

Board games especially can be a great way to build math and reading skills with younger kids while having fun!

2) Fatherhood.gov asks black dads to practice listening to their children. They also suggest that black dads practice being kind to their kids.

3) There is a link to a barbershop coloring book, a coloring book for people of color. Why barbershops?

Neighborhood barbershops are a trusted space to discuss personal and public issues, ranging from family to politics, health, money, and other life issues

(I wonder if the creator of this website was a big fan of the barbershop in Eddie Murphy's "Coming to America"!)

4) Another webpage mentions something called the "National Park Service". Apparently this organization has parks all over America! A black father could find a park and take his child to one of them! (Though hopefully not a national park like Mount Rainier where black people don't feel welcome!)

5) The website also suggests black dads take their kids to something called "public libraries", which apparently have a lot of books--all of which are free! There is even a link that shows black fathers how to search for these "public libraries" in their neighborhoods.

6) There is an online form where black dads are invited to take a pledge to take care of their black children. Once they fill out the form, they are pledged to take care of their kids!

7) There is even a link to a National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse Hotline where Black Dads can call the government to find out how to be responsible dads. Just try not to abuse your kids while you are waiting on hold!

Questions for discussion:

1) While primarily geared to black dads, do you think hispanic and white dads could make use of the same tips? Or do you think this is a website only for fatherhood... in the 'hood?

2) President Obama is rarely seen with his children. Do you think he could benefit from a visit to Fatherhood.org?

3) How do mothers know to care for their kids if there is no website instructing them?

4) Do you think the website could be improved with a downloadable app that would help dads remember the names, addresses, and mothers of their kids?

5) How much traffic do you think this website gets? Do you think there are millions of black dads out there googling whether they should be responsible parents?

6) If anyone else but the federal government produced such a patronizing website for black people, how many seconds would it take for them to be labelled as racist?

7) Which is worse, the epidemic of single parenting in the black community, or the federal government thinking it can be fixed by giving irresponsible black dads a website to teach them how to feel affection for their kids?

(Abridged version originally published in AT)



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