Men’s Health

Overcoming Challenges of Fatherhood

Written by Ifeanyi Paschal

Being a Black father means, regardless of your age and personal challenges, society feels you have a moral and social responsibility to always be there for your wife and kids. As you know, a father is quite often perceived the head of the home! So, if your home or child fails, without mincing words, you simply failed! Nobody cares about what led to the failure. In many parts of the world, fatherly responsibility culturally transcends taking care of your immediate family to catering for your parents, siblings, cousins, uncles, and aunties. Back to an ideal setting, to be a good father, you must commit to raising and nurturing your child (children) and being a formidable pillar of love and support at all times, regardless of your personal challenges and circumstances.

More often than not, children (especially the males) grow up looking up to their fathers and following in their footsteps. As the head of the home, your wife and children expect you to put them first and suppress your personal needs. In other words, being a father comes with enormous obligations. Sometimes, some fathers believe that their wives transferred all their love to the children once babies come into the nuptial picture. As a result, fathers in the Black world live in perpetual sadness, loneliness, discontent, and depression. Funnily enough, nobody mentors fathers in parenting, but society expects them have innate skills for tackling fatherly challenges. So, if you find yourself in this morass, you are not alone. But then, not to worry because I am about to show you the scariest angle to this issue, its prevalence, as well as the solutions.

Implications and Prevalence

Much as having children brings fathers endless joy, the challenges of raising them in our contemporary, dog-eat-dog society are overwhelming. This is due to lack of opportunities, increasing bills and inflations, lack of social support, etc. Consequently, Black fathers deal with chronic mental health issues, such as stress, anxiety, and depression as they beat their brains out and keep their noses to the grindstone to become great fathers to their children. Little wonder there are increasing cases of stress, sadness, anxiety, hypertension, stroke, and depression among men in today’s Black community. To make matters worse, during the COVID pandemic, fathers’ mental health began to decline even more as the “head of households” lost their jobs and had to bear the burden of figuring out how to financially keep a roof over their heads and feed their children. And due to financial disparities as a Black community, savings accounts simply didn’t exist.    

According to the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, Black Americans are 20% more likely to experience psychological distress (such as depression and sadness) than White Americans. In a similar vein, the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation estimated that White Americans live on the average of 3.6 years longer than Black people in the United States. As regards men only, White men are likely to live 4.4 years longer than us. Simply put, although the White folks are likely to live longer than the Black people generally, the stats get worse when you consider men alone. While no race is immune to mental health challenges, one study revealed that only 25% of Black people seek help when they face mental health challenges, compared to 40% of the White people. Social scientists are of the opinion that the expectations surrounding Black masculinity, such as being strong and stoic, prevent Black men from seeking mental health care. Hence, we are likely to die younger than the White folks. This is a worrisome trend!  

How to Overcome Fatherly Challenges

Understandably, you want to be a great father and role model to your children at the same time. Remember, if you fail or die in the process, you expose them to numerous social ills. Therefore, you must embrace these tidbits to give the best to your family without compromising your health.

  1. Join a support group: Out there, there are lots of female support groups. Nonetheless, this article is a wakeup call to fathers! Fathers also grapple with several challenges. Join a support group! Once you one, you enjoy guidance, mentorship, and friendship. Interestingly, these groups have online and physical meetings, depending on what works for you. Examples are Fathers4Kids, National Fatherhood Initiative, The Fathers’ Rights Movement, etc. The support networks also allow you to hang out with other dads with children of the same age bracket, learn from one another, and support one another.  
  2. Prioritize your mental health: Nobody can deny the fact that times are hard, meaning that becoming a great dad is not a walk in the park! Irrespective of your social and financial status, you must prioritize your mental health. For instance, you must exercise regularly, get adequate sleep, eat balanced diets, see your doctor once in a while, etc. For the umpteen time, you can only make a great dad if you are mentally, physically, and socially healthy.
  3. Tone expectations down: Let’s face it: all age brackets face peer pressure, including Black fathers. Nevertheless, it is high time you turned a blind eye to some societal expectations. Plus, while it is good to have personal fatherly expectations, don’t beat yourself up if you can’t meet them. Yes, life happens!
  4. Be in charge: In the Black community, people often ridicule fathers for being “too soft” or accuse them of being “too hard” on their kids. Most times, fathers who show affection to their children are called “weaklings.” I am here to tell you that it is time to grow some guts and be truly in charge. Make no mistake, you brought your children into this world yourself, so nobody should tell you how to raise them! It’s your call!     
  5. Make your personal time: Did you know you are someone’s child? How do you think your parents would feel if you die before them? Your guess is as good as mine! Therefore, make your personal time. Enjoy life to the fullest but play safe. To make your kids happy, you must be happy first because you cannot give what you don’t have. So, visit or hang out with friends (siblings and parents), go on a vacation, take days off work, etc.

You should also spend quality time with your family (wife and children). Lastly, being a great father is about being present for your family, whether you are married or not is immaterial.

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About the author

Ifeanyi Paschal

Ifeanyi Paschal is an experienced researcher and versatile writer. With nearly a decade of experience in the writing industry, Paschal has coordinated and participated in several research studies and written for companies in a wide spectrum of industries, including health and wellness, tech, HRM, and business development.

As a writer with Elevate Black Health, Paschal goes the extra mile to do extensive research and craft health and wellness articles that help the global Black community deepen its understanding of relevant health challenges, find effective solutions to them, and maximize healthy living.

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