GIVE: Nurture by the Spirit — I’m Talking to the Mighty Good Men!

GIVE! … By the Spirit™ with Dr. Pennie Murray

I’m Talking to the Mighty Good Men!

© 2010 Dr. Pennie Murray

June 22, 2010

It’s been said that any man can “father” a child, but it takes a man of great character to be a “dad” to that child.

This past Sunday we celebrated Father’s Day, a day devoted to expressing thanks to the men who nurture, love, protect and provide for his children. It’s funny how neckties, Craftsmen tools and barbecue grills have become an image associated with Father’s Day—at least for some. The image association changes greatly when we get into a conversation about today’s black men and their role as fathers.

Words like “irresponsible, immature, missing, and deadbeat” are the stereotypical images associated with black fatherhood. Or at least, that’s the portrayal that always seems to attract prime-time media. But what about the many black men who are fulfilling their roles as “dad”, but are rarely recognized?

Tarnished by constant criticism, and the “baby-daddy” drama, many good black dads (yes they do exist), feel that their thunder has being stolen by the negative portrayals that make the news and advertising campaigns that receives more marketing dollars. In the world of psychology we know that you rarely, if ever, nurture healthy behavior through constant deprecation or belittling one’s character. If anything, it merely breeds resentment, animosity, and often times, apathy. Maybe I’m out to lunch on this one, but wouldn’t it be more effective if we overshadowed the negative with the positive, until the negative was obsolete? Yet, this simple resolve is rarely employed.

I often hear black men say they don’t have any point of reference or understanding of how to be a good dad. That may be true, but every man who grew up without the nurturing strength and protection of a dad has an understanding of what he longed for—and that becomes the starting point. We have to stop giving ourselves convenient excuses for not being all we can be as individuals—despite our beginning. We have to take responsibility of defining for ourselves what a “good dad” looks like; what are his virtues, his strength of character, and his moral and ethical values. But before we can truly create a better image, we have to begin to see good men in all their various qualities, behaviors, shortcomings and personalities.

It’s time for an extreme paradigm shift in the imagery of black fatherhood as a whole—and it is a shift that should not be advocated by women. The campaign should be led by the black men who declare themselves as “mighty good men.” The voices that vilify absent black fathers are extremely loud; so the voices of good black dads have to be even louder; the visual pictures have to be bigger, the crusade more passionate, widespread, and frequent.

Keep in mind, the more energy that is given to anything (positive or negative), the greater the belief and acceptance will be. Waiting for mainstream society to paint a different picture has proven to be a waste of time. For that matter, why should the fate of our image continue to be left in the hands of others? The reality of mighty good black men can be the rule—not the exception. Know this for sure—this cannot be accomplished by a selected one or few. It will take every individual participating fully and responsibly in nurturing back to health the image of the “mighty good” black men. So, what simple everyday action can you engage in as an individual to magnify the true visual and mental image of a virtuous man?

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