going above and beyond
Feb 19, 2001
Addressing The "Black Men Abandon Their Children" myth.

Needless to say, black men are commonly stereotyped as having a strong propensity to abandon their children. The term "abandon" seems to be a preferred term especially by the black female interracial bloggers as well as the so called "black female empowerment" bloggers. The problem is that evidence disputes this stereotype and shows that the source of the stereotype is more so a case of the failure of black men and black women to form stable relationships. In response to President Obama's criticism of black men's alleged absence from their chidlren's lives, this article cites one study disputing the stereotype:

"A month before Obama made this stereotypical and plainly false assertion, Boston University professor Rebekah Levine Coley, in a comprehensive study on the black family, found that black fathers who aren’t in the home are much more likely to sustain regular contact with their children than absentee white fathers, or for that matter, fathers of any other ethnic group. The study is not an obscure study buried in the thick pages of a musty academic journal. It was widely cited in a feature article on Black fathers in the May 19, 2008 issue of Newsweek. There was no excuse then to spout this myth. The facts are totally contrary to Obama’s knock."
Of course, those bloggers insistent on degrading black men will, and and have scoffed at this study citing only their own observations as well as the infamous 70% out-of-wedlock birth rate for African Americans. Basically, to them, every single black child born out-of-wedlock has been abandoned by his or her father. Of course, this would mean that no black couples marry after they have children. This would mean that no unmarried black couples with children cohabitate. This would mean that no black men unmarried to their children's mothers are active fathers.

These bloggers will insist that this statistic as well as their alleged observations of so many little black children who do not know their fathers is proof that black men run away from their responsibilities as fathers. But the reality is that it is not the children that black men run from, it is the mothers of these children that they run from and their absence from their children's lives is a bi-product of not being in the mother's lives and this bi-product is just as prevalent in the lives of non-black men under the same circumstances. Lets look at some research:

"Only a small percentage of nonresident fathers continue to see their child(ren) after a five-year period following divorce (Blankenhorn, 1995; Stewart). This decreased involvement in their child(ren)'s lives by divorced fathers may be the result of constraints experienced by fathers following divorce. Cohen (1998) found that nonresident fathers' involvement in their child(ren)'s lives is subject to an array of constraints, resulting in decreased participation. He reported that "the role of fathering must be squeezed into short meetings under strained and artificial circumstances" (p. 200). If a father chooses to avoid these situations by not seeing his child(ren), the father likely forfeits leisure time with the child(ren)"
As we see, this research keys on men in general and concludes that of all men in general, a small percentage continue to see their children five years after divorce. Clearly, this is not a black male phenomenon. Lets look at more:

"Their findings support differences in fathering activities when controlling for
income, age, education and socioeconomic conditions of wives or co-habitators.
They found that African American fathers are ‘far more likely to monitor and supervise their children’s activities’ (p. 92) and suggest that these men are more strict, cautionary, and authoritarian than European American parents."
And more excerpts from the same website:

"Housaain et al. (1997) found that African American fathers spent more time providing physical care, feeding, and soothing of their infants than European American fathers."
"Comparison of adjusted income means indicate that African-
American fathers reporting more frequently participating in caregiving activities than Latino and European American fathers. In addition, African American
fathers also reported participating in more cognitive activities with their child
than European American and Latino fathers reported. African American and
Latino fathers reported signifi cantly more social skills activities with the focus
child than did European American fathers."
"Race or ethnic differences in reported fathering activities were examined.
As stated earlier, a number of studies have focused on absent fathers in minority
communities and have supported the idea that minority, particularly African
American fathers are not as involved with their children as European American
fathers (Carter, 2001; Hamer, 1997; Lindholm, 1997; Mincy, 2002). The current
study found differences in reported caregiving activities across race and
ethnicity. Toth and Xu (1999) found that African Americans fathers were more likely to supervise and monitor their children’s activities. The findings of this study supports this in that African American fathers reported participating in significantly more hands-on caregiving activities than either Latino or European American fathers. This finding is important because prior studies failed to examine some of the caregiving activities that were included in the measure used in the current study. As a result, African American fathers may be involved in different ways than had been previously reported in that they may participate in more traditional maternal activities. This present study supports the findings of Toth and Xu (1999) that the ‘stereotype of irresponsible and nonsupportive African American fathers is inaccurate and should be rejected’ (p. 92)"
"Both African American and Latino fathers reported higher levels of
participating in social activities than European American fathers. Social activities
are an important concept in early infant development (Parke et al., 2002). This
supports the idea that African American and Latino fathers may participate more in socializing their children especially in such activities as taking their child to
visit extended family and friends. Toth and Xu (1999) found that Latino fathers
reported participating in more activities such as spending time in leisure activities
such as picnics, movies, sports, etc. They report that in contrast to European
American families, African American and Latino fathers ‘tend to reinforce the
norms of family closeness … and monitor and supervise their children more’
(p. 92)."

"It should be noted that there may be an issue with sampling bias within the
sample of African American fathers. Although mothers indicated a father’s
presence in the child’s life, there was some diffi culty in interviewing African
American fathers. One reason for this might be that a higher percentage of these
men were not married or residing with the mother of the child. Researchers
in the current study found it easier to contact and interview fathers who were
residential fathers. As a result, given the higher percentage of African American
fathers not residing with the child, our African American fathers might be slightly
different than the European American and Latino fathers."

"Despite these limitations it is clear that minority fathers are involved with their
children although not always in recognized ways."

So basically, when fathers of similar income who don't reside with their children are compared, African American fathers are more involved with their children. Surprising? I'm sure that this will surprise many based on the media and sell-out driven stereotyping of black men. Many black women will not give credence to these studies because they don't want to accept that their failures to win the hearts of men have a direct impact on their children. Black children reside in single parent households at just under three times the rate of white children and it is this fact, not some imaginary desire of black men to abandon their children, that drives the absent father phenomenon in the black community.

Ken Taylor
Black Squared

Last edited:


Well-Known Member
Oct 15, 2005
The 602

I appreciated reading what you've posted. I think that, contrary to what *was* true 25 to 30 years ago--for example, in my own case--that the latest gen of Brother-fathers have made up their minds not to make the same kinds of mistakes relating to their young that the previous gen became FAMOUS for doing (rightly or wrongly).

If anything, the various studies you've posted are demonstrating that our men have been well on the way to *killing off that beast* that became their collective (if not individual) parental reputations before the mainstream society. Fantastic!

I'm glad of this, too--I'll see this information as a generalized signal that indicates that my own two grown sons (one a new father) will more than likely stay with stepping up solidly for his own son's sake--no matter that he's no longer with his child's mom AND that in doing this, he's no more special than the new *average* Black man and father--even should he be special to me, anyhow.

This really is reassuring news for me to happen upon, so thank you for putting it together.

One Love, and PEACE
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