Family structures can be connected to the idea of a family tree. The structure is based upon who had breed together to create the family that exists as a whole and tends to continue to grow. Family structures can also be defined by the roles or power each individual has in the lineage. Normally the Grandmother and her husband hold the highest power that gets passed down to their children, eldest to youngest, and they pass it down to their children. I’ve learned hierarchy proves nothing other than age being increased, in my opinion of the black families. Much like other populations, we tend to suffer from single-parent households and poverty. I plan to discuss the findings of Patricia Thomas of Duke University on the effects of father presence in black homes.
Let me just start by saying, I was raised by my paternal grandmother. My mother did not feel worthy enough to raise my brother and I and from stories I’ve overheard, my dad couldn’t mature fast enough to step up. Oddly enough, I also read that my dad had suffered much like me. He did not have a healthy example of what a loving family structure looks like. I’ll admit, my grandmother shared stories of her abuse and the things she did to get away, but she also shared that her husband loved her enough to follow her to the next location and had cleaned his act up. In that new setting, he worked to get himself together and change his ways because they now had two children and it was time he matured. Unfortunately, he matured just to die. That left my father in the hands of his grandfather and the streets. You know what’s peculiar, my grandmother had once suffered from the lack of a healthy family structure too.
As years went on I grew to understand both sides of my family. I noticed we’re all suffering from a lack of presence from our parents. Our parents found it more promising to provide and love than to find a balance between it all-- but then again, what do I know. I believe presence will alleviate the pressure off the parent and children. I also believe presence will allow our parents to step out of their power rules. What I think happens is we all forget that we were once these little innocent souls, and we grow up learning various values that truly mean nothing-- especially if you can’t be present with yourself. I found Thomas’s findings quite interesting, let’s get into it.
Patricia Thomas and her colleagues gathered a sample of participants and allowed them to complete a survey about father presence. The questions were based upon three things: feelings about the father, the physical relationship, and their level of perception of the father(Thomas 2008). There were about 818 participants ranging from ages 18-88 with ethnic background and types, one-parented or both, of households were taken into account from this Southern California population. It just so happens that African Americans were the majority of the population. The survey was set up with five answer choices that communicated their level of understanding based starting with always and ending with never(Thomas, 2008). They were also asked to clarify if the parent they resided with was biological or not and whether it was mom or dad, even step father was a possible answer. All in all, they weighed the result from ten scales of data to separate and analyze the responses they received.
Patricia and her team found that African American fathers are not as absent as they seem. In fact, about 24% more of the white community were fortunate enough to have both biological parents compared to the 21% of African American homes suffering with one parent(Thomas, 2008). The study also revealed there are about twice as many blacks living in poverty than there are white. I suppose that is why the black community had a higher percentage of visitation from dad compared to the white. If you aren’t working, you have more time to connect. The study began to reveal how close the children felt to their dad. Based on the results of Thomas and her team, those that did not see dad as much; they did not feel close to him and vice versa for those who did see dad more often. The study did highlight that African American children living with the biological mother and a step dad felt closer to their biological father. Whites tend to feel more close to dad when they’re living with biological mom and dad versus a black child.
Further research stated that the black community experienced positive energy around the motherly support their mom provides their dad, for their relationship. It continued to explain that the root of the child lacking the feeling of closeness from dad came from not seeing mom support him in his attempts to connect. According to the result, whites did not view their family structures as positive as the blacks did, and I think that is so funny. I personally believe blacks tend to view themselves more positive because they’re more secretive about the flaws that exist within them. But then again, that can be the entire human race. I found it odd that the research found more negativity among the collective that resided only with biological mother, and I bet that has a lot to do with some moms playing an antagonist role with the dad.
Newton and Krampe spoke on how there were three Mom/Dad type relationships. One being the friendly arrangement where they keep it friendly and focused on the kid, which yields positive results in the kid and motivates the dad to be consistent. The second was the intimate relationship where they’re actually a couple and trying to make things work. This dynamic holds potential setbacks or disappoints because the parent to child relationship is, sometimes, unknowingly hindered because the parent is experiencing ill feelings toward the other. The child suffers and the parents begin to experience inconsistencies. Lastly, the antagonistic arrangement. This arrangement is characterized as the parent using the child for manipulation schemes to obtain some form of benefit. Although the article spoke on it being “initiated” by the mother, father are not always the victim.
Based on my findings, I agree with a lot of the research that was presented. I now understand that, a lot of times, parents just do not know what they’re doing, but they still try to come together for the greater good of the family. I remember one time in my life where my dad was both psychologically and physically present, and it may be a good thing I’ve forgotten about where it went astray. Father presence has been proven to be important to the psychological world that transmutes into the physical world in all family structures. His energy gives us the confidence we need to reach for the stars. I suppose that’s why it’s always the dad saying “the sky's the limit” in movies while the mother is always telling us to “remain calm”.
Thomas Patricia A., Krampe Edythe M., & Newton Rae R. (2008). Father Presence, Family Structure, and Feelings of Closeness to the Father among Adult African American Children. Journal of Black Studies, 38(4), 529–546. https://doi-org.ezproxy.mclennan.edu/10.1177/0021934705286101