Archive for Fatherhood

Stop The Madness: We Don’t Need This Reality Show

Posted in African Americans, Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America, Fatherhood, Relationship Advice, Women's Interests with tags , , , , on December 28, 2012 by Gary Johnson

December 28, 2012

By Gary A. Johnson, Black Men In

Shawty Lo

We debated whether or not we should even publish this post about the Oxygen TV network reality show “All My Babies Mamas.”  We finally decided that we had to get the word out and let people decide for themselves.  As the Publisher of this online enterprise, I see no redeeming value in this show.  I see it being full of ignorance and exploitation.

For those who haven’t heard, the Oxygen television network is working on a new one-hour special, “All My Babies’ Mamas.”  The series, created by Liz Gateley and Tony DiSanto, will show the complicated lives (headaches and drama) of rapper Atlanta rapper Carlos “Shawty Lo” Walker, the ten mothers of his children and their 11 kids.  Did I mention that Shawty Lo has a new girlfriend who is the same age as his oldest daughter?

Talk about a family affair.

“Oxygen will give fans an intimate look at unconventional families with larger than life personalities and real emotional stakes,” says Cori Abraham, Senior Vice President of Development, Oxygen Media. “’All My Babies’ Mamas’ will be filled with outrageous and authentic over-the-top moments that our young, diverse female audience can tweet and gossip about.”

That description alone makes me think that this show is going to be a “WTF circus.”  It’s hard to believe that anything good can come from this.  “When you know better, you do better.”  Is that old saying still true?

Oxygen is not releasing a lot of information about the show so it’s hard to be objective in our criticism of the show.  However, based on what we saw in the trailer we don’t think we’re off base describing the show as dysfunctional and ignorant.  By the way, that official trailer is hard to find.  Hmmmmm.  A search of the Oxygen network site reflects that all references to the show have been removed.  The show does not come up on the search page on their web site.

If you find a link to the trailer and watch it we would love to know about your reaction.

Shawty Low

My concern is for the children.  Honestly, I really am concerned for the actual welfare and emotional stability of the children being raised in this environment by parents who appear “not to know what they don’t know.”  If you really stretch your thinking, and I mean stretch your thinking, the only potential good thing from a show like this is that Shawty Lo may earn enough money to pay his child support and provide any counseling these kids may need to grow up as an emotionally stable and productive citizen.

My good friend social activist and best-selling author Sabrina Lamb has organized a petition to boycott this show and make sure it never hits the airwaves.  You can review and sign the petition by clicking here.

Will you watch the show?  Will you sign the petition?  Do you have any problems with a show like this?

Tell us what you think.

Gary A. Johnson is the Founder & Publisher of Black Men In a popular online magazine on the Internet and the Black Men In Blog. Gary is also the author of the book “25 Things That Really Matter In Life.” 

Obama Talks About Being A Father

Posted in Barack Obama, Black Interests, Black Links, Black Men, Black Men In America, Fatherhood with tags , on June 19, 2011 by Gary Johnson

President Barack Obama says kids need quality time, structure and unconditional love from their parents, calling being a dad sometimes his hardest job, but also the most rewarding.   You can learn more at

A Day of Amnesty for Dads

Posted in African Americans, Black Men, Black Men In America, Fatherhood with tags , , on June 4, 2011 by Gary Johnson

Rebuilding Families One Father at a Time

NATIONAL – On Father’s Day, June 19, David Miller (The Urban Leadership Institute & Raising Him Alone – Baltimore) and Kenneth Braswell (Fathers Incorporated & Year of Responsible Men – New York) are asking men who are estranged from their children to summon the courage to take steps to reconnect with their children. By using social media and leveraging partnerships with community based organizations, this groundbreaking initiative seeks to mobilize 100,000 fathers to do one of the following:

1.   Pick up the phone and make contact with your son or daughter

2.   Write a letter to your son or daughter as an icebreaker

3.   Contact your child’s mother or guardian to arrange a visit

4.   Sign up for President Barack Obama’s Fatherhood Initiative via

Additionally, the initiative is calling on mothers and grandmothers to be supportive of dads who are willing to initiate contact with their children.  “We believe helping mothers and grandmothers understand the power of forgiveness can be the first step toward healing families.”

Through a host of national partners, A Day of Amnesty for Dads aims to reconnect fathers with their families.

David Miller, Co-Founder of the Urban Leadership Institute, a Baltimore-based advocacy group that works nationally to support fathers and families through programmatic innovation and to develop strategies to work with fathers in some of the country’s toughest communities across the country states, “The issue of absent fathers has become a matter of public health. We can all identify fatherless youth in our community who struggle to cope with the realities of life.”

Studies show 72% of African-American children are born to unwed mothers, numbers that paint a grim forecast for many children growing up in communities already ravaged by crime, drugs and apathy.

Kenneth Braswell, Author and Executive Director of Father’s Incorporated, added: “It will be impossible to reduce crime and improve communities unless responsible fatherhood becomes a focus in those communities.

The Bridge: Making Daddy Pay

Posted in Black Interests, Black Men, Fatherhood, The Bridge - Darryl James with tags , , on June 18, 2010 by Gary Johnson

By Darryl James

In this nation, violent crimes typically work their way through the underclass, who are both the majority of victims and perpetrators.

Over the past forty years, more and more youth who are born into underclass families tumble further away from upward mobility.  These fallen youth have little motivation to become productive members of society, leaning more toward gangs, violent crime and drugs than education and participation in the workforce.

In study after study, this trend has been linked directly to the decline in the number of fathers present in the lives of underclass children.

When fathers are in the home, boys are taught self control, which is crucial in their teen years. Without limits set by a stable male figure, many young boys have difficulty determining where the world begins and where they end.

And, having fathers around provides healthy role models for boys who are able to imagine what their future lives can be like based upon a stable adult male figure. A young man is able to make the transition to husband, father and productive member of society when an example is in his life.

Without such examples, negative role models become the standard bearers, including gang members, pimps, thugs and other scourges from the bottom of society.

What does this mean?

It’s simple: Even if a man can not pay child support, his presence in the lives of his children is better for society overall.

At some point we must ask ourselves why the child support system focuses on the idea that a father’s best contribution is financial.  Very little effort is spent toward assuring that children have emotional and/or physical connections to fathers whether they are paying child support or not.

Sadly, the goal for most existing laws and efforts are simply to “make him pay,” including laws suspending driver’s licenses and providing access to bank accounts.  But making him pay does very little for making him present.  In fact, focusing on making him pay may actually assure that he won’t be present.

Focusing on making him pay has failed.

Ten years ago, $31 billion was in arrears on child support, according to the federal government.  By 2003, that number had soared to $96 billion, along with the number of fathers in jail and/or out of the workforce.

Further evidence that the “make him pay” focus has failed was found by the Urban Institute, a Washington think tank.  According to the Urban Institute, current measures designed to coerce fathers to pay child support has played a “crucial role” in forcing low-income Black men from 25 to 34 out of the workforce altogether.

The end result of aggressive child support collection is often the flight of fathers from financial burden that may be overwhelming and/or insurmountable.

The system is so anxious to make him pay, that it often holds men financially responsible without their knowledge and without them actually being fathers.

A bill named for Senator Bill Bradley (D-New Jersey), dictates that once a man is assigned financial responsibility, he can not even go to court to have it reduced or erased.

The amendment keeps fathers up under child support even if it is determined that they are not the biological parent.  This is really disturbing, when according to a report by the Los Angeles Times, roughly 70% of fathers are not in court when paternity is established and their monthly obligations are determined.

Fathers who are not present may not even know that they owe child support, and worse, according to that same LA Times report, “on average, more than 350 men every month are incorrectly named as fathers.”

Going back to the Bradley Amendment, those fathers are still held under retroactive child support orders, even after being determined not to be fathers.

There are no legal measures to seek the actual father, or to garner the physical presence of either the biological father, or the father who is being forced to pay child support.

And, in many cases, the mother has no idea who the father is.  This situation has lead to alarming “solutions” within the law.  In some states, financial responsibility is assigned to men who just happen to be around when the woman gets pregnant, whether it is his biological child or not.

The best example of this case is when a couple is married, but the wife has sex with someone other than the husband and produces a child.  Even after the couple divorces and even if DNA tests prove that someone else is the father, the ex-husband can still be assigned fatherhood and child support. And, in most cases, judges will refuse to end established child support, claiming that responsibility must remain with the only father the child has ever known.

We know that there are plentiful measures designed to make him pay, but where are the measures designed to make him present?

Sadly, there are few.

This is not only in reference to measures which would urge fathers to be present in the lives of their children, but also measures designed to enforce custody rights of non-custodial fathers.

Governments provide custodial parents with free assistance in locating the so-called “Deadbeat Dad,” to make him pay, but no state will assist a non-custodial father with locating a mother who has skipped town with the child.

Can society assure that more fathers will be present in the lives of children?

Yes.  But that will require that we change our minds about the propaganda disseminated about the so-called “Deadbeat Dad.”  Even though we can prove that the system allows fraudulent assignment of child support, and that very few men actually want to walk away from their children, some people will continue to babble on with their negative views of single fathers-based on rumors and innuendo, not fact.

Securing more fathers in the lives of children will also require that society’s focus actually be placed on making fathers present as opposed to making them pay.  Even though it has been proven that making him pay has failed, society dredges on with the prosecution of impoverished fathers for debts which continue to go uncollected.

And, finally, if we wish to see more fathers in the lives of children, we must stop the Welfare System from supplanting the father as breadwinner of the family.

In some ways, society is waking up to the fact that making him pay has not made him present and that the system needs to be changed.

The times, they are a’ changin’.  Proof comes from mothers who not only care about their children, but about the relationships those children have with their fathers.

For example, Jacqueline Kennedy, an unwed mother from Los Angeles, told the Los Angeles Times that she prefers personal involvement to child support from her child’s father.

“He calls. He sends cards. He’s an excellent father,” said Kennedy, who supports her family with her job as a child-care worker. “You don’t have to be together to raise a child. Women need to get off Aid to Families With Dependent Children and stop thinking about fathers paying child support. What makes a good father is whether he gets involved.”

Children have needs.

Fathers should pay when they can.  So should mothers. So should society.

Fathers can’t carry children in a womb, but once a child is in the world, fathers can provide nurturing and support to children in a way that is as necessary as the nurturing and support a mother provides.

That is more about being around than being a cash machine.

Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology “Notes From The Edge.” Now, listen to Darryl live on every Monday from 7-9pm, PST. View previous installments of this column at Reach James at

Fatherhood: Be Prepared For Your Child, Be Empathetic

Posted in Black Interests, Black Men with tags , on July 7, 2008 by Gary Johnson

Joel Austin

By Joel Austin

I originally was going to write one of those top ten lists, but I became tired of those when my twelve year old son was still five. What we need to know is that our children do not care about how much money we make, or that we have to get to work on time, or what type of car we drive, or what size house we own. Brace yourself, they care about one thing and one thing only: that is how much time you spend with them. If you are also under belief that you can freely go to work while your souse or child’s mother raises fine young men, you are wrong.

All communities are affected by the fragile families, father-absence, and random unemployment. Be prepared to come straight home to talk, play, and nurture your children. Yes, I did say nurture. Men are excellent at nurturing. Whenever I talk to my son, I put my hand on his shoulder, I look him in the eye, and when we are done, I tell him I love him. This is nurturing, touching, eye contact and out ward emotions. Can you do this? Are you doing this? Start now!

Once you become a Father, you need to ask yourself, is your child’s life, dreams, and success more important to you than your own? You will have to adjust your dreams for theirs. Once you give birth to a child, the responsibility is on you to guide them in the right direction. If a job comes along that doubles your salary but takes you away from home more and more, then who is the job benefiting? It does not benefit the child to have the best bike in the neighborhood, best bat and mitt on the block, and favorite hobby, if you are not there to share them. There are Fathers out there reading this and thinking about how alone they felt as a child with the best of everything.

How do you feel when you see a man playing with his son in the park? I can tell you that you see what truly defines us. What you may not see in the park is the sacrifice that is made every minute every second of every day by that Father. It is a sacrifice of ultimate humility. It is an effort of love that brings out the best of us. In our hearts we all want to be the, “Hero” in the comic book. Fatherhood is the hero and our children are the people in distress that lookup and say, “WOW!”

What we need to know before we become Fathers is how important our role and responsibilities are to their well being. Without Fatherhood involvement, our children will be subject to failing grades, poverty, social problems, criminal behavior and drug abuse. Our job is to set the tone with structure and discipline. We bring about justice and facts along with an example of the way a good man and father acts. Our children are always watching us, that‘s why the sacrifice is so consistent. The other day, I was unable to voice my opinion and yell at a police officer writing me a ticket because I told my children to respect the police. However, if I see that officer again, I will get him a watch so he can see I was not parked that long. Back to writing…

I cannot emphasis how important it is to become comfortable with the commitment and responsibility it takes to be an involved father. I cannot also express how little money matters when it comes to being a great father. What I tend to find is the more we pay for an event the worst the event turns out for the child. We showboat our children into completing things and going places we never did. Ask your child, where would you like to go? Don’t take them to your game until they like it. Be more than just a dad, be empathetic. Seek help, seek guidance, and seek to cure your own issues before you pass them to your children.

Are you comfortable putting off your needs for the needs of your children? Are you willing to put off a tee time appointment with your associates for miniature golf with a child? Do you have a career that is comfortable for your family and their needs? Do you understand that your child is in danger of failing without your presence? Do you realize that to become a Father is not an act of science but and ordainment from the universe? Let me explain:

Fathers who live with their children are more likely to have a close, enduring relationship with their children than those who do not. The best predictor of father presence is marital status. Compared to children born within marriage, children born to cohabiting parents are three times as likely to experience father absence, and children born to unmarried, non-cohabiting parents are four times as likely to live in a father-absent home.

Children who live absent their biological fathers are, on average, at least two to three times more likely to be poor, to use drugs, to experience educational, health, emotional and behavioral problems, to be victims of child abuse, and to engage in criminal behavior than their peers who live with their married, biological (or adoptive) parents.

Children with involved, loving fathers are significantly more likely to do well in school, have healthy self-esteem, exhibit empathy and pro-social behavior, and avoid high-risk behaviors such as drug use, truancy, and criminal activity compared to children who have uninvolved fathers.

The reality of our time is that fatherhood is the problem and the solution to our world’s problems. Fatherhood is the only description of a man that you cannot lose. Let me explain, after you leave this earth people will ask who is that person in the picture; someone will say he was a doctor, he was my husband, and he was this and that. They will always say, that is my father, he is my father or My Dad. You can never loose the title. Please understand how important this ordainment is, it can never be taken from you. It is changing the face of the world as we know it. Your baseball throwing, your attending ballet, your graduation attendance, changes someone’s life. It is the deciding factor whether your daughter or son will fall victim to teen pregnancy, school dropout, and drug use. Your child is doomed without your influence, your time, and your love.

What do you need to know before you have a child? You need to know that you cannot fix everything. Remember that you become a parent the day they are born. Understand that you become a member of the largest fraternity in the world, so ask questions. Realize that you get to live your life over thru theirs. Understand that Disney is nice, but playing catch is free and more memorable. Travel around the world first, so then you will have half the answers to the questions your children will ask you. And last but not least, the most important decision in a man’s life is who he chooses as a spouse. It governs everything else. Chose wisely!

Joel Austin and his organizations Daddy UniverCity and are dedicated to helping all fathers appreciate themselves and the responsibility of fatherhood. To put this complex situation in simple terms, Austin would like to to heal the world one father and child at a time.

Together with Black Men In, Joel will bring you a fresh, practical and relevant perspective to the issue of fatherhood. Helping fathers understand the importance their role has on the future of children throughout the world is a major task, however, it can be done and for many that task will start here on this web site and blog.

Fatherhood: Thank You For Taking Me To Court by Joel Austin

Posted in Black Men, Fatherhood with tags , on April 10, 2008 by Gary Johnson

Joel Austin

On April 7, 2008, I heard the Archbishop Desmond Tutu speak at St Joseph’s University. He quoted: “God has always created existence out of chaos.”  Hence my life and reason for the appreciation of being taken to court.


I have more than one child’s mother, both have taken me to custody and support court. Both have called the police on me. You would think from this simple description that I am a horrible person, not at all. Actually it is the opposite; I experienced the most turmoil while becoming a better father. Puzzled?  Read on.


There was a time when you were taken to court because of your refusal to care for your children, this is not true today.  Support court was created to care for children in a day and age long ago yet the laws have not changed. While Dr. Martin Luther King fought for equality and the poor, family court was missed by the civil rights bills. Women who had children out of wedlock, usually by a married man, were cast away as trash in America. These men who had this child did not acknowledge this child because of the culture of the society. Women were chastised as it being their fault for opening their legs and having a child before marriage. The burden of the child’s welfare landed on the lap of the government. The government did not like paying for the mistakes of its sailors, military men, and traveling salesmen, so out of care for the children Support Court was created.


Today it needs to be reformed. There are more cases of dead broke dads than there are of dead beat dads. The support for our children has never been this difficult. Children and families are not getting rich from support, they are merely surviving. The simple solution is for two parents to decide what is best for their child. The solution is for the two parents who made the child to decide the well being and proper development for the child. What a crazy idea, but what keeps this from happening. The fact that is that in America” It is money we trust, not people.” So children can be worth money if you use them correctly. Children can also cost a lot of money if you let them.


So some mothers take the money over the responsibility of communication, marriage, and faith in their partner. Some fathers walk away from the responsibility because how closely it is related to life-long financial, social, and psychological burden.


It is the gray that is causing harm to our children in the end. Only 15% of all fathers that pay support are deadbeat dads. This is a man or woman that refuses to pay support that can! Most are dead broke, which means they have orders that say what they must pay, and have no way of paying it or very limited funds.


What will it take to get child support reform?  When will we stop hurting children by damaging one or more parents?   I say the solution is joint/shared custody.  This makes both parents liable and accountable for their children’s well being.  What do you think?  Please leave your comments and opinions below.

About The Author


Joel Austin and his organizatin Daddy UniverCity is dedicated to helping all fathers appreciate themselves and the responsibility of fatherhood.  To put this complex situation in simple terms, Austin would like to to heal the world one father and child at a time.

Together with Black Men In, Joel will bring you a fresh, practical and relevant perspective to the issue of fatherhood.  Helping fathers understand the importance their role has on the future of children throughout the world is a major task, however, it can be done and for many that task will start here on this web site and blog. 

Be sure and check out Joel and his articles on the Fatherhood page at Black Men In

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