Our favorite black father website, ThyBlackMan, put up a list of the 8 ways fathers benefit boys. Writer Byron Ricks covers all the bases, from identity to lessons about respect, love and sex.
Ricks’ #2 is said especially well – “The need to belong to a family or tribe is a powerful force in boys. Having a father in the picture gives them this sense of alliance.” Ricks goes on to say that kids without fathers tend to join gangs to seek that sort of alliance and family. But I’ve never heard anyone talk about the need for belonging in terms of needing to belong to a “tribe,” especially with the use of the word “alliance.” That’s a great way to describe it. A lot of people tend to say that people need to belong to a “team” – but when you think of it in terms of tribal association, the gang angle makes more sense.
What Ricks lacks is hard facts – he mentions that studies back up his points, but we don’t get the cold, hard facts on it. For some of those facts, a great go-to is always the National Fatherhood Initiative’s “Father Factor” page.
Another good one from Ricks is #4, which doesn’t need any citations to be relevant: “Boys look up to their fathers and imitate what they see. Fathers can model good character traits like integrity, honesty, courage, restraint, fairness, foresight, and citizenship. When fathers are absent, boys look to celebrities, popular musicians, or sports figures for character cues.”
Check out Ricks’ list, then head over to the NFI’s site to fill in with some numbers if you’re so inclined.