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Thursday, July 07, 2005

Boys Need Fathers

Bob Herbert skipped writing his usual pseudo-economic columns for a heart-felt blast of reality in Dad's Empty Chair regarding the lack of fathers in the black community. He relates the circumstance of the fatal knifing of Christopher Rose in Brooklyn. Last weekend, the 15-year-old Rose was attacked and killed when a pack of teenagers robbed his companion’s iPod.

Comments Herbert:

Crime has eased in the past several years, but the toll on the young in many black communities is still horrific. And I can't think of this continuing slaughter of black youngsters without also thinking about the mass flight of black men from their family responsibilities, especially the obligation to look after their children.

Most black people are not poor, and most are law-abiding. But the vacuum left by this exodus of black men from the family scene has nevertheless been devastating, and its destructive effects are felt by entire communities.

Herbert’’s form of criticism is like that of a favorite uncle. Kindly and soft. Bill Cosby has been critical in the way a father would come down on an errant child. Firmly and with strength. Both form’s are necessary and both men are correct. And Herbert never reached for his convenient whipping boys-conservatives, Republicans or government. Good for him!

I have a son and a daughter. How I relate to each is different. Unconsciously, I find that my approach in disciplining my son is to be firmer and less explanatory. I think this is a natural tendency for men. It is clearly what is missing from the boys raised in the largely fatherless black community.

This is described by Herbert as:

Kids who grow up without a father never experience that special sense of security and the enhanced feeling of belonging that come from having a father in the home. So they seek it elsewhere. They don't get that sweet feeling of triumph that comes from a father's approval, or the warmth of the old man's hug, or the wisdom to be drawn from his discipline.

It is a sad situation that must be addressed from within the community. I am happy to see Herbert recognizes this.

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