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Fatherhood And The Unmarried Adolescent African American Male

2902 words - 12 pages

Just about a quarter of all children are now born out of wedlock.... Add to that the substantial fraction of children born into marriages that will not survive.... What do these high rates of marital instability imply for patterns of childbearing, and especially for fathers’ involvement with their children? (Furstenberg & Harris, 1992, p. 199)

The vast amount of research on the topic of adolescent pregnancies has historically focused on the female (such as Furstenberg, 1976 and Stack, 1974). Social scientists have tried to understand the problem and also help the adolescent mother following her decision to give birth to a child. In some places, such as Oakland, California, 73% of adolescents giving birth are African American (Smith, 1988, p.269; Massey, 1991, p. 117). With this in mind, social workers have spent most of their efforts helping adolescent African-American women. The Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and Aid to Families of Dependent Children (AFDC) offer help for many women and their children. Unfortunately, the social workers usually “viewed Black adolescent fathers either as a cause of the problem of adolescent parenthood or as a partial solution in their assigned role of financial provider” (Smith, 1988, p. 269).


Introductory quote focuses on an important public conversation about children born out of wedlock and fathers' involvement with their children. Furtstenburg is considered an expert on the topic of pregnancy among adolescents and the changing American family. The writer further identifies the context for the research as the social sciences and suggests how this research has influenced social workers. Sources provide general background information, specific statistics and a strong quote by Smith.[Link to Developing Arguments in Context]


Society and economic factors have played a damaging role within the African-American home and continue to deal a damaging blow to the African-American male. Social workers historically have viewed an unmarried mother as having a life ahead of continued financial dependence because of the African-American male’s lack in this area. If a male is not supporting the mother financially, the social workers write off the male. As opposed to writing them off, social workers should reach out to adolescent fathers. This essay will try to redefine fatherhood for adolescent African-American fathers with more attention to becoming a willing parent and less attention to the father’s ability to provide financial support. As I proceed I will also try to explain why the young fathers may not be present and explain some of their feelings. I will conclude by offering some ways to reach out to these young fathers.


The writer articulates his position on an issue with important consequences for the African-American family. The key elements of the argument are included here: adolescent African-American...

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