Welfare Myths About Fathers

Cynthia Gordy wrote a helpful and informative post on the myths of politics, economics, and fatherhood over at The Root.  In her article she includes several statements from leaders in the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development where officials are working to promote their hopes for father involvement in families.

“All of us realize the critical importance of fathers in the home,” Ron Sims, deputy secretary of HUD, told The Root. “We want fathers to understand that they are welcome at our housing-authority sites, and that we want them there to play meaningful roles in raising their children and supporting the women that they’ve been with.”

Gordy tracks the main myth that the welfare system has inherently sought to undermine families and the unification of families.  She clears up the historical thread associating financial assistance from the government with the dismissal of fathers from homes.  Enlisting the words of Andrew Billingsley, a sociologist, the article points to unemployment as the main culprit in the abrupt shifts in male presence and participation in the family.

“What happened in the mid-1950s were technological changes that abolished unskilled jobs that most black men could do and created high-tech jobs that they couldn’t,” Billingsley told The Root, explaining that the advent of efficient, goods-producing machines drove millions of black men out of the stable blue-collar work force. “That’s what kept black families from getting and staying married, not the welfare system. To say otherwise is a misunderstanding of the data, and it’s a misreading of history.”

I have to confess that I have functioned from the notions which Cynthia Gordy so carefully addresses.  Though I do not receive funds from the government these days, I worked in a church for several years that served as a site for the Department of Human Services, cutting checks to women who were searching for work as part of Temporary Aid for Needy Families.  I’ve heard their stories.  I have lovely memories visiting the WIC site over in Roseland near Roseland Community Hospital when my niece was newly born.  And like most of my friends, I know what it means to stand in a line or two waiting for those huge blocks of church cheese.  I am thankful for Ms. Gordy’s work in this article.  Take a look at it by clicking here, if you haven’t already.

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