A new study shows that the rate of American women who have children with multiple fathers, also called “multiple-father family structure,” is “pervasive.”
According to the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1 in 5 American Moms has kids with different birth fathers.
And you probably already know what’s next.
Black Mothers lead the list: 59 percent of us have children with more than one father, while Hispanics come in second place at 35 percent and whites come in last at 22 percent.
According to the study’s author Cassandra Dorius, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, “[Mothers with multiple fathers for their children] are more likely to be underemployed, to have lower incomes and to be less educated.”
According to the study, families with multiple fathers are stressed out, with issues often arising about how to consistently raise a child in different households:
“Everyday decisions are more complex and family rules are more ambiguous,” Dorius says. “Families need to figure out who lives with whom and when, who pays for things like clothing, who is responsible for child support.”
The most unsettling theory about the high rate of children with different fathers is when the study considers what the outcome will be for the children involved:
“It’s possible that some of these kids will be multiply disadvantaged.”
Esteemed psychologist of the “Today Show” and resident psychologist of VH-1’s “Daddy Day Camp” Dr. Jeff Gardere, talked with BlackVoices.com about this issue:
“In the past, multiple fathers was more of a product of poverty and the ravages of racism in the black community. And we do know that it caused more conflict and confusion for the kids and a harder time for mom’s to manage.”
Unlike study author Dorius’ assessment, Dr. Gardere doesn’t see a bleak picture for the majority of children who are brought up in households with multiple fathers:
“Kids can still thrive psychologically when there has been more than one father in the lives of their families.”
To Dr. Gardere, this latest study actually exposes a positive development in society:
“I believe that instead of just seeing this as a deficit issue, I want to look at it from a strength base view point. It now seems this phenomenon may be based not just on poverty and racism, but more on the issues of lower marriage rates, higher divorce rates, less available men who are willing to totally commit and women who can either go it alone or manage the situation with multiple fathers.”
Honestly, I think we do ourselves — and our children — a disservice by trying to put a positive spin on these findings. It is no secret that many of our children are not only growing up with multiple fathers but without fathers.
And we see how far that has gotten us.
I think I can speak for most black women that no one plans to have children by different men. For many of these women, the children produced with different men occur in unplanned pregnancies.
Now sure, many will argue that black women definitely need to be more discerning about the men that they sleep with and use birth control — and they are right.
But it isn’t as though some black women haven’t been able to come up with this on their own. There are, albeit not as many, a number of black women, who I know personally, who refuse to have a child out of wedlock. Some of these women are still waiting to conceive deep in to their 40s with no suitor in sight.
So there is a problem.
And the other side of that problem is indeed some black men.
For some of those hardworking Mothers with different baby daddys, there is a major discrepancy between what they and their significant other want. I don’t know how many black men I’ve seen who will date the Mother of their children for years.
These men love their children and more often than not take care of their responsibilities, but when it comes to making the relationships they have with their women official, there’s a lot of backpedaling.
When I have asked jokingly (no pressure) when they are going to put a ring on their lady’s finger, they are quick to say that they aren’t the marrying type — too bad they didn’t realize that they also aren’t the father type.
And when said woman gets tired of waiting, she often breaks it off with her child’s father and starts the next relationship anew, hoping that this relationship will be the one that finally elevates her from “girlfriend” and “baby’s mama” to “wife.”
And for many, their day hasn’t come yet: the last wasted relationship is followed by yet another and another, and children are unfortunately created in between.
Black women need to shoulder their share of the responsibility about using birth control until a man has proven that he wants to be in a committed relationship (read: married). But there is an equally troubling issue with some black men: why are they comfortable “dating” their baby mama for 10 years and never making it official, causing many of these kids to be born out of wedlock?
This question — and so many others — needs answering.
We owe it to our children.