Malvin Brewer and his son, 8-year-old, Zavier Brewer enjoying a cool beverage from Speedway after a trip to the park.
By TNCP Staff
There are not many books or resources on single fatherhood but more research and information has been forthcoming in the past 5 years. Parenting magazines offer limited articles about the subject of single men becoming fathers or the myriad of issues involved with co-parenting from the male’s perspective.
Some men do not think that if they are divorced or separated that they are single fathers, but they are. Health professionals do not normally expect a male experiencing anxiety or sleep problems to be as a result of their child’s impending birth either but it does occur. Whether the father has custody or not, there are many challenges for single fathers.
There are programs that are taking note regarding how important it is for a father to be a part of a child’s life regardless of the circumstances. These organization’s understand the need for resources, if not more, because it is becoming more common that men are getting equal custody, visitation or sole custody of their children.
New Young Fathers
Rahman M. Shareef, is the Chief Executive Officer of NewYoungFathers.com. It is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that is committed to helping young men under the age of 25 to become responsible parents to their children through community outreach and education. However, they understand there is a need to speak to all fathers who find themselves without the support that is needed when circumstances arise.
Their team is comprised of education, business, technology, and legal professionals that are passionate about helping young fathers overcome their challenges. In fact, many members of their team have shared the same experience of becoming a father at a young age and overcoming the challenges of fatherhood. Their website features many inspirational videos from men who became young fathers. The videos are geared towards giving advice to newly single fathers but can be useful for fathers of any age.
Shareef said, “The organization’s experience with single fatherhood is that the subject is very much overlooked and not recognized in the same manner that single parenting is viewed when it applies to single parent mothers. Single parent fathers who have needs for their children and a need for support do not have many resources available to find help. We have found the same to be true for fathers in general who may have the need for diapers, car seats, and baby formula.”
He further stated that men have a difficult time even if a father is with the mother but just happens to be the one who is inquiring about help, many resources that are available for mothers turn their resources away if it is a father who is asking.
He added, “If the need is the same (necessities for their children), why should it make a difference? The fact about this matter is that although there may not be as many single parent fathers who have these responsibilities as there are mothers, there are still a lot of single parent fathers who are either the only guardians of their children, or they spend significant time parenting their children alone.”
However, the image that is portrayed of most single parent fathers in today's society is not that of a positive one. Most of them are a negative image of a "baby's daddy" who is delinquent in paying child and only sees his children every now and then, or when he feels like it. The truth is however, that there are a lot of single parent fathers who genuinely love their children and do everything within in their power to raise them up in the best upbringing possible.
NYF is not asking for fathers to get special recognition for what they are supposed to be doing anyway as a father, but hardworking single parent fathers should at least receive the same celebration that mothers get today for being hard workers for their families!
Do Mothers Get More Help?
In society, motherhood is valued more than fatherhood. Pregnancy provides women with the opportunity to connect with others more than men. People will hold the door open, help with bags, offer their seats but psychologically the man may think he is just as pregnant as she is. The financial stressors of bringing a child into the world is also a major concern.
There are also some psychological changes that need to be made by the male population. Some fathers do not even realize that they play a single parent role when they are separated from the mother of their children and care for their children for any significant amount of time. There are a lot of fathers that take on the important roles of cooking for their children, getting their children ready for school, grooming their children, and making sure that all of their physical, emotional, and mental needs are met.
Being an Involved Father is Key
Malvin Brewer said, “I wouldn't say that being a single parent is difficult, I would say that it is challenging. Parenthood is very important to me because you have a hand in shaping and molding your child into something great!”
When Brewer was 30 years old he became a single father. Zavier Brewer is his only child. He is 8-years-old and he lives with his mother.
According to the website www.childstats.org, sixty-four percent of children ages 0–17 lived with two married parents in 2014, down from 77 percent in 1980. In 2014, 24 percent of children lived with only their mothers, 4 percent lived with only their fathers, and 4 percent lived with neither of their parents. The percentages and trends in what one would consider a “normal” family structure are changing.
Born and raised in Lansing, Brewer’s family consisted of his brother and his mother and even though he did not grow up with his father in the household that is not holding him back from being involved and present in his child’s life.
He said that his mother and other single mothers have blazed the trail before single fathers but it is time to give equal treatment to males who do not consider taking care of his children as baby sitting.
Brewer said there is a widespread issue with how a large majority of the single fathers are viewed by society and added that most of the men that he knew wanted to be and are involved in their children’s lives. He said that the negativity that single fathers get does not help them with being successful parents. Men unlike women have a more difficult time seeking out others for help. Women have a broader group of friends and networking capabilities due to the availability of organizations and groups available to help females.
Fathers Can Nurture Too
Brewer said that with his relationship with his son is based on communication and trust.
“I didn’t grow up with my father in the home but I knew of him. I feel that when it comes to my relationship that I have with my son that I can’t use the issue of my father not being in my home to not be involved,” said Brewer.
While his son does not live with him, he lives with him every two weeks and said that he follows the court handbook for holidays and other times. For first time single fathers, navigating the system can seem daunting and overwhelming.
Brewer said, “ Time spent together is really important. As far as wanting to spend more time with your child or children, the court sets a certain limit and the amount of money you have to pay. The issue of money is a huge factor in causing problems within a relationship with children. Most single fathers struggle with paying child support, having a roof over their head and food to eat! Most single mothers do not have to deal with that issue at all!”
Brewer said as a single father, he wanted to do what was right by his son. He said that whatever activity he and his son are engaged in that he wants to make sure that it is a learning experience. Having a routine is also important and it establishes structure in a two family home. Brewer added emphatically that it is his job to make sure that his son feels safe, cared for and loved.
Even though Brewer has limited time with his son, he spends a lot of time engaging in outdoors activities.
"From fishing, playing basketball, chasing him around trying to catch him is how I stay engaged while teaching valuable life lessons and skills as well.”
Brewer laughed and added, “The running around helps me stay in shape.”
Taking advantage of free events and experiencing the many recreational and cultural opportunities will increase both the father and child’s awareness and appreciation each other. Any chance to bond while teaching is instrumental to the cohesiveness of a parent child relationship.
Brewer says that he takes advantage of low cost excursions in between the larger more expensive ones, like trips to water or amusement parks. One of his favorite events is “Be a Tourist in Your Own Town.”
It was created by the Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau (GLCVB) to showcase greater Lansing's attractions, special events and businesses to local residents. Participants can purchase a "passport" for $1.00 at various locations throughout the community throughout the month of May. This passport allows the participants into all of the participating attractions throughout the region for free on the day of the event.
The Capital Area Transportation Authority (CATA) partners with the GLCVB to provide five bus transportation routes with dedicated stops and multiple busses on each route to get to the majority of attractions. Just pay fifty (50) cents when you board the bus and receive a transfer that will allow patrons to freely get on and off the busses until the end of the event.
According to GLCVB’s website, www.lansing.org, an estimated 15,000 residents and visitors come out to enjoy the day and Brewer was one of them.
“Going to the ‘Be a Tourist in your Own Town’ event was spectacular. I have been taking Zavier ever since he was a baby. I have been able to see how it has evolved and grown. It is fun to get to watch him experience so many different things in one day. We also get to ride the bus together. It is a great bonding time for us and we have grown right along with it. We look forward to it every year!”
Brewer is not daunted by the fact that he is a single father. He states he enjoys every moment that he can spend with his son. He is involved in his school life as well and looks forward to Zavier changing the world in a positive manner.
“My future looks very bright and I hope for excellence and achievements in my son’s future! I have a huge support system and I thank God for them! I would tell all fathers no matter what the situation is keep God first and fight to be in your kid or kids life! It is important that they know they are loved. It is important for fathers to continually be in their lives regardless.”
This article was printed in the August 9, 2015 -August 22, 1015 edition.