What It Means to Be Daddy: Fatherhood for Black Men Living Away from Their Children

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Absent fathers, the breakdown of the nuclear family, and single-mother households are often blamed for the poor quality of life experienced by many African American children. Jennifer F. Hamer challenges both the imposition of an inappropriate value system and the resulting ineffectual social policies. Most of what we know about fathers who do not live with their children is based on interviews with the mothers; this book is based on interviews with the fathers themselves. How do these fathers perceive their roles and responsibilities?

This myth-shattering book challenges stereotypes of negotiating parenthood within the context of poverty, live-away status, and black American manhood. Hamer has collected the voices of eighty-eight men who participated in this study by first examining the macro or cultural elements that encompass men's daily lives. As part 1 explores these larger forces that define the social world of fathers, part 2 looks at what significant others expect of men as fathers and how they behave under these circumstances. Part 3 analyzes the particular parenting roles and functions of fathers, using narratives of individual men to tell their own stories. In this book, contemporary black live-away fathers talk about their goals, walk us through their workplaces, allow us to meet their families and children, and enable us to view the world of parenthood through their eyes.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Contemporary Sociology
Offers a healthy antidote to prevailing negative images of live-away fathers.... Makes a good case for assisting those whom society has failed.

— Bart Landry, University of Maryland

Contemporary Sociology - Bart Landry
Offers a healthy antidote to prevailing negative images of live-away fathers.... Makes a good case for assisting those whom society has failed.
Hamer has attempted a useful project: an ethnography of poor, black fathers who do not live with their children. At a time when 70 to 90 percent of black children are or will be fatherless, this is a timely concern. Hamer accomplishes the difficult task of getting 50 such fathers to talk to her about their lives and their fathering. The extensive quotations from her subjects are the most valuable part of the book.
Hamer (sociology, Southern Illinois U.) explores the situation of low-income black fathers in America who live away from their children for a variety of reasons. The study is based upon the words of black fathers themselves. The text is organized into sections that examine the larger forces that define the social world of fathers, what fathers feel significant others expect of them, and fathers' parenting roles and functions. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231115551
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 4/11/2001
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Jennifer F. Hamer is assistant professor of sociology at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Fathers lives in contextI. The World in which Fathers LiveOne: There's no such thing as a Good Black Father: "Standard of Fatherhood"Two: Slavery, Civil War, and Reconstruction: Creating a Context for Live-Away FatherhoodThree: "Times Are Just Going to Get Worse:" Fathers Chasing the American DreamII: Expectations of OthersFour: "Just Be There For the Baby:" What Fathers Say Others ExpectFive: "Black Men Can Do Better:" What Mothers Say Fathers Do for Their ChildrenIII: Live Away But Absent? Six: What Fathers Say They Do as DaddiesSeven: Live-Away But AbsentEight: "Ain't Nothing Like Trying to be a Father and Trying to be a Man:" Barriers to being DaddyCONCLUSION: "Got to Make Fatherhood Work for us:" The Meaning of a Fatherhood for Black Men Who Do Not Live With Their ChildrenBibliography

Columbia University Press

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