Melissa Harris-Perry | February 17, 2013
>>> while the rhetoric suggests fatherhood is the answer to a variety of problems from violence to poverty, the research tells a more complicated story. families where there's a mother and father they are not immune to the force that is create a pitfall. the bonds of ma tra moeny -- those are the findings of my next guest, a scholar whose research focuses on men of color, fatherhood . the center of race politics and culture at the university of chicago . he's the author of " social work with african- american males ." nice to see you, waldo.
>> good to see you as well, melissa.
>> what is it that we need to know about the role of fathers?
>> there are a number of things we need to know . many of those things we already know. we need to also put them into a broader context. you know, fatherhood is a, in many ways, a developmental role that even those who enter into it fully prepare to assume a lot of, many of the responsibilities. often do better at it over time. in a way that perhaps motherhood occurs. but, particularly for those who enter into fatherhood somewhat unprepared whether as a result of individual failings in terms of early transition to fatherhood as it lessens, those men are most definitely much more likely to experience a lot of difficulties in terms of being able to uphold what are generally viewed as expectations of fatherhood . it's interesting because my research suggests even among those men who tend to maintain the expectations firefighter themselves still must find a way to kind of reconstruct their notions of fatherhood often without a good script for doing so.
>> i wanted to ask you a little bit about exactly that question because i think part of how people respond to president obama is as a great dad. he seems to enjoy children and others, he's a baby whisperer . we have all kind of great photographs of the president with children. there's a pleasure in watching the kind of performance of, i don't mean that in a bad way, watching a nurturing father figure especially from an african-american man. i also wonder if there's a kind of blaming, sort of self-blame th ing that occurs if you are an adolescent father, poor father or incarcerated father who can't do the president barack obama version of fatherhood .
>> yeah. as i was saying, i think that blaming is both a self-blaming as well as a societial blaming. a self-blaming that results in forms of psychological role strain, paternal role strain that is believing you ought to be doing something that you are unable to do but not quite sure how you go about doing it. then, again, there's a larger societial expectation that we have for fathers. i think many of the points that the panel has made in the proceeding session kind of illustrates the difficulties with respect to particularly those who enter into fatherhood unprepared to do so often are challenged by. but also those who go in fairly prepared. the point made earlier with regard to the whole industrialization as really put forth a huge challenge, you know, for men in terms of their, what may be viewed as their major role. those who were previously able to go into the labor market and get jobs with little, fairly limited education find themselves at a real loss right now as we have moved more into the surface economy. i think this is no more apparent than in the african-american community among african-american fathers.
>> waldo, thank you so much. i have long appreciated your work on fathers and the complex ways you help us think about the roles fathers play. thank you for joining us.
>> thank you.
>>> up next, a moment from the campaign that i am never going to forget.
>> happy anniversary to one of my favorite shows on cable television . oops. melissa harris-perry, congratulations to you and the entire