On September 20, 2019, Andrew Sullivan on Real Time: With Bill Maher stated that "70% of black children are born without a father." While there's a statistic that states 72% of black children are born into single-parent households, that does not validate the stereotype that black fathers are not present in their children's life. According to Statista, in 2019 there were about 15.76 million children living with a single mother and about 3.23 million children living with a single father. While the numbers are much lower for single fathers compared to single mothers, fathers are very much present in their children's lives, despite marital statuses.
I want to shine light on the black men we know and love. The black men that may be overlooked who are proof that they are an active father.
I had the chance to sit down with a good friend of mine, Matthew Carothers, who was able to talk with me about his experience as a full-time single father. Originally from the west side of Chicago, Matthew currently resides in Phoenix, Arizona with his two sons Aaron (9) and Alvin (7). While being granted full custody of the children, given the circumstances, Matthew was ready to step up as the sole provider for his sons.
While parenthood is different for everyone, Matt and I were able to highlight three key areas on what life is like being a father.
“Fatherhood definitely showed me where I was lacking and where I needed to be.”
Becoming a parent can be one of the greatest and one of the most challenging experiences. You have to be able to shift your priorities because now it isn't all about you, but about you and your family. As a father, Matt explains that one of the biggest challenges is finances. "You have to make sure everything you get for yourself, you get for your children too. Like I can be lazy and say, I don't want to go to work. But, if I don't go to work, I don't get paid. If I don't get paid, who is going to provide for my boys?"
Managing purchases and even managing time can definitely be a wake-up call for most parents, but with challenge comes opportunity. Becoming a parent, you're able to tap into skills you perhaps would've never known you had without having children. "There is an instinct that you have when raising your kids that you later understand why your parents did what they did when raising you," he revealed.
Being a parent, especially a father, lets you see yourself in a new and different way. Now even with struggles, there are always rewards that keep you motivated.
"The best part about being a father is whenever I talk to my kids, they look at me like I'm a superhero. Like I am the strongest person ever and there is nothing that I can't do in their eyes. In my opinion, nothing can beat that."
Hearing this, I can only imagine how it feels to create someone who depends on you, looks up to you, and thinks the world of you. With that kind of responsibility, it helps you become more selfless and to think more about the future.
“In dating, I’m not looking for just anyone to date, I’m looking at the bigger picture."
We all need love, right? Whether you're a parent or not, we all search for someone we can share our life with. For Matt, dating hasn't necessarily halted. For him, it's important to be more intentional when dating.
"Dating as a single father is different for me. When I say different, I mean my mentality has changed. In dating, I'm not looking for just anyone to date, I'm looking at the bigger picture."
When you're a parent, dating becomes more serious. While you're balancing work and family life, finding someone isn't about who can vibe with you, but who can vibe with you and your kids. You are a package deal. As a father, Matt prioritizes if a woman he's dating will get along with his sons in the long run. He wants to make sure that if he does develop feelings for someone, they're already prepared to welcome his family with an open mind and heart.
Even if dating can become more serious, dating has to be fun too. "My mom taught me when I became a father that yes you are a dad, but you still have to find time for yourself."
“Do not try to be perfect, because you are going to make mistakes.”
When children are young, they look to their parents to teach them everything about the world. For a father and son, it can be about learning how to be strong and confident, how to navigate the world when you get older, and how to be one another's support system. A father and son bond is just as impactful as the bond between a mother and daughter. Since Matt is raising two sons, he mentioned that the biggest lesson for him as a father is how to raise them the right way.
"It's important to instill things in them when they are young or it will not catch. The biggest things I teach my boys is how to act when they are around other people and how to be respectful."
Whatever lesson a father passes down to his son, without a doubt, shapes how the son grows into a man. Fatherhood for Matt, ironically, is what helped him become a better man. The one piece of advice Matt has for soon-to-be fathers is: "Do not try to be perfect, because you are going to make mistakes."
We as humans put a lot of pressure on ourselves. After trial and error, it isn't about being the perfect person or parent; it's about doing the best we can. We must remember to always learn from our mistakes and keep getting better with our hearts in the right place.
That is what counts.
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'K' is a multi-hyphenated free spirit from Chicago. She is a lover of stories and the people who tell them. As a writer, 9-5er, and Safe Space Curator, she values creating the life she wants and enjoying the journey along the way. You can follow her on Instagram @theletter__k_.
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Everything Kerry Washington Has Said About Her Husband Nnamdi Asomugha
Actress Kerry Washington and her relationship with her husband, actor Nnamdi Asomugha, is the perfect example of a winning team.
The pair became an item following a chance encounter in 2009, and many years later, on June 24, 2013, Washington and Asomugha would secretly tie the knot. Since then, the high-profile couple has expanded their blended family by welcoming two children, a daughter Isabelle Asomugha, 8, and a 6-year-old son Caleb Asomugha. Asomugha also has a daughter from a previous relationship.
Despite Washington and Asomugha choosing to live a relatively private life for the most part by not sharing images of their family on social media and occasionally attending events together. The rare glimpses they provide to the public showcase that Washington and Asomugha have much in common regarding essential topics.
For example, Washington is highly involved in politics and encourages others to participate by spreading information about various issues and how everyone would be affected.
As for Asomugha, the 41-year-old officially founded the Asomugha Foundation in 2010, years after doing other charity work in Nigeria. According to its site, the organization was created to help "disadvantaged youth and women by providing educational opportunities and mentorship."
Washington's public remarks regarding her relationship with Asomugha and their family may be rare, but when she does speak about their family, it's all positive.
Kerry On Why She Keeps Her Relationship Private
Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Bronx Children's Museum
In March 2016, the UnPrisioned actress revealed during a discussion panel at SXSW Festival that one of the reasons why she is adamant about remaining private about her union with Asomugha is because she doesn't want the public to make any narratives regarding her marriage.
At the time, it was reported that Washington and the former NFL player were experiencing marital troubles and were allegedly planning on getting a divorce. Washington would shut down those allegations by saying she hasn't and will not share any information about her private life.
"Social media has actually been great for [other celebrities'] relationships with the weeklies or the gossip sites because people say things and they say, 'That's not true!' So I'm thinking in some ways, it's been great because people are able to maintain their voice," she explained.
"It's a little different for me because I don't talk about my personal life. That means not only did I not tell you when I was getting married, it also means if somebody has rumors about what's going on in my marriage, I don't refute them, because I don't talk about my personal life."
Kerry On How She Met Nnamdi And What A Normal Day Looks Like for Their Family
Fast forward to October 2018, the Scandal star gave insight into how she met Asomugha and their family life. During an interview with Marie Claire, Washington shared that she and Asomugha met in 2009 while she was working on the Broadway play Race.
The mother of two told the publication that her life has "completely transformed" since their encounter. "The last time I did theater, it completely transformed my life. That's where I met my husband. I love being with my family. My days off look like homework, reading, and watching stuff. Just hanging out, doing things we love to do," she stated.
Kerry On Nnamdi's Accomplishment
Photo by Jeffrey Camarati/Getty Images
But as time progressed, Washington began speaking a little more openly about her man. In October 2022, Washington gushed over Asomugha and his Netflix project, The Good Nurse, which came out around the same time her film, The School for Good and Evil, was released. While talking to Entertainment Tonight, the star expressed how "proud" she was of her husband.
"I'm really proud of him, I think he's doing amazing work. I'm really excited for his film, The Good Nurse," she said. "It's really exciting to both have really important films at Netflix right now, we feel really blessed.”
Kerry On Why Nnamdi Is Her Soulmate
Washington shared how her love with Asomugha goes beyond the surface after spending over a decade together.
In a March 2023 interview with Marie Claire, Washington explained that she and Asomugha are perfectly aligned because she's allowed to be her authentic self with him.
"I'm in my immediate truth with [him]," Washington said. "Those mirrors are important because they help me get back to myself."
Kerry On The Couple's Upcoming 10-Year Wedding Anniversary
Photo by Bruce Glikas/Getty Images
That same month, Washington expressed that in addition to the many years the couple has been together, and their personal and professional accomplishments, she still finds Asomugha "incredible."
Washington shared this revelation while promoting her latest project, UnPrisioned, in an Entertainment Tonight interview.
"I do have an incredible husband," the actress told ET host Kevin Frazier as she disclosed little to no details about their upcoming plans for their tenth wedding anniversary. "Do you remember how secret my wedding was? How private and secretive it was? That's how the anniversary is gonna be too!"
Kerry On Why She Thinks Nnamdi And Their Children Are A Gift From God
Washington's love and admiration for Asomugha and their family grow increasingly each day, so much so that she uses it as inspiration to share positive messages with her fans.
The 46-year-old revealed during a panel with Al Sharpton at National Action Network Convention on April 12 that she sees her husband and their children as "proof" that God exists and loves her because of the great joy they bring to her life.
"Well, you've met my husband, my husband's amazing. I got a good one. We have three beautiful children. And I think, you know, when I look at my marriage, and I look at my kids, fundamentally, they are proof of God to me,” she said. "Because I know that God loves me to have put those people in my life. And that sense of like, knowing that God loves me. That, to me, is so much of how I make the decisions about the activism that I do and the content that I make."
Regardless of what the public may think about Washington and Asomugha's private union, they are proving with each moment that love can conquer all.
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Feature image by Arturo Holmes/MG23/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue