Doing the best I can: Fatherhood in the Inner City
Synopsis of the Book
“Doing the Best I can” is a book that looks into the truth regarding inner-city fatherhood. There is no doubt that whenever one becomes a parent, so much is expected from them. Clearly, it is expected that they should provide clothing, food as well as other basic needs for the child, to make sure they have shelter, happy, comfortable and encouraged life. Additionally, the society expects when one becomes a parent, they should teach the child compassion, religion, good morals, respect and other moral living aspects like sending them to school. What is so amazing is that even the president of the state expects fathers to stick around the baby.
This poses a major question, which is, just how easy is parenting? What aspects make a good father? Such questions are answered in the book written by Kathryn Edin working with Timothy Nelson, Doing the best I Can.
Newscasts, commencement speeches as well as other kinds of speeches overflow with the recommendation: youthful Black men must make improved “choices”, specifically, they are expected to accept responsibilities as well as bring children they parent. Any reluctance to do so as stated by Timothy and Kathryn is “denounced as one of the leading social problems of our day”.
Nevertheless, the reality on inner-city fatherhood is a reality. Kathryn and timothy, in seeking the answer actually went to Camden, N.J in order to observe the behavior of one hundred and ten men in Philadelphia and Camden. Their main objective was to have an understanding of the experiences of White men, Latino and Black men, all of whom comprised unwed fathers. To the surprise of the authors, they made the discovery formation of a couple was, for majority of men, an informal incident, almost like an accident. Affairs “just happened” and so did pregnancies, which in majority of cases, “happened” comparatively at a similar speed. Despite the fact, authors also noted there were pregnancies that appeared to be “semi-planned”.
Experts could point to the opposite, though fathers indicated a “surprising desire to parent their kids”. For the largest part, individuals interviewed were happy regarding their “own” children. As a matter of fact, Kathryn and Timothy came to the establishment that, it was the child the father was actually attached to. The mother, was an afterthought. Yet, in the end, decisions that pertained to financial help, daily provision for the child and child bearing were responsibilities assumed by the mum, regardless the fact fathers did what they could by using their limited resources either financially or physically. Additionally, every man was quite precise regarding whom a “good father” is citing deeds and actions that were contradictory to that which they expected from their own dad…
Without doubt, doing the Best I Can is a captivating solitary book. From the start to the end of the research, Kathryn and Nelson wind up some readers while they bring others down. It is however evident that it has encouragement as well as a strong call to responsible fatherhood within pages that are contained in the book. The book, doing the Best I Can, does not in any way substantiate most of the aged beliefs; on the contrary, it turns them into the region of knowledge with compassionate and hopeful sympathy in opposition to “unintelligent” behavior. What is more, the book includes an advice and warning to inner-city white, black and Latino women which is quite a revelation.
The book’s main new contributions to the literature
Doing the Best I Can is a book that makes remarkable contribution to the existing research and literatures in the field of unwed fatherhood and parenting and single motherhood. More importantly, it addresses the concern of development and growth among children that is based on cultural, economic, environmental and social factors. The behavior of a child as well as his or her ability to navigate through different stages in life is viewed as one of the most crucial indicators for socioeconomic wellness, though factors influencing it still remain unresolved. There are suggestions that determine the behavior of a child and these are reliant on whether the parent is poor or rich. The impact on development of the child, in case of poor parents, could also be affected by economic and social challenges. Doing the Best I Can focuses on the manner in which social and economic factors influence the healthy development of a child. Using data from 110 men, who are White, Black and Latino, with income groups, the authors discerned financial constraints, unplanned pregnancies, unwed fatherhood and relationships that came to an end are the major child development contributors.
There are more studies that attribute child development to environmental influences and they take it to be responsive to socioeconomic factors (Fan & Chen, 2001). The negative relationship between infant development and economic development has been given a lot of weight in literature. Ford et al (2010) makes the argument that income inequality leads to health risks. This is contrary to absolute hypothesis, which postulates that income is the only thing that affects health and not how it is distributed. The study additionally provides analysis of various connections between health and income, in which case, the argument is that income has great impact on health, income affects health following epistemological transition.
The book also contributes to literature on motherhood and poverty. It is common to find poor women giving birth early in their lives when they are not financially prepared to offer support to their children (Edin & Nelson, 2013). Early motherhood, positively relates to the financial stability of females and labor participation rate, which means women with financial challenges and low labor participation give birth often to unplanned babies on the desire or promise to be married. However, coefficient for female labor participation is close to zero, with possible explanation that women who take part in labor are breadwinners and hence, they have enough income to spend in maintaining the health of the babies, though at the same time, they lack time to care for the babies hence have a net off-effect.
Based on findings in the book, social work professionals have an understanding of challenges faced by unwed fathers, single mothers and reasons contributing to unplanned pregnancies. Social workers entrusted with the mandate of helping people make decisions, understand life, and avoid future problems and other numerous responsibilities. As such, understanding the reason men or women participate in an affair they are not ready to face the consequences is crucial for them to be effective. Such knowledge is outlined in the book Doing the Best I Can and can be of great assistance to women in inner city.
How the premise presented in the book relates to life-course development
Drawing from the book, Doing the best I can indicates how cultural and economic challenges change the meaning of fatherhood for the urban poor people. Because of hardship, parents often leave responsibilities of child raising to mothers. This leads to hardships in the early years of a child’s development. Such issues relate to the growth and development of children since they are often affected by the social and economic state of their father.
Overall, the book exposes a notable trend in process of child developmental psychology. The author’s findings are linked with theories of human development and other theories explaining that unconscious happenings affect a child’s growth. Many psychonauts have worked as individuals helping others solve their behavior problems and well develop them. Sigmund Freud and Erik Erikson are 2 scholars and psychonauts who have made some great impact in the field. Freud believed have to be caused (Mac Brayer, Milich, & Hundley, 2003).
Freud also believed a person goes through some psychosexual stages from childhood through to adulthood and whenever they miss one pint in these states, they can remain stuck for the remainder of their lives. They included 5 stages that include anal, phallic, oral, and genital and latency stages. The first stage is oral which is evidenced in the child’s first year. Everything in this stage is cantered in the mouth as that is where they put everything. The second is anal stage which covers the age bracket of one and 3 years, it focuses on the anus and its products. In this stage, children endeavor to gain control of their excretory functions. Phallic stage starts at the age of three to five years and focuses on sexual activity, as the boys desire to spend time with their mother while the girls with their fathers. This happens for boys to learn what it takes to be a father and the girls, a mother. Failure of this taken place results in individuals admiring men and women who are the replica of their parents (Georgiou, 1996).
The third stage is known as latency stage and covers the age bracket of 6 to 12 years, children in this stage are more social and they also develop the urge of making cross sex friendships. Genital stage occurs during adolescence and above and its where attraction between individuals of the opposite sex is clearly evident. At this stage, people have the urge of practicing sexuality; sexual libidinal, hedonistic desire is also part of the stage (Baumrind, 1996).
Erikson’s theory presents social development aspects that are different. His primary stages are the same to Freud’s, though the last ones talk more about development in adults. Each stage is characterized by the development of ego strength or virtue. The developed virtue is what forms part of the person’s or child’s ego skills. As such, a negative form of ego strength arises if it is developed poorly at any of the stages. Every stage has a crisis with conflict that is centered on a given issue. Conversely, the early development stages give way to later stages though rehabilitation occurs later in healthy relationships that one engages in life. Other relationships are vital in every stage; as such intergenerational interactions are very crucial in assisting children, young people as well as the elderly develop life skills that are important. The development, whether in an adult or child, can as well affect their cultural and social development.
From these developmental theories, it is evident that the findings in Doing the Best I Can indicate children of unwed fathers encounter numerous challenges in the course of infancy that affect their growth (Edin & Nelson, 2013). These include identity issues, anxieties, ego, failed dreams, unmet needs and poverty as well as other problems. Precisely because of this, they might not be in the position to develop desirable behavior when they are grown. For example, because of anxieties, ego creates a defense mechanism to avoid them; all the mechanisms may be unhealthy and immoral but still capable of helping one cope with harsh realities. Some of these mechanisms include; denial which is most common, people are afraid of admitting the obvious truth which appears to put them down before others, it endeavors to protect ego from aspects it cannot cope with though the process is energy consuming. The most common form of denial is addiction, which many people view as problematic and they fail to admit that they are under the influence of alcohol or substance. Repression is another defense mechanism, striving to maintain information from mindful consciousness. While the memories might be kept under cover, they might not disappear fully and in some cases, might influence future behaviors. Displacement is another defense mechanism people use in order to relieve their stresses on others. When people become frustrated by situations, they become harder on their family and friends and they are said to have displaced them (Baumrind, 1966).
Role of Social Work for Professionals in Human Development
Children who are fatherless or those from poor families always remain marginalized in society and they experience “considerably high rates of poverty than those who come from rich backgrounds in the UK” due to exploitation and discrimination by other groups that have vested interests (McCarthy, 2007). However, over the years, the need for a foundation that is strong to make their rights known and as such, find ways to improve their status in society has focused on the work of social activists and professionals (Fan & Chen, 2001). Additionally, other parties involved offer their support to the poor children come together and they decide to undertake initiatives that offer them equal opportunities as others within the society.
In the same manner, the UK government is focused on “greater emphasis on improving employment outcomes for the ethnic minorities” to enhance their economic status (McCarthy, 2007). Additionally, some of the organizations in the UK, like Oxfam, created events that involve policy makers, policy papers and published articles as well as linked with media in order to give the poor families a platform where they can articulate ideas in society. According to Robl et al. (2012), the concerted efforts made by the agencies as well as support of poor people has helped them to immensely improve and develop their economic position in order to enable political mobilization.
As children coming from poor families continue to fight for a place in the community, social work experts are managing their lives across the world. These professionals as well play a critical role in fighting for a society that is just and improving the status of marginalized people and enhancing services efficiency for all. In the UK, such experts fight for the minority rights and they make sure their suggestions and views reach policy-makers (McCarthy, 2007). They also work with ethnic minority women in order to provide a basis for them to air their views. The political mobilization, on the other hand of ethnic minority people has played a central role in making it possible for them to achieve their goals.
While doing an assessment of the financial needs of children coming from poor backgrounds, it is also critical to develop communication with not just family members and primary educators of these children but a need to communicate with the children. Communication is critical in the emergence of the need for both school and residential settings. It contributed to effective development of the child. Skills that are related to effective and clear communication plays a crucial role in helping the child since often, fatherless or children from poor background suffer the common inferiority problem, anxiety, aggression and others, as such, communicating with peers is difficult (Henderson, 2006). According to Santamaria (2005), even though they have socializing problems because of their deprivation state or poverty, they can still learn the skills and get along with others well. They might not complain but they can feel and this contributed to their intellectual, physical and emotional state.
Improving quality of life and evolution of attitudes to improve the social and economic well-being of the population, the major objective of social work professionals is developing an individual centered on development plan. Advice is offered to people so they can maintain respect, dignity, promote safety, health and comfort. The standard of services social workers provide is also maintained to satisfaction level of the individual and their primary caregivers (McCarthy, 2007). This is due to the fact people providing social workers services must be aware of their duties and responsibilities and they should also have good skills and knowledge that is needed to create services that are of high quality (Brooker, 2007). Social work professionals, in summary play a crucial role in development of human life through the provision of advisory services to policy makers, educators and the family members of children who come from poor or fatherless backgrounds. Also, there is need for social workers to carry on with learning more about social development of children in modern world with partial involved of the fathers.
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