On Monday, the White House hosted an event that serves as a lead-up to the White House Summit on Working Families coming later this month. The Working Fathers event, the first of its kind at the White House, took square aim at issues concerning working fathers and how they figure in the family unit in today’s times.
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough provided the welcome, speaking to the necessity of Fathers in the home and how the administration is aiming efforts in providing support to working Dads who want to be better at the job. Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez also delivered remarks, followed by words from Jason Furman, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.
The officials provided data that showed Fathers are becoming prominent fixtures in the home, and that there’s a growing sense of pride in Fathers — both young and old — in proving the old model of a Mother leading the nurturing aspect of parenting as a falsehood.
The day was divided into separate panels and included notable figures, such as New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy, who made headlines by taking paternity leave to be with his wife and baby on opening day of the season; he was supported by the MLB and teammates.
A number of leading experts, working Dads, business leaders, and Administration officials will share their insights and explore the breadth of roles Dads play today at home, the new challenges Dads experience balancing career and family, and how both businesses and working families benefit from progressive workplace policies like paid parental leave and extensive workplace flexibility options.
The first panel, “New Roles For Dads At Home,” featured experts speaking on how Fathers are involving themselves as parents and how the archaic notions of parenthood are finally moving to the side. Clark University psychologist Abbie Goldberg, Johns Hopkins University sociologist Kathryn Edin, working Dad Kipp Jarecke-Cheng, and Yale School of Medicine clinical psychiatrist Kyle Pruett all shared insightful scenarios in the changing roles of Fathers.
The highlight of the panel, however, was the introduction of featured speaker Julian Jenkins (pictured throughout), an African-American married Father of three, spoke about his desire to be involved in the lives of his children even at the expense of working certain hours. Growing up with his father, Jenkins offered a moving testimonial regarding the success of his children, with all three graduating from prestigious collegiate institutions.
NewsOne spoke with Jenkins during a break in the event, following up on some of the remarks he made during his appearance. We asked how did he reconcile the absence of his own father and how did that influence his own parenting techniques. We also asked him about the growing presence of African-American Fathers who, in his words, didn’t “turn their backs and run” when it came to the weighty responsibility of raising their children.
“Of course, it’s natural for a child to miss their father. I still miss my father, and I wish I could show him all the things I did and share my granddaughter’s success,” said Jenkins. “But at the same time, he made his decision and I’ve made mine to pour all my love and willpower in raising them the right way. That’s all they need, someone to pour love and support in to them in order for them to make a way.”
Jenkins added, “I know that the knock on Black Fathers is that we run at the sight of hard work, but I didn’t. I ran right to it. I wanted it, and I know God wanted this for me. I don’t even know how I did it sometimes, other than God leading my wife and I on the path. There’s so many young Fathers I meet that say they admire me, but I admire them actually. I just tell them like I told the audience today, just keep pouring your love in to them and surround them with the best opportunity. They’ll take care of the rest.”
The White House Summit on Working Families will take place in Washington, D.C. on July 23 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel.