The second and third week of my internship involved editing a paper on Generative Fathering Practices. I learned a lot about the factors that contribute to a father’s parenting, especially a black father. The graduate students who wrote this paper, as well as Dr. Mattis, condensed information from other articles about generative parenting practices along with novel information from interview that they did with black fathers in order to evaluate what was essential in generative fathering practices for black men. There were many factors that were deemed essential but the one that stood out to me the most were scarcity and dependency.
It was written in the paper that “Dependency, which features vulnerability and uncertainty, requires fathers to engage in the ‘ethical work’ of committing to caring for their child’s wellbeing and committing to being present in the life of the child.” This stood out to me because all of the black fathers and men that I’ve been exposed to in my life have always been so strong but also so vulnerable and committed to their children. I thought it was so amazing that the research I was doing this summer was so heavily about studying these men and their goodness rather than their supposed absence in the black community. I was amazed by the actual valid research that was being done on this population of people who so deserve their stories to be heard. “Scarcity” as a factor stood out to me as well because it was a factor that could be so seemingly determinant of the type of parent one will be: it can seem as though if there’s not enough food or money to go around then the parent will be forced to be a bad parent. With the fathers that were interviewed, it was clear that they didn’t have much but they described making sure that their child always had what the need and always looked clean and decent and were happy — I thought this was beyond admirable.
While editing the paper, I found that once I trusted my instincts, I was thinking in a way that I hope graduate students think. I was studying their words with a more trained eye than the one I’d use when proofreading my own papers because I felt that this research could potentially change lives. I cut out things that I began to recognize as “fluff” and learned to see what was truly essential to the paper and what wasn’t. All in all, I learned a great deal from editing this paper.