The Surprising Health Risk For Black Men Raised By Single Parents

A young boy playing with a toy airplane on his father's shoulders

Over the weekend, in an episode of Iyanla Vanzant’s show, Fix My Life, on the OWN network, Iyanla had a number of men on her show who fathered multiple children by multiple women. Iyanla, one-by-one, urged the fathers to confront their inner demons and issues.  In other clips of this series, Iyanla also confronted the women who were a part of these multiple-child relationships.

An excerpt of the show is below:

At one point in the show Iyanla said that there were 50 men, with a total of 87 children by multiple women. With the exception of a few, many of those children have been growing up with a steady father’s presence in their lives. This can lead to a number of issues for their daughters, not to mention their sons repeating the same cycle of behavior. In fact, during the episode, a majority of the men did not have a long-term healthy relationship with their biological father.  And this not only affects the mental health, but also their physical health.

Research from a long-term Howard University Family Study reveals that black men raised in single-parent households could have higher blood pressure as adults than those who grew up in two-parent homes.

The study, which examined data from 515 men participating in the HUFS and the first of its kind to link the living arrangements of children to adult pressure in black men, found:

LIKE on Facebook! Get Your Daily Medicine…For LIFE!

Men who lived with both parents during one or more years of their childhoods had 4.4 mm Hg lower systolic (top number) blood pressure than those raised entirely in single-parent homes.

Black children who live with their mothers alone are three times more likely to be poor, and those who live with fathers or a non-parent are twice as likely to be poor.

A critical period during childhood (ages 1 to 12) and a potential mechanism through which the early life socio-familial factor operates may influence adult blood pressure.

This is the first study to link childhood family living arrangements with blood pressure in black men in the United States, who tend to have higher rates of high blood pressure than American men of other races. The findings suggest that programs to promote family stability during childhood might have a long-lasting effect on the risk of high blood pressure in these men.

Although the study found an association between a single-parent upbringing and a higher risk for high blood pressure, it did not prove a cause-and-effect link.