In an attempt to counter changes in family structures, a number of nation states are designing policies to make men fit into families. In the case of the USA, decision makers view fatherhood and marriage as the cure for poverty among African Americans. To assert that training these men to be better fathers and husbands will help them improve other dimensions of their lives (particularly poverty) is a good idea, but it is also simplistic. Decision makers rely on an intra-group, which privileges an individualistic and cultural approach, in their development of policies. This approach tends to ignore that other subsystems, such as previously existing policies, can have an impact on the effectiveness of marriage and fatherhood promotion. Using the USA as a case study, I hypothesise that the effectiveness of fatherhood and marriage promotion is limited because of their interaction with other policies. Fatherhood and marriage promotion initiatives will be negatively affected by the absence of a progressive national urban policy, particularly in the area of economic development and in the context of current crime policies. The socio-economic and cultural reality faced by African American men must be incorporated into the decision-making processes in order to identify the most effective policies.