I’ve been on twitter all week and the emotions surrounding Father’s Day are all mixed. One the one hand, there are those who are desperately trying to champion the cause of the many good, honorable and faithful fathers out there. Then on the other, there is the clamor and murmur of the sea of folks who never knew such a father. Everyone has a story. Some stories are inspirational and motivational. Others will leave you heartbroken and in tears.
Sad truth in this country is that for every story of a good father, there’s at least 10 or more not-so-good stories. There are men, well into their 50’s and some in their 60’s who still get tears in their eyes when they recount the pain of the childhood that included an absent, neglectful or abusive father. Everyone knows the young lady or even the grown woman who just seems obsessed with getting a man and doing literally whatever it takes to have him. We all know the young man who is full of fury and violence, who has absolutely no respect for authority and is raging at the world. We also know that young man doesn’t know if his father is the mailman he passes on the street or the mechanic around the way.
Folks assume that single mothers hold the deed of ownership on understanding the impact of an absent, neglectful, disrespectful or indifferent father. There’s no secret we bring a bevy of experiences to the table. We can tell you how he would bring diapers over once a month, as if a newborn only needed to be changed once a day. I personally could tell you how I chose to breastfeed so that I’d never have to worry about where the money for formula was coming from. I could tell you what toll breastfeeding took on my body and how I did it working 8 hours a day, five days a week and carrying a breast pump into a storage room every day. I could tell you how I had to swallow my pride time after time and ask my family for help because my children’s father either refused to help or couldn’t be found to ask for help. So many other single moms have stories even more heartbreaking than mine could ever be. Some know what it’s like to have to fight for custody of their own children. Some moms know what it feels like to be told they aren’t good moms but they are the only ones in the game, full time, with no breaks. I know single moms who have moved across the country all to provide a better life for their child. I know mothers who endure the stigma of being on welfare and receiving Medicaid just to insure their children are cared for.
There’s also the stories of the generations of older women, our grandmothers and mothers whose husbands walked out on them and left 5 and sometimes even 12 children to be cared for. They took in laundry, scrubbed floors, and begged their neighbors all to feed their children.
So I get how we tend to lean on single moms for our perspective of fathers.
However, here’s the thing that I want to highlight this year.
Not everyone was raised by a completely deadbeat, absent father.
I wasn’t raised by one.
However, that doesn’t mean that my life hasn’t been directly and indirectly impacted by one.
For example, my grandfathers on both sides were alcoholic, abusive deadbeat fathers. The only reason I call them “deadbeat” is because for whatever “provision” they were able to come up with, they singlehandedly managed to nullify it with their abusive ways. Both my parents watched my grandmothers beaten, dragged around by their clothing and hair and slapped by my drunken and crazed grandfathers. My father’s father abandoned his family more than once. He was a known rolling stone.
So what happens when THOSE men have children?
Take a look at your world and your own family.
And my message this Father’s Day is ACCOUNTABILITY.
WHERE IS IT?
Funny how we will pay a monthly payment to sit in front of our tv’s to get into complete strangers’ business via reality tv shows but turn a blind eye and deaf ears to the reality among our own family and friends.
Here’s the straight up, no chaser truth:
Every deadbeat dad has a family.
Every deadbeat dad has coworkers, best friends and church family.
Every deadbeat has cousins.
Every deadbeat either has or has had grandparents, aunts and uncles.
Most people know of at least one deadbeat in their family.
For every man who complains that he’s a good dad and that women should “lighten up” and stop being so bitter sounding about Father’s Day, I have this to say:
What are YOU doing to hold the men in your life who you KNOW aren’t being good fathers accountable?
Not sure what I mean yet?
Let me give you a good example.
My childrens’ father doesn’t pay me child support but he does pay child support for his oldest daughter. One day, I’ll blog about my decision to forgo child support, but for now, I’ll stay on topic. Anyway, he is at LEAST $1600 in arrears to his first child’s mom. I know because I’m the one who helped pay the child support order when we were in a relationship. Yep.. that’s another blog entry too. lol!
But this man who doesn’t have enough money to catch up his back child support gets invited to Myrtle Beach by his older brother for Bike Week, all expenses paid. After all, even a deadbeat needs a vacation, right? lol!
My point is this…
If you help a deadbeat ignore and neglect his responsibilities to his children, YOU are a part of the problem.
I’m talking to aunties, mamas, girlfriends, cousins, best friends, brothers, daddies. ALL Y’ALL!
If you are not holding these men accountable for neglecting their children and refusing to associate with them until they clean up their acts, YOU are contributing to the heartache that countless children have to bear well into their adulthood.
Here’s the truth that I know…
When my grandfather left home and disappeared for months at a time, SOMEONE knew where he was. He didn’t disappear from his sisters, brothers and mama. THEY all knew where he was. But his wife and children who were left hungry and alone had no idea where he was.
I wouldn’t let a deadbeat sleep on my couch.
I wouldn’t invite a deadbeat to come along on the family Carnival cruise.
I wouldn’t allow a deadbeat to bring his wife or current girlfriend’s children around the family but never see his children from outside of those relationships.
When Christmas came around, I wouldn’t suddenly decide he only have one child instead of three.
You may be an outstanding father sir. You may be reading this now thinking, “This lady sure sounds angry and frustrated. I guess she hasn’t met enough good men”.
Truth is, I’ve met plenty of good men. Trouble is, those good men are SILENT to their not-so-good friends.
So my question is this, if you’re such a good man, why is the company of men that you keep not so good?
And you’re only as good as your circle of influence. If you haven’t inspired at least ONE man in your circle to be a better man, chances are, you’re simply enabling him to continue being slack and sorry.
And to you, kind sir, I say that you are a part of the problem.
You get no high fives and atta boys from me as long as you keep company with men who do not take care of their children, build their homes and respect their women.
You get NO PROPS for being the only man out of your circle of 10 or more frat or high school buddies who does right by his children.
To me, kind sir, you are a part of the problem.
I know there are those who believe that focusing on the negativity of Father’s Day takes away from the honor due to good fathers. To them I say, absolutely not. The fact that so much racket is kicked up about fathers is because the position of fatherhood is SOOO IMPORTANT! If being a father wasn’t honorable, God ordained, God blessed, crucial and vital, the impact of his absence in families wouldn’t span generations and affect MILLIONS worldwide.
If fathers were nothing, no one would care.
But I care.
And I believe that the way to a solution for poor fatherhood and absent ones is ACCOUNTABILITY.
Everybody knows someone and is kin to someone who aint doing right.
How are you using your influence, great or small, to hold him to account?
Big Mama, when was the last time you asked him where his other children were and told him to bring them over to the house?
Auntie, you know he has more children than the ones he’s living with. When was the last time you asked about them and invited them over to your house like you do everyone else?
Sister, you know your brother don’t take care of his kids and you’ve even helped bail him out of jail a time or two. Sometimes, you even had to help raise and watch those same kids he’s not taking care of. When was the last time you told him point blank, enough is enough?
Pastor, you know your deacons, musicians and members got children out of wedlock that you never see. When was the last time you asked about them? Pastor, why are you ordaining men to preach who don’t pay child support, don’t spend time with their children, and disrespect the mothers of their children?
Girlfriends, you know your man has other children and you also know that he barely talks about them and doesn’t even go to see them. He’s with you now and as long as you have all his time, attention and money, you’re ok with that. But God forbid your relationship doesn’t work out, how would YOU feel being that woman who can’t get a hold of him and can’t get him to help you take care of the children you made together?
Wife, I know he’s your husband and you want to make sure you’re #1 in his life, but that woman who has his children outside of your marriage could be your sister, niece, or cousin. Would it be ok for THEIR baby daddies to deny their children?
This Father’s Day, let’s celebrate in a meaningful and changing way.
Let’s hold some men accountable…
For our childrens’ sake.