1) Tell your kids you love them every single day
Love not only makes the world go round, but every person needs to feel loved in order to have the balance necessary to be truly successful. If you love your kids, don’t just show it with your actions, say it with words. It will keep them from seeking love in all the wrong places.
2) Set an example for other fathers
The black male gets a bad rap for allegedly being an irresponsible father. We know that this stereotype is a misguided reflection of America’s historical hatred of the black male, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t encourage each other to do a better job. Demand that other brothers in your circle stand up as good fathers to their children, in spite of their circumstances. It can be tough to be a good parent with sky high unemployment and incarceration rates, but that doesn’t give you an excuse not to try. Those of us who ignore our children should be shamed into realizing how harmful such irresponsibility is to our community.
3) Always find a way to show respect to their mother
Even if you can’t stand the woman you had a child with, you should always give her as much respect as you possibly can. Kids don’t enjoy watching their parents fight, no matter whose fault it is. Also, in spite of your differences, you must always find a way to show appreciation toward the woman who gave life to your offspring.
4) Prepare them for the bullsh*t
We know that being black isn’t easy. You have to be twice as good to get half as much and life sometimes kicks you in the butt when you don’t deserve it. Prepare your kids for life as an African American, letting them know that they are going to have to be tough, smart and courageous to succeed in a world where the odds can be stacked against them. We all know that life isn’t fair, and it’s important to make sure your kids are prepared for the coming disparities.
This week, a judge in Chicago gave NBA star Dwayne Wade sole custody of his two sons. The decision was made after a prolonged legal battle between Wade and his ex-wife, Siohvaughn. The boys are currently 8 and 3 years old. Wade has argued that his ex-wife has become violent toward him and falsely accused him of abusing his sons. A court-appointed representative for the boys made the recommendation that Wade be given full custody and that his ex-wife receive a mental evaluation.
I happened to be in Chicago when I heard about Wade’s custody decision (which took place in a Chicago courtroom). What’s even more ironic is that I heard about the decision shortly after having an opportunity to watch an episode of the television show, "Basketball Wives." During the show, I thought about the "interesting" custody battle between another baller, Dwight Howard and his ex-girlfriend Royce Reed, who is a member of the show’s cast.
by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University – Scholarship in Action
Today I took my afternoon nap thinking about the days when I was captain of my high school track team in the 12th grade. I wasn’t the star of the team and I also wasn’t an academic star (my grades were terrible). Like many other black boys across America, I’d come to identify myself as an athletic commodity rather than an intellectual one.
I remember that one of the fastest boys on our team was also like a lot of other black males: He was in special education and had horrible grades. On his report card, he’d gotten two Fs, three Ds and a C. My coach was concerned about his grades, but not because he cared about the young man. He was only worried about his grades because he thought that the kid might not be eligible for the big track meet we had coming up.
WEEKLY SEMINARS FOR FATHERS
HOW TO SUCCEED
IN FAMILY COURT
According to Eric Legette, President/Founder of Fathers With Voices (FWV), there are several major reasons that separated/divorced fathers would benefit from this seminar:
75% of fathers that contact FWV complain about the legal system and also state that they will not be successful within the legal system
40% of FWV cases involve visitation rights that have been violated
50% of FWV cases involve men who want to obtain their visitation rights
80-85% of FWV cases complain about their attorneys: they have spent thousands of dollars in legal fees and yet see no progress made in their cases
Since 1996, Fathers With Voices has accomplished its mission by assisting separated/divorced fathers throughout the United States to stay involved in their children’s lives. The success of Fathers With Voices has not diminished the fact that fifteen years later even more men are facing similar challenges related to their children. The most alarming concern is hearing men state over and over their belief that fathers cannot succeed within the legal system.
One of the most difficult, stunning and defining experiences of my entire life was when I went through the child support system. My daughter was born when I was an 18-year old freshman in college, and although I didn’t want her mother to leave me for another man, I still knew that I had a responsibility when it came to taking care of my kids. So, I did what I was supposed to do, signed the papers where necessary and paid tens of thousands of dollars in child support over the next 18 years, even when it emptied out my bank account.
What surprised the heck out of me was that while the courts were always quick to threaten me with jail time if I’d chosen not to pay my child support, they showed almost no concern regarding whether or not I had the right to see my daughter. There was also no accountability regarding where my money was going and if those funds were being used to manage the needs of my child. I found myself increasingly frustrated by both my experience and also the broader perception of all black male non-custodial parents as dead beat dads. The truth is that while there are far too many dead beats, there are also fathers who’ve been victimized by parental alienation or an overzealous mother who feels that she can dictate every dimension of the father/child relationship. The mere implication that black males love their children any less than other people is a clear and stereotypical insult to our humanity.
Elliot Millner brought it to my attention that Attorney General Eric Holder has been apparently spending a lot of time with Bill Cosby these days. In a recent speech at a black church in Queens, NY, Holder took a page out of the Barack Obama Campaign Catalog and chose to win favors with the black middle class by recklessly bashing away at absentee fathers and returning to the whole "ya’ll just need to grow up and be more responsible" argument that allows any politician to explain away a blatant disregard for meaningful public policy. Rather than talking about things that we can do as a society to take our collective foot off the necks of black men, he chose to say that black men are choosing to put the foot on their own necks.
Elliot Millner, who is also in the legal profession, intelligently said the things that I am sure Eric Holder wanted to say. But unlike Holder, Millner is not constrained by the political shackles that come with being an appointed leader in a society that makes a habit of oppressing, destroying and marginalizing black men.
In his speech, Holder said that, "It should simply be unacceptable for a man to have a child and then not play an integral part in the raising and nurturing of the child."
That quote is a nice way of reflecting on the obvious. It’s sort of like saying, "It should be unacceptable for a black man to become the Attorney General of the United States and not play an integral part in helping other black men overcome the blatantly racist and destructive justice system over which you preside."
by Elliot Millner, J.D. – Your Black World
Attorney General Eric Holderrecently spoke at a Black church in Queens, NY, and during his speech he gave Black fathers another talking to, stating that:
"It should simply be unacceptable for a man to have a child and then not play an integral part in the raising and nurturing of the child."
Sounds good on face value. Who doesn’t think that any man who has a child should play a vital role in that child’s growth and development? A.G. Holder is 100% right on that point, and I have no disagreement with him whatsoever.
However lets look beyond the truthfulness of the words. When communicating, there are many other factors to consider other than what is being said. So, let’s consider the question: If a person is truly concerned about promoting the increased participation of Black father’s in their children’s lives, what would that person do? Seemingly, a person sincere about achieving that goal would go speak to the people most in need of that talk, in this case Black fathers who were not being responsible for the children they had helped bring into the world. Although I’m sure it may have been some people in Memorial Presbyterian Church who were being negligent in their parental duties, I doubt that A.G. Holder’s message applied to the majority of them.
On this past Saturday, October 3, 2009 a 16 year old African American honor student, Derrion Albert was laid to rest in Chicago. This young man was beaten to death in the street while walking from school to the bus stop. Silvanus Shannon, 19, Eugene Riley, 18, Eric Carson, 16, and Eugene Bailey, 18, have all been charged with first-degree murder in Derrion’s death.
As I watched the video of this young man being beaten to death with a railroad tie I asked myself what could compel four young African American men to engage in such a wanton and willful murderous act? How could these young men have such disregard for another human being’s life that they would beat him to his death, in the street, in broad day light? What is the basis of their rage, their anger?
I then asked myself, where are their fathers? I made an assumption and came to the conclusion that their fathers must be absent, not active or engaged in their lives. This antisocial rage, this anger is probably in part a response to their being raised without the benefit of knowing the love of their fathers. If these young men were asked to explain what drove them to this act; they most likely would not be able to articulate a clear response. They probably do not know. If they do know, they would be too ashamed to say.
As a man who was blessed to be raised by two loving parents; I clearly understand the power of love. At the age of 50, I am still blessed to be able to talk with my almost 90 year old father every day (I lost my mother last March); hear his voice, seek his counsel; feel his love. As far as I have been able to come based upon knowing my father’s love, I can’t begin to imagine how dysfunctional I would be without it.