"I'm at the park. I'll call you if I need you-over," says my nine-year-old son into one of three state-of-the-art walkie-talkies that I recently bought for our family of five. "Roger. Be back home in 15 minutes for dinner-over," is my reply.
Every child needs a dad. And children also benefit from the wisdom and influence of other men, over and above what their father can supply. So, your grandkids will profit from the distinct advantages that you bring to their lives, which complement what your son or son-in-law can give them. Your work isn’t done, granddad. It’s just become more enjoyable.
"Five … four … three … two … one … we have lift-off." How else can we describe it?
You've got two suitcases under your arm and you're struggling up the stairs in your daughter's new dormitory. She's already negotiated for the bottom bunk. Down the hallway, someone has cranked up their newly installed stereo. On the way in, you almost got beaned by an errant Frisbee. This will be home for the girl who used to sleep under your roof and eat in your kitchen.
When children enter adolescence, they experience some pretty drastic ups and downs. So do fathers. What goes up for a dad? Food bills, auto insurance premiums, the stereo volume, and your frustration level: "All right, who used my razor to shave her legs?!" Other things go down: free access to the bathroom mirror, the one-on-one basketball games that you win, the gas gauge in the car.
Fathering young school-age kids is really an amazing time. Your child is out to see what life has to offer, to understand the world and become a citizen of that world.
The most obvious change in his routine is going to school, but that's only part of a larger process. Your child is an eager learner. Whether it's what type of sneaker is cool, why Susie is so popular, a move on the basketball court, or how to make change for a dollar, he wants to know.
As a father of an energetic, challenging pre-schooler, it may seem like your child's birth is ancient history now. But "birth" is also a metaphor for a thousand other events that occur throughout childhood. A few years ago, your child was born into the world, but now he is born into the world of speaking and toilet training and learning and relating.
I did not ask to be or not to be
a man lies with a woman.
Unfathered before I was born
like a slave who does not own a father's name.
Recently, I was scheduled to update the Jackson County Legislature regarding our fathering program through the county prosecutor's office. In the program, first-time offenders can defer prosecution by attending life-skills classes, and I teach the one on fathering. The legislature was evaluating the program, and wanted my brief presentation to include a few words from one of the program's participants.
You make me so #*@$! sick. Some nights I be wanting to kill you with my bear hands. The evil things you done to me makes me want to kill you even more. I blame you for the #*@$! up thoughts I have. Sure enough my life is better then what you said it was going to be. The way you treated me makes me sick. I should've been worser, but I have a stronger mind than what you thought. All you done was made your son more stronger and wittier. Love from your son, you #*@$!.
The role of the father or father figure is critically important to the task of taking our African American boys from boyhood into manhood. The vacuum of this required fathering role has had a devastating impact on our urban communities and it is time that we fill this role.
The Gate Keeper
"I'm tired of the way you treat me-like a criminal!" he shouted into the receiver, "you're tired?" I shouted back. "I'm tired of your bull…you expect me to trust you?" "It ain't a question of you trustin me—why should I trust you?!" he angrily replied. That did it! He wasn't getting it, he wasn't going to get it- "forget it!
There are many perspectives on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Perspectives about which we continue to explore, write and speak. Pastor of the people, Philosopher of non-violence, Ph.D. in theology, Peacemaker of Nobel Prize quality, Protester of racial injustice, Councilor to Presidents and a Promoter of economic equality; responsibilities he shared not only for people of color, but for people of all color.
The African proverb, "It takes a village to raise a child" reflects the truth that many lives shape and mold the life of a child. But no stronger impact is made on any child greater or more permanent than the impact of that child's father and mother, regardless of whether that influence is good or bad or whether that parent is present or absent in the home.
When in your life have you been the most thirsty? I think of playing full-court five-on-five basketball in 103-degree heat. The sun radiates off the concrete, and I feel it through the soles of my shoes. The competition is scorching, and during the next fast break, I run my tongue across my lips for a trace of moisture, but there's nothing there. My whole mouth feels dry and rough. I stop and scream, "Time Out!" and make a bee-line to my water bottle. At that moment, nothing matters more than quenching my thirst.
Several years ago, my wife and I adopted a baby girl whose biological father is black and whose mother is white. When this high school girl got pregnant, her father gave her two choices: have an abortion or move out of the home. She moved out. This same father called her "pizza face" as she was growing up. Today, she admits that she has been looking for her father's love in all the wrong places.