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.
The church has been a dynamic support to the African American community, but I believe it can do better. With churches on seemingly every corner in some communities, they have been successful at delivering services and support to African American women and children. But they have fallen short-far short-in reaching out to and engaging African American men. And without these men, they are missing a key contributor to the overall health of the African American family and community.
Visitation. Even the word sounds ominous, like something you might do with a prisoner. If you’re a divorced dad who gets the kids maybe twice a month, I know this is one of the greatest challenges you face. You don’t have free access to your kids, and when you do see them, there’s pressure to make the most of your time together. Unfortunately, kids sense that pressure and it changes things.
Anita recently sent us this e-mail:
I'm a single mother, and by chance I ran upon your web site. The information scared me—not for myself, but for my 2-year-old son. His father left when he was born, and he's had no contact with him at all. I feel this is for the best because his father doesn't care and has no desire to spend time with him. He is very irresponsible and I'm personally happy he is out of our lives. We are surviving. I want my son to be happy and healthy, and I would love nothing more than to meet a good man to be a father to my son. But until that special person comes along, it's just the two of us.
When children are involved, a divorce isn't an ending. It's just the beginning of a long, challenging cooperative effort to do what's best for the kids in a tough situation.
I hear from divorced moms and dads who are frustrated and angry. They have a whole list of complaints against each other which leads to a total lack of communication and no healthy give-and-take. And the kids suffer.
Are you there for your kids? Really there? Or are you just going through the motions? I want to share with you how dads—even divorced dads—can establish a "consistent presence" in their children's lives.
For too many fathers, home is where they eat, sleep, and do their best to keep the noise level down. Day-to-day parenting is often left to their wives. These dads have convinced themselves that their presence or absence has little impact on the family.