It was July 19, 1910, in Spokane, Washington, when Sonora Smart Dodd decided that her father, a single parent, should be honored on a special day, as mothers were honored on Mother’s Day. At the Spokane YMCA celebration for her father, came Father’s Day. However, it was not officially designated as a holiday until1972.
Father’s Day has always been a day designated to celebrate the contributions that fathers, father figures, and mentors have made or are making in the lives of children. When we think of fathers, we often think of a sturdy foundation, a provider, a man of strength, a supportive individual, someone who cares immensely about his children, someone who provides unconditional love, guidance, protection, correction, shelter, etc.
Although men have been expected to fulfill many roles within our society, one of the greatest, most important, and most challenging role is the role of father. However, many of the men who become fathers in our society have no role models to teach them about fatherhood. In the African-American community, this issue is even more prevalent. Over seventy-percent of African-American households are headed by single mothers; many have no contact with the fathers of their children. And still, many African-American men have multiple children by multiple women, rendering them incapable of being able to fulfill their fatherly obligations to their children.
Often, when children seem to lack identity, it is because they have no father or father figure serving as a model and role model. They will many times seek their identity from and in others and other external factors, situations and events. On too many occasions, this quest to find identity rests in negative external influences, resulting in negative outcomes.
In 2014, a constant and chronic alarm is being echoed from children to their fathers, especially from boys and young men. This alarm is a desperate cry for them to be rescued from the spiritual warfare, which plagues our children, our families, and our societies as a whole. Because of economic deprivation, political powerlessness, racial segregation and isolation, as well as inferior education, this spiritual warfare is even greater in the African-American community.
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, ‘when a fire is raging, the emergency vehicles race at great speed, ignoring all traffic laws…’ Today, our children are engaged in raging fires all across the United States. It is time for our men and our fathers to move at great speed, ignoring any boundaries, as well as any traffic signals, and reach their children by any means necessary. It is time for you to recognize that fatherhood is more than the fertilization of an egg; it is the care, the love, the spiritual and moral guidance, quality time, and the protection children need after the birth process.
Fathers, your very being is an insurance policy of fatherhood for the children in your life. However, if there is no value in the policy of fatherhood you issued, your children will not be able to cash in the policy and receive a return. This return is not a monetary return, but one of assurance that you have their back.
Too many of our children are in a quandary as to how they should or can deal with life’s daily state of confusion. With the increase of homicides, robberies, and other aberrant and violent behaviors, as well as the increased use of guns being put forth by too many of our male children, it is not only time for you, as a father, to ignore all traffic signals and run through the red lights of life with great speed, but to also take the face value of your fatherhood insurance policy and rescue your children, your friends’ children, your neighbors’ children…and rescue America’s children. Recognize fathers, either you stand for something or you will fall for anything!
In order for you, as a father, to hear the cries and calls of your child(ren), and answer them, below are some of the critical areas needing your attention. FATHERS, YOUR CHILDREN NEED YOU; YOUR FAMILUES NEED YOU; AMERICA NEEDS YOU!!! PLEASE HEAR THE CRIES AND CALLS OF YOUR CHILDREN…AND ANSWER THEM!!!!
Children Need Guidance From Their Fathers to Rally Against:
1. Violence-Fathers you must help your children to rally against violence in their homes and in their communities. Teach your children effective ways of communicating, problem management, and anger management. Teach your children that hands are made for holding and touching, not for hitting and hurting; guns are never an answer to solving problems
2. Hatred (Self & Others)-Fathers you must teach your children to recognize that self-hatred and hatred for others is never an option. Teach them how to use love for self and love for others in order to increase self-esteem, self-worth, self-respect, self-acceptance, as well as respect and acceptance of others.
3. Gangs of Negativity-Fathers rally with your children to establish the first and only gang that they should be involved in…the family gang. Fathers spend quality time with your children and provide emotional support and love for your children, so that they will not have to look on the outside to fix the inside.
4. Misrepresentation of the truth-Fathers you must teach the importance and power of truth to your children. Teach them that no matter how great or how grave a situation, a lie is never acceptable, but accountability is expected.
5. Sexual Perversion, Exploitation, & Temptation-Fathers you must model for your children (especially your sons) respect for girls and women, which starts with their mother. Sexual misconduct and inappropriate touching of others is unacceptable. Fathers you must teach your children that they must fight against sexual temptations until they are emotionally, spiritually, and physically mature to handle such. Sexual misconduct and sexual exploitation of women are never options. Help your sons to see the importance of them thinking with their heads, feeling with their hearts, and not with their penises. Model this for them!
6. Laziness & a Sense of Entitlement—Fathers you must model for your children (especially your sons) the importance of having a work ethic. Work is important and essential, and education is a requirement, not an option. Stop allowing your children to not have life plans; don’t allow them to not have life goals and live off of you and/or their mother. Instead of buying everything your children want, buy them what they need and teach them how to earn the things they want. Also, teach quality and not quantity; plan pockets is just as great as name brand ones…and less expensive!
Children Need their Fathers to Serve as a Mentor & Guide to Provide:
1. Positive Role Model—Practice what you teach your children. Model respect, morality, ethical behaviors, love, honesty, responsibility, and accountability for your children.
2. A Strong Presence—Even if you live outside the home, you can still have a strong presence in the life of your child. If you can’t be there in person, show your children how much you love them by calling them on the phone, sending emails, Skyping, texting, sending greeting cards, etc. Whatever it takes, find a way to spend time with your child(ren). Forgive yourself for what you have not done in the lives of your children and make the connection!
3. Discipline-Fathers, children need discipline and direction. They must recognize that there are always consequences for behaviors. They also need to learn about rewards and punishments. Always ensure that there is a conversation about their actions, including the impact on them, as well as on others. Ensure the punishment fits the offense.
4. Models (Boundaries)-Fathers children need boundaries and guidance from you. No should mean no, and yes should mean yes. You must also model the importance of having clear and consistent boundaries in life.
5. Unconditional Love-Fathers it is imperative that you model and provide unconditional love for your children. No matter how disappointing you might be with their behaviors, let love guide the way for you to handle the situation.
6. A Listening Ear-Your children need someone to just listen sometimes; not be their friends, and to not have all the answers. Allow them to learn from their mistakes. As you listen, allow them to talk and give them permission to freely express themselves within reason and with respect.
7. Spiritual Direction & Guidance-Your children should see that worship services and daily spiritual rituals are the norm, rather than the exception in your household…and they don’t have a choice in the matter. Teach them that there is a power greater than them and that they have to fear that power and believe that they are spiritual beings with internal power to overcome anything in life.
8. Respect for self, others, & ESPECIALLY FEMALES-As a father, the greatest love you can show your children is the love and respect you have for their mother; no matter how you feel about your relationship with her, even if you all are no longer together. When you respect women, your male children will respect women.
9. Positive & Practical Coping Mechanisms-Teach your children how to use effective communication, reasoning, analytical thinking, and patience. Also, teach your children that if there was a way into a situation, there is always a way out of a situation. Teach them effective decision-making skills and allow them to see that they always have a choice in any situation.
10. Quality time—Fathers it’s not the amount of time that you spend with your children; it’s the quality of the time that you spend with them. Remember, they are only children for a short time in life. Before you know it, your children will be adults. Cherish your children while you have them!
Don’t be afraid to let your children see that you are human, with emotions. And if it is difficult for you to handle this task, seek professional or spiritual guidance in doing so. Don’t be afraid to take your children to therapy with you. As a matter of fact, lead your family and all of you can benefit from family therapy with a professional.
I challenge ALL fathers to reclaim your place as a father and to reclaim your place and your role in the lives of your child(ren). Do it today!! Yes, You Can!!!