I am a black man in America that is determined to change how others view us around the world. My children inspire me to rise to new heights and my voice has become an instrument of change. I welcome this new found path in my life and want to inspire others. Dare to be a Daniel and dare to stand alone.
I profess my wisdom because of the experience I have gained. Because of the heartaches I have suffered. Because of the pain I have endured. It is not my presumption to believe I have wisdom – it is my fate.
Another Hallmark Holiday is upon us. People are scurrying to grab a Father’s Day Card from the miniscule selection at the local card store. As I peruse the cards for my own father, I come across an interesting design. It is a tad unusual Father’s Day card with a flower design and letters shaped like curls. Upon closer inspection, the title of the card says, “For you Mom on Father’s Day.” I am flabbergasted. Is it too much for our society to recognize us fathers holding it down on the one small day in which we are to be celebrated? Apparently it is.
I don’t want to sound like I am anti-single mother, or that I don’t understand how single mothers that do the best they can to raise their kids without the deadbeat dad around, or the true female warriors who attempt to straddle the fence of gender and provide as much of a masculine role model for their kids. But the nerve of our society to go out and celebrate the destruction of our American households by continuing to remove the male figure from homes by highlighting the female head of household. Of all the days to do this, it had to be a Father’s Day greeting? Can we not relegate this acknowledgement for mothers to the extremely popular and more socially aware on Mother’s Day? (Bring out the trumpets and horns while rolling out the red carpet.)
Granted, there are deadbeat dads amongst us. And for another day I shall rant about them as well, but today, on Father’s Day, we are to relish those things a male figure brings to his kids, the bond the father has created with his sons and daughters, or proud feelings exhibited by his kids as they hand daddy a five dollar plastic trophy from Target claiming “#1 Dad!” How about the yearly excursion to Red Lobster to treat dad to his favorite meal? It doesn’t take much to please a man. You won’t get too much push back about the type of gift on a day like Father’s Day. In fact, you’ll probably get none. Just give him his day.
Most of us real fathers, not the sperm donors, are offended when we see cards congratulating mothers on being “fathers” to their kids. Facebook and Instagram will provide millions of shout-outs to the women taking on the male role. We are offended because it continues to minimize an important role in life. God designed fathers for a reason and that reason has been manipulated, altered, and scrambled to an unrecognizable definition. It is common place in many communities that the father barely has a reason for existence although people’s mouths say otherwise. Don’t pretend the father has an important role to the family then conflict it by giving accolades to the single mother. We have to nip this in the bud if we want healthy communities and our children to respect and desire a male role model in their lives.
If my rant is offensive so be it. Not as a disrespect, but as a measure to gain respect. I am a single father who wants my voice to be heard. I desire men all over our country to stand together and demand the respect as a father – through all of our successes and misfires. If we stand before you, our female counterparts, and work in unison, there is nothing we can’t do together. We all stand in agreement with this ideology. Therefore, do me a favor and kindly give us our 15 minutes of glory alone. We are simple creatures that need to feel important every once in a while.
Daddy Dan & the Fathers of the World
I do not understand “Sperm Donors.” And I’m not intending to judge. But I want to understand how the connection between a man and his child is lost. Women can identify their connection with their child because of their pregnancy. Did God really make men and women uniquely different in this regard making men having less of an emotional connection to our kids? Enquiring minds…
I had to drop my son off to his mom’s apartment after tutoring. He was not feeling well so I had to get there a little early because of his illness. I gathered up his belongings and we headed to the car. As we got to his mom’s place and we were about to get out of the car he had a tear in his eye. I asked him “what’s wrong?” He explained he was sad because he wasn’t feeling well. I assured him it was okay and not to worry about stuff you can’t control. I gave him a big hug and he headed down the hall towards the elevator.
As I turned around and started to leave – I was overcome with a familiar feeling, that same feeling I get on a weekly basis, that feeling of sadness. I was reminded of my situation and what it means to be a divorced father of two. A divorced dad. Not fun.
This feeling is not anything you want to deal with but you deal with it. It is re-living a painful death on a weekly basis. Many a man has to deal with this feeling and most people don’t understand. You’re a man. You’re supposed to be strong. You deal with it, damnnit! You must prevail over your emotions.
You are overcome with the feeling. That feeling that says I wanna be there for my boy because he’s not well, or with my daughter just so I can be there when she wakes up, or knowing that she sleeps with a picture of me by her side. Those simple things we don’t much think about or we take for granted the love our kids have for each parent. And we deal with the difficult feelings these acts bring. Co-parenting and raising kids separately is difficult at best.
Not an easy task by any means even if you have the support of loved ones.
We have painful reminders we encounter as we go through life’s challenges and the effects they have on us. We have difficult emotions to overcome especially when you are handicapped in dealing with them – unspoken depression, machoism, or just being a man.
But somehow we do overcome the emotions. Us divorced dads. Us single dads – although, we don’t use this terminology much, we leave that for the women. Men like me continue to do what we have to do, pay the support we are ordered to pay, and try to be in the lives of our kids because that’s what we do. It is what we were born to do. And many of us men accept this challenge.
We do this week after week even in spite of the feelings we experience. Talking to no one about it. We all experience that familiar feeling, that slowly painful death as we are separated from our growing kids. However, at the end of the day, we are thankful of being with our kids if only for that moment. And we find the strength to go forward just to experience the euphoria and the letdown all in the same breadth. It is for the love of our kids.
When did public schools around the country start giving standardized tests for 3rd and 4th grade? At what point did homework seem to consume so much of a parent’s time? Who does Algebra at the age of 10? Did I miss the memo for these life changes? Apparently I did. Having kids at my age has made me reflect on how involved my parents were with my school work when I was the same age as my own kids. I am glad that I have half a brain to figure out the correct answers. Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader? Uh, well, probably not so much.
I have always said if I had my kids when I was in my twenties I would have had more energy and time; however, I have found myself with more wisdom and money by having kids in my forties. It’s an interesting exchange of priorities – time and energy versus money and wisdom. Now I have to add education into the mix. I might have had a fresher outlook for schooling in my twenties – thus able to focus better, help my children with their school work, and understand the problems presented. My current attributes are patience, empathy, and compassion. Life is always filled with irony and decisions, and homework in my household has not escaped this dilemma.
I am not in the same household as my children’s mother making it more challenging to assist in the duties of homework. This shared responsibility is a bit more taxing today versus what I remember as I grew up. With the divorce rates pushing nearly 60% I wonder how many of us parents struggle to deal with this changing landscape of education. I’m happy we did not go down the road of homeschooling because I can only imagine the challenges that present themselves as a person goes through a divorce. It seems an impossible task. Time commitments and dedication to my child’s education is exacerbated because of the separation but it is necessary.
My own parents were fairly bright individuals but I honestly don’t recall sitting and going over my homework assignments with them. I will have to ask them. I do remember they were very busy and there was very little time to assist me and my many siblings with much of anything – coming from a big family will do this. I suppose a smaller family unit might have a different dynamic when it comes to educating the youth; but I have a small family and I still struggle with it. There is a lot of homework each week, my kids hate doing homework, I hate doing homework, and it is more complex. Algebra is being introduced in some elementary schools, Common Core math has been introduced, and ISAT scores are ultra-competitive. The educational environment today is not for the weak-of-mind.
I feel bad for those young single parents that do not have the academic background to assist their children. Unfortunately, these children will find themselves behind the eight-ball as they grow. And it isn’t keeping up with kids during these growing periods. My own struggles are evident when I assist my kids and I have to hide it best I can. My kids need to believe that I can answer any question. This helps with their confidence. Occasionally I have to punt the question to God and tell them to wait for that answer. (“Daddy, when does infinity end?” “Daddy, how was God born?”) For the most part, I am able to plow through the difficult school subjects and provide them with the appropriate answers. I do fear my involvement will diminish as they progress in grades. At some point I will have to ask myself “am I smarter than a 5th grader?” Sigh, I already know that answer.
I write about my life as a single father and bring in a much needed perspective from the baby-daddy’s view. Enjoy.