Are you familiar with the African Proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” that village should include a mother and a father if they are still living. I personally know what it is like not to have a father in your life. It is a very hurting and confusing experience. As a child I always wondered why my father rarely came around, why he didn’t want to spend time with me, and why he didn’t contribute to my life financially.
For the first twelve years of my life I thought someone else was my father and he wasn’t around very much. Looking back he probably put two and two together and figured out he wasn’t my father and rather than being cruel and say to me I am not your father he quietly faded out of the picture.
The man who was really my father I knew him to be my mother’s old boyfriend and that they were still friends. He would come over from time to time and give me money and take me to get something to eat and try to hold a conversation with me I never thought anything of it I would say to myself this man is really nice.
In 1982 one day in December I don’t know the exact day but it was really close to Christmas, I walked in the back door of my house and walked into the kitchen and saw my mother and her ex-boyfriend talking. He said hello looked at me and smiled and my mother told me to go look in my Christmas Stocking, I went into my room and looked in my stocking inside of it was a crisp one hundred dollar bill and a Sony walkman. I came out of my room back into the kitchen gave him a hug and told him thank you.
He looked me straight into my eyes and said to me “So when did you find out I was your father?” I told him I still don’t know that he is my father. He took me by the hand and lead me into my room we both stood in the mirror and he said don’t we look alike? I told him no he said take a long look. My mother came into the room with us and they both set beside me and begin explaining to me the details that lead up to that day.
After the long talk we had he gave me his number and told me to call him anytime. It took me a while but I finally called. I talked to him from time to time until one day I called and his phone number was disconnected and I didn’t hear from him for around five months that really made me mad. The fillings of her and abandonment came rushing over me like a quarterback getting tackled.
On Thanksgiving Day in 1983 my father dropped by my grandmother’s house with his two daughters and introduced them to me and the rest of my family who was at my grandmother’s house for dinner. We all sat around the dining room table and after my Uncle blessed the food he looked over to my mother and said “Why does Cleo’s youngest daughter look exactly like Sheronda?” My mother said “Cleo is Sheronda’s father” and Cleo said “boy woman can sure keep secrets can’t they?” Everyone laughed and began to eat, talk, and enjoy each other’s company.
As they were leaving my father apologized for being out of touch for five months and said it would never happen again. The next month my father and two sisters came over my grandmother’s house for Christmas. He told me to get my coat and he took me over to his mother’s house. I met his wife, his nine sisters and brothers and most of their children. I remember feeling like I was on display, they all commented on how I looked just like him and his youngest daughter Nikki and how beautiful I was. It was at that very moment I felt at ease and complete.
As the years past I was able to form a strong and loving relationship with my father and his side of the family. No it wasn’t easy but nothing in life worth having ever is. I am reflective of these events in my life because I lost my father on December 16th 2009 and this is the second man that I have lost that has dedicated his life to showing me that I am powerful and deserve respect. The first man was my grandfather who was there from my birth until he passed away in February 8th 1998.
What I am saying is children need men and women in their life they can count on. Men you should not have a choice on whether or not you want to be in your children’s lives. Children are a gift from the Creator not a sweater you can return because you don’t like it. You should take care of the children that you have before you take care of someone else’s children. You should not decide if you are going to be in your children’s life based on your relationship you have with their mother.
If you absolutely can’t get along to co-parent the children you have together stand a neutral party can be asked to facilitate visitation. Remember this should be your last option because if children pick up on the fact that there parents don’t get along they can easily use that to their advantage.
Women should stop making decisions on if your child can see their father because you are mad at them or they have done you wrong. The only way a man should be denied visitation with their children is if they are a danger to their children, not if they cheated on you.
If a man has children from previous relationships this is a way to gain insight whether or not they be a good father if you had a child with them. If you are doing more for their child than they are this is a big hint that they are not a good father (You should be there to support the man in maintaining relationships with their children not to do their job as a father). If a man places blame on everyone as to why they haven’t spent time with their children what does that say about that man’s willingness to be a good father?
It is up to us as mothers, ladies we should stick together put together a united front remember it is three sides to every story theirs, your, and the truth. In other words keep your mind open you are only hearing one half of the story and when you are working on half the story you are working on half of the truth and that never works. So remember always keep the best interest of the child in mind and everything else will fall in place.