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Suggestions for the Father who has been MIA

If you are a father who has been gone and is seeking to build a relationship with your child and/or your child’s mother I’ve got some good news and work for you. The good news is that it’s great that you’ve decided to be part of the solution and not the problem. I also want to share with you that if you have been away, whatever the reason, being allowed back into your child’s life is an unfolding process of consistency that will hopefully build a foundation of trust.

  • Some of the prerequisites for involvement are self-honesty, sacrifice, patience, and humility.

Once a single mom has become acclimated to doing everything for the child alone, any attempt to step back in demanding rights or to take over and be “daddy” is a design for disaster. Of all the things children need growing up, parental presence and consistency are at the top of the list.

The mother is more than correct to ensure the child’s physical, psychological and emotional safety. You cannot be gone for years and all of a sudden think the Mom is going to put the kids on a plane or go out of town for a period of time to visit a biological "stranger". This is selfish, foolish, and inconsiderate.

We are living in such a time where paternal deprivation in the form of economic, physical, and emotional absence constitutes the most prevalent examples of child endangerment in the world today. There are many underlying reasons for father absence: sometimes family court pushes fathers away with legal mandates or the loss of professional licenses to be gainfully employed. A man may repeat the cycle of absence conscious or unconsciously because his father was not present for him,

  • He may be dead broke as opposed to deadbeat and as a result of the shame associated with not being able to provide for his children

  • He may elect to stay away and last but not least and certainly the biggest one of all identified in conversations I've had with men and women unresolved relationship issues between the parents just to name a few.

I have been engaged in phenomenal conversations with men (and women) around the country since the release of my new Amazon bestseller When Mama is Daddy: The Male Crisis and Challenge of Ending Father Absence and I want to take a moment to share some of the conversations I’ve had where we discussed…..

  1. How the “boots on the ground” at home father/husband is rarely acknowledged and therefore deemed not newsworthy.

  • There appears to be a greater investment in paralyzing the populace with fear and misinformation regarding the absent father. No one is talking about the countless fathers, (without mom in tow) with their kids at the grocery store, the playground, the movies, the mall, or school events. Last year, I saw more fathers with their children asking questions at open house than I have ever in my life. Most recently, I even noticed a young father caring for his daughter (alone) while attending a lecture I held with participants in a drug court program in Tennessee.

Brothers, I want to share something with you I’ve heard my wife Kimberly say a time or two I did not like it at first, but is true nonetheless: there are no “cool points” for doing what you are supposed to do as a parent. That said, I think instead of looking for that outside approval from our significant other or women in general it is critical that men are verbally and demonstratively (high five, fist pound, healthy hug, etc.) supportive of one another. We should take the time to give each other an “atta boy” for being a stand-up guy. Imagine the positive impact of brothers role modeling positive support for one another and making it a cultural norm!

  • A few summers ago in Chicago, my grandson Paris and I were sitting at an outside café eating pizza and reading comic books. Another black man walking past us literally stopped, turned around and walked over to me, and said “I like that, what the two of you are doing. That looks so good”. And he went about his way. The comment made my day.

2. There is a tremendous amount of anger among men toward the controlling ex-significant other denying you access to your child because of unresolved drama between the two of you.

  • What I want to say to you here is to examine the wreckage of your past with her.

  • What part do you play?

As men we can do some incredibly insensitive, unkind, or abusive things and expect saying “I’m sorry” will cover the damages. Remember hurt people, hurt people. Humbly suggest counseling for the two of you or an unbiased mediator you both trust to help you work through your issues.

  • I might also suggest that you get some counseling for yourself first and examine what‘s going on with you, identify and examine your true feelings about all that has transpired. In this manner, you will be better prepared to interact with your ex.

3. Many men are contributing financially to the well-being of their kids. You are to be commended. This is a great start, however, go back and review what I said in conversation #1 about the “cool points”.

  • What we pay in child support doesn’t even begin to make a dent in what is financially required to raise children today.

  • Further, if you don’t want to be treated as an “ATM” do not act like one.

Remember your money doesn't make you a father, your time and efforts do. Be involved in all areas of your child's life where possible. Live out of town? Purchase a couple of those inexpensive smart tablets that you can connect to the internet and have Skype time with your kids.

  • Work a lot of hours? Ask the boss for some leave time to spend with your kids. Show up for the special occasions, drop by and have lunch at school with them sometimes, or genuinely show an interest in what your kids like. You'll be amazed how doing any of these things consistently will make you their hero forever.

4. Many men talk about moving on and starting a new relationship only to get grief and drama from their ex when it's time to pick up the kids.

  • If you are just starting a new relationship with your kids you might consider scheduling quality time with your new girlfriend at another time.

You may have a right to move on, but you have a responsibility not to flaunt it. I know many of us don't know what to do with our kids when we pick them up and the new girlfriend makes the task of figuring it out easier. I simply caution you to remember that these are "your" kids and that sooner or later you need to figure out how to spend quality time with them alone in the beginning.

Please do not have your new girlfriend in the car; going to pick up the kids for the first time in a long while, unless you just want to start an ish storm of unnecessary drama with your ex.

  • You don’t have to rub your new relationship in her face.

In fact, it would be courteous to mention you are seeing someone especially if you consider having this person around your kids. This is about respect, not asking for permission. This is about not devaluing the mother of your child or children no matter what happened previously.

  • Remember two wrongs have never made a right. Man up chief!

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