Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Message From a First Time Father

Back in 1996, I completed a Senior Investigative Paper entitled “Adolescent Alcohol Abuse and Aggression.” Essentially the paper dealt with the relationship between teenager alcohol consumption and the violent behavior that comes from drinking. In writing this paper, I found an interesting piece of information that I was not expecting. Research showed that parent-adolescent bonds can have a direct influence on adolescent drug use. The children of divorced parents and single parents are more at risk to be involved with alcohol. Because I come from a two parent household I take a lot of things for granted. I’m amazed by single women that I know with children. I don’t pity them. I am in awe of how they are able to hold it together. But unfortunately these women are the exception. I have a lot of friends who grew up in single family homes. They all turned out to be upstanding men and women. So just because you come from a single parent home doesn’t mean you can’t be successful. But based on research, children have greater odds of success if they grow up in a two family household (i.e. mother and father in the home).

You look at the evening news every night and see the same thing. Young black males being escorted to police cars wearing handcuffs. To reiterate what I said – I said EVERYDAY!!! Every blue moon they will show males from another race being whisked away by the law. But the very next day it will be back to “blacks on screen!!!” If you do the background search on their home life, all the young males have a common problem. They are all fatherless boys!! And don’t think I’ve forgotten about the young black females that are on the news. They are having daddy issues as well. It’s not a surprise that Big Brothers and Big Sisters are pushing harder than ever for mentors for children. If you ask people that work for them, they will tell you that there are not enough “Bigs” for the children. By now you are probably wondering where did all the children come from? And what does all this mean?

Look no further than Maury Povich for the answers. His self titled television show is famous for episodes where women confront their boyfriends with DNA and lie detector tests. The men never believe the baby is actually theirs!! So the women have to prove them wrong to get child support (i.e. pampers, milk and a meal down at the Dairy Queen). The worst ones are where the women don’t know who they slept with. They bring a parade of men on stage testing each and everyone. It reminds me of when the Airforce gives physicals before sending people off to basic training. And they do it by the bus loads!!! Do I think that this show is completely on the up and up? No! But the women and men on his show represent real people that aren’t on stage. And the scary part is that we actually know some of them.

We have a problem with irresponsible boys having unprotected sex with irresponsible girls and creating irresponsible children. There I said it!!! Now I’ll probably get hate mail for this one but don’t blame me. Get mad at the evening news. My friends that are teachers tell me horror stories about the parents of their children. Parent teacher conferences where mothers dress like they just got off the stripper pole. Dealing with parents that argue about why teachers shouldn’t discipline their children. And working with Parent Teacher Associations where parental involvement is practically non-existent. But it doesn’t matter if the teachers can’t educate them. The Prison Industrial Complex will pick up where the school systems left off. Jail is big business!! Every year cities struggle to come up with money for schools but new jails are always being built. Bill Cosby talked about this same problem and he was crucified. It’s an uncomfortable subject to talk about because it hits home with many of us. We don’t want to offend our family and friends. But it’s too late because “the chickens are coming home to roost” and the evening news doesn’t care about hurt feelings.

Today the No Wedding No Womb campaign was launched in declaration and acknowledgement that the out-of-wedlock situation in the black community has reached a critical mass. NWNW calls for both men and women to take into account the trauma that motherless or fatherless children experience when procreating is taken so cavalierly. The scars are long-term, and often for life. But NWNW doesn’t NECESSARILY equate to marriage, per se, but commitment–a lifelong partnership between mother and father. Both are “married” to the idea that a two-parent household is better than a single, struggling one. Of course there are exceptions, but they do not make the rule. NWNW also fights against the normalization of baby momma and daddy-ism. Clearly as a whole, this mentality is NOT working for us as a community.

I joined this campaign because of my wife. At the beginning of next year I am going to be a first time father. Am I nervous? Yes! But I am also very excited. But I’m more excited for my wife. When we met in college I was very immature and not ready for a committed relationship. My wife knew exactly what she wanted at that young age. She wanted to get married and then have children. And she was adamant that there was not going to be any pre-marital sex going on. So you ask why am I proud of her? It’s not because of the fact she waited to get married to have sex. I don’t look down on people because of that. If that was the case, I wouldn’t be able to look at myself because I didn’t wait until I was married. I’m proud of her because she never compromised her beliefs. She knew what she wanted and she stuck to her principles. No matter how much pressure she was up against and even when she had to remove people out of her life. I am honored to call her my wife and that she is carrying “our” child.

I know that everyone doesn’t have an ideal family situation. People deal with divorce and parental death can come earlier than expected. But we as a society have to be careful of the decisions that we make when having unprotected sex. The consequences are too big to make light of. The process of bringing a life into this world needs to be more than an afterthought. Children are being born to end up in prison. They aren’t even making it out of high school with a diploma (with black men having the worst graduating numbers). We are losing out on our future Doctors, Lawyers, Fathers, Mothers, Teachers and Engineers. My personal responsibility in all of this madness is to be the best father I can be. I have a family that depends on me and I don’t want to let them down. I guess we’ll have to work on this one child at a time. I guess….


Val said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Val said...

Okay brother CO, here is what I think.

I think people like Bill Cosby blame the victim, Black women, because that's the easiest thing to do. Blaming the system, which has been penalizing poor families for having a man in the house since the 1960's, is the real culprit.

But fighting the system requires more work than just standing on a stage mocking Black women, as Bill Cosby does, it requires a lot of very hard work.

So I think the NWNW movement is a very good start. The second phase to this has to be education and a fight for a change to public assistance so that men are not excluded from families in order for them to get help.

And congratulations to you and your wife on the soon to be new addition to the family!!!!

Marty said...

Your paragraph on immature parental interactions with the education system is so emblematic of consequences of our lifestyles.

You can replay that at work with bosses,with coaches and Scout leaders and many other situations.

Not only have the chickens roosted but unfortunately they are good and and comfortable. As you said we'll have to start unseating them one by one by living the example.

Good insights though out. Thanks for sharing.

Citizen Ojo said...

Val - You are correct about the system that kept black men out of the home. But some of the dudes out here now are ghost for no reason. No one is keeping them away from their kids but themselves. But again all social programs aren't good for us. And thanks for the congrats.

Marty - Yeah, the society we live in now breeds mediocrity. And that starts at home...

Nik said...

I'm going to have to somewhat disagree with Val's comment. I don't think Mr. Cosby is "mocking" Black women. I think he's disappointed in some of us.

Some of us open our legs before we even know what kind of man we're dealing with. We're ready to shag before we even know his character. Do we stop to ask ourselves, "Is this the kind of brother that can and will stand up to his responsibilities?" Some of us don't know he has other kids until after we end up knocked up.

Bill Cosby comes from a different era when we were more proud and had values we weren't willing to freely compromise. So try understanding where he's coming from. He's been married for years and he's not perfect, but he has a point. We've got to do better for our kids. I'm 27 years old next month and I finished college and I have no children. It can be done. I refuse to bring a child into this world without commitment.

Great post Ojo! Congratulations on the baby and I know you'll be a great father who'll raise an even better child!

Citizen Ojo said...

Nik - Yes, I can see where cosby was disappointed. I think what upset alot of folks was how he expressed his disappointment. The Cos come from a different generation/one that we call old fashion. Although they did some good things in their time they also did some bad things. They weren't good at communicating with their kids and good forbid if you did get pregnant. The baby was taken away or you were shipped off to have it somewhere. I'm interested in having an old school morality system in modern times. Mixing what they did good with what we can do good now. That's a tough task and one that most can't follow (selfishness). BTW thanks for offering to be a babysitter...

Nik said...

You're right, it'd be something to behold mixing what was good back then with the knowledge we have now! Imagine the possibilities huh? Strong Black families!

Yep I'll babysit anytime, send lil one on up to Canada. You cover the flight cost and I got everything else covered. Lol.

RainaHavock said...

Great article. I'm remaining celibate until Marriage and I'm waiting till I get married to have children. Congrads =)

Glen Antoine Palmer said...

Great post. Congratulations on the new addition to the family. Maybe in a few years, I will be joining the ranks of fatherhood.