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Biased

Yesterday was my goddaughter’s first birthday. Her father, whom I’ve NEVER been friends with and only say “Hi” to out of respect for her mother, inboxed me on Facebook asking me to remove the photo I posted

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Part of me was like “Stay the F_©K out my inbox!” But I realized despite what I know he’s done to my step sister, he’s never directly disrespected me. His request was worded politely and by no means aggressive. He’s only able to see the photo because my step sister is tagged in it. Then I was upset because he called the photo “personal.” *How the hell is a photo that I took, of MY godchild, on MY phone, PERSONAL to YOU?*

Denzel

I can just see ANGER running around in my head try to “put the foot down.” But then I had to ask myself “Why are you REALLY angry?”

I’ve been examining my judgment of other people’s relationships & approaches to parenthood lately.

I’m biased. I grew up in a single MOTHER household. My mother, my youngest sister and I all have the same last name. There was never any confusion at school or the doctor’s office & I grew to know the world from that ONE view.

narrow minded

I found myself judging women who give their child the father’s last name if they aren’t married. And then I remembered my friend Denell has physical custody of his daughter. Should SHE have her mother’s last name? Does he have the right to petition to change it if she does?

I didn’t respond to my goddaughter’s dad’s request to remove her photo. Although I’ve come to respect his rights as her father to have concerns about the image of his child, I disagreed that it was personal. She was fully clothed. She didn’t have any hair to be “done”, she was clean and there weren’t any items in the background that could be used to identify her location. Her mother “liked” the photo and therefore I decided not to play pawn in one of their potential feuds.

It did however bring to the forefront my biases against men in parenthood. Only thing I had of my Daddy’s was his face and some days even that’s too much.

same face

I recall being about 15 or 17 years old and Buddha tried to take my phone and I told him directly to his face, he had “No right to touch my phone. You didn’t buy it and you don’t pay this bill.”

When I was 14 Step Dad #2 and I  got physical and I told him he had “no right to put his hands on me. You’re not my real father anyway.” I guess I’ve always been biased toward a father’s rights in parenthood. More important than a father’s rights, is a Daddy’s love.

daddys love

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Defying Statistics

One of my favorite actors is also a product of a fatherless home. Instead of letting it keep him down or using it as an excuse to abandon his own children, Omar Epps has chosen to shed light on the plight of Fathers defying the odds to be the Daddies their children need. Read more about the documentary on theroot.com and watch the trailer below.

Direct link to The Root’s article on “Daddy Don’t GO” in the comments section.

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Perspective

Is it harder for a daughter or a son to grow up without a Daddy?

fatherless daughter fatherless son

I visited my brother this past weekend. We’re officially the same age, until my birthday this fall. In our 24 years of life, this is the first time we’ve spent a birthday together.

It’s funny how we grew up in different homes in different states with different mothers and still essentially ended up the same person.

phillil3

We both inherited Buddha’s talent as a writer. He writes song (and sings them) and I write poems. We’re both extremely talkative, which our mothers never hesitate to remind us of and often interrupt our stories. And we’re both beginning to find our own voice at 24.

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I watched my brother snap at his mom for the first time this weekend. I was shocked, but I empathized with his frustration.

He was telling a story and she kept interrupting him. I had a recent blow up with my mom because I finally stuck up for myself in a similar situation.

On the evening of his birthday I sat beside his mom on the couch swapping stories with his aunt, a social worker, about my experiences as a teacher and as an observer in a mental health clinic.

uh my birthday

We shared how our thoughts on motherhood and language changed based on the things we’ve witnessed. How phrases like “I love you” make children uncomfortable because it may remind them of abuse. How my brother’s new friendship with a deaf person has shaped his appreciation for his senses & how we both have a new found respect for homeless folk.

On Sunday, his mom left for a day trip and I should have been back on the road to get home at a decent time to prepare myself for the work week. Instead, I chose to stay and get a few hours alone with the brother I love the most and see the least.

siblings

He opened up to me about how in his perspective it was harder as a boy not to have a father.

He spoke of being a fifth wheel on his friends’ Father-Son Fishing Trips. How he wanted to be a pitcher, but had no father to play catch with. How he knew, even though his friends’ fathers wanted to help him, they would never help him be better than their sons, so he trained and timed himself. We were interrupted by his girlfriend’s arrival, but it felt good to just listen. In the eight years since I met him, we never really discussed Buddha & I never knew a son’s perspective on Dealing with Daddy Issues.

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Prepared

“Becoming a Father is the most frightening thing in the world to become. …Here’s what a father does: He provides. He protects. He prepares. He must provide for his child ALWAYS; he must protect that child, there are some things they might want that aren’t good for them, and he must prepare that child for the day he’s not there.” -Black Men Revealed

daddy-brain

But what if he’s never there?

  • Buddha’s perpetual absence prepared me for disappointment.
  • Stepdad #1s infidelity prepared me for disappointment.
  • Stepdad #2s conditional fatherhood prepared me for disappointment.

disappointed daughter

So when I lost my scholarship, I was disappointed, but I knew that just like when Buddha went to jail, life would go on.

And it did.

But what am I UNPREPARED for?

I was unprepared for the responsibilities of being an adult as my mother slowly released them upon me.

Pay your own phone billpurple check mark

Car insurance in your namepurple check mark

Own apartment and utilities 3 states away, making the thought of moving home a REAL decisionpurple check mark

The more she released, the more overwhelmed I felt. I didn’t expect her to support me forever, but timing in relation to my finances really sucked.

overwhelmed bear

I can’t help but think these transitions would have been smoother with my father or EITHER Step Dad steadily contributing. But then again, I’ve seen what it’s like to have your father still paying your bills and trying to control you because of it.

I used to date this guy “Paranoid Pete” and every couple of months he would ask me when my lease was up. I found it to be quite annoying because whether he had forgotten or not, it really wasn’t any of his business. I listened closely enough to the tales of his past to know that even though he was six years my senior; he had never really lived alone. I wasn’t ready to be his next roommate, or anyone’s for that matter.

paranoid pete

I had seen my mother be the catalyst behind Step Dad #1 getting his first car and moving out of his mom’s apartment. I watched as Step Dad #2 slowly moved all of his belongings into my mother’s house even though he had his own. I heard the dissention based on decisions made by “those that DON’T pay bills” and I realized I wasn’t prepared to cohabitate with a mate because I had yet to see it done successfully. I wasn’t prepared for the expectations of man to want to live more closely, sharing more space and time, because I grew to value my independence. I wasn’t prepared for all of the perks that came with living with your man because I was only prepared for disappointment.

How can a father prepare the child for the day he’s not there if he never shows up in the first place?

absent dad

Betty Shabazz once told Malcolm X “You’re present even when you’re not here”

The same goes for Daddies; we learn lessons from their absence. Be mindful of what you prepare us for.

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Protection

“I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.” Sigmund Freud

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I think that need is just as strong in adulthood. My sister has suffered abuse at the hand of her daughter’s father both before and since giving birth. It was only a couple months ago that I lie beside her as she cried during her recount of the day’s events and confessed to me that she “just wanted to hear Daddy’s voice” but was fearful of what might happen to him if he got involved.

Domestic Violence victim

Well, he got involved. And her B!+©#A$$ baby daddy bust him in the head with a Snapple bottle.

What happens to a Daddy’s magic when he feels he can’t protect his little girls anymore?

Thinking Dad and newborn

This isn’t the first time he’s put hands on her, and every time Step Dad #1 has tried to handle things like men and have a conversation. Respect my sister’s wishes and just remove her from the situation. But this time, this time was different. He chose to really understand the risk involved with still being “Daddy” for an adult. If he lost his life trying to save one daughter, he’d be leaving behind 3 more and a son with no Daddy to call on. BUT, if he stopped trying to protect his child in need, he would be burdened with guilt if her child’s father took the life of his eldest seed.

Man with hand covering eyes

Is a Daddy’s Duty ever done? When is too old for a child to need their Daddy’s PROTECTION?