By Andrea Lawful Sanders
As Father’s Day quickly approaches and you all try to figure out the most basic of gifts to give the men in your lives, allow me to share what has been a best kept secret.
Fathers are a valuable and needed part of their children’s lives.
There, I said it.
Too often, we dismiss their crucial roles, and we go further to not fully acknowledge that there are loads of men raising children on their own.
No mamas present or accounted for.
No child support.
Little to no empathy, as they hear that women have been doing it for centuries, but newsflash – so have men.
There are even men who raised children that were not flesh of their flesh, but took care of them from babies to college and beyond.
Can we give them their due? Can we acknowledge them in schools when they show up to discuss grades and report cards, instead of looking at them like a strange species?
The fact of the matter is this – fathers love their children no less than mothers do.
Women will often be heard saying that they carried and gave birth which makes them more special, but we cannot make babies without sperm, so we need to cut it out.
Imagine the men who ended a relationship, and are then dismissed by vengeful mothers who use the court system against them, when putting sugar in their gas tanks, scratching their cars and torching their clothing fails.
Before women get all in their feelings by being offended about what I am saying, sit still long enough to fully absorb this – it’s the CHILD who suffers the most.
If this is not your scenario, bless your heart and move on to blissful relationship glory. But we all know at least one woman who has stopped men from seeing their children when the relationships ended.
If you are mad because he is a “no good bum,” remember, you chose him and it took you both to procreate, and as my cousin so eloquently stated in an old Jamaican proverb, “One hand can’t clap.”
I recently learned about the divorce of a man who shared that after two decades of marriage and helping his wife through a bout with cancer, she decided she did not want to be married anymore.
Stuff happens – and it is her right.
However, what she did next was go to court, and used her past cancer diagnosis to say she could only work one day a week. She now gets 60% of her ex-husbands salary, and he is barely surviving. Their child lives with him, so he also pays the bills for school.
She has been well and in remission for over a decade, but the court sided with her.
This is not a unique story either, but men tend to keep pain to themselves, while women will share their angst to anyone who will listen.
These men are often so distraught after drawn out court battles, they sometimes sadly withdraw from their child’s life after being thwarted at every turn by mom.
Mom then tells the child that Daddy left them alone; anger, disappointment and resentment builds as the child gets older.
As adults, we have to become mature in thought and deed when relationships end. Emotional intelligence is key. Using children as pawns serves no one well long-term and no peace can thrive in dysfunction.
So, as we approach Father’s Day, I would like to give the gentlemen a gift. When you have children with women, and things turn sour, document every single child support payment you make, outside of a court order. Have a receipt signed and dated. Have a witness present. It will save you heartache when you do end up in court, only to hear the woman say that you never paid a dime.
That scenario happens too much. A hurt and angry woman can cause untold harm.
Also, go and file for joint custody – it is your right. Get letters from solid people who will be character witnesses, and have them in court as your support as the need arises.
Because when the kissy faces end, this thing can become a nightmare.
One more thing – love awaits you past the storm clouds of sadness. Someone will love and appreciate you, just as you are.
My hope for you on this Father’s Day, and others to come, that you will find solace in knowing some of us see you and know your value beyond words.
And we thank you.
To the women, let us treat our men to something beyond a tie on Father’s Day. Ask them what they want, and go do just that. It is one day where we should celebrate them with the same fervor that we have been celebrated.
They earned it.
Disclaimer: (for commentaries) The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the article belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, The Philadelphia Sunday SUN, the author’s organization, committee or other group or individual.