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Be a Better Baby Daddy
Man meets woman. Man and woman hit it off. Nine months later, man and woman are parents. Somewhere along the way, man and woman decide not to marry but they are forced to co-parent. Sound familiar? The new dad typically has his offspring living with their mother and he becomes a visiting parent. A ‘baby daddy.’
Now your nerves and money are stretched thin. You ask yourself, how did I get here and can I be the best dad while not living with my children?
‘How can I be there without actually being there?’
Research says children with uninvolved fathers are more likely to experience major challenges. Poverty, teen pregnancy, incarceration, and depression are just a few. While one-fourth of U.S. children live in fatherless households, two-thirds of African American children experience this reality. Fathers serve as roles models for boys and relationship models for girls. Hence, a father’s contribution is unique and irreplaceable.
Being a baby daddy has challenges but also great opportunities. Consider this statement: physical absence does not have to equal abandonment.
It’s highly possible to maintain a meaningful relationship with your children although you no longer live in the primary household. Just because you are no longer under the same roof, you can still play your important role as the most important man in their lives.
Here’s How You Can Start:
- Be respectful towards your children’s mother. Although she’s no longer your girlfriend or “wifey”, she is their mother and the gateway of access to your children. Keep the access clear!
- Meet your financial responsibilities to your children. Take advantage of programs that offer training and employment opportunities when necessary. National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse at fatherhood.gov is a federal government initiative that supports dads with local programs and resources.
- Send text messages and emotionally connecting pictures. Show you are thinking about them often. Little notes can be great emotional connections.
- Initiate ‘sacred’ dad and child(ren) time. Let the child (if old enough) help decide the activity and meal for the designated time.
- Initiate spontaneous and unplanned dad-child(ren) events. Be sure to get moms’ ‘buy-in’ but be open to pancakes for dinner, silly activities, etc.
- Draw special pictures for your child(ren).Regardless of your talent, the love and effort matter most.
- Make birthdays extremely special. Make the entire day special to the birthday child(ren) with their favorite “fixings”. Co-plan with mom where possible since you are the parents. Let the kids see you as a team.
- Improve your parenting knowledge and skills. Visit the National Fatherhood Initiative’s web resource center at fathersource.org and talk to other parents- a lot!
Our time to directly impact their lives of our children is limited. The years go by so quickly. As we live in a world of constant technological upgrade, let’s make a decision to upgrade our relationship with our children. Success on Wall Street and Sesame Street are possible if we stay motivated, focused, and make every moment matter.
Ron Clark is a national conference speaker, consultant, writer on manhood and fatherhood issues. He is cited in numerous fatherhood and family services articles and research reports. Visit his website at responsiblefatherhood.org.