THE ROLE THAT WOMEN PLAY IN FATHERING

As a woman who has been blessed to have grown up with not only my father in my life, I also had the beautiful experience of having my grandfather and many uncles who filled a father role in my life-I had many fathers. I have always been and am still to this day surrounded by men in my family who are great fathers.

Because of my experience with my “fathers”, I’m so pleased to see many resources available to assist men in being better fathers. Just search the internet and you will find everything from blogs to websites to videos all designed to help men learn to be better fathers. the movement to spark dialog between men on fatherhood is definitely in motion (and has been for some time). There are forums, panels, conferences and radio show’s on the topic of fatherhood being hosted everywhere to encourage men to share their thoughts and experiences about being a father and what it takes to be effective at it.

One crucial element that I think is missing from the conversation though is the role that we women play in fatherhood. And there IS a role-a very important role- that women play in men being fathers. Whether they are our fathers, husbands, sons, or male friends, women have so much influence on the men in their lives and we are often the difference in whether a man believes he can be an effective father or not.

With our words, we can either tear a man down and make him think he’s the worst person to walk the face of the earth (which unfortunately so many of us do) which could render him discouraged or we can build him up and make him believe that he can walk on water! Either way, how a man feels about himself directly affects whether he thinks he can be a good father. I in no way am attempting to make excuses for men who don’t step up to be in the lives of their children but I do hope to offer some insight into why some men feel like their children are better off without them.

Absentee fatherhood is at epidemic proportions in our country particularly in the African-American communities. The numbers of our children that are being raised in households with only their mother are staggering. The reasons for this are numerous and worthy of discussion but I’m choosing to focus on only one today- a man’s image of himself and how we women can directly impact that image-positively or negatively.

Men need encouragement! No matter what society says about a man being “a real man”, men suffer with insecurities, fear and doubts about themselves just as much as we women do. The image and expectation of men that we have is that men aren’t allowed to show emotion or fear lest they be considered a “wuss” or weak. We women say we want a sensitive man who is not afraid to show emotion or cry in front of us but the moment that we see a grown man (or boy for that matter) cry we often are the first ones to call him weak. Most times our “manly” image of him shifts at the sight of his tears.

How the women (mother, wife, friends) in a man’s life see’s him is very important to a man! Whether he will tell you that or not, believe that it is. He often feels that he has to have all the answers and be able to solve any problem, fix anything around the house and make sure his family is provided for in order to be considered a man. If any of these elements are missing a man may feel less than a man and think he is no good as a man and especially as a father.

We women can make the difference by telling the men in our lives how much we appreciate them and luv them. We can acknowledge the effort (not focusing on the results)that they put forth and thank them for trying even if the results are not that great. We can tell them that they are great men; awesome men even! We have the ability to build a mans self-worth or destroy it! Men need to know that a woman believes in them, trusts them and needs them. If a man believes in himself and knows that a woman believes in him he will be more confident in his ability and he will step up to the plate of life and take a swing at it. But if he is discouraged and doesn’t believe in himself and is told by the women in his life just how much of a man he isn’t, he just may choose to sit the bench.

Whether they are our son’s, husbands, ex-husbands (That’s a post in itself), fathers, friends or men in our communities, women hold the verbal key to their belief in themselves and their ability to be men. I hope that we will choose to use that key to build our men’s self-worth and self-image thus building our communities as only we can!

Magnificent Monday-Go With The Flow

This post is actually a piece that I wrote last July and for some reason left it sitting in “drafts!” I posted it as a note on my facebook page at that time and reposted it today. It is my Magnificent Monday post for today! Enjoy!!

Already today I have been presented with challenges! I am supposed to be in family court this morning in San Bernardino, Ca (I live in Las Vegas) to decide custody of my four children. Since my family is in California and tomorrow is my mothers birthday, we had planned to make a weekend out of it spending it with the family.

My children and I woke up at 3:00am in order to get dressed, load the car and be on the road by 4:00am. The drive only takes me three hours so I would have been there in plenty of time for my 8:30am court appearance. I made sure I had all of our favorite music together and everything seemed to be going smoothly. My children, looking forward to seeing their grandparents and celebrating their granny’s birthday, had packed their stuff days ago and lined the hallway leading to the front door with their bags. I filled up the gas tank last night so all we had to do was load the car, get in and leave.

We loaded the car, got in…um, where are the keys? My daughter, who checks the mail and is usually really good about returning the keys to me looked at me with that deer in the headlights look. I asked again…KM, what did you do with the keys after you checked the mail last night. Now, I am notorious for losing my keys so I have developed the practice of leaving them in the car so that I don’ lose them. But this time there were no keys to be found and she apparently could not recall what she did with them after checking the mail. 3 1/2 hours later, still no keys.

I could feel the anger welling up as I thought about the fate of the custody of my children and not being able be in court on time or at all. I began to imagine all the things the judge would say when the calendar was read and no one answered when my name was called. ALL kinds of made up visions were running through my head! I mean, I had it all played out in my mind as to what would happen in court today and I was getting angrier by the minute. Just as I was about to start yelling at my daughter for losing the keys I heard the voice; the Spirit saying don’t resist what is; GO WITH THE FLOW and don’t fight against it.

Now I’m a very spiritual person and normally I would have recognized and welcomed the presence of the Divine at work here but not today! I needed to get to court and I needed to leave NOW! I didn’t want to hear anything about going with any damn flow! All I wanted to do was leave!!

As I huffed around the house frantically searching for the Houdini keys I kept hearing it. GO WITH THE FLOW; DON’T RESIST WHAT IS! By now I have reached a point where I know that when your plan is not going according to plan that there is a BIGGER plan at work. So I found a quiet place and sat myself down. I closed my eyes…took a few deep cleansing breaths… and mentally said: OK God, what are you trying to tell me?!

That’s when the calm came and I realized that there was in fact a bigger plan at work here. So I let my kids off the hook and told them to go back to bed. We would find the keys when we found them.

I called my attorney’s office and sent him an email informing him of the situation. What else can I do I asked myself. Answer: nothing! Its not in your hands!!

So I sat back and decided to trust in the fundamental goodness of the Divine. I have no idea what is going to happen in court this morning;whether my ex will be awarded full custody of our four children as he has asked for or if what I have asked for;joint custody with him having visitation as he pleases will be awarded. But I do know this: That all things truly do work together for our good! We have no idea how all the seemingly unrelated events of our lives have worked together to produce THIS moment!

I have detached myself from the outcome of this “dilemma” and am trusting that whatever happens is part of the plan for our lives and that everyone involved will see good come of this. I have decided to GO WITH THE FLOW of life knowing that the Divine is in the flow right along with this problem and that at the end of the day, all will continue to be well with me as this Divine plan unfolds and I get another opportunity to see the magnificence of the Divine at work.

So, when you are faced with challenges, and you will be, and things don’t seem to be going the way that you have planned, don’t resist what is. Know that there is a bigger plan at work in your life; something more grand than you could ever imagine! Trust that there is only good planned for your life and that everything will always work out! GO WITH THE FLOW!!

Now if I could only find my keys!