This article is a first-person account of the challenges involving parenting in the second generation - One man's version of raising a child of his child.
Fatherhood the Second Time Around: My House, My Rules!
Fatherhood in its most pure form gives man a chance for dominion over his own subjective creation…and with that comes responsibility to self, family, and community. Men in general, and Black men specifically have fallen short of a perfected idiom for legitimacy in the eyes of society that tends to judge harshly. There is a man who would like to give his analogy of a different way of looking at this problematic issue. The lessons learned about fatherhood can be harrowing and wanting. In my case, I learned how personal anguish could fuel angst and exasperate the problem. This author didn’t have it so easy, and the second time around purports to give good rhyme and reason why hope spring eternal. I had to contend with how my children saw me then and now. I dealt with the issues and formulated a mantra that would be instituted later on in my quest for real fatherhood, but alas, they had to be by a different set of rules. This second chance gave me a new lease on life. Here is my story:
In my earlier days there was no temperance in my need to satisfy a libido that had me craving for it time and time again. The conquests had no limits, only ascribing to feeding an ego and acquiescing to climatic bliss at the expense of a willing partner. I watched and contributed in a sense to a generation that knew no boundaries, and no limits for control. I saw young boys own up to the machismo of false delusions of manhood where self-esteem was either non-existent or lying dormant when it presented itself to surface at someone else’s expense. I saw mores relax; morals go south, and more of the degradation that permeates our society with no role models to look up to save for those that were athletes and in the entertainment field. My children included, were inclusive and addicted to an undisciplined lifestyle while I attempted to stop the cup from running over!
We men mature at different times in our lives, and I’m sure that there are those that feel to some extent we never reach ages where responsibility is adherent rather than acquired. My case in point stems from immaturity that thrust me into fatherhood without being ready, able and willing to do what needed to be done. When I became the father for the first time Uncle Sam had already called me to serve and do his bidding, without asking whether I could stand the test of his assumption of readiness. Even as a child growing to manhood, I couldn’t fathom anything that I could emulate that would suggest a role for familial model in household. I had often seen how my alcoholic father abused my mother both mentally and physically. The many instances of failed promises, lies and alibis supporting forms of infidelity indelibly lodged in my memory bank to form the basis of a mistrust that took ages for me to appease. I’ve asked myself many times was it heredity that allowed me to be so lax during the genesis of my starting a family and doing what was right. Surely I couldn’t depend on my father for guidance in this area, or could I?
At some time we must look up…for in doing so we find that we can get up, go right and turn straight – directions for a better life. In my times of adversity I learned the hard way why perseverance is a time-honored homily that require due-diligence and a lot of hope. The depths of my valleys gave me mountains of the aforementioned hope I speak of, and the skies of my horizons gave me the wherewithal to make it out of yesterday, claim the newfound opportunities of now to feel that tomorrow is promised. Hope endures suffering, but I didn’t allow it thwart my efforts at challenge and change. I got married for all the wrong reasons, allowed myself to be captured by the game, and before I knew it I had three children from two baby mamas. The heredity issue I posed above came to rear its ugly head to compound and assure me that I had acquired the demon seed of my father. As time progressed I became surly, noncommittal and negligent by the minute, as my children grew older. My wife bore me more children and the plot thickened.
All the things that have been said about us men not being responsible I knew attributed to my sorry attitude, but I was helpless and out of control. I watched as my children grew out of control and out of mind. The hip-hop phenomena embraced them, and rapping defined them. My girls grew up before my eyes and they became vixens for someone else’s visions. Could there be an end to this malaise? Could it get worse, even? I asked these questions for me to illustrate my points for contending with the status quo of those years and solutions to my situation. You see, God is awesome and can intervene whenever He feels reason to. He came into my life when I least expected Him to and turned my world upside down for a right side up ending. How, you ask? As my life was spinning out of control, my wife contracted the dreaded disease, Lupus. Lupus has a litany of symptoms such as chronic bodily rashes, severe migraine headaches, irregularity, arthritic joint disorders, heart damage, breathing maladies, and renal impurities leading to impaired kidney function, all of which she suffered throughout her ailment. According to information culled from Microsoft’s online entity Encarta, the disease follows an irregular course of remissions and flare-ups, and may often be incapacitating. An estimated 500,000 to 1.5 million people in the United States suffer from lupus and the disease strikes women nine times more than men.
Just like that I became a caregiver, and had to raise five kids on my own, three of which were girls! In the interim, life land liberty became strange bedfellows as each jockeyed for position and priority. I longed to bee free again, but knew that the former lifestyle was over for good. Did I become a better father? I had no choice. I shall protect the names of my children, but for the sake of giving this article substance, I will give sanction to the portion that each subscribes to. My oldest child, I shall call Diane all of eleven, big for her age grew to be more than I could handle. She finished high school as Valedictorian of her class with scholarships galore. Finally accepting Spelman College out of Atlanta, she entered with much hoopla and hopes. To make a long story short, she got pregnant and the rest of the story is beginning of second generational grist that helped to shape the new rules for my household. Upon the birth of Christian, Diane’s life changed dramatically and so did mine. Torn between the need to finish college and knowing that it would truly be impossible under the set of circumstances we now faced, decisions were eminent and looming larger by the moment. Against the wishes of my daughter to abort, I persuaded her to have the baby with the promise of me taking care of it until she finished her academic responsibilities. Well, this was easier said than done with me being aware that grandparents raising grandchildren overall has shown symptoms of rising every year.
In closing, I’m now raising Christian with Diane still trying as you read this essay, to get her act together. Christian is standing at attention. He will know that he will have to adhere to my rules. No longer am I a hostage to the times, and the perils of immaturity trying to be a father. Television will be tuned in at a respectable time, there will be nothing sticking out of his ear suggesting music that hip and hop in no sequential pattern for legitimacy, nor will he rap without first learning correct English. He will love school, even relishing the love of books, and will not be intimidated by comprehensive achievement tests. He definitely will wear pants up on his hips and will be a respecter of women and elders. Did I leave anything out? Yes, it was a challenge raising children under the realm of a single parent mandate, but it made me a better father. It was when I understood something wonderful about the eternity of God that my fears finally disappeared. I realized that that a timeless God dwells in the past, present, and future simultaneously watching every step I make. With that said, my second time around is the continuation of life dictated by a value system that was learned by trial and error. The most important thing I learned is knowing that the Creator smiles and gives favor to fathers that are good parents, role models, and are living lives according to their faith in Him!