By Sherry Brantley
WANTED—MUCHO NOT MACHO MAN!
Having written information for Personal Power for single mothers, I would be remiss if I didn’t address Personal Power for single fathers. Since I’ve stated earlier that women can’t teach males to be men, I certainly won’t attempt to do so here. Only offer some ideologies that could assist in that process. Since we have an abundance of single female heads of households today, it stands to reason we have an abundance of single fathers who are absent from the household where they have sired children. There is no need to ponder the why of the issue so much as to simply understand this as a fact and move beyond the question of how to handle the situation in a way that would benefit all parties.
For you single male heads of households, and for those fathers that are absent from the home, just as it was suggested to the women, remember the children should never be held as pawns or used to gain anything in your favor either before, during or after a separation or divorce. Sometimes we unconsciously say or do things that inevitably put children in the middle of choosing between both parents, and although we may attempt to rationalize this type of behavior at the time, it wreaks havoc on our children emotionally, spiritually and physically. Try as best you can to handle all situations in a positive manner, especially when you feel situations are becoming too quickly out of control. When voices are being raised, and negative things are being said or done, it would behoove one of the adults to exhibit the type of behavior you would like your children to emulate. Wouldn’t it be grand if your offspring could say with sincerity, they learned that trait from you?
When it comes to dealing with children positively, be as communicative as you can with them, at the level of their understanding. Avoid saying negative, derogatory statements to them regarding their mother, and never sit idly by while allowing anyone else to do so. Whether the statements are true or not, is not the issue. The issue here is to always maintain an environment whereby your children can and want to respect each parent. This becomes a difficult task if most of what they hear is not of a positive nature. And while we’re on the subject, you should not only exhibit this type of behavior in and around your home, but in all facets of your life. Do not refer to women in terms that you would not want to hear your own mother, wife, sister, aunt, grandmother or daughter referred to. Respecting women at home but disrespecting them publicly sends mixed, confusing messages to your children. Secretly, little girls begin to wonder if you also really feel that way about them, and little boys feel they are not real men if they respect women.
Another very controversial issue of today is the issue of financial child support. Fathers, it is imperative that you meet your obligations in this area. For many families, child support can mean the difference between having funds for school clothes and supplies, enough funds to maintain utilities and other much-needed living expenses or something as basic as having enough food from one period to the next. During the time I worked as a parenting instructor, I have had many males tell me in great length and detail how they don’t believe the money is going to the right sources and that is the reason they do not pay it. That doesn’t validate their neglecting this important obligation. It only validates their not giving it directly to the moms. There are many ways this can be handled, a few of which are: Money can be sent directly to the utility companies where bills are due, or directly towards mortgages, rent, car note, car insurances, etc. Dads can pick children up to take them shopping for needed items such as clothes and school supplies. Purchasing items with a ‘paper trail’ such as using your credit card or using checks and/or money orders may prove to be helpful when needing to show the court system your contributions. We’ve all watched the infamous Judge Judy’s expression when people parade into her court claiming ‘they paid someone in cash so they don’t have a receipt.’ Putting monies aside for college expenses or emergencies, which may arise within the family, are also, helpful. However, not contributing to the financial responsibilities of rearing your children should not be an option you consider. With the assistance of the court system, both parents and some creative ideas, there are plenty of ways which you can contribute your financial share towards the needs of the family.
Financial support is only one type of support. You can support your family in other ways. Showing up for birthdays, school events, spending good, quality times with your child are always good avenues to choose from. Assisting the other parent at times when things have gotten a bit stressful, allowing moms to have some time to themselves and generally being available at times you are needed, only helps the entire family, including yourself, to grow in positive, healthy ways.
Also please keep in mind it is imperative that you not make promises you aren’t able to fulfill. Even though you may have every intention in carrying your word out, things can and do happen. If you want to attend a certain event or spend specific time with your child/children, make sure you have cleared enough time to be able to do so. Don’t get into the habit of showing up hours later explaining why you had to work late. Children aren’t interested in why you couldn’t attend—only that you didn’t attend. And certainly don’t take the route of asking the mom to explain away your obligations. I’ve seen first-hand the damage this does when father’s, thinking the child will soon ‘get over it’, are not around when children respond to broken promises by responding negatively to the parent that is present, (mom and/or step-dads) or by taking out frustrations on younger siblings, teachers and/or classmates. This can all be avoided once we start to make our children and what we tell them, priorities in our lives. Yes, there are rare instances when our plans do fall through, but at those times, we need to sincerely apologize and not try to win our children over with gifts and more promises. This only teaches them that people can treat them in any way they see fit, as long as they ‘apologize’ or ‘buy them off with gifts.’ Consequently, it only proves to lower their self-confidence and once older, they may have a tendency to allow others to mistreat them in similar ways, until such time they are empowered to make positive change. Wouldn’t it be better to have that trait already instilled in them from the lessons you’ve taught and the behaviors you’ve exhibited?
Sherry Brantley is the author of several books, including the Best-selling author of STEPP- Start To Exercise Personal Power—How To Create Positive Change In Your Life! She is a dynamic leader and trainer, specializing in the areas of Goal-Setting and Goal-GETTING! Her website is sherrybrantley.com and email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
This was printed in the July 10, 2016 - July 23, 2016 edition.