A DAY FOR
A Call to Good Men:
We Need More Fathers!
"He seemed to make time for each and every one of them."
There's a real scarcity
of responsible dads today By RAPHAELLA CRUZ
Almost every time I speak with my father I am reminded of how lucky I am that hes mine. There is a severe shortage of good fathers in the world, and its crippling society. Children who grow up without fathers, or with abusive fathers, are simply disadvantaged and often even damaged. I know I am blessed because my father stayed with our family, he supported us financially and in every other way, but mostly he filled our house with fun and laughter.
I began to think a lot about fathers--and to really appreciate mine--when I worked teaching sports in inner-city neighborhoods. Many of the children I taught lived in single-mother households and you could plainly see there was something missing in their lives.
One male coach named Desmond, a volunteer who also worked as a policeman, had become surrogate father to hundreds of these children. When he walked in the gym, he was pounced upon by all the children. He seemed to make time for each and every one of them. Within minutes of his entrance he could have the kids lined up, or marching in time, or on the floor doing push-ups. Furthermore if Desi was leading, they did it with glee.
It was impossible to have a conversation with Desi alone, he always had one or more children hanging off his leg or arm or back. He could sometimes be seen on the bleachers talking with a child, squatted down to their level, his eyes locked with theirs in intense conversation. Desi made time for them simply because he loved them, he cared, and he knew they had no other decent male role models.
I can recall my own father acting similarly selflessly on a family trip to Morocco. We had taken a tour of an outdoor market with a busload of other tourists and at the end of the day we were all to meet back on the bus. Everyone came on time but my father was missing. Eventually we saw his bald head on the horizon, and he was surrounded by children. He had purchased a big bag of candy and was tossing it to the poor children as they followed him to the bus. It was most likely more candy than they had ever had in their lives, and it was obvious they had never been happier. I was very pleased to share him with them.
In recent headlines, Brad Pitt was reported to have adopted Angelina Jolies children as his own. I found this to be an outstanding gesture. It seemed an unprecedented act of putting the children first. I hope he will serve as a role model for other single men who may not have committed to a partner yet, but are not afraid to show their commitment to children.
One of my male co-workers is married but without children. He is very intelligent, handsome, and witty, and is always sharing stories of his nieces and nephews antics. He becomes filled with joy when he recalls helping them with art projects, or throwing parties for them, or how he got them the perfect Christmas presents. I was shocked and disappointed when he told me that he and his wife had decided never to have children. I couldnt help but think it was a great waste of what could have been a perfect father.
I suppose as women we tend to look at men in terms of father-material. Would they make good fathers? Would they measure up to the standards our own fathers have set? We imagine them cooing at our future infants, and who can resist popular images of fathers holding babies in black-and-white portrait photos?
For a child, life is complete when Mother and Father love them. When one is missing, their world is half empty. I am eternally grateful that my father has filled my life with everything he had to offer, most importantly, his love. I hope that more good men will step up and be father to so many children with half empty lives.
©2006 by Raphaëlla Cruz. The illustration is from IMSI's Master Clips Collection, 1895 Francisco Blvd. East, San Rafael, CA, 94901-5506, USA. This column first posted June 12, 2006.
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