The joy of fatherhood: Helpful tips for fathers and men who want to become fathers
by Morris Turner III
For too many years, men have been making babies and often taking no responsibility for the resulting beautiful product, unless forced to do so by the court system. I remember the first time I heard a man deny that a child was his. I was 19 years old and a student at Merritt College in Oakland-Grove Street Campus. I remember seeing the baby, with those striking wrinkly creases across his forehead, just like the brother who was denying him. I thought to myself, how crazy. The baby is an exact duplicate of him and he’s screaming to high heaven, “The baby ain’t mine.” I thought to myself, how can he say that with a straight face?
I acknowledge there are many reasons that a man may deny being the father of a child. He may be “creeping” around and “messing” with one or more women “on the side” and doesn’t want his “main” woman or wife to find out. Or he may just be “playing the field” and enjoying himself as he moves from one conquest to another.
For too many years, men have been making babies and often taking no responsibility for the resulting beautiful product, unless forced to do so by the court system.
Heaven forbid, but it does happen that even good men – although immature – are sometimes overwhelmed at the thought of “all that responsibility.” And of course, there is always the claim that the mother may have been involved with more than one person during the period of conception. We’ve all heard the assertion, “Everybody knows that she runs around” or “She slept with me the first day I met her,” completely ignoring the fact that he also slept with her the first day “he met her.”
The woman can’t make frivolous excuses, ignore the situation and run away from the consequences, for obvious reasons. All things being equal, both individuals should have to take a balanced share of the responsibility for bringing forth the offspring; am I right?
A beautiful child comes into the world, not knowing his or her father for years, if ever, and misses out on 50 percent of the natural parenting – love and nurturing – they should be receiving. Why should babies suffer for the actions of grown folks or young folks “playing grown”? Well my friends, I have come up with a solution to this scenario, which I presented to my sons and wish I could enforce across the board.
All things being equal, both individuals should have to take a balanced share of the responsibility for bringing forth the offspring; am I right?
When my sons were about 12 or 13 years old, I had a meeting with each of them and the topic was sex. We talked, however awkwardly, about the responsibility that goes along with it and the fact that sometimes a baby may be the outcome.
I informed them that if a girl they had been involved with became pregnant, I would hold them 100 percent responsible for the raising of the child from day one. There would be no blood test or other paternity investigation involved. That could all happen later in life, if appropriate, but the wellbeing of the baby was going to be the foremost priority.
If they wanted to “play house” like grown folks, they were going to have to take responsibility for “grown folks’ consequences.” If more young men knew that they would be held accountable for raising the child, regardless as to who the actual father was, I bet we’d see a significant change in the casual attitude some take toward having multiple children by multiple women. I look forward to your feedback on this very important topic.
Morris Turner, the father of two sons, ages 43 and 39, was a community worker with the Black Panther Party. Over the past 45 years he has worked with children and young people in a variety of settings, including as preschool teacher, career counselor, family mentor and sports coach. He is also an author and recognized researcher in the area of African American settlement in the United States, but his greatest pleasure today is learning to be a good grandpa. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.