The joy of fatherhood: Helpful tips for fathers and men who want to become fathers
by Morris Turner
This is the question that was posed to me recently at the 40th anniversary of the Bay View celebration held in San Francisco. On two separate occasions, women, one in her 30s and the other approximately 80 years old, cited poor choices on the part of women as a serious contributor to the erosion of the family structure. Neither of them had any sympathy for women who select men they know from the outset do not measure up as potential fathers or, for that matter, even good friends.
This unsolicited commentary was offered to me immediately after introducing myself as the writer of a fatherhood article. Typically, input I receive centers around the issues of nurturing, discipline and the importance of spending quality time with your child or children – all of which are central to the parenting process. However, I was reminded that I haven’t talked much, and certainly not enough, about building the early relationship between women and men.
I promised these sisters that I would share their concerns and input in a future article and will take this opportunity to do so. I will attempt to encapsulate their suggestions and thoughts with hope that some woman, somewhere, might benefit because of it. Here are some points that were brought up during our brief chat sessions with a few of my own thoughts added in:
- Women, you must always remember that you have the power and responsibility to spend time with a person who appreciates you and makes you feel worthwhile and valued. Do the men you spend time with now ask you how you feel about things? Do they want to hear your thoughts and ideas? Do they like to spend time just talking with you?
- Don’t be in a “rush” to make a friend or select an intimate partner. Nothing good ever happens quickly in life. You’ve got to harvest the grapes before you can drink the wine.
- Getting to know someone takes time, a lot of time. Look and listen at “what they do” more than “what they say.” Everyone has a good conversation, but do their actions match their words?
- When you are single with a lot of responsibilities, you may find yourself tempted to select someone to “help you carry the load.” But be careful; they might have “hidden” baggage of their own that they’ll want to add to your pile. If you don’t start it, you won’t have to stop it later.
- Don’t get involved in “petty” drama that can easily be avoided. For example, don’t loan money, buy him a cell phone or pay his rent – if he has a place to live. What are you thinking? You want a friend or potential partner who is independent and self-sufficient. And along those same lines, don’t make deals. “If you do this for me, I’ll do this for you.”
- Oh, fatherhood! Does he have children? How many, where are they and what is his relationship with them and their mother or mothers? Someone once said the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. If he’s a “flake” with other women, guess what? He’s going to be a “flake” with you as well. You already have challenges in your life; you don’t need another one, no matter how good looking he is.
- And lastly, for now, NEVER … NEVER … NEVER have sex with someone the first time you meet them. Many men see you as a conquest and only want to brag to their friends about how easily they “captured” you. They see you as the “flavor of the day” and have no intention of spending any serious time with you.
Get to know men really well before you even think about sex. Do things together besides “going to the club.” Ask him to go on walks, take trips to a museum or other points of interest. Any man who doesn’t want to do these things with you and only wants to “hang at the crib” is not ready for or deserving of a queen like you. Be patient and don’t settle for “a boy masquerading as a man.”
Morris Turner, the father of two sons, ages 39 and 35, 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.