Archive for May 7, 2010

For All the Single Mothers, Please Don’t Leave Daddy Out

      I celebrate all the mothers, Happy Mother’s Day.  But I especially laud the single mothers out there.  I don’t have any children yet but I know that once I do my life will metamorphose into something I cannot fathom right now.  I watch my family, friends and clients perform this most challenging task and am often amazed by their ability to remain sane even in the most crucial circumstances.  I rebuke anyone who minimizes what mothers endure on a day-to-day basis, especially single mothers who hold it down with little or no help from the fathers of their child(ren).  But…..I don’t condone the single mothers who consciously, and without cause, choose to alienate the fathers.  For the life of me, I cannot understand why a man is good enough to share the intimacies of your existence but cannot cut the muster of being a part of his child(ren)’s life.

      My readers from my law practice blog know where I stand on this issue, which we refer to as parental alienation (see my post on the topic, and thus have some understanding on my position on the topic.   Although Black men have been highly noted for having children out-of-wedlock, choosing to absent themselves from their families or preferring cohabitation over marriage,  which all contribute to the destruction of the Black family, in most cases economics is the culprit, not personal or moral choice.   Don’t get me wrong, I do understand that having a child out-of-wedlock is a choice, whether conscious or unconscious, and can be avoided in most cases.   However, not being a part of the family dynamics is, in many cases, a consequence of a Black man’s societal and particularly, economic status.  I am not making any excuses for the man who plant seeds all over the place, leaving the single mother, the extended family or the government to take care of his responsibilities, that man deserves all the berating he gets.  I am referring to the Black man that makes every attempt to take an active role in his child’s life but is constantly met with contention and discord from the child’s mother.

     Little Black boys and little Black girls desperately need to have both parents in their lives, in some form or another.   There are mounds of research out there that indicate that fatherless children have increased suicide rates, are more likely to become delinquents and thus imprisoned, drop out of school at higher rates, become teen mothers, amongst a slew of others dysfunctions.  (Go to for research and data on the topic.)  And  although the research is just about equal with regards to fatherless boys and fatherless girls, Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu’s book Raising Black Boys, the message is clear about just how imperative it is that Black mothers acknowledge the need for Black boys to have their fathers in their lives.  Again, we all commend those single mothers who are doing a phenomenal job without the father, but the ones who have that option available to them should certainly consider exercising it. 

     Remember family is what you make it and how you define it.  The unemployed father who is willing to pick up the slack by babysitting or playing taxi driver, the father in another relationship who tries to blend families, the father who lives in another state who tries to stay in touch via technology, the father who just wants to be a father to his child deserves the chance to do just that.  I have represented them all in one or many legal proceedings, and find that more often than not fathers just want to be included.  Many acknowledge that they don’t feel adequate because of their financial predicaments but would welcome the opportunity to spend more time with their child if the mother allowed them to.  It is a travesty how many women confuse financial support with emotional and psychological support.  Although a parent should be there to support their child in every sense, the inability to provide one should not automatically bar a parent from providing in other ways.  In fact, in most courts (certainly in New York Family Courts) a father’s inability to provide for his child financially does not absolve him of his right to access to his child.  Conversely, if a mother willfully and maliciously interferes with a father’s access to his child, the judge may suspend child support  until she does. 

      Again, when I champion fathers being active in their child’s life, I am not referring to the abusive, neglectful or deadbeat dads.  I am speaking for the ones that do the right thing but is constantly met with resistance, confrontation and deliberate interference from the mother.   So you single mothers, being a good mother means doing what is right for your child, while your own interests take a back seat.  Seeking vengeance, being malicious and so-called “protecting” your child serves no one any purpose, certainly not that model citizen you are attempting to raise.