Archive for August, 2010

Great Husband or Better Dad, If You Had to Choose

Of course I had a discussion with a friend of mine about this, that is typically the source of my blog entries.  So yes, a girlfriend and myself had this exchange when we were talking about potential mates for both of us.  And of course many of us would opt for a better husband because after all, it is all about our happiness.   But after forcing her to give it some real thought, she slowly changed positions and thought maybe if and when she had children, they would benefit more if they had a great father than she would if she had a great husband.  This is not to say that the two cannot mutually exist, but if we had to choose then….

My take on the issue is one of not self-preservation, but community preservation.  You see, I can live a great, meaningful and fulfilled life even with a mediocre mate.  My existence is not compromised any by foregoing a great husband, nor is my purpose thwarted by the fact that my partner does not excel  in the “husband” department.  I will still strive to be the best that I can be, still welcome opportunities for growth, still live a passion-filled life whether my husband is above average in companionship, love and romance or not.   However, this does not minimize or ignore the importance of having a supportive, open-heart & open-minded and grounded partner to complement me on my journey.  No on the contrary, I believe for any union to thrive these attributes are very important for both parties, particularly if they want to last.  It’s just that he does not have to be exceptional at all (or any) of these qualities for me to continue to move onward and upward.

Being a great father, though, is something entirely different.   I believe the purpose for each of us is to ensure that children blossom and flourish to the be spiritually, emotionally and psychologically grounded.  Our focus of most of our actions, beliefs and thoughts should be to guide children in the right direction, this holds true particularly for parents.  Mothers and fathers play different roles in facilitating this, neither of which can completely replace the other.   It is no mystery that the presence of fathers impact the self-esteem, self-worth and value system of children.  So a great father will only heighten the probability that the child will grow up to not only value his or herself, but will more than likely have respect and appreciation for others.   This, in turns, means  that they will probably be more loyal, reverent and reliable.   Again, not that a undistiguished father is insignificant or that he can not nurture a productive member of society, not hardly.   These days I say that a half decent father is better than no father at all.  But my point is that if I had to choose between a better husband or better father, I would opt for the latter because of the long-term effects on our community as a whole.

What does a great father look like you ask, well just look at the father that provides for his child, not just financially either.   I am referring to the father that ensures that his child is safe, happy and healthy despite his circumstances.  For example, I recently represented  two fathers in court on child support and/or child custody matters.  Father #1 fought to have his children returned to New York after the mother (his ex-wife) absconded to Georgia without his knowledge or consent.  He fought diligently to locate his children, to facilitate their return and to maintain some contact with them.  He spent thousands  in this process, despite the fact that he was no longer working.  To many, he was to be commended because he did whatever he needed to ensure their safe return because he loved his children and wanted to be a part of their lives.  Father #2, however, was involved in his son’s life since birth.  He accompanied the mother to prenatal visits, bought separate nursery items for when the child spent time at his home and even tried to forge a relationship with the mother for the sake of their son.  Which one did I think was a good father, #1.  But #2, was a great father, his actions supported his concern for his son’s safety, happiness and well-being as opposed to #1 who loved his children but had little concern for their safety or happiness by the methods he used.

If you are a parent, look at your child(ren), what sort of person do you foresee them growing up to become?  Is the father, if he is in their life, a good or great one?  If you are married, is your husband (or are you) a good or great one? Of the two, which one do you see playing a greater role in that person you would like your child(ren) to be?

We Know Sticks and Stones Break Bones, But Do Words Really Not Hurt?

        It seems to have been the topic of conversation lately, telling my SO to “shut up” when he’s speaking words that have little value, what is that called gibberish right?  Well, right or wrong my SO has no problem with that, (it’s other things I say that irk him) because he knows I mean no disrespect to him.  But when I mentioned this to a few of my girlfriends over the weekend, they looked at me in astonishment.  The irony is that in the beginning of our courtship, I made it clear that certain verbiage would not be tolerated by me, and that was one of them.

      Let me take a moment to explain the significance of how we communicate with each other.   I was raised by a somewhat liberal Southern woman, who was the matriarch in my family, and absolutely forbade some things and while others went unsanctioned.  My mother was not the ideal example of what a wife should be, because her role in that capacity was fleeting.  So my ideas of how to treat a man and how I should be treated by one came from friends, pop culture and past experiences which work (my clients always remind of what not to do.)  What I surmised is that, at least in my head, is that if he spoke to me to me a certain fashion that he would be predisposed to going over the edge and trying to physically abuse.  So “shut up” was a precursor to a blackened eye or a busted lip, something that was always on my list of “oh Hell no”. 

         The thing is in each relationship, what is acceptable or unacceptable is or at least should be something that is discussed and agreed upon by the parties.  My “shut up” is uttered with love and affection and is said with no intention of ill will.  Seriously though, my SO does not have an issue with that, he jokes a lot and in response I blurt my oft-spoken response.  The thing that I am precarious about is the tone we use when we communicate because that seems to have a much more piercing effect.  We constantly talk about what we want our children to be exposed to, so we try to be mindful of expressions, communications, behaviors, etc.  Children do what they see, and although we don’t have any yet there is nothing wrong or futile about getting in the practice right now.   

        So hopefully by the time the children come I will have found another much more constructive way to hint that what my SO was asinine.  But for right now “shut up” is not proscribed.