Loitering. Looting. Larceny. The streets are full of people making awful choices.The headlines read of significant disruption. It is scary – regardless of race, religion, political affiliation or health.
We live in a society where we wonder, where have all the good men gone, as a popular Bonnie Tyler song puts it?
We wonder how we have come to a place of violence over diplomacy, hatred over love, and narcissism over selflessness.
It starts with our dads. It takes a dad to teach manhood.
Moms are great teachers of academics, compassion and mercy, but, sorry moms. There are somethings we women just cannot do as well as men. One of those things is teaching a man how to be a man.
What our society is calling out for is for dads to be recognized for their importance and necessity.
Before you read this and think, “I am single mom, I don’t have a choice,” or “my son’s dad walked out on us,” or “that is just not an option;” let me encourage you in is.
There are so many ways to be a father figure to the next generation that does not require biology.
There are so many ways to be a dad to those in your neighborhood, community, and churches. All it takes is the willingness to pour into the hearts of kids and the effort of setting aside an hour a week, a call a day, showing up to the milestones. Be a coach. Be a mentor. Be a Big Brother. Be a youth leader. Be willing to answer the call.
There are men who want to help. Men who want to teach and mentor; all they need is someone to ask. A group of 600 men answered a call to come to a breakfast at school. The results were astounding!
One dad who has really epitomized this heart for love and mentoring is my brother, Jason Black (if you have time, check out his story of surviving two near death experiences and rising above it; you won’t be disappointed).
Jason spent his years growing up helping take care of us (there are seven in total). Having spent this time investing in us, we were not surprised he delayed having children. What did surprise us was that he had four biologically and found he still had more love to give. He then adopted two more.
I was privileged to live with this family right after grad school for a couple of years. I got to see firsthand the heart of this father. He faced challenges of multiple kids, finances, and the strange looks as people saw his two children of color and one child with special needs.
Never did he let these challenges affect how much love he poured into his kids. Each child, with different needs, are loved the same amount. They are held to the same standard of excellence. They are encouraged, challenged to be their best, and taught how to stand up for what is right and excellent while accepting responsibility and accountability for their actions – good or bad.
My nephew was adopted from the foster system at eight. He struggled with identity, self-esteem, and accepting love – for good reason. He had been in the system his whole life, in more than five foster homes by the time he came into our family life, and the stories he could tell you would astonish the most hard-hearted. He had lived a hard life no child should have to live.
When Jason and Tausha took on this opportunity to love someone more, they knew it would be a challenge (what kid isn’t). This actually disrupted the birth order in the family making my nephew the oldest; it brought in anxiety and frustration to the house as everyone transitioned to a new normal. They had been warned about having a child of color and the stigma, racism, and anger that would follow them around the rest of their lives. It would have been easy to quit or say no from the get-go.
But they did not. They chose to love instead of ignoring. They chose to accept this little guy the way he was.
Khristian is now a star athlete on the high school football team. He was featured as an upcoming athlete to watch as he begins embarking on transitioning from childhood to adulthood and the college world. He has grown from a shy child into a confident, loving, intelligent man. This was possible because he was invested in by a man who was not genetically tied to him but is now tied for life through the bond of love.
Khristian is a man who steps up in times of trouble and anxiety. When his younger brother was bitten by a Western Diamondback Rattle Snake and spent two weeks in a hospital having multiple surgeries and treatments, Khristan stepped up at the house as a leader to his younger five siblings. While his parents took shifts at the hospital, he helped with homework, calmed nerves, and helped with all the little things that often get missed in times of great stress. He took the leadership learned from his dad and invested love where it was needed.
When I look at this family, I see exactly what our society needs. We need more men to pour into the others. We need more Jasons who are willing to step up where there are holes in the community. We need heroes. We need to celebrate men and the importance of them.
We can do better than looting in the streets. We can do better than ignoring men. We can do so much more than accepting the narrative women are better than men.
Let’s celebrate how much men have, and continue, to do for our children, our communities, and our nation. Let’s spend this week leading up to #FathersDay remembering how important the family unit is. The father unit is. Let’s celebrate #DadsMatter, #BackLivesMatter.
Get involved. The nation has spent the past two weeks calling out for dad’s, mentors, and leaders to step up. The phone is ringing. Are you going to answer?
An easy way to celebrate dads this week is to join a youth group, coach a sports team, volunteer with a literacy program, or join Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Don’t let genetics be what stops you from being the mentor and coach so many of our youth are hungry for. Let me know what you did. Send me you stories and be sure to use the #dadmatter.
For more resources on how to get involved, check out Mentor, The National Mentoring Resource Center, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.