Last weekend I was invited to talk about the book at the Living Water Christian Center. Pastor Mayes was kind enough to ask me to be the keynote address for ESCAPE (Everyone Sharing Child Abuse Prevention Education), a non-profit that works with child abusers, victims, and child care centers.
As I stood there listening to Pastor Mayes introduce the topic of the day, I realize that child abuse can happen in different forms. I started asking myself, “is being absent” a form of abuse too? I finish every talk on the book with a reminder to myself and everyone present that, “when our child was born, we as fathers, sign an unwritten contract, that we will be there for our children, every minute without any exception.” As I listened to pastor Mayes, I started asking myself, “What, if anything, is the consequence of a father being absent in his child’s life?” A father does not get arrested and face the law for being absent, as long as he is paying his child support on time. Hence it is left for the little child to fend for them self, to draw attention to them self, and make sure his parent is present.
Pastor Mayes introduced me to his wife Sharon, his son, his daughters, his sons-in-law and his grandchildren. It was amazing to see a family come together for a great cause like ESCAPE. As I was talking to Sharon Mayes after the presentation, I was impressed by her humility. She talked about how she was touched by the presentation and realized that “moms too need to be better moms and be present too.” It was a great validation that we all need to be better; our children deserve it.
As I talked about the importance of wake-up calls, I realized that we as parents should help each other with wake-up calls. I really wish when I was partially absent from my daughter’s life, for the first eight years of her life, one of my friends had given me a rude and abrupt wake-up call. I do not know whether I would have listened but I really wished it had happened.
Finally a friend of mine, Brent Green, an amazing marketing professional, forwarded me an article that suggests that men become better fathers after a divorce. I do not know what causes this, but I feel for me, personally, there are two kinds of relationships.
- Relationships we choose (e.g. Spouse, friendship)
- Relationships we inherit (e.g. Parents, siblings, family, and children)
For me, my eroding marriage was another wake-up call. But it came too late as I realized I was standing on the other side of the river from Raka’s mom. After the divorce, I initially found fault in her but over time I realized I have to take accountability of my failures, as that is what I was left to own. In the middle of that loss (I call it a loss because when I married Raka’s mom, I did not foresee a divorce), I realized I did not want to lose my child. Hence the divorce and its realizations made me hold on tightly to my daughter. Sad but true, in my case the divorce was another wake-up call that pushed me to hold Raka closer.