Fatherhood: Thank You For Taking Me To Court by Joel Austin


Joel Austin

On April 7, 2008, I heard the Archbishop Desmond Tutu speak at St Joseph’s University. He quoted: “God has always created existence out of chaos.”  Hence my life and reason for the appreciation of being taken to court.

 

I have more than one child’s mother, both have taken me to custody and support court. Both have called the police on me. You would think from this simple description that I am a horrible person, not at all. Actually it is the opposite; I experienced the most turmoil while becoming a better father. Puzzled?  Read on.

 

There was a time when you were taken to court because of your refusal to care for your children, this is not true today.  Support court was created to care for children in a day and age long ago yet the laws have not changed. While Dr. Martin Luther King fought for equality and the poor, family court was missed by the civil rights bills. Women who had children out of wedlock, usually by a married man, were cast away as trash in America. These men who had this child did not acknowledge this child because of the culture of the society. Women were chastised as it being their fault for opening their legs and having a child before marriage. The burden of the child’s welfare landed on the lap of the government. The government did not like paying for the mistakes of its sailors, military men, and traveling salesmen, so out of care for the children Support Court was created.

 

Today it needs to be reformed. There are more cases of dead broke dads than there are of dead beat dads. The support for our children has never been this difficult. Children and families are not getting rich from support, they are merely surviving. The simple solution is for two parents to decide what is best for their child. The solution is for the two parents who made the child to decide the well being and proper development for the child. What a crazy idea, but what keeps this from happening. The fact that is that in America” It is money we trust, not people.” So children can be worth money if you use them correctly. Children can also cost a lot of money if you let them.

 

So some mothers take the money over the responsibility of communication, marriage, and faith in their partner. Some fathers walk away from the responsibility because how closely it is related to life-long financial, social, and psychological burden.

 

It is the gray that is causing harm to our children in the end. Only 15% of all fathers that pay support are deadbeat dads. This is a man or woman that refuses to pay support that can! Most are dead broke, which means they have orders that say what they must pay, and have no way of paying it or very limited funds.

 

What will it take to get child support reform?  When will we stop hurting children by damaging one or more parents?   I say the solution is joint/shared custody.  This makes both parents liable and accountable for their children’s well being.  What do you think?  Please leave your comments and opinions below.

About The Author

 

Joel Austin and his organizatin Daddy UniverCity is dedicated to helping all fathers appreciate themselves and the responsibility of fatherhood.  To put this complex situation in simple terms, Austin would like to to heal the world one father and child at a time.

Together with Black Men In America.com, Joel will bring you a fresh, practical and relevant perspective to the issue of fatherhood.  Helping fathers understand the importance their role has on the future of children throughout the world is a major task, however, it can be done and for many that task will start here on this web site and blog. 

Be sure and check out Joel and his articles on the Fatherhood page at Black Men In America.com.

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15 Responses to “Fatherhood: Thank You For Taking Me To Court by Joel Austin”

  1. As an advocate, attorney, law guardian and Black woman it bothers me how the interference of government compounds the already onerous burdens placed on Black men as fathers. I have to say that I never really bought into the whole idea that Black men are “deadbeat dads” moreso than any other race just because. I was always championing the fathers that I represented that implored me on finding a way to salvage their manhood, dignity, etc. by assiting them to earn an honest living and raise their family. What has gotten quite disheartening is how much I try to speak to the mothers (and somethimes the fathers if they are the custodial parents) and explain how disharmony between the parents only creates a chasm that has an overall deleterious effect on the children. For the most part, you have parties that share a history that was not necessarily pleasant and therefore pursuing legal recourse for either child support or child custody provides some illusory solace. I do agree that shared parenting can work, however I don’t think it should be a blanket approach, some people actually do need some professional intervention, just not the legal system all the time.

  2. I am from a single parent home and also a black woman. While I for one can’t argue with what Tracey sees on a regular basis I can testify to what its like living without a father that didn’t support. Mom was forced to work 2 sometimes 3 jobs. No one helped her when I was sick and she needed to take days off from work to pick me up from school. No one was there to help me with homework, or see me off to bed. I didn’t have a father to teach me about what a good man looks like nor was he there when I would cry late nights at a time or when my mom thought she just couldn’t handle me no more NOBODY came to her aid.

    I am 25 now and thank God every day for my mom, I don’t have any children but I don’t want to imagine a house without a husband. Its A hard life.

    With that said the idea of joint custody sounds good but I don’t know to many men saying they will take days off work for a child or take them to there regular check ups or be at every basketball, football, recital dance help with homework every night when i struggle or take me shoe shopping and clothes shopping or have a sleep over with my 4 best friends cook dinner on a regular basis drop me off at school every other morning and pick me up and make sure im in bed by nine after dinner and homework make sure im not watching smut on tv or saying bad words eatin my veggies making sure my hair is done and my cloths match and my shoe fits and we arent even talking teen years yet lol. I personally met a guy with 4 kids who didn’t fear leaving his wife because of child support but because he mentally couldn’t fathom actually raising 4 kids. even with the financial aspect in place its hard to raise a child and no body wants to do it alone. I know men that would rather pay up then spend the actual TIME it takes to rear a child. Thats not saying all men are dead beats but I want to know a man who is really willing to take on ALL the responsibility of raising a child not just the money aspect if you find a man who says being with his child half the time isn’t “cramping his style” then call me because I will gladly take that financial burden off of him.

  3. I am a single black woman raising my boy and girl twin alone, completely alone. I am financially successful, live in what’s considered a prominent neighborhood, my kids go to a good school. Unlike the typical scenario written by Mr. Austin, I had completed college, owned my own homes, and had a thriving career, and I was married prior to birthing my children to what I thought was a wonderful man, a carrying father. He had children from a previous marriage. We had been married six years at the time we divorced, our children were 4. He was great with them. He put an earring in his ear and went straight to the left, divorced me and all his children too. And, as 35% says ‘raising children doesn’t fit his life style’. Statistics say it’s not unusual for a man to not see his children for an average of 3 years after a divorce for feelings of guilt. So, I do all the things 35% describes alone. The hardest part is carrying the emotional burden especially for my young son. They are now 11. Just today, I so wished I could talk to someone to help make a decision for what’s best for them. I called my father, who by the way, wasn’t apart of my life growing up either. He was no help because to this day, he still talks about himself. Ask how I’m doing but doesn’t wait to receive the answer. My children’s father pays court ordered support has visitation rights but in these 7 years, he’s send them maybe 5 times for a few hours at best (he lives within 30 minutes). He breaks their hearts when he does, because he makes promises he doesn’t keep. My delima today was ‘should I talk to him again, maybe I could explain it better how they are hurting, maybe even give him an ultimatum, ‘be in or be out’, maybe say this, maybe say that…’ But, I’ve done that before. I don’t ask him for anything, I don’t call him, I don’t deny him the right to see or call his children. He knows they exists. He knows they’ve been sick many nights, they cry, they need guidance, they need love, they need their father, they hurt. He knows because he didn’t have his either. My decision … I can only pray to God that they see positive male role models in their sports activities, through their uncles, one day, God will bless me with a ‘truly’ Godly man who will love them. And maybe I will be the triumphant single mother that my mother was. And, maybe God will turn their father’s heart toward his children. You see the pattern here of fatherless homes. I carry tremendous hurt from not having the love of my father while growing up and I see it in my children, I hear it from my co-workers and friends. I pledged also that I wouldn’t have children outside of wedlock and didn’t. I praise aloud to their faces those men who are FATHERS, yes even those who are not with the mothers. I love my black men. I think you are THE most beautiful creatures in the world. However, the time for black women to hold you up is on it’s last leg. Slavery is over. The Man ain’t got the hold on you anymore. You are not oppressed. If it’s just another biased statitic or negative strategy against the black man “dead beat dads”, then on average in my life, it looks like facts. Joint custody would be great, communicating about the child’s welfare, excellent, but it’s just like a marriage or any business transaction … All Partys Have To Want It and Honor It. I’d take it over child support ANY day!!!

  4. Sister Sasha, I will continue to pray for you. I do not have children but know the stories of far too many sistas who can relate to your experience. I applaud your firm desire to do things the proper way ,and I am confident that your children admire you…even if they don’t say this to your face). You are an inspiration to other women. Especially to me. Please know that some men should NEVER have become fathers. I know that this is a hard pill to swallow but some people are so emotionally damaged and bruised that they can only pass on hurt, disappointment, and rejection to their children. This is in NO WAY your fault. These men need therapy and LOTS of prayer. Regarding the former, Black men typically do not see the need to obtain therapy. Regarding the latter, the abundance of Black women that lead congregations are evidence that Black men are lacking spiritually as well. But I digress.

    Of course, I would NEVER tell you what to do, but I wonder if it’s not more damaging to your child to have them involved with their father. I firmly believe that every single time that a father (or mother) promises something to a child and doesn’t deliver, it’s like continually pouring salt on a wound. The child continually gets their hopes up, only to be consistently disappointed. This can greatly hinder their ability to trust others, or to have any confidence in what is said to them. I believe that if your children want a relationship with their father as adults, they would be in a better position to see him for what he is. But at their tender ages, most children tend to view their parent’s rejection as their fault. So, for example, your children may reason that because they did something to make daddy mad, this is the reason why he is avoiding them> IF you choose to allow them to have a relationship with their father, MAKE CERTAIN THAT YOU TELL THEM that IT IS NOT THEIR FAULT when he lies to them.

    What Mr. Austin advocates on the surface seems admirable, but a closer examination makes me wonder what his true motives are. Allow me to explain. For the past few years, there has been a slow but steady rise in the number of Black men who want shared or joint custody. Although these men vehemently scream that a white, racist judicial system disadvantages them, in 99 out of 100 cases, these men want shared custody because it would greatly decrease the amount of money that they have to pay the mother of their child and/or children (MOST Black men have more than one child!). In fact, I have heard these men say, “If I could get those kids, it would really cut into the amount of money that I have to pay that b#@$%!” So, this is REALLY not about responsibility but rather finances, or unwillingness to financially support their child and/or children.

    This is dishonest.

    I’ve heard several Black people speak against current the Healthy Marriage Initiative (HMI). They speak against it because it was established under the Bush Administration. But the HMI is NOT a conservative agenda, nor is it a white agenda…it is a WHAT IS CLEARLY IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE COUPLE, THE CHILD AND/OR CHILDREN, AND THE BLACK COMMUNITY AGENDA!

    There is a proliferation of research that has CONSISTENTLY shown that couples, their children and communities benefit from stable, happy, marital partnerships. And notice that I did NOT say “shacking partnerships,” but MARRIED ONES.

    Historically, Black people used to get married, AND they used to stay married. With the ushering of the 1960’s, suddenly Black men no longer believed that they had to marry their child’s mother. I am NOT at all advocating that everyone be married, but it is quite disturbing to learn of the MANY Black men who have no interest in marriage, and the number of Black women who truly believe that marriage is a “White Girls Dream.”

    It seems to me that what Mr. Austin is advocating is a “Pie in the Sky” dream. Really, how logical is it to believe that GROWN men and women can have indiscriminate sexual relationships, produce children from said relationships, and then expect all of the lovers and/or ex-lovers to co-parent responsibly and amicably when one or all of them cohabitate or marry someone else?!?!?!

    Is this view based on the REAL experienced of emotionally damaged men, women and children?!?!?!? What is his TRUE agenda as well as the agendas of a growing number of Black men that are advocating for this co-parenting?

    The BEST way for Black men to responsibly co-parent is to CONSISTENLY show their child and/or children that: (1) they are capable of making a MARITAL commitment to someone; (2) they are capable of being sexually faithful to their marriage partner; and (3) they realize the importance of giving their child an excellent model of what a HEALTHY relationship looks like.

    Black Men, PLEASE start being righteous! Read the works of Dr. Na’im Akbar. This Brutha urges Black men that the time is NOW to put away the traits of boys and to act like MEN!!!!

  5. Sister Sasha,
    First I would like to say, when can we go out ! Excuse me.

    Please understand that the major problem with fatherlessness is mis-education. We have men and women who have an ability to disconect from children, some blame on society, some on their environment, and of course personal experience. I will never make any compliments for your childrens father. As a very strong black man, I apologize for him. I can give you reason why men tend to act this way and why some donot, but that will not solve any problems.
    My suggestions, an intervention between him and his children. They ask the questions while you are not in the room. This is a situation between him and hs children. It does not reflect on your relationship with your children. This is a much longer conversation and takes much more comunication. You are correct, they will feel a void that will never be filled, but having positive male figures around your children. Email me anytime at info@daddyuniv.com

  6. I agree with Ph Diva, in that, lack of commitment is the basis of the degeneration of the Black family. As Ms. Sasha stated-she was married, however, the marriage failed due to her ex failing to commit to her and his family. Do you realize that whole civilizations failed due to the breakdown of one simple component-the family? It is hard to live period and even more so with unwanted debts. For example, a college student may take out several student loans over the course of their college career, only to find that upon graduation, they must pay them back. Once starting a thriving career, it may be a pain paying something back that you are not currently benefiting from, however, it is a debt that you owe. Many people in this situation may-at times utter that they wish they had never taken that loan, however, they must now pay back what they owe. Also, if these debts were not owed, they may be in a more “comfortable” financial situation. My point is- two people deciding to have a child should share the same burden, whether it places you at a financial burden or not, due to th fact that childbearing was the decision you both made when you created the child/children. If you feel that the woman should bear the majority of the responsibility-you are being totally biased and unfair.

    I am a single mother raising four children. I am one to say that I tried accepting child support without the government being involved. I accepted money orders from my children’s father for some time, however, he would withhold payments when he felt the urge to do so. My ex’s lack of maturity, which led to our divorce, was the reason I decided to seek court action. I gave him continuous chances to stop being so immature ( this process went on for 3 years) of withholding payments because the children continuously needed care. The court ordered support was MY final resort. I resent him for having me to deal with this “system” because it feels like a “burdened” penal system with hopelessness and despair as the “supervisors”. I just wish more men would commit to the family life more than the bachelors life- which was the problem in this case.

  7. My Sister Ph.Diva,

    What you fail to realize in your point is several things. One, what about the children, when do they come first. Second, two people make a child. It is idiocracy for you to cure the problems of the black male and leave sick the problems of the black women. Three, Co- parenting is not forced to be an antidote for parents, it is the cure for the children. It is what has been and what is best when the parents are not in a monogamous relationship. Marriage is the best development environment for children. What the next best situation for children when you have TWO adults who make a purely sexual decision is co-parenting.
    You said it best when you said that men need to be more responsible for their actions, correct. You must ask that parents need to be responsible for there actions. Chosing a mate is the most important decision a man or woman can make in there lifetime. The most important, please let me know where this preached, taught, developed and forced. No were! So we are both at a loss. Irresponsible men having children. Irresponsible women having children. What is the answer for the children. No one is getting rich from child support. It is not designed for the best of children. It is a horrible, demeaning, reaction to a problem. If you have not endured slavery in the past centuries, then live thru it in court. Just visit a court one day and sit inside. View parents tear each other apart, view children crying because men are being put in jail, view mothers having there children taking from them because they refuse to pay support, view the judges dividing famlies. Until you sit thru like I do weekly, then you dont know. I hope all fathers and mothers get equal custody because kids need parents, guidance, and time. Money is never/not enough. I accept all replies, I live this, not work this.

  8. Brother Austin,

    I have responded to each of your comments below.

    In response to your first question, “What about the children, when do they come first?” my response would be BEFORE they get here. If men AND women were more responsible in terms of thinking about the long-term consequences of sexual activity, the Black community would not be in its current state. Did you know that compared with whites, latinos and asians, African-Americans are the LEAST likely to get married and the MOST likely to get divorced? So, allow me to ask YOU the question that you posed to me, “What about the children, when do they come first?” IF we begin to put our children first we would (a) not engaged in unprotected, purely sexual relationships; and (b) think more about how our lack of commitment is detrimental to our children, now and in the future.

    In response to your second statement, “Two children make a child.” Of course, I agree with this statement. However, what you fail to realize is that the courts determine who should care for the child. You strongly suggest that women go to courts in droves asking for the sole care of their children and for money. However, what you completely ignore are the many emotionally, psychologically and in many cases physically abused women who truly want their baby’s father in their life long-term (e.g., a stable, marital commitment). I have yet to have one of these women say to me, “When I was a little girl, I always dreamed of having one or more baby daddy’s who would walk out on me so that I could rear my child or children alone and struggle for most of my life.” No SANE woman wants this. However, this is the REALITY that too many of our sistas face.

    In my research, I have found that many of these women were abandoned by their fathers as girls. So when a man that they care for (some women do not believe that a man can truly care for them unless he has sex with them, and in many cases physically, emotionally, psychologically, or spiritually abuses them) abandoned them AND their child and/or children, they have to face these feelings of abandonment all over again. And Black men have the nerve to wonder why Black women in these conditions are so angry?!?! Yes. These women do not become pregnant by themselves, however, it is the COURTS, NOT the women who determine who cares for the child and/or children. You may not know this, but this was not always the case. So, for example, during the 1800’s, the children were the property of the male, or the husband. So, upon divorce, or the death of the wife, the children automatically went to the male, not the deceased wife’s family. Although this deprived the children of the chance to build a solid relationship with their mother’s family, this was the LEGAL reality of the day. But soon thereafter things began to change. At the end of the 1800’s and the start of the 1900’s (the 20th century), the courts began something called the “Best Interests of the Child” (BIOC). This is currently the standard that is used in today’s court systems when determining child custody. Basically, the BIOC states that during the formulative years (specifically aged birth to 5 years old), children are best cared for by their mothers. Since there have been VERY FEW Supreme Court cases where the father has successfully obtained the physical custody of his children, I find it to be in the BEST interest of fathers to make a FAITHFUL MARITAL COMMITMENT to their child’s mother and stick to this commitment by remaining sexually faithful. Although this makes moral sense, unfortunately, too many Black men lack the desire to actually do this. What is the problem? What are they afraid of? So, although “two children make a child,” it is the woman who must bear the brunt of sole-caretaking AND feelings of abandonment from the child’s father.

    And regarding what I have seen in court, you erroneously assume that I don’t know the pangs of family torn asunder. Unfortunately, I have seen this. However, I also know the legal precedent on which MOST child custody cases are determined. Most importantly, I know the abandonment issues that these court decisions render for the mothers and children in these cases.

    Regarding your third point:

    Although you are quick to recognize that marriage is the best developmental environment in which to rear children, when you have two people who make a solely sexual decision and a child results, you create an unnatural and convulted situation fraught with difficulties, hurt feelings, and resentment.

    Allow me to explain.

    About four years ago, I attended a Fatherhood Initiative forum in New Orleans. On that panel was a young man, who was probably about 23-25 years of age. This young brutha had 3 children by 3 different women. The woman that he was currently living with was pregnant with his fourth child. When he stood before the audience and said that he planned to marry the woman that he was currently living with, the overwhelming majority of the people in the audience began to cheer and clap wildly. Although on one level it was admirable for him to make this decision, on another, I could not help but think about the other 3 children AND their baby mommas. Now, I want you to really think about this. Put your feelings aside and REALLY think about this. If you were any of those kids, how would YOU feel if your father married another woman and refused to marry your mother? If you were any of those baby mommas, what would your feelings be if your baby’s father married someone else and never made that type of commitment to you? In the case of the baby mommas and the children, there WILL be hurt feelings, resentment and confusion because he chose another woman and did not choose you. And notice that I did not say that there “might be hurt feelings, resentment and confusion,” there WILL be all of those negative emotions, plus more.

    Furthermore, these feelings will be increased tremendously since men give more to the households that they establish through marriage. What you must realize Brother Austin is that co-parenting may sound good in theory, but in actual practice, the situation will ALWAYS be more sticky, confusing, and hurtful because the mothers and the children who were not chosen (via marriage) MUST deal with continual feelings of abandonment.

    Brother Austin, the Black community needs to start thinking about our children LONG-TERM. Unfortunately, too many of us don’t think about the values that we teach our children until they are already here. By the way that adults live their lives, they either teach their children that commitment is possible or some abstract and unattainable dream. So, even children in the best co-parenting situations possible will grow up to feel that they don’t have to get married. Your sons have inherited the gift of thinking that it’s cool if you have one-night stands as long as you co-parent amicably and responsibly. Your daughters have inherited the gift that marriage is not something that they should think about because they are not deserving of it. Is this REALLY the type of legacy that you want to pass on to your children? Is it?

    Brother Austin, if you were about to build a house, would you erect the walls first? Of course not! If you REALLY wanted that house to stand, you would FIRST ensure that it was built on a STRONG foundation. That foundation, that will benefit us as a people individually, collectively and as a family is MARRIAGE. Unfortunately, too many Black men (more so than women) do not see the utility in building their lives with one person because they are only thinking about how many women that they can have sex with without commitment. From a psychological standpoint, too many of our community members are bruised, I mean secretly hurting want to scream out loud bruised! We have so many unresolved issues in our childhood and adolescence that are rooted in abandonment and distrust and we transfer this type of negative energy and experiences onto our children. THIS IS NOT FAIR TO OUR CHILDREN.

    As a side, what I find particularly interesting is that you never responded to my comment regarding how Black men would financially benefit from a shared parenting arrangement. Like I said earlier, there has been a slow but steady increase in the number of Black men who are advocating for such an arrangement, so I can’t help but wonder what is the TRUE motivation for this since by your own admission, “Marriage is the best developmental environment for children?”

    Again, I STRONGLY urge you and ALL Black men to read the works of the nationally-known and respected Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Na’im Akbar. He has written several books that are MUST-READS for ALL Black people. For example, “Chains and Images of Psychological Slavery,” “Breaking the Chains of Psychological Slavery,” “Know Thyself” and “The Community of Self,” are all related to understanding how our past directly impacts our future. As related to our current discussion regarding Black men, “Visions for Black Men” is a must-read for ALL Black men.

    On Page 13, Dr. Ak’bar discusses the SPECIFIC ways that Black men demonstrate that they are men and not boys.

    He writes, “In order to discover the potential of your bigger self, you must jump into the water of husbandhood (not just engage in “shacking” because it is a game and fails to take responsibility for your actions). One can learn only if he takes full responsibility and deals with the consequences of his actions. Shacking offers a trap door. Though marriage is escapable, one does not escape without learning a thorough lesson in decisions, actions, and consequences. So learning occurs even in a failed marriage. Shacking lets you play the husband game without being a real husband, and this is the way of the “boys.”

    He continues….

    “A man must understand that his decisions are binding and there is real import to real decisions. Marriage is such an important lesson in manhood development. It is no wonder that every society requires some form of it. You will never learn the role of husbanding until you decide to be a husband – not a roommate, a HUSBAND. You have got to know what it means to be with this person (for better or worse) and not be able to get away on just a whim. You have got to experience the kind of instructional pressure that comes from being bound with a person socially, legally, spiritually, and psychologically. The legal paper is not the key to helping you grow into a man, the key is learning the meaning and responsibility that goes with COMMITMENT. It is the COMMITMENT that begins to cultivate you. It begins to bring down the rain to the soil and requires things of you to handle the droughts. Because you have decided to be a REAL husband, you can begin to grow as a man and this causes the CONSCIOUSNESS to expand. You begin to discover muscles you didn’t know you had. You begin to understand that you can share yourself and not only be concerned about yourself. You begin to understand that your concern about people can be bigger than the concern about your own needs. When you are able to spread your sentiments to include more than just yourself, then you are growing into manhood.”

    Brother Ak’bar hit the nail on the head, but I wonder how many Black men are mentally strong enough to absorb his words and transform their lives so that our children are more advantaged?

    Brother Austin, I STRONGLY urge you to get this book TODAY. Read it, but more important, allow Brother Akbar’s words to touch your heart. In addition, after you have completely allowed these words to touch your heart and soul, share them with other Black men who are neglecting the long-term welfare of their child or children. When more of our Black men (whom I love dearly) stop being afraid, realize the value of building their lives FAITHFULLY with someone, for their sake AND the sake of their children, co-parenting, which is really an emotionally taxing, bandage solution, fraught with negative feelings for both mother and child (especially when the father flits off and marries someone else) will one day be a thing of the past. Black men, as a group, must start being MEN. Until this happens, our communities, and more importantly our children, will have to continue to cope with feelings of helplessness, abandonment, resentment, frustration and confusion. Our Black children deserve better than this!

  9. Dear Sister Ph.Diva,
    First let m say that I truly appreciate how much I enjoy the opinions that you present. I am truly glad you have read Bro. Akbar’s book as I. There are so many one sided points that I am not sure wear to begin.
    First let me explain that the men you are referring to mostly are not the majority. Men are committed, men are faithful, and men are good fathers. The men you are commonly mentioning and scalding are direct results of family, experience, lack of knowledge, lack of education, and lack of support. What I do as a living is provide the developmental tools in a group forum to build men. Understand that males are made, but men are developed. If you have not entered into a relationship with a developed man, then I apologize for his mother and father.
    Our problem is two fold. If you believe that beside every good man is a good women, then were are all the good women. For every story of a man gone wrong, I can give you a woman gone bad. Women are going to court in droves to get support from men who are good fathers because of lack of communication and trust between them. I work with baby momma and daddies as a mediator for the best interest of the child. Only a developed woman can see how noneffective court is. I applaud the many women who see it as a degradation to our community and families.
    I believe the pie in the sky is if you believe that with one hand all women and men are going to be responsible before they lay down together. Women are responsible for whom they allow between them. Men are responsible for their actions as well. Both are responsible for children. If they decide not to get married, then what is best for the children?
    The problems with male development and fatherhood development are mine. My company and life are built on teaching and training boys to men and men to fathers. If you wish to help educate men to become better husbands and fathers,I suggest you bring me to your town or go on our website and donate. If not then you are not part of the solution, you are just part of the problem. Malcolm X.

    My Family, thank you very much. At this time we are building a new website as a follow up to our annual event. We are hosting the 2nd Annual Daddy Daughter Dance. This event is a mixture of a prom and a princess fairy tale. This event promotes the special and necessary relationship between fathers and daughters. Please check out our new site at http://www.dancewithmydad.com. Also see our site http://www.fatherfest.com The fatherfest is a conference we put on each year , free of charge to fathers and father/figures. An all day conference on parenting, finance, relationships, and health & wellness.
    We don’t write books, talk about problems,or wish they were better. We solve problems daily, and consistently. Please continue the discussion it is very therapeutic. Contact me at info@daddyuniv.com for my services, speaking engagements, and trainings. I am at your service. Please stay tuned for my next article.

  10. Brother Austin,

    I was beginning to wonder if you would respond to my post at all, however, I am glad that you did.

    First of all, I would like to sincerely commend you for the work that you are doing. ALthough you may not get the type of positive reinforcement and encouragement that you need from the men that you commonly work with, allow me, on their behalf, to say “Thank you, Brother Austin.” I am confident that you are doing work that will benefit members of our community, both individually and collectively. I know that your work may oftentimes be fraught with many challenges, but I am encouraged by your efforts to help “develop” men. I would be interested in learning your greatest joys and challenges in working with these Bruthas.

    Second, I must respectfully disagree with your comment that Black men who do not responsibly parent their child or children being in the minority. As you are well aware, Bruthas are hit from two directions. In addition to EXTERNAL STRUCTURES AND PRESSURES that make financial stabilization and attainment difficult for Black men (e.g., racism), many Black men, unfortunately, also lack INTERNAL SUPPORT, or positive male role models in their lives that can help them more easily make the transition from boy to man. This is in no way meant to excuse the behavior of Bruthas, however, this reality puts contemporary statistics and actual experiences within a historical, sociological, and ecological context. In other words, there are MANY studies that have shown that Black men (when compared with men of other racial and ethnic groups) are least likely to marry, most likely to cohabit, least like to marry their child/children’s mother upon cohabitation, and most likely to divorce. Without providing the actual citations here (although I would be happy to do so for you or anyone else who is interested), the numbers from MANY STUDIES in this regard speak for themselves.

    Third, I feel it to be a real travesty when Sistas go into court to cut their children’s father out of their lives out of spite. This is wrong. This is selfish. This is not advantageous for children. However, again, what you must recognize in this respect Brother Austin is that it is the COURTS, NOT the women themselves that make these decisions. So, although the Sistas may put the wheels in motion, it is the courts who take this energy and transfer to many undeserving Bruthas who truly want to be involved in the lives of their children. I think that if you are truly interested in making changes in this regard, I challenge you to seriously think about starting a grassroots movement in your area. In my class this week (Families: Policy and Law), I explained to my students that policy is not just “some abstract thing that other people do,” but is something that they can become involved in themselves. I gave them several examples, of common folk, who wrote their senators and effected the change that they wanted. So, for example, a woman in Canada was able to successfully change the way that the census received information, thereby making it more accurate. Before this woman’s efforts, the Census would totally discount any type of work that women did inside of the home. So, if a woman worked in the home, the census would count her hours worked as: zero. After she wrote her prime minister, explaining that woman’s unpaid work is actually work and should be counted and accounted for, the census was reorganized to recognize, in terms of numbers, the amount of unpaid work that many wives and/or mothers were engaging in terms of childcare and caring for aging parents. The point? That if you are truly interested in family change, YOU can truly make a difference in this regard. I would recommend that you contact the policymaker in your area to obtain his/her views regarding this issue. Unfortunately, the basis of most policy are the values of the policymakers and NOT research findings, antecdotal comments from the men in your program may prove especially powerful in this regard. Oftentimes, white policymakers will talk about “how they think Black men think,” but it’s quite another to get the actual perspectives (words) of Black men regarding (1) why being an involved father is important to them; (2) the challenges that they face in being involved fathers; (3) how their children are negatively effected by current policy in this regard; and (4) how they believe that their children’s lives would be improved if policy were changed. Please take this recommendation seriously. I believe that it could change policy on a local, state and national level.

    Again, let me reiterate, I love Black men. I mean, I REALLY love Black men. I always have and I always will. Whenever I hear a Sista say that “Black men ain’t no good!” or “Black men ain’t s###!” I am VERY QUICK to correct them. Really, whenever a Sista castigates her father, she is also disregarding a part of herself. And Brother Austin, I would like to state that although it may not seem like it many times, MOST Black women love Black men too! How do I know this? Because MOST Black women are with Black men. Now, although it could be reasonably argued that people of other racial groups tend to date, marry and procreate with members of their own group, I choose to believe that there is something about Black love, beauty, courage, strength, humor, will, intelligence, tenacity, confidence, and spirituality that will always make us (Black men and women) attracted to one another. I have found that what many Black men erroneously assume is the Black woman’s hate for him, is in actuality, a mask for years of anger, disappointment and fear (which usually starts in childhood). Oftentimes, Sistas who scream and curse the loudest are the one that have been OFTEN hurt by Black men. You view her screams, rants, and profanities as a symbol of her perceived disdain for you, when in actuality, if given the chance, that same woman would walk over hot coals for you. What I want you to recognize Brother Austin is that Bruthas need to understand the UNDERLYING REASONS why many Black women act the way that they do. In my earlier post, I mentioned that it is the nature of women to want to be in a committed relationship, so I do hope that your programs interject this very necessary component. To leave it out is irresponsible and dangerous to the sustained viabilty of our people. And I concur with Brother Akbar’s view that marital commitment helps solidify couple’s relationship with one another as well as what they can provide for their children. Marriage also provides a strong model for children because it not only makes them think about getting married one day, but also infuses these dreams with happiness, security, and love.

    Like you, I have also dedicated my life’s work to understanding AND stabilizing Black families. My career is not just a career…it is my passion. Those who know me well always tell me that whenever I talk about my research, I can’t help but smile and get excited. And I have A LOT to be excited about. I am excited to learn about how you are helping Black males to develop as men. I am excited when a Black man and woman put aside their differences and parent amicably and responsibly. I am excited when a Black couple recognize the importance of making their commitment to one another a public celebration (marriage). Given all that we’ve historically experienced as a people, I am truly encouraged every single time that I hear of a sitauation that “has gone right” or is “getting better day by day.” Therefore, given my unrelentless commitment to the Black Family in the forms of public workshops aimed at strengthening marriages and parenting, without reservation, I am confident that I am part of the solution.

    As a side, your father-daughter dance sounds absolutely wonderful! Please put pictures of this event on your website as I, and others, would enjoy seeing the joy expressed on that day.

    Be blessed…..

  11. sistergirl123 Says:

    Tell Mr. Austin to practice what he teaches. If children being raised by single parents are more likely to grow up in poverty, pay YOUR child support. Make sure YOUR own child does not fall into that statistic. I heard you were in jail for non-payment of child support. If children who grow up in single parent homes are more likely to fail in school and in society, why don’t you pay attention to your own child. The last time I saw you with your daughter was at the father-daughter dance. Word is you keep missing court hearings concerning your children’s health and well-being.

  12. Dear Ms. Sister Girl,

    I am not sure where you are hearing what you heard, but you are not correct.
    What is more interesting is Why do we consistently spend time tyring to hurt each other. This happens to be what myself and Sister Ph.Diva were talking about. What you find out in this work is that, Hurt people Hurt people.
    So, Sister Girl, Who hurt You ? What is the relationship you have with your parents? How do you feel about your mother and father? Why do you feel it is important to do this?
    What you donot understand is that I cannot speak about my only daughter or the relationship I have with her mother without disrespecting her mother. I wont and I will not. You are not correct. In this world there are 3 sides to the story, her side, my side, and the truth. If you would like to call me and discuss, I will be more than available. This site is used to openly discuss issues that affect our children. The basis is how we as adults see, hear, and address each other. As men and women, what are we doing to support each other. The statements you made are a direct result of how we tear each other apart. My phone number is easy to find, if you are in the know, as you say then call me. Hurt people, Hurt people, then children are effected.
    Sister Girl, what I mean to say is, you never once said thank you for hosting a Daddy Daughter Dance. You never once said thank you for hosting a conference to educate men with dealing with parenting issues. What hurt people do is focus on any negative aspect of anothers environment. As people we are not perfect, at all. For us to become better is to look for answers, and try to resolve our issues. We do our best to tear down others, to make ourselves feel better. It is the crab in the barrel story. Live crabs in a barrel will pull each other down to get out of the barrel, to get free. It is a save yourself, to live alone mentality. I will continue to promote change in others, it is my passion and gift.
    I come across so many who are struggling, not financially, but emotionally. It is actually a cure to provide positive information to uplift each other. Like, Ph.Diva said,” Whenever I hear a Sista say that “Black men ain’t no good!” or “Black men ain’t s###!” I am VERY QUICK to correct them. Whenever I have a workshop with men, they are not allowed to use the words’ baby momma”. They are not able to use, wifey, “B”, or anything eles. They must address all women by saying ” the woman I chose..is. This puts personal responsibility on the individual. It is an individual project to be tough enough to stand up for women, whether they respect you or not. It is just as tough to stand up for men, in any situation. Hurt people, Hurt people. Ask ourselves, are we part of the problem or are we part of the solution?

  13. […] Fatherhood: Thank You For Taking Me To Court by Joel Austin […]

  14. I tend to believe you Joel because I have seen many fathers being the victim. The morals of many wives is just stunning when unmasked.

  15. You’ve done it once more! Great post.

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