When my mom told my dad she was pregnant with me it drove a wedge between them. My dad was not excited about being a father. He was young and in the US Air Force with a promising career in basketball. He wasn’t mature enough to sacrifice, step up to the plate, and take care of his responsibilities.
A year after I was born, he left the country to serve in the US Air Force. They separated in more ways than geography. I did not see him for a long time. His absence built anger and resentment in me. Because of that, I didn’t call him “Dad” until I was 24 years old. There was something about turning 24 that made a lightbulb go off in my head and I realized that soon I too was going to have a child and it wasn’t worth being angry with my dad any longer. I opened my heart to reconciliation and God did the rest. Last year (2015) I changed my last name to Sargent to carry on my father’s legacy, and after 27 years, my dad was finally able to sign my birth certificate. Today we have a great relationship and he’s excited about being a grandfather.
I know my story is a bit unique. To give you more insight I’d like to share with you three reasons why I needed my dad when he wasn’t there.
1. To teach me how to be a man. Whether I wanted to or not, I grew up. I became an adult. There were many things I didn’t learn because I didn’t have my Pops, as I call him. There were times in my life when I needed him to guide me, but he couldn’t. When I had my first crush on a girl, I needed him to teach me the dos and don’ts of how to treat women. Instead, I learned it from my older brother, who was also a victim of fatherlessness. Neither of us knew what it meant to be a man, so we made some bad decisions. I could’ve saved my wife, my mother, and many others a lot of heartache if I was taught how I was to conduct myself as a man. What does it mean to be a man? It means being the head of the family and taking care of them financially, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Men have a great responsibility to their families.
2. Because my mom couldn’t teach manhood. It is impossible for single mothers to teach boys how to be men because women know nothing about manhood. Yes, there are certain principles that they can instill in boys (be nice to women, get a job, etc.), but there are unique principles that only men can teach. Only a man can teach a young boy how to truly be head of the household. That is God’s order (Ephesians 5:23).
You can’t do what you cannot see. I had to learn what manhood is from other men. My mom took us to church every time the doors were open because she knew as long as the doors of the church were closed, that was a greater opportunity for us to get into something we would later regret. At church I was surrounded by men who loved their families with the love of Christ – who took care of their families and raised their sons. I saw that. I learned that. I mimicked that. Because of church and seeing God’s standard for marriage and family, I’m able to be a real husband to my wife Christian and a real father to my son., and a real influence to other young men.
3. So my single mother didn’t have to struggle. According to years of research, it is a proven fact that two-parent households are more financially secure than one-parent households. As a kid and pre-teen, we grew up in poverty-stricken trailer parks. At the time I didn’t know it was poverty because I was just a kid, but as I look back today I realize that it was a rough time and place to be in. The only time that I can remember us living in an actual brick and mortar house was when my mom was married to my younger sister’s dad, but only for a brief time period.
There were times when we had to go to work with my mom at the bowling alley because there was no one else to watch us. I remember one morning my mom leaving the house with my younger sister and me. I was maybe 5 or so and she was a baby. As mom was stepping down out of the trailer onto the grey cinder blocks we used as steps, she lost her balance and fell with my baby sister. I remember being so upset and crying as I tried to help her up. Today I know why I was upset – because my dad wasn’t there to help us.
My dad and I have an awesome relationship today because I opened my heart to God, and He healed the wounds. My Pops was more than willing to catch up on time lost. He’s extremely excited about being a grandfather and it’s a tremendous blessing for my son and my Pops to have a healthy relationship.
The most important thing to me today is my firstborn child. I needed my Pops to be there and teach me how I’m supposed to raise him. Fathers everywhere, your presence in the home is for more than just changing light bulbs and emptying the garbage. God has made you head of the household and you have the great responsibility to lead your family according to His standards and precepts. No, you’re not going to get it right all of time, but there is grace. One of the comical things about being a new parent is that your children have no idea that you’re winging it. I’ve messed a lot as a new dad, but guess what? There’s always tomorrow. And, the next day, and the next day. If you have an estranged relationship with your father or son, I beg you to make amends. Get it right. The hurt and resentment you feel is not worth the loss of a father or son.