A challenge to men

Published 5:38 pm Tuesday, June 15, 2021

By Nathan Rice

“Do you remember when you came to my school?” he asked. It had been almost two years since the evening I knew he was referring to in his question. It was the night his school had a “Game Night with Dad.” Timothy’s father hadn’t been in the picture for a while, so his mother called me to ask if I would attend with him that evening. It was an honor to be asked, and I accepted gladly.

The evening went well as the school had games set up at various tables in the gymnasium, the stereotypical pizza and cupcakes were served, and there was a brief presentation from a guest speaker. I met Timothy’s best friend, received a tour of his school, saw his classroom, and played several games with him and his friends.

I thought back to that evening and wondered what made him think of that night nearly two years later when I answered, “Yes, I remember. It was a fun night.” He paused and replied, “The other kids had their dads there.” We talked about the evening and how many kids had their dads at the event, but how there were also grandfathers, uncles, and other adults in the mix.

I know he’s still processing his absent father. I am hopeful that our discussion that day helped him, but it made me think of a few things that I hope all men will consider.

We know that a father who is alive but missing purposefully from the lives of his children brings a deep hurt to his children. Many men believe that they don’t matter or that their children won’t care about them, but that’s been proven wrong. Children need their fathers, and while the tragedy of death separates some, the greater tragedy is men who abandoned their children.

First, I challenge all men to consider if they are ready to become a father. Too often, men partake in the act that brings children into this world without thinking that a new life may be created. Those who are not prepared to become, or do not want to be, a father should take precautions to avoid becoming a father.

Once they have become a father, I call on men to step into fatherhood. Many men place children on the backburner of their lives, not willing to make any changes to benefit their children. Fatherhood will require change, and I challenge you to make those changes. Your life is no longer all about you.

Lastly, I challenge all men to do what it takes to become good fathers. I’ve seen many men who are not a part of their children’s lives because of a problem they could not conquer or an addiction they could not overcome. I know some things are not easy to overcome, but I encourage men to fight to do so. I encourage men to do whatever is needed, including reaching out for help and accountability, to overcome their own problems and addictions so they can become good fathers. If we can’t fight for ourselves, can we not fight for our children?

Men, it’s time to admit that children need fathers in their lives. It’s time we stop accepting absent fathers as the norm and work together to keep more children from being hurt. Man up, and fight for your children! They need you.

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at nrice@abnb.org.