It’s been said that the measure of a man lies in the relationships he comes to plant and cultivate over the course of a lifetime.
And yet, as is the case with most every other thing in life, have matters ever really been that simple? Even in instances where the parties involved are as close to us, as say, a wife or a child?
In this, the time of Tiger Woods’ serial adultery and Tiki Barber’s cross-country romps with his twentysomething-year-old nanny as his pregnant wife lay in labor, followed by both men’s public declarations that they have every intention of retaining an influential voice in the lives of their kids, perhaps the time has come for each of us to rewrite our self-derived truths anew.
And so, riddle me this: Can a man who’s perceived as a lousy husband to his wife still be viewed as a good father to his children? Or are the two relationships uniquely distinct, ultimately yielding minimal bearing on the positive trajectory of the other?
For 32-year-old Tyrone Green, a construction worker in Chicago, that instantly resonates as a loaded question.
“That’s because everyone’s criteria of what makes for good and what constitutes not-so-good in relationships can be completely different,” he says. “In my mind, the answer to that question is an unequivocal yes because as a man, everything I’ve learned about sustaining those kinds of relationships revolve around the issue of being a good provider.
“If a man provides for his mate over the life of their union and does so for his child over a lifetime, how can everything about him as a mate or father be viewed as lousy?” he asks. “Bottom-line, you have to be a provider first.”
But what does even that mean? Or more to the point: What should it mean if the overall benefit of the generational structure is to be considered?
“Brothers need to realize providing for the welfare of a child has to do with a lot more than just caring for them financially,” says Patricia Lester, a social worker and divorced mom of three. “It has a lot to do with the relationship you establish with your mate, or even ex-mate. Over time, our children come to emulate the things they see us do. For a father or a husband to give the impression to his child that it’s alright to be less than respectful in his dealings with their mother, supposedly his life mate, simply continues the cycle of disrespect and dysfunctional relations between us.”
Again, Green and his co-worker, James Tipton, beg to differ.
“The reality is break-ups, bad marriages, even divorces – all those things happen all day, every day,” said Tipton. “Guys like Tiger, Tiki and even Steve McNair are held up as if they’re snapshots of what all black men are. Each man has to chart his own course, find his own way in the relationships he enters into. All that being said, I fail to see how even any of what they did automatically means they couldn’t be a good parent to their kids.”
“Sure, as a father it’s your job to shield your child from all the negativity that can result from having a bad relationship with Moms, but you’re always a protector when it comes to your child,” Tipton said. “I know the kind of guy I am, so I don’t spend a whole lot of time dwelling on things like this. But I have to say a father should be and has to be allowed to be a father, no matter what the relationship is between the two adults involved.”
Regardless of …..