Father First-Written By: Maurice Wells

It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.
— Frederick Douglass

 

Father’s are a critical part of the family model. Countless studies have shown that children who grow up without a father face higher rates of poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, incarceration, and various physical and mental health issues. Some say that almost every social ill faced by America’s children is related to fatherless-ness. Despite knowing this information, many fathers find it difficult to spend time with their families and create the opportunity to bond with their children.  

I grew up blessed to have a great step-father, who took care of me and my brother as if we were his. My biological father died when I was young. I'm grateful to have a dad who is devoted, and has always made me feel as I was his son. He showed me how to be a man in the ways that matter most. My father is a perfect example of why I parent the way I do. He is a black man, who worked everyday, and did what it took to take care of his family.

 As a father, husband, and law student, it’s difficult to find the proper work-life balance. Sometimes, it seems there are not enough hours in the day. I’ll admit it, there are days when I don’t see my kids.  Leaving before they wake up, and getting home after they have gone to bed. However, those days are few and far between. I make a conscious effort to be involved in my children’s life. Whether it’s waiting until the kids are put to bed before I start studying, or typing a paper at my daughter’s 5-hour gymnastics competition. In short, I always find a way to make sure I am present, therefore forming memories with my children.

As a young black professional, with a family, it’s tough for me to take a break because I feel like somebody else is out-working me. Or I think to myself, others who don’t have family obligations have more time to dedicate to their professional life so I need to work even harder. But understanding that my children will continue to meet milestones that I may miss, I soon realize that building memories with my children is much more valuable than that. My children won’t remember that I got a big promotion, or that after not being present for a week, I got an A on my final. They will remember the physical moments that we shared together, and for me, that’s worth the sacrifice.   

As my children get older, and it’s not so cool to hang around Dad anymore, I want them to reminisce about the memories we formed. They will be able to look back and remember their father teaching them how to ride a bike, carrying them home after they fell and scraped their knee, cheering them on at gymnastics competitions, or helping them with their homework. All moments count, big and small. I hope the memories that we have shared, and the memories that we have yet to create, will be enough to show them that I always put my family first. Before I can become anything greater in this world, I first have to master the art of fatherhood.