The Fatherhood Forum at New Life Christian Church in Harrisburg, Pa. (Capital-Star photo by Anwar Curtis)
I stumbled across a quote the other day by the late Vince Lombardi and it read, “Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal or any goal.”
As a man — a black man — I am fully aware that many eyes are on me at all times. I am also aware that decisions I make affect not only my ow family but also everyone I have encountered over my 32 years.
I understand my responsibility, as a man is to protect my household, neighborhood, and last name not saying women don’t have the same obligations.
This journey sometimes seems overwhelming, even lonely, because somebody could mistake my passion for aggression or kindness for weakness. So I always encourage people to never give up on meeting new people who may identify with you — even if you never experienced what they have.
Last month, I received a text from a college friend who just so happens to be from Harrisburg like me. Jayson Davenport, pastor of New Life Christian Church in Harrisburg, invited me to a Father Forum program that he started along with a few of his fraternity brothers from the Divine Nine.
Here’s why I advocate for programs like this. Many times I feel misunderstood and need advice from a new group of people.
The forum that Davenport created allows men to come together and exchange dialogue that is fruitful and relatable, even for me — who is not a father, but still has intentions on one day becoming one
- READ MORE: In Harrisburg ‘500 Men Reading Week’ encourages the growth of thousands of city schoolchildren
Many of the men at the session I attended had mixed emotions after finding out they were becoming fathers for the first time. I must say, after hearing the different stories in the room, none of the men shirked their responsibilities.
Statistics show that nearly 50 percent of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned.
If you are a person who rejects statistics, let me share this: A little more than half of the men in this group sAID that at least one of their children were not planned.
Many became fathers after meeting their firstborn’s mother — or wife — on the yard in college. Others tried planning for a child only to find out that the universe wasn’t ready at the moment. No matter what each attendee’s story was, they all had the same goal in common; not planning to have a child does not mean raising a child isn’t work, and legacy matters.
One thing I also enjoyed hearing each father share was their confirmation on becoming a father.
A few received confirmation shortly after hearing their newborn cry for air, others received confirmation along the way, rather it was prioritizing, making a decision based on the direct effect it would have on their child, or the compromise when parenting and or co-parenting.
You never know what curveball life will throw at you when it comes to raising a child — even if the child is not biologically yours, and dialogue was exchanged in relations to that. I learned that no matter the dynamic, a goal every man who is fathering a child should achieve is providing protection for that child and that child’s mother no matter what.
You should also be aware of certain traditions your parents embedded in you, and take certain seasonings from your parent’s recipe and apply them in a way that best suits the time.
Also as men, we must be aware that submission doesn’t mean looking down at the mother of your child or wife of your child because the end gain is how we lead in our children’s lives.
There is no mistaking that life is a journey. And while enduring this journey, bringing life into this world is something many of us will encounter. Statistics will always fluctuate but for some odd reason, unplanned parenting will always be a statistic that remains stable.
The main thing we as men must do to break the status-quo is to take care of our kids and surround ourselves around other men that take pride in raising the village respectfully.
We must also be okay with owning our vulnerability and learning from it. We have to understand that leaders aren’t born they are made. So let’s make great leaders with each other and our children.
Capital-Star Opinion contributor Anwar Curtis, of Harrisburg, tells the stories of Pennsylvania’s Capital City and its residents. His work appears biweekly. Readers may email him at [email protected].
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.