The missing link: Parenthood is a complicated thing as it is, and, unfortunately, many of today’s youth are growing up without a father figure in their life. Perhaps the most disturbing component of this dilemma is that it is almost acceptable for a man to not be a part of their child’s life.
The damage that can result from a lack of a father is extreme and can come in many forms. For a boy, growing up without a father can create a number of issues. First, it is quite possible that they will not develop an understanding of what it is to be a man in the traditional sense. Meaning a ‘real man’ is someone who is the protector of the home, provider of the family, and, equally important, a gentleman.
Now I understand that it is 2009 and women are very capable of doing things for themselves; I admire nothing more than a strong, independent woman. However, the reality is a woman can do her best to raise a son to be a good man, and many women have done so, but the best way to learn is through having a father to watch and learn from firsthand.
Equally challenging is the fact that, today, having children doesn’t always mean marriage. This presents a new set of factors to deal with. If the relationship between the mother and father ceases to exist, or never did, then it can be very difficult on the child, especially when they are used as a pawn.
The bottom line is whether you are with the mother or father of your child or not, both a mother and a father have rights, but the one who is going to suffer most is child.
Daddy’s girl: I have to admit that when I learned I was going to be a father I hoped for a son. I guess it is natural to want someone to carry on your family name and do father and son things, like I did with my pops growing up.
However, when I found out I was parenting a girl, I can honestly say that I had never experienced the range of emotions that I did—the truth is I was scared. How will I protect her in this world? What can I do to help her avoid heartbreak? What will I do if…? These were questions running through my mind; yet, here I am eight years later and I realized that the most important thing you can do for a daughter is be there for her.
Don’t get me wrong, I teach my daughter everything I know that is relative to her life, so it isn’t just a matter of being around. It is more about being an example of how a man should be with her. For example, I always open the door for her, I make sure I am on the street side if we are walking down the sidewalk, and, most importantly, when she asks me why I do all of those things, I explain to her that she is a young lady and that is the way a gentleman should treat her.
In other words I am setting the bar high for anyone she meets in the future; I am instilling expectations for how she should be treated and I am hoping that she will recognize it right away if she is not being treated the way she should be.
Beyond the lessons on chivalry, my daughter can and does do anything a boy can. She is fortunate to have the influence of other strong women in her life who also encourage the ‘girl power’ mentality, thanks to su madre, mis hermanas, y su tía.
While on the athletic field, she is as rough and competitive as a seven-year-old can be, but off of it she is a sweet and tender little girl with boundless potential. The point I am trying to make is that when a father takes interest in the life of their daughter, she will forever look at who and what you are as the standard she will hold all men to.
Think of it this way, are you the kind of man you want your daughter to be with? If not, make the changes in yourself so that you can answer yes to that question.
It takes a man: A message to the young bucks out there: I had my daughter when I was 26 years old and I wasn’t ready to be a father. So be very careful about the decisions you are making; it may seem like fun and games, but you are playing with lives.
If you are not ready to fulfill the responsibilities of being a father, then the very minimum you should do is be safe. I don’t think I need to say much more than that, but remember…any boy can make a baby, but it takes a man to be father.
The man I am today: I feel very fortunate to have had a number of men growing up, who served as strong role models, yet each in their own way.
Each of them had an impact in my maturation into manhood, and although I am not perfect, I can only imagine how I would’ve ended up without their influence. First, I have to give tremendous credit and thanks to my Pops, Frank Flores. The man who raised my siblings and myself on his own and sacrificed so much just to provide for us and give us the best life he could.
Although we never had much, we never went without and he taught us all so many valuable lessons in life that have served us very well in our growth. Probably the best description I can give of my Pops is a compassionate warrior. He showed us so much love, but also taught us how to be strong and always get each other’s back.
Mi abuelo, better known as Guito, José Flores (rest in peace) was the strongest man I have ever known. He had a tremendously hard life and yet found success through hard work, toughness, and tremendous will. Guito taught me that the value of hard work can take you anywhere.
He was a man of few words, and he never had a single day of education in his life, but he was a man of great experience, who was eager to share what he knew in his own unique way.
The first thing he asked when I entered his home was ‘Mijo, you eat?’ and if I said “yes,” he would respond: “Well good for you.” That epitomizes what he was all about being a provider, helping others, and keeping things simple. He was the only Latino patriarch that I have ever known to make sure everyone else had eaten before he would eat.
A few other people that I have to mention are Ralph Alvarado (rest in peace), who was like an uncle, he made bikes for my brother and I and taught us how to ride them, took us to our first NFL game, and spent a lot of quality time with us when our Pops was working. I still have the bowling ball he gave me when I was 15 and it’s in the same pea green bag. I will always remember the impact he had on my life.
Finally, to my only tío, Rick Flores, who was more like a big brother to me. He showed me the ropes in a lot of ways and spent time with me when he could have been doing other things. We have had some good times and I’m glad we are still such a big part of each other’s lives.
Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there and if you aren’t doing your part to be a father, it’s time to step your game up; it will help make the world a better place. ¡Hasta la próxima vez!
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