By: Deric Muhammad
The concept of child support has become extremely controversial in the Black community. Simply mentioning the words evokes a toxic atmosphere. Due to certain unfair aspects of the court system and the destructive impact that it sometimes has on the Black family the term child support is one that carries darkness. However, when you really look at the term it also carries light. No man can shy away from being of support to his children if he is to fulfill his divine duty as a father. As men we must redefine child support and dictate what it means to us, our children and families. Child support is not all about money. I present to you, the four “E’s” of child support.
Malcolm X was quoted as saying “education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.” It is a father’s divine duty to educate his children. Education is preparation for tomorrow. Too often we depend on the school system to properly educate our children. It was not designed to do that. America’s institutions of learning can help develop the mind of your child, but true education comes from home. The school teacher should be a secondary instructor to the parent; not the other way around. We must teach our children what The Honorable Elijah Muhammad called the “Knowledge of Self.” Our children must be taught the science of business and the importance of ownership. Our children must be taught Black history so they will have an identity. If we don’t they’ll believe their identities to be wrapped up on frivolous material things like Air Jordan sneakers and gang affiliations. It is our job as fathers to educate our babies about the intricacies of life, love, relationships and family. However, we cannot teach our children what we, ourselves, do not know. We should not know more about Lebron James’ stats than we know about our children’s report card grades. This means that every father must also be a student and an avid reader. As parents, we should not spend more time on social media than we do obtaining knowledge through reading books. Acquire knowledge and pass it on to your children. It’s something the IRS can’t take away from them.
Child support is not only about money. However, it does take financial resources if our children are to have a quality life. As fathers, we cannot make excuses. Not every father is as able to provide financially as others. There are millionaires who pay thousands in child support, yet are horrible fathers. There are minimum wage workers who pay what they can, but are great in other areas of fatherhood. It is the job of every father to provide financially for their child. It can be difficult to do with the job market as it is. According to unemployment statistics the Black male is the most “unemployed and unemployable” of all of America’s citizens. We are last hired and first fired. We are stereotyped by employers. But we cannot allow these barriers to discourage us to the point where we give up. God commands that we be providers for our children and we can’t make excuses. If no one will give you a job you must go out and make a job for yourself. Black fathers must realize the importance of ownership and collective group effort. We must come together and build businesses. Get a lawn mower and start a landscaping service. Get some cleaning supplies and start a janitorial firm. Start small and grow gradually. If no one will hire you, hire yourself. Black people have historically been a resourceful people. To make it happen is in your DNA. Never let money dictate your relationship with your children. At the same time don’t let the job market dictate your ability to take care of your children. Do for self.
There is nothing like a son hearing a father’s voice screaming from the sidelines as football game. There is no voice like a father’s voice telling his daughter that she can do anything at moments when she may doubt herself. Every father must be the chief encourager of his children. We must use the power of repetition to build the confidence and self-esteem of our children. I try to remind my daughters every chance I get that “YOU CAN DO ANYTHING.” I have a certain way I say it that has a certain effect of them. I say it in a way that my belief in them affects their belief in themselves. My hope is that someday when I am no longer around the voice will still be alive and well in their minds. It’s never too late to make yourself the number one cheerleader in your child’s life.
The Bible says “if you train up a child in the way they should go when they get older they shall not depart from it.” As men we must be the spiritual leaders of our families and the spiritual leaders of our children. Unfortunately, many of us have gotten away from that. It is critical to our sons and daughters’ development that they have a strong spiritual foundation. Don’t make the mistake of thinking our children aren’t interested in the things of God. They are. The problem is we teach them about God in ways that are unrelatable, unrealistic and difficult to grasp. As fathers we are charged with teaching our children about THE FATHER. Again, we cannot teach what we, ourselves, do not know. We have to be students of spirituality, scripture and universal law. We must be the bridge between our children and their Creator. Once they’ve crossed the bridge you can get out of the way. We must empower our children with the knowledge of God. It is through this knowledge that they can build their own personal relationship with Him. Once that relationship has been established, as fathers, we can go to our graves with smiles on or faces. For in times of trouble our children will know Who to turn to when we are no longer here to protect and defend them. The last “E” represents empowerment. And there is NO POWER like God.
May God bless us all to do an honest self-appraisal as fathers and do better as supporters of our children. I know that I can do better. What about you?