Retired Florida State head football coach Bobby Bowden was on Mike and Mike Wednesday morning and had this to say on the topic of fatherhood relative to the players he coached:
Part of me is insulted by Bowden’s comments. My mom raised me without my father. In fairness, she left him. The flip-side to that is he didn’t put up any resistance and was fine to break up with me when she broke up with him.
Relationships are complicated. My dad couldn’t force my mom to stay with him anymore than she could have forced the opposite. The dads Bowden did not see weren’t there for a myriad of reasons. There’s not a cause-and-effect pathology exclusively attributable to black people that accounts for the absence of fathers.
Half of all marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. This means there are millions of kids growing up without dad in the home. Bobby Bowden does not put down their mothers or take swipes at their manhood by saying the boys wear earrings because they want to be like their moms.
For the record, I wore earrings as a teenager, but I didn’t do it because I wanted to be like my mom. I wore them because I thought the girls at school liked them. I know one did for sure because she bought me a pair of gold hoop earrings to wear just for her.
I wore earrings in college until it became impractical. When interviewing for internships and jobs as a junior and senior, putting on earrings and taking them off constantly, wait for it, made me feel like my mom. So, I stopped wearing them.
As I’ve written in this space before, my dad was a terrible father to me and not a very responsible man overall. He abused drugs, abused my mom and gambled excessively. I missed having a father generally, but probably not Solomon Alexander specifically.
My wife and I saw the movie Fences last weekend and the father, played by Denzel Washington, caused irreparable harm to his relationship with his son when the father’s actions prevented the son from going to college.
I couldn’t help but think of my own dad in that situation. What if he didn’t want me to go to Rockhurst University? What if he thought I should go somewhere else or not go to college at all? Would I still be a teacher, mentor and coach or would I be something else? Would I be someone else?
The value of having a father is having a valuable father. Excuse the self-importance here, but I think I’m irreplaceable to my daughter. I don’t just pay for stuff, take out the trash and burp. Her mother and I are a team. We collectively strive to make her life better than ours.
Both parents heavily influence the way a kid turns out. Although my dad wasn’t around, he inspired me to be his antithesis. This is a picture of my family. There is no picture in existence of my mom, dad and me.
That’s why it’s important not to project what you see in one or several households onto an entire race of people. Even guys with the exact same name and shared DNA can raise markedly different families.