Fatherhood, Fatherlessness, Single-Parenting, co-parenting. We’ve got it all … on this edition of Frank Relationships.
FRANK RELATIONSHIPS: FATHERHOOD W/ CHARLES DANIELS, LORETTA ELI AND CARL STEVENS
Guests: Charles Daniels, Loretta Elizalde and Carl Stevens
Date: June 27, 2016
Frank: Fatherhood, fatherlessness, single-parenting, co-parenting. We’ve got it all … on this edition of Frank Relationships.
Yes. As always, those are my babies. Thanks for getting daddy’s daughter today.
Welcome to Frank Relationships. Today’s guest is a relationship expert, life coach, husband and father of 3. He’s also the best-selling book “Tame Your Woman: Be the Man She Need You To Be” and along with his wife, Kenya, the formulator of the progressive Love Movement. He’s also the co-founder of jujumama.com. He’s Carl Stevens. He’s also a past guest and you can listen to his show at your leisure at franklove.com by searching for his name as the keyword. That’s Carl with a C.
We’re also joined by a brother that witnessed his mother’s struggles as a single parent. So, why is he focused on supporting low-income fathers? Because when he thought about his father, he took an unexpected approach. He says “I thought about the things he was going through that prevented him from remaining active in my life, and what if someone had been there to help him?” He believes that might have made a tremendous difference for his dad. He’s the CEO and founder of Fathers Uplift Inc. He’s Charles Daniels.
And finally, we have a therapist that has rendered mental health and substance abuse disorder services to individuals and groups for over 25 years. She notes that she has been truly blessed to understand that emotional hurdles can affect cognitive functioning and related behaviors, and that the therapeutic session is a wonderful opportunity for the client to increase their insights and the problematic feelings and situations while developing new coping mechanisms. She is a mother and licensed clinical professional counsellor. She is Ms. Loretta Elizalde.
Welcome to the show, guys.
Loretta: Thank you.
Carl: Thank you.
Charles: Thanks for having us, Frank.
Frank: Why are uncles important in the raising of children? Carl, you recently wrote a blog talking about the importance of community and the raising of children and I have—in my own way—I have recently had a conversation about uncles and community in the raising of children. So I figured out, [unclear] that one to you.
Carl: Well, you know, it’s important for children to be exposed to a number of different ideas and character traits and same to that nature… But the African [unclear]. So you really need [unclear], you need to be exposed to a number of things. You need a number of adults in your life to show you what it can be to be a man, what it can be to be a father, what it can be to be a woman, etc. And so the only way you get that is to be in expose to a number of adults who actually love and care for your vested interest and your upbringing.
And so what if you come from a single parent household or you come from a two-parent household is irrelevant. It’s still important for children to have other adults in their life that they can talk to, and lean on, and love to be exposed to. The basis of the blog that I wrote was basically [unclear] that just because you’re a single mother or you’re a single father, that doesn’t mean that your child can grow up having the experience of having healthy mother-like or aunt-like love or healthy father-like or uncle-like exposure which can ultimately help that child to have a complete holistic upbringing. And so just trying to give some insights to single parents primarily but also married couples that this is a very important element that everyone should have.
Frank: What are some of the ways to support our brothers in becoming better fathers? That’s for you, Charles.
Charles: Well I think… When I think about how fathers who are not present physically and fathers who are [unclear] physically but emotionally aspect, I think about one thing that we have to be careful of is the definition that we uphold and allows [unclear] that the stigma that connected to what it is, a man should be, what he has to do in order to be adequate and worry, and how we conduct our [unclear] and live up to the definition, right? Because there’s true relationships or healthy relationships, primarily one’s relationships with themselves.
So if I believe that I have to be a [unclear], I have to all [unclear] to be adequate, [unclear] I don’t have that money. I’m also adequate and I don’t want to be pregnant. So sometimes we got to give men their own or [unclear] create their definition with others, placed and definition on… like how can we value a father for being who he is without thinking about the thing that he could do for someone. I think there’s a difficult thing to do but at the end of the day, we have to be able to [unclear] them because [unclear] who he is as a person, instead of what he could do to make all the times. Those are connected with one another particularly when you look at society [unclear] you have to have money, you have to have cars, you have to have nice girls, you have to have a nice house. If you don’t have any of those things, you can’t be what [unclear]. And we got a [unclear] definition of [unclear]. We challenge the definition that society placed on us and our families. We begin to create a new definition that we could learn how to thrive off, value ourselves without the possessions that we all… That’s the first thing.
Frank: Loretta, why is it best if—this is assumed that you might even agree—but why is it best that some fathers are not in the life, the direct life of their children? Or shall we say, or is it?
Loretta: Okay. I believe that, and also have an evidenced based, that fathers that are there and on a [unclear] do bring an element on even if some of their [unclear] are not in line with what we have defined the role model for our fathers to be, as a society at large. I’m not saying [unclear] our individual people who are speaking on this program. But I also see that individual who have an action just like role in their lives are always seeking it out. And they may be seeking it out through other means. We become impacted by the elements of our environment. So even if someone is a distance [unclear] an uncle [unclear] use the role of someone who may be incarcerated or someone who may be in another relationship, okay?
Frank: How about—
Loretta: They— yes?
Frank: Can we use the role… Because incarceration is kind of… Some could say it’s involuntary. There could be a case made against that but the… How about we use the example of someone who’s really deep into street life?
Nancy: But not necessarily incarcerated?
Frank: But not necessarily incarcerated.
Loretta: So you’re saying they’re not incarcerated but they’re not there? They’re absent emotionally?
Frank: yes, they’re absent emotionally.
Loretta: But they’re really not, they’re not interacting with the development—
Loretta: —of the child and not investing on the development of the child?
Frank: Yes. But it’s because they may even consider themselves to be a bad example or they may figure that they would be putting their children’s life in jeopardy if they were in close contact with their children… something of that nature.
Loretta: Okay. So in other words, you’re saying their lifestyle does not—so they [unclear] identify themselves as a biological portion of this child but they’re not interacting with this child?
Loretta: Okay. And you’re saying that that would be best if they do stay and keep a distance?
Loretta: Because of the elements that they could bring?
Frank: Where they believe that or they just think they would be a bad dad. They believed that they would be a bad dad.
Loretta: Okay. I’m not quite clear on that question but I do believe that even at a distance that usually that there were absence emotionally and they’re investing it is just not with the family structure. So they may be very [unclear] and they may also practice. So that we’re talking about a whole complete belief system. So their belief system is bad if they look at that child being in a capable household and the [unclear] reared all being taken care of by another element. We might save a village, okay? Being the village as an extended family. They may still not feel that they’re a bad dad especially if they’re spending all the financial support.
Loretta: [unclear] little thing?
Frank: I do, I do.
Charles: And it goes back to speaking about the cultural differences, right? So for that one, I think about why my father wasn’t in my life. My father left at an early age but it was because he had an outside family. See my mom and I were the outside family. My father was married to his wife of 30 years. I keep this in mind, we don’t understand the history and the culture why men engage or interact the way they interact. We can’t understand why the men is a [unclear] in his child’s life if he’s not present thee way that the family wants him to be. Right?
So when you think about the family in which my father grew up in, his father was a pastor. His mother was the first lady. So there was a high standard, right? The preacher sort of had to be close to perfect to represent my grandfather. So at the end of the day, anything that could mess up like those family values that my father was raised in—
Frank: Or the facade.
Charles: The values that—absolutely. The value that he was taught like anything that counters that is automatically going to counter his self-esteem. Sometimes with men, what we do when we feel that our self-esteem is being attacked, we keep a distance. Right? We say, “Okay. I’m not good enough as of yet to be presenting the way that the family wasn’t [unclear] and my child like however I could do such and such to make sure that I can maintain my dignity and [unclear] at the same time. We think about men who may not be physically present, they love their children. as a matter of fact, it hurts them as much to be away out of their kids like, however, when it comes to maintaining that dignity and then [unclear] the way that society thinks they need to be present, now’s the time [unclear] men is going to choose talk that he may [unclear] didn’t see the stuff work as a myth.
Charles: The women out there, we know that ego is a big thing for men, right? And [unclear] try to contributes to me the [unclear] that we make. So when I think about fathers who are not physically present, I would like to say, “Hey, it’s not because they don’t want to be present. They do want to be present but we do have to understand the culture in which that father was raised and we take the time to talk to them about it, that [unclear] that’s going on.”
Loretta: I like to take you back on that because I also believe that—it has a lot to do with and I do agree with you… But I also believe that it has a lot to do with, to believe some practices of where they come from. So even though I may be absent emotionally, the father is absent emotionally, it’s also of their [unclear] power to practice it and the belief of that daily [unclear] with that, the male portion of that thing [unclear] introduced to them. If it’s okay that I don’t see my child for every 2 or 3 weeks but I’m sending over a financial support, that in their mind, that they’re not a [unclear] dad okay? I’m supporting my child, I’m allowing them to do certain things by sending over this financial. And that might be a [unclear] procedure. That may be a [unclear] procedure through the family line. So I do understand that portion of an outside family versus someone who has stick to the lifestyle that puts their family or their child in danger. I do understand that thing. Yup.
Frank: Welcome to Frank Relationships. A show for you my brothers who, like me, are too young to be considered old and too old to be considered young. It’s also for those of you who love and support us. We’re here to provide weekly wisdom, conversation and the information that’ll help create better parents and partners.
I’m Frank Love and you can find me, my blog and my various social media incarnations at franklove.com.
You can also find me on ABC’s Good Morning Washington most Friday mornings during the 9 o’ clock hour. If you’re listening to the show on Blog Talk Radio, please follow us and if via iTunes, please subscribe so that you can effortlessly get each week’s show.
Also, if you’re enjoying the show and of course you are, please share with your family and/or friends on your favourite social media platform. We are looking to add new friends to our social media family over the course of the next week so please help us, help our community by spreading the word about the show.
Greetings to my co-host, Nancy.
Frank: The consummate generalist.
Nancy: What happened to super duper? How did I fall from super duper grace?
Frank: It’s been a tough morning.
Nancy: I’ll let you roll that back.
Frank: I’m… Greetings to my super duper co-host, Nancy Goldring.
Nancy: Thank you! Hi, Frank. I mean, I can’t be on if you’re not on.
Frank: I like it. I like it.
Nancy: You know?
Frank: You could carry it.
Nancy: Oh I can roll it.
Frank: You could be my right-hand…
Nancy: Absolutely. But you got to have a right-hand for me to grab.
Nancy: So your right-hand is “super duper”.
Frank: Super duper. Okay.
Nancy: For future reference, of course.
Frank I got you. I completely understand.
Nancy: Okay. We’re on now.
Frank: We’re also joined by today’s visiting co-host, Rihan Ree.
Raymond Alexander: Hey, hey, hey.
Frank: What’s up, Rihan?
Rihan: What’s up, brother?
Frank: Who are you and what do you do when you aren’t guest co-hosting?
Rihan: Let’s see… I’m a father of 3, 11-year old girl, 5-year old boy and a 3-year old girl going on 4.
Rihan: I work for one of the Beltway Bandits, a federal contractor…
Rihan: …and then I also spend some time working on my own small business.
Frank: Got you.
Nancy: Great to have you here.
Rihan: Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Frank: Okay. My first question for you, I really want you to takes some time, you know, think about this because this is pretty deep… Why do you think that I’m a genius?
Nancy: Oh my gosh… This is going to be so easy for you, Rihan.
Rihan: I think you’re genius is in the fact that you know… You flip things o their head. You keep people guessing. So I think that’s pretty genius.
Frank: Ah okay. See this guy can come next week too. He knows exactly…
Nancy: I just want to apologize to the guest.
Frank: We may have a right-hand, left-hand.
Nancy: Imagine that.
Frank: As is the case this week with Rihan, there’s a visiting guest co-host chair available each week here in the studio. So if you’re in the Washington D.C. area or travelling to the D.C. area and want to join us in the studio on a given Thursday morning, email me at email@example.com.
Before we go further into our fatherhood piece, I need to check in and see what’s new in the world of relationships. Charles, Carl, and Loretta, we invite you to join in this conversation definitely. So this is not just between the hosts.
Frank: Okay, Nancy…
Frank: In fact, do any of you all have anything popping in the world of relationships that you want to just throw around?
Nancy: That we want to throw around?
Frank: I wasn’t talking to you. I was talking to our guests.
Nancy: Oh. I apologize. I spoke out of turn. My god. Okay…
Frank: Okay. Alright, alright. Go on, Nancy. Go on. What’d you got?
Nancy: I have nothing to add, sir.
Frank: That’s not true. I got one.
Nancy: Oops, sorry. What is it?
Frank: I got one and this is not—this is serious.
Frank: This is rough. My wife has a—there was a sister that my wife went to school with.
Frank: And my wife is 10, 15 years out of college.
Frank: And she… This woman who… This woman of no… I believe she had a child and her boyfriend and she broke up. Apparently, he was seeing someone else and this is just—this is not fact.
Frank: This is just my understanding.
Frank: He was seeing someone else, she broke off with him. He didn’t want to break up and it’s suspected that he killed her.
Frank: Showed up at her house or something like that and shot her.
Frank: Like this is…
Nancy: That’s heavy.
Frank: It’s heavy, it’s tragic, it’s—I mean, where do… You know I wrote a book “How to Gracefully Exit a Relationship”. This is a place to interject such information.
Frank: Because when we’re looking at relationships ending to take the life—
Nancy: Of another human being.
Nancy: That you loved.
Frank: That you apparently loved…
Frank: Who had, I believe a child and who had probably parents, family…
Frank: I mean, you’re not just…
Nancy: That touches a lot of ours…
Frank: I mean, if you’re thinking about taking the life or harming another person, please think about you’re not just harming that other person. I mean, there’s so many things to think about but you’re devastating the life of so many people. Read the book and at some level, be willing to walk away, understand—in fact, the very first chapter of the book is “We Can Breakup.” It talks about just that—we can breakup.
Frank: And understanding of that that could go either way is important to alleviate things like this.
Frank: Suffering… or types of suffering, at many levels, at many different people…
Nancy: So Loretta… It’s—
Loretta: For the breaking up of—I’m sorry.
Nancy: No I was going to say—yeah, I was going to say to you that the like statistically I think, most women who are the victims of violent crimes experience that at the hand of significant other loved one, husband, boyfriend, okay? So and then Charles just talked about men taking action based on how they feel they’re perceived in the public arena, in their community at large. And Carl, I’m not sure how you might want to weigh in on this but I’m saying, what happens for a man when he gets to that place—
Frank: And he’s no longer concerned about his appearance in the community and more so, is concerned about harming this person?
Nancy: Well not only that, he must somehow see this woman as integrally tide to his identity in order to kill her to keep her from leaving him.
Frank: Okay guys.
Carl: Well, I mean, the reality of it is in situations like that and they’re really—when you look at like psychology and how these things are being used are very much the kind of [unclear] of what’s actually happening. Usually, the violent crime like that is already been, the longstanding amount of abuse between the couple that’s going back and forth. The issue is that… sort it out the standpoint, the psychology standpoint. There’s only one type of abuse that’s recognized, like we’re still behind the times. We’re still looking at women as they’re after subject to men and sort of abuse, that have to kind of… withhold some of their desires and like I suggested earlier, the ego, to prevent physical abuse. What usually happens is that mental and emotional abuse that’s taking place in relationships and it’s also [unclear] physical abuse. Those things are going back and forth between the couple.
Frank: You’re kind of saying…
Carl: What usually happens when you see violent crimes to this nature with the death or major issues is that it has reach the head. So what happens is, oftentimes a man will be, kind of basically out of his mind. You know? He’ll get to that point and… That’s why human beings can say, “Well I don’t really care what happens to my life anymore, for my future over the next 60 years of my life because they reached a point where the abuse, the pressure and the stress and based of what [unclear] happen, compromise to the [unclear] can take somebody else’s life. And it’s not all on—
Carl: You know, the girlfriend and the spouse. Usually, they think that’s build up over a year starting with childhood, starting to increase relationships, it’s better it’s better but usually comes to a head as the one where the violence has actually [unclear] out.
Frank: Ayt. I just was interjecting when you said “It’s not all on—“I said, “him”. What I believe I’m hearing you say and what I can surmise to some of it is that the violence is, in many ways, a way that they communicate. They actually communicate with each other that way and it’s not just—although he’s taken the most devastating step. It’s not just simply he that’s been participating in the violence. Is that what I hear you saying?
Carl: Yeah, basically in my book “Tame Your Woman,” I [unclear] of abuse [unclear] violence. I just thought what I call the feminine aspects of [unclear] but both to be portrayed by neither gender. But what I’m saying is there’s abuse going on in the relationship. It’s never the case. I’ve never seen a case personally where there’s no abuse going on and then on day 100, somebody killed their spouse or their girlfriend, or somebody killed their boyfriend, something like that… That never [unclear] happens. What happens is is you have abuse going on back and forth. You also have an inability to understand relationships, how to relate in relationships with another human being and those are the contributing factors. This is really more cultural. It’s not like, ‘Oh wow, this is [unclear]. People [unclear] people are abused in relationships.
Most of the abuse that happens in the world, happens amongst people who are close together. You know, they’re husband and wife, or they’re girlfriend and boyfriend, or they’re [unclear]. So most of the abuse, most of the molestation, most of the special dysfunction happens within these close relationships. So the cultural phenomenon is not strange when he’s [unclear]. It’s just [unclear]. That’s the American culture. That’s western culture in the inbred dysfunction of how we relate with one another.
Loretta: I just like to comment [unclear]… I’m also saying that there’s a [unclear] is the identification of ownership of the relationship. These individuals have identified that “this is mine” and the overwhelming loss of this item, this—I mean, we are reading more and more now about now this relationships are far as the intimacy of two people but also the tuning of the whole family. In other words, where children are involved. This indication of “this is mine” and “I don’t want to share them. If I can’t have them then nobody can have them” and that concept is being played out in it’s wild and just far as in the elimination of life, determination of life.
[unclear] actual solo [unclear] that may come up out of an overwhelming [unclear] that impossibly going to lose this and I’m not going to give it up.
Charles: I think… Okay, I’m sorry.
Frank: No, go on Carl.
Charles: So someone is out there here too because I work with men who engage in the [unclear] and what they did I see as being is definitely a sign of declaration to maintain a sense of control. All they guys, when you see guys who are engaged in abuse of relationships, right? They want to control something right? In order to kind of maintain it, they maintain that control [unclear] they’re going to control that woman, control the relationship, they control themselves. So the relationship becomes a direct reflection of who they are, right? Which means if the relationship is absent, they still leave a piece of themselves [unclear] with that relationship.
So how can you maintain control to keep that relationship? So when I think about on a psychological perspective about some of the things that these men have warranted, right? First and foremost, when they enter a relationship, there’s already a broken fragile sense of self. It’s very delicate, right? So anything that happens in that relationship is going to be measured against how that person feels about himself. So the more he thinks what to maintain and control, the more he feels good about himself. The more that he is not able to control, the less he feels about himself. And sometimes when you view that relationship as a measuring tool for your self-worthy I did in like how you feel or see yourself as a man, when it’s absent, you have nothing else because you became so dependent on that relationship. And sometimes when you think about men and how they engage with women to go to a certain [unclear] to kill someone, which means when that relationship was done, that automatically was connected to that person and how he feels about himself
What’s difficult for men to deal with or emotional issues, right? It’s difficult to see myself as [unclear] less than and inadequate and unimportant in what we do, like we do in any other type of situation, [unclear] or I could say this is the part of the human basis right? We try our best to hold on to a sense of worth by any means necessary and some means of more dangerous, more ridiculous than others, some may have become to drug, some may become obsessed, some may become a killer of another person, right? It didn’t weigh that which we hold on to that work. When I think about the situation, I see it as an act of declaration to maintain a set of stuff and a part that sets himself with that relationship. When the relationship was gone, that person thought that he was gone, but yeah, to eliminate it as quick as possible. And there’s [unclear] the times what happens when I think, when I work with these men who are in their future relationships, it’s all about control. My ego and my dignity is tied to control somebody [unclear] who are control, the more I feel good about myself. The less I control, the less I feel about myself.
Frank: So Charles, what I hear is not just a—well they go hand in hand but it’s not just a piece around control but is also a piece around being inflexible.
Frank: Like an unwillingness to be flexible. So would someone pick up the baton and talk a bit about why flexibility is important in the relationship? And we can even tie that into why flexibility is important with fathers.
Frank: And period.
Carl: From the flexibility standpoint, again going back to what Charles said and what’s been applied here in order to be flexible, you have to have self-esteem first. [unclear] from my standpoint in most people in a relationships lacking self-esteem, lacking self-worth. You also hear people say “I want a relationship. I want to get married.” But [unclear] before they even know who they’re going to get married to or [unclear]. So that’s an indication of a lack of self-worth.
So the bottom line is, again, from what [unclear] really bow to the people, most people enter a relationship [unclear] where the self-worth is not there. There’s [unclear] perform their partner as a bolster [unclear] they have within themselves. In terms of fathers, so if they still have self-worth, they’ll still be flexible. Why? Because I know that I can [unclear] the life that I want.
Carl: I know that I can have a wife or a husband. I know that I can get my money together, I know that I’m a valuable person so I don’t walk to the world with [unclear] or stress or doubt. Those are the people who happen to be flexible. In terms of fatherhood is the same thing. To say like if I worked as a man for my baby and mother and I are not together, I don’t have any to [unclear] about that. Why? Because I’ll do what I can do. We live in separate states, no big deal. I’ll make sure I drive [unclear] mother. [unclear] my child, I’ll make sure I provide money and I realize that that is the role that I can play and that’s a very important role. I support my ex. If they look, make sure you also expose our child to other men in your life. Bring your boyfriend around the child. Bring your uncle, bring their grandfather around this child because I’m not there. So yeah, I can be flexible. They’ll say because my stuff is being not tied up and what society says [unclear] a man. It’s because I’m not [unclear], the woman or child or multiple children doesn’t mean that I’m still [unclear] lesser than men. I think Charles was pointing out earlier. But if I don’t have that self-esteem and self-worth aspect, then I’m going to try to uphold [unclear] that I’m only a man’s [unclear] and that’s why I cannot be…
Loretta: Flexibility allows someone to well, as an individual, it allows you to open up your options. I don’t know if you [unclear] self-esteem as it saves first but I know that it will introduce self-esteem options for the individual if they do have flexibility. If they see that there is an alternative to even pass practice it. if it does help an individual to grow.
Nancy: Okay. Clearly, a conversational self-esteem is a whole other show. Just listening to the three of you.
Frank: It’s possible a conversation about self-esteem is every show.
Nancy: Yeah. Yeah, underlying premises…
Charles: Yeah, that’s where it all starts.
Frank: You’re listening to Frank Relationships and we’re joined by a relationship expert, life coach, husband and father of 3, Carl Stevens; CEO, father and founder of Father’s Uplift Inc., Charles Daniels; and mother, and licensed clinical professional counsellor, Loretta Elizalde. We’re discussing fatherhood and issues related to it and the lack of it as well as we’ve touched on a few other things so far.
Loretta, please tell us what you’re up to and how our listeners can find you.
Loretta: Well they can find me at my private practice on 171 Road Suite 3A in Pikesville, Maryland. That’s zip code 21208. My phone number’s 410-241-6006. I see individuals, families, couples, and we address issues of adjustment, of grieving and loss, PTSD, but that is one type of trauma and we [unclear] any types of traumas. I see children from ages, I guess 9 until forever however old you are. We address just life skills as an ongoing practice as evolvement so that individuals can know that even though they have learned certain things and practice certain things, they do have an avenue to open up new areas. I think that’s what’s happened with a lot of individuals if that lifestyle changes and adjustment comes very, very challenging.
Loretta: So we [unclear] procedure.
Frank: Charles, what are you up to and how can our listeners find you?
Charles: So they can find me in Boston, Massachusetts. Our office is located 100 A Warren Street. They also could find us online at www.fathersuplift.org and our phone number’s 617-987-5994 and what we do is we help men stay engaged [unclear]. We are not a parenting program. I tell people that all the time. Also [unclear] that we can help a man learn how to parent themselves. They don’t automatically know how to parent their children and be in a relationship with others.
There’s a direct connection between how they want to treat themselves and how they treat the people that they are involved with. And we try to help [unclear] the way they can treat themselves a little bit better. And [unclear] different ways in which they can treat themselves better than it’s old negative ways like beating themselves up, judge themselves harshly, listening to stereotypical nature. I mean, nature talks about who they are, their identity and what they should be. We give the opportunity to create own story and write their own ending and that’s our philosophy to the work that we do in Boston, Massachusetts.
Frank: And how about you, Carl?
Carl: Yeah, people can find information on us at jujumama.com. We’re also based here in Nashville, North Carolina. We have [unclear] if people wants to schedule appointment to come see us. And you can also go to our training site to find some of the courses that we certify coaches at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frank Carl, you did a blog that I mentioned earlier and it’s entitled “Single Mother’s Playbook Raising Sons”. It talked about the importance of a community and you even noted that you used to live in a communal household. Would you talk about that and how you recommend that and why was it important in your development?
Carl: Yeah, so when I lived in Washington D.C., [unclear] that’s where we grew up when I left D.C.
Carl: Yeah so I lived in the household with a total of 8 [unclear] people. My wife and I, 2 children and our third was born there. And there was also a single mother who lived there. [Unclear] was her and her two children and then there were two other families [unclear] house. You know, D.C. has big houses but we lived in the house together and what I was able to witness in terms of my children and the other children that lived there was how every adult I the house was looked up to and valued by the children. [unclear] there, it was just… they felt they can go to any of the adults, ask questions, get support, “Can you take me down the street?” like it was just very open in that way. I also saw all of the children responding in the warnings of the other adults. They saw their other parents as like aunts or uncles and that type of thing. And so my thing in the Single Mother’s Playbook just I believe in what single moms to understand that just because the father of your child is not there, doesn’t mean anything in regards to how that child would grow up. It’s your responsibility as the parent in the house and be responsible for the child to expose them to the other adults that can aid them in their growth and development, to expose them to travels, to expose them to different environments and different activities, etc. But again, like I said in the beginning, so whether you’re married or not or both parents are there or not, it’s still critical that we expose our children to a variety of other adult to [unclear] positive influence in the children’s life. So that’s what the Single Mother’s Playbook is really all about. It’s trying to empower women who are raising children especially boys, to know that you know what? There’s not [unclear] in terms of [unclear] try to be a man. No, you expose that boys to other men who you trust and have faith in and they’ll turn out just fine. Half of the issue pointed that it’s the stigma around in the nuclear family. If a child grows up believing that, they’re somehow strange or different because they don’t have a father in the home for example, because society says that’s supposed to be the case and that’s what happens, the issue comes in. Even though relationship structure that it’s better than any relationship structure. You can be in a polygamous situation, you can be in a monogamous situation, you can be in a single situation. They come up as a child, completely healthy psychologically, physically and to be a successful as an adult. So we can’t buy into the [unclear]’s ideology that “oh my father’s not here, therefore, my [unclear]” it’s not true.
Nancy: Wow. Awesome.
Frank: Any advice for women who repeatedly find themselves unable to get along with a man? And there are women who find themselves in similar situations.
Loretta: I have some advice. I think [unclear] of the [unclear] to the child, not negative reference to whether it’s biological or negative reference to perhaps fail dating of how they perceive male. I think that I want to really commend that the communal living and the village concept, I think is all very positive. As long as the message that are being given to that child being reared are going to be positive and they’re going to be strength based, a lot of times they’re not. A lot of times they are pointed out some of the elements that this child contains some of the biological father or from the biological father’s family that they are making very negative references. There’s not so much a society at large. Sometimes it’s the nuclear family that is giving these messages to these children that they are combating that I see in therapy session about what they are, what they have, you know what they’re going to develop to or what they’re going to develop into. Because of failed relationship, because that things did not work out and they carry that with them. So I think that a child is getting strong [unclear] messages about themselves, about the society at large and that they have the capability of surviving and doing well in this world. Not negatively about you’re going to be just like your father or you’re going to be just like your uncle or you’re just like… That negative references, they go deep and they stay—
Nancy: I just want to say…
Loretta: —so some people combating these [unclear]…
Loretta: So that they are family.
Loretta: And I’m also of past relationships that you know, [unclear]…
Nancy: Right. So Loretta, I got to say for the record that growing up, my mother said on a regular basis “Oh my goodness, you’re just like your father.” How and fortunately for me, she meant that in the most endearing of all possible ways. So it did more to feed my self-esteem than take away from it but I totally get what you are saying and agree with that position and certainly if he has meant it in any other way—
Frank: You would have known?
Nancy: Oh no question.
Frank: And you [unclear]…
Nancy: It totally would have affected me. Yeah.
Rihan: So, I’ve been listening to this conversation for a while and I’m thinking about some of the messages that I’ve heard growing up.
Rihan: And of course now that I’m a dad, it’s got me thinking about them a different way. So one of them is that it takes a man to teach a boy how to be a man, right? And I grew up without my father present in my daily life. I saw my father occasionally.
Frank: What about men?
Rihan: Every few years… I’m getting to that.
Rihan: And the men who were just sort of in the community perhaps as teachers or maybe at church, but not in a daily life kind of way of raising me. So I knew that as a boy, I had this insecurity that said oh man, “I’m not being raised by my father. That means I’m not learning how to be a man.” So now as an adult and especially as a dad, of course I value being in my kids’ lives but I’ve also learned that that’s hogwash, right?
I learned how o be a man even though I wasn’t raised by my father.
Rihan: And I think that that’s one of the messages and I’m just really curious about what other people have to say about that. Just what kind of messaging we’d give little boys and even little girls. I mean, the idea that fathers are especially important in a girl’s life, right? I hear that a lot of times and again, I think I have a great and important role in my daughters’ lives too.
Rihan: And at the same time, I know that there are some fathers that if in they’re in their kids’ lives, that’s bad for those kids. So I’m just, you know, it took me being an adult to really turn a lot of those ideas on their head but you know, it did a number on me as a kid growing up.
Frank: You know, I actually think that that conversation—I think the conversation around “it takes a man to raise a boy”, I think it’s a worthy concept to give thought to and to play with. But I think it’s a conversation that adults should be having with each other.
Rihan: Oh yeah.
Frank: Not with a child. Because—
Loretta: Yes, I agree.
Frank: —like you said, it could—I mean, if a child hears that, they’re going to think they’re less than by definition if their dad isn’t around or if it’s mom on the other side. I also wonder, instead of completely dismissing the concept, do you find that there were some things that you think you would have gotten if you would have had a man closer to you when you were growing up? So do you completely dismiss the concept or do you know that you can be alright even if—
Nancy: You can transcend that circumstance.
Frank: Yeah, right, right. Is there some value there?
Rihan: So I see value in men and women but really what I see value in is love, right? So to me, if you can raise a child and love him, teaching them self-acceptance, showing them self-acceptance, modelling positive upright pro-social behaviors, to me that’s what’s important. And so, you can teach boys how to be a man in your way of being a man. That doesn’t mean you’re teaching them how to accept himself, right?
So I think that there are all kinds of stuff we talk about but we don’t always talk about what does it mean to raise a child, to love himself or herself, and how do you teach this person to become a loving adult who does good in the world, right? There’s value to me, especially if you’re teaching love, right?
Rihan: So a man just being male…
Frank: Right. That—
Rihan: That’s not enough.
Frank: Right, right, right…
Rihan: That’s how I see it.
Nancy: I think the kicker in what you’re saying is you used the word “modelling” and a lot of times, we say things to our kids but we don’t exactly model those teachings. You know, the old “do as I say, not as I do”. With the kids are doing what you’re doing and if you’re not modelling self-acceptance, if you’re not modelling self-love, if you’re not modelling those things that are consistent with self-esteem, then you’re going to get the by-product of that I your children, I feel.
Frank: Does anyone else want to weigh in on that before I ask my child support question…
Nancy: Yes, Charles?
Nancy: Wait a minute.
Charles: I want to drop in a really quick—I haven’t really said anything about this particular topic but I do know that—for me when I think about men in the world, I think I get caught up seeing older men between the ages like 30 and 50, come into my office, right? Crying because they always go for a father. They wanted to know who their father were, right? And for me, that said, I do believe that sometimes now when you were a child, you do have that longing if your father [unclear]. If your mother isn’t present, you want to know where you come from, right?
Charles: You want to be connected to the person who helped you get on this earth. Yes, some of the people around you like my mother she was good at creating community for me, the deacons in the churches, the deacons is in the churches right? The mentorship program, the pastors in the churches, right? Different summer programs [unclear] to be around, [unclear] to help and kind of got me and teach me how to tie a tie or to wear a suit or to use a belt and to put my shoes on, kind of meet my socks if it matches with my shoes… But there’s always, there’s something inherited and as a human being that we want to know where we come from and we want to know what’s a part of our history. We want to be connected to that. We want to feel as if we are a part of something that’s in greatly connected to us. I think sometimes, we—for me, I definitely don’t want to dismiss how important it is for one to know their origin and another people who contribute to their creation. I think at the end of the day, I, I mean it would be the [unclear] not to acknowledge even though my father wasn’t in my life right? I always have to acknowledge that it was a blessing to know where he was. It was also a blessing that while he wasn’t there, I grew older. It goes back to the other question, what are some of the things that our mothers can do that help raise children, right? When I think about in the south, there’s a lot of secrets that destroy a family. Right? And oftentimes, those secrets deter one from actually getting to know who their siblings are. They found out that they had brothers when they get older. They probably have sisters as soon as they get older. They found out [unclear]. We have to understand that those secrets will eventually come to life. And how we communicate those secrets to our children, how we engage with them around those secrets will play a major role in their creation, how they grow up in the world. So for me, I would like to add another quote into this conversation that we have to address those hidden secrets that dismantle our family slowly, particularly in the black community. We have to address those secrets and I don’t have a specific way how to do it but we have to be honest, we have to be truthful, and we have to acknowledge where we make mistakes.
Charles: There’s another piece that actually what can mothers do, or what can single fathers to help rear their children a little bit better. Creating a community is a good thing, right? But here’s when they want to [unclear] and they also want to know where they come from. If they don’t know that, it would be the [unclear] to them.
Frank: Part of addressing that is—
Nancy: Tell it.
Frank: —understanding that it’s not just the south and—
Nancy: It’s universal…
Frank: Its’ universal and—
Frank: And it’s not just—when I heard you say the south and given the composition of the conversation we’re having right now, it’s not just the African-American community either.
Nancy: Right, right, right…
Frank: So it’s big, it’s bigger than the south, it’s in the north, mid-west, west and is way outside of this country also.
Nancy: It’s human.
Frank: It’s very human.
Charles: And [unclear] south and African-American community [unclear] speak where I come from…
Charles: Right? But I’m pretty sure that it happens in different other cultures as well. I just know if it actually how well it’s [unclear] definitely happen in that area.
Nancy: Always rock solid up here in D.C. Ain’t nobody talking about nothing up here. Now we’re [unclear] cover for family secrets in this town.
Nancy: I’m getting in trouble. Go ahead…
Loretta: I would like to say that also as we talk about the rearing about families and I just want to piggy back on a love component. I think it’s really important that we do not only promote love by our presences [unclear] so that they not only have a guess work, they don’t have that we can eliminate the guess factor but also resiliency. Our children are lacking the ability to bounce back, they are lacking the ability to adjust and to challenges, and I think that just having that support, and just supporting them on an ongoing basis again through positive messages, to positive examples, it’s very, very helpful. Believe me.
Frank: Some shows are going and I’m talking about 15 shows or so ago. I went around the room with my co-hosts and even with Jeff, who’s the engineer. And I asked whether everyone here believed that forced child support was a good thing whether it should happen… And I was mind blown that no one said that they thought it was good, that they thought it was a good thing or that it should happen. I’m curious about you guys. Let’s bring you into the conversation. So let’s start with you, Loretta. Is forced child support a good thing? Should it happen?
Loretta: I think a person needs to be financially responsible for bringing up their children but I think that the punitive process, that they have in place and it’s more of a punitive process that it’s either on nothing, there’s no gray area and I’ve been in [unclear] that process and it’s really [unclear] punitive. It’s also a process that puts a stamp on a child, of value on a child, how much this child’s worth—it’s like a negotiating factor. I think it eliminates the humanness of what we’re talking about here, what we’re bringing to the plate here we’re talking about a financial support to help shelter the child, not another income that I can add or… and there’s no involvement. There’s no forced involvement. There’s no… “Well I’m going to get the check but I’m not going to have you become involved in this person’s life because I’m angry with you” or “I’m annoyed with you” or you moved on.
So if that’s [unclear] altogether as far as building relationship because both parents are both very much—the dollar find is very much prevented out there to them. The receiver of the dollar find and the giver of the dollar find. That’s what they’re looking at. They’re not looking at the child in question. You know?
Loretta: And I think it eliminates that, you know, the humanness of the child that we’re talking about.
Frank: Carl, what do you have?
Carl: Yeah I just, you know, I don’t look at child support as good or bad to be honest. It is what it is.
Carl: The issue was always what adults choose to do. Some saying—I mean, it’s like a gun. There’s a gun good or bad when somebody’s breaking into my house and they’re [unclear] my child is having a gun [unclear] but going into a grocery store and robbing [unclear] it’s not the gun, there’s nothing wrong with child supported theory. I’ve coached a lot of couples to use child support, you know, in a really good way. It makes things easier, it’s systematic, it’s a beautiful—beautiful…
Frank: Well the question was about forced child support. Is there a difference?
Carl: Forced child—again, it’s the same thing.
Carl: I mean, there are cases where forced child support is appropriate. People stand… I mean, there are cases where their father adopted, their mother adopted and have financial capacity to support their children financially who refuses to do so because of the [unclear] they have a parent. You know what I’m saying? And so [unclear] forced child support is a beautiful thing. [unclear] wouldn’t have [unclear]. In other cases like [unclear] it’s abused.
Carl: You know how human nature is but people who are looking for a dollar [unclear] make money for not work, do whatever, the child is completely and totally compromised as a [unclear] and therefore is bad. Again, we can’t look at it as for me. I don’t look at forced child support as good or bad. I look at human beings, I look at the culture that we create with country is that why would somebody go towards child support and use it as abusive manner? The same why somebody’s marriage [unclear] therefore I have to take care of myself anymore, I don’t have to have [unclear] anymore, [unclear] I can abuse my partner. People get potential leverage what act of disposal again because of a lack of personal empowerment. So do I think force childhood [unclear] is a bad thing? No I don’t. But yeah, it’s something that can be potentially be abused and is possibly abused.
Charles: Forced child support… When I think about forced child support—and I’m only going to speak about it at Massachusetts—when I think about how forced child support, how it [unclear] a bad… different parents and [unclear] when a child support is forced, the state [unclear] “Hey I’m going to step in and going to make sure that this parent gives the necessary resource that they need.” But there are also times when it comes to money and the parent again check, in Massachusetts, the majority of that money, they go to the parent, right? It actually goes to whether or not they’re going to be a [unclear]. You know, we have state [unclear] health insurance. [unclear] in that nature. You’re going to get a good portion of that money.
When I think about choice child support, I think that’s mainly fill in the pockets of the state that’s enforcement, right? We make a lot of money out for child support in the state of Massachusetts to be honest with you. And when in thin about guys who have been forced to pay child support, and they end up going to jail, the state doesn’t stop the child support because they’re in jail. They are reared here that [unclear] and when they come out of jail, they have a bunch of debt they have to pay off and their lives is oftentimes taken away from you. They can’t go out the country right? How they’re going to get [unclear] to pay the money back if they don’t have a life, that’s right. How can they work?
See, the difference is they already come out to a situation where it’s going to make it difficult for them to pay a child support back. Again, if they can’t pay child support back, and they can’t work, they can [unclear] alternative ways. I [unclear] if we dig a deeper hole, right? Where people are forced to pay child support, they’re going to be stuck in debt for a good portion of their life and all the times, it is going to result in the relationship between them and their family being permanently broken.
Charles: So for me, I’m not sure if I condone forced child support. I think there has to be another way to hold that parent accountable without stripping away everything that he has. Yeah we all make mistakes and sometimes we make poor decisions [unclear] people but there has to be another way. I just don’t think forced child support is the way.
Frank: Rihan, what do you have?
Rihan: still thinking about this one. I don’t like the idea of doing the forced child support approach as a first option but I think if a parent is just choosing not to take care of their child and the child is being neglected, like if they have important needs that are not being met as a result, then I think forced child support may actually be a good thing. But I see it as a last resort and that’s my current thought on it.
Frank: You’re listening to Frank Relationships and we’ve been joined by relationship expert, life coach, husband and father of 3, Carl Stevens; the CEO of Father’s Uplift Inc., Charles Daniels; and mother, and licensed clinical professional counsellor, Loretta Elizalde. We’re discussing fatherhood and issues related to it and the lack of it.
So one more time, guys. Loretta, please quickly, would you tell us how we can find you.
Loretta: Oh you can find me at private practice at Pikesville, Maryland. That’s at 17 Warren Rd Ste 3A and it’s by appointment only. I see individuals, families, couples, I see teenagers, adolescents, so there’s no barrier there. [unclear] help and [unclear] disorder.
Nancy: Your phone number?
Loretta: That’s what I specialize in.
Frank: Your phone number?
Charles: Phone number’s 617-987-599 or you can find us at www.fathersuplift.org, the website’s going to give you all the information you need [unclear].
Frank: And Carl?
Carl: Yes, you can go to jujumama.com, that’s J-U-J-U-M-A-M-A.com and again, if you’re in the Nashville, North Carolina area, you can come to us downtown 82 Patton Avenue Suite 213.
Frank: Along today’s journey, we’ve discussed confidence, community and we rounded it out with a conversation about forced child support. Thank you to my guest co-host, Rihan. Thank you to my co-host, Nancy. Thanks to Jeff Newman my engineer. And thank you to my guests, Loretta Elizalde, Charles Daniels and Carl Stevens. Thank you for hanging out with your Frank Relationships Team today. You guys have been great.
I hope you’ve had as much fun as I’ve had hanging out with today’s all-star ensemble.
As always, it’s my wish for you to walk away from this conversation with a heaping helping of useful information that I hope you create a relation that’s as loving and accepting as possible.
Let us know what you think of today’s show at facebook.com/relationshipflove, on Twitter at @mrfranklove or at franklove.com. If you’re listening via Blog Talk Radio, make sure you like us there and if via iTunes, make sure you subscribe so that you can receive each week’s show each week.
This is Frank love.
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