Last year, I posted this picture of me and my father-in-law on facebook with the following caption below it:
Responding to the post, my first cousin responded as followers: “D… That’s Junior Solomon [my biological]? If so he looks so different than I remember… Maybe if he didn’t have that hat on… Wow!“ Unfortunately my cousin’s question shows the relationship status between my father and I as virtually non-existent.
No. This is not my biological father in the picture. But even before becoming my father-in-law eight years ago, he has been there for me much more than my biological father. We fish together, and talk about life issues; and he teaches me “man stuff” (like the various usages of household tools) that you just don’t get when you grow up without a man in the house.
I thank God for placing “fathers” (like my father-in-law; my maternal grandfather, William “Daddy” Brown; fraternity brother/mentor, Bobby Woodard; Professor, Khepra NuRa Khem; cousins, Stan Ransom and Clyde Polk; and 9th grade English teacher, Carl Williams, just to name a few in my life). My “fathers” presence has helped fill the continued void and pain that I, like so many others, endure due to an absent father. My “fathers” have provided me with advice, love, encouragement, discipline, money, and, most importantly, clear examples of how a real man conducts himself. I could not be where I am without those strong “fathers”!
In fact, I think that having a “father’s” guidance may be the single most important factor in whether a male successfully transitions from boyhood to manhood. You know, it is so amazing that, even as a grown man, having the love and assurance of a “father” feels so good and empowering!
In closing, if you had a “father” step up when your biological father didn’t, leave a comment about how that experience has impacted your life. Then make the commitment to pass your blessing forward by becoming a “father” to a young man in need!
Damario Solomon-Simmons, M.E.d., J.D., is the managing partner of SolomonSimmonSharrock & Associates law firm and an adjunct professor of African & African-American Studies at the University of Oklahoma. His life’s mission is to inform, inspire, and empower and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or @solospeakstruth.