June 17, 2013
Frank Martin: Our most important job is being Dad
I love basketball and being a coach. Coaching taught me the importance of parenthood. This is why I love my family and the gift of fatherhood more than anything. I hope this is not a surprise.
This Fatherís Day, I feel lucky that I can continue in my journey of becoming a better husband and father. I have been fortunate that I have always had people in my life (mother, uncle, high school coach) to show me the road and hold me accountable for my responsibilities.
Yet I think about all the children who are without their fathers, not just this Fatherís Day but every day. Children need the impact of a father in their lives. Without it, they may feel empty, alone and without their life coach. The statistics demonstrate this: Most male teens who drop out of high school have behavioral problems; then they start families before they are ready, and the result is another fatherless home.
In the walk of manhood, we have tremendous responsibility and possibility for blame. As a child, I never understood the decisions that the men in my life made. But now as a man, I fully understand the kind of positions that they were placed in and the difficult choices they had to make. When we face these difficult choices, we make the wrong ones sometimes, and understandably so.
As men, we have been taught that we are supposed to fix everything. Hence when we make these wrong decisions we are not very good at asking for help. We should. Itís OK to ask for help, especially when it comes to our children. We donít have to figure everything out on our own; we should always be willing to ask for help. Thereís no shame in that.
As fathers, it is particularly important to understand that asking for help to do our job is OK. Making mistakes doing our job is OK. Neglecting our job as a father is not OK.
Since being in South Carolina, I have become involved with the S.C. Center for Fathers and Families, a statewide faith-based organization that provides support for responsible fatherhood, job readiness and retention, soft-skills training, managing child-support obligations, financial management, parenting/co-parenting, healthy relationships and anger management, conflict mediation, transportation assistance and menís health education.
I have met the staff and fathers who participate in the programs. The staff is amazing. They fully understand these fathers and the demons they face, the regret and remorse for not being in their childrenís lives and the determination to make it right again. These programs are tailor-made for dads.
I have gained so much respect for the dads in the program because just like me, they know they are not perfect. Yet they are strong enough to accept their mistakes and the responsibility of being ďFather,Ē and they have asked for help and work every day to get better and positively impact the lives of their children.
As I grew from a child to a man, I always dreamt of being a dad. Rather than focusing on the voids in my life, I relied on the assets that I had to help prepare me. Instead of dwelling on negative vibes, I have always tried to find the positive in my experiences.
So no excuses. I want to encourage dads today and every day to put your mistakes behind you and reach out to your child to mend those broken dreams for both of you. I beg you not to be too proud to ask for help, even when you are the most vulnerable. I ask for help every day. We have such an amazing responsibility when someone calls us ĎDad.í
Mr. Martin is the USC menís basketball coach and a valued supporter of the Center; contact him at FrankMartin@sc.edu.