While us dads bask in the post-Father’s Day haze of shitty gifts and regret, CNN contributor Roland Martin has a special message for you. You see, Roland and his wife, Jacquie, have not produced any children of their own, but through a series of, as Roland puts it, “family dysfunction” he knows the role of fatherhood well. When Martin’s sister and her husband were having marital issues, he and his wife took in their two young daughters. And when another sister was also struggling, he and his wife took in their kids, too.
One child called him “Daddy Uncle Ro Ro.” Another, a 2-year-old, followed him around incessantly, to the point where he’d nearly run her over. At one point the family racked up $600 grocery bills. Here are lessons he learned after being thrust into the role of father.
“I woke up one day and Jacquie had affixed flash cards to everything in our Chicago penthouse. DVD player, TV, light switch, computers, windows, toilet, sink, stove, closet and the list went on and on. We wanted them to awake every day in a learning environment.”
I’m all for creating a stimulating environment for a child, but this seems excessive. Roland even says that anytime they were in the car for the 20-minute ride to daycare, they were forced to read books. Next thing you tell me, Roland will advocate spanking children.
“The next day, one of them left her homework at school. She stood in front of me and lied and lied and lied. Then I busted her in the lie by reaching out to her teacher. Bad move. I said, ‘What’s the penalty for lying?’ She said, ‘A spanking.’ And that’s exactly what she got.”
Roland’s own father, a strict disciplinarian, beat his butt when he got out of line. “I wanted them to have the fear of facing me if they messed up,” he wrote. “One of the reasons I didn’t act a fool when I was in school was because I feared my father taking the belt to my butt, and that was enough to keep me on the straight and narrow.”
He also mentioned the financial burden that comes with raising children, especially when they’re not your own…
“Folks, it cost us a lot of money to care for six kids who were not our own. I could have been angry at having to raise children who weren’t mine and ticked that the money wasn’t being invested in stocks and a mutual fund, but that’s not how I look at it.”
He’s saying that he isn’t going to get angry at a situation that he voluntarily put himself in. Just think of all the money he could save if he stopped buying flash cards by the ton and taping them to household appliances.
“Daddy Uncle Ro Ro” finishes his story with commentary on black America and 72 percent of kids being born out of wedlock — if the skyrocketing grocery bills didn’t make him angry, this does. He concludes, “We need more family members who choose not to be drive-by parents, but step up when necessary.”