Dr. Andrew Ray, Grand Basileus of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc, has issued a "Call to Action" for fathers and brothers of the Fraternity to lend a hand in improving the well-being of children in our communities and elsewhere.
With that nudging, the Fraternity has entered into a formal partnership with President Barack Obama's administration to support its Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative (FMI) designed to address the critical challenge of father-absence in the lives of children, families and the nation's communities.
According to a letter from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donavan, more than 24 million children live apart from their biological fathers. Of this number, Donovan wrote, "Nearly 2 in 3 (64 percent) African-American children live in father-absent homes, and 1 in 3 (34 percent) Hispanic children and 1 in 4 (25 percent) White children also live in father-absent homes."
The Fraternity seeks to do its part in conjunction with the President's administration to: close the gap on father absence and promote fatherhood, highlighting the necessity of mentoring and the importance of fathers playing an active and responsible role in the lives of their children.
Thus, the Fraternity is engaged in a call-to-action of its entire membership of college educated men, consisting of 750 chapters throughout the world. It asked its membership to "man-up" and take on the responsibility of enhancing fatherhood activity throughout its sphere of influence.
It encourages them to use their God-given capacity, ingenuity, diversified expertise, professional experience and initiative in partnership with the President and others to increase the proportion of children who are raised with involved, responsible, and committed fathers.
The Fraternity focuses on the importance of mentoring our next generation of young men and fathers. It calls on every Chapter to actively engage in Fatherhood and Mentoring activities that are centered on four values: 1. Raising Awareness, 2. Developing Partnerships, 3. Increasing Advocacy, and 4. Promoting Celebration of Achievements.
In support of this initiative and my own curiosity about how Omega men feel about Fatherhood, I asked some members to send to me factors they believe are important in raising boys to be men. Here are unedited responses that were sent to me:
Retired Dean of Education and Provost/Vice President for Academic Affairs most recently at Coppin State University, Dr. Julius Chapman wrote:
Remember that 'boys' is a very broad category. There are African American boys, Japanese boys, Jewish boys, Mexican boys, Chinese boys, etc. If we are to be successful, the categories must be embraced, appreciated, and understood. This suggests that we must teach and raise them consistent with their unique cultures and experiences. Also, there is the wider culture to consider. That said, here are some things to consider:
- Listen and hear them - listen and really hear what they are saying or not saying
- Observe their behavior - both verbal and non-verbal
- Must have a repertoire of strategies to help validate who they are
- Know and understand the developmental stages of boys
- Expose them to the world and how they fit into it
- Know the boy and tap into his uniqueness and learning styles
- Model good behavior
- Teach them effective communication skills
- Teach them how to decide - decision making and problem solving
- Be willing to commit to do the work necessary to raise healthy boys
- Set expectations and help them to internalize them
12. Teach them consistent with who they are as oppose to what we want them to be
13. Learn why boys are the way they are; learn how boys think; and learn the ways boys feel
14. Learn healthy discipline
15. Know our own values in order to be able to teach values to them
16. Teach boys to care for their own souls; teach boys about love, sex, and commitment
17. Learn what boys need from their fathers - both parents
18. Help them to cope with their doubts and fears
19. Praise and learn how to say "no" when necessary
Be Present; be responsible; be active. Be committed; be consistent; be caring. Be supportive; be father first, friend second. Actions speak louder than words; you must do what you say; sometimes to not say it, just do it!
Direct the child in a way you would have him walk. Live as you would have your son live. He will see more than he will hear. Honest discussions in all things. Love; encourage; nurture. Be involved; show concern; be a man of your word.
Be dependable; finish what you start.. Have perseverance; monetary support; be a role model. Be an example; be available; Be Christ-like; be truthful; be assuring. Establish a good line of communications so they will feel they are able to talk to you about anything. Be a man of your word.
Don't make promises that you can't keep. If you say you're going to do something, do it no matter how unimportant it may seem. Let them know that they are expected to do well in whatever they undertake.
Demand respect and give it. Lead by example; not just by directive. Instill the importance of perseverance. Talk to them about everything. Ask them about themselves, their life and their dreams. Don't be judgmental, and qualify your responses. Maintain eye to eye contact; personal contact, handshake, and pat on the back; listen with your heart.
Liberty to explore. The freedom to make mistakes. Good counsel; most important not judged for their actions but questioned for them. Be Honest - no matter what the circumstance. Don't break promises - if you say you are going to be there, be there. Communicate your ideals and values of right and wrong - continue to impress upon their young minds that respecting their elders is important.
Stress the importance of education - education is the key to opening doors and making your life station better. Be involved -- get engaged in your son's activities and have him engaged in yours so he can see a man making positive choices day-to-day. Be Consistent -- do what you say you're going to do as often as possible. Learn: remember your son is growing up at a different time than you. If you want your advice to be relevant you must continue to learn.
Be in the house, even if you aren't physically located there. Be the man of the house, as far as your son is concerned. Set the example for the house; don't do stupid "stuff" and expect a different result.
Present and active; just being there is not enough, provide leadership and positive counsel. Teach responsibility and respectfulness of self and others. Teach a consequence of actions and decisions, the world owes you nothing except respect. These are foundations to build on but what I believe is solid footing.
Lead by setting the example for others to follow; praise in public and critique in private; teach your son and others to think outside the box and beyond; reading maketh a "full man;" teach how to respect women at all times! Practice daily a balance with spiritual, work, relaxation, and healthy eating. Communicate and fellowship with people of influence; some of their values and habits may just rub off!
Maximize your effort – Whatever you do, give it your best shot. Be truthful – Honesty is lighter baggage to carry. Have a sense of humor – Don't take yourself too seriously. Be honest about relevant experiences. Take him to Church and teach him about the Bible.
Be involved with your child at whatever level is appropriate for the situation. The key word here is "appropriate" because there are some instances where you must give your child some autonomy. Always live your life so that it sets an example of what you expect from your child. Avoid the "Do As I Say, Not As I Do" theory and set a positive example for the child. Develop a relationship that allows your child to engage in a two way conversation with you versus a one way with you doing all the talking.
[Cover photo and design by Brother Yusef.]