Roland Martin and Washington Watch traveled to the Potter’s House to discuss the importance of fathers in the African-American community.
Roland Martin and his panel of guess talk about examples of how people come to the aid of fatherless children. Nyesha Jones believes that God blessed her with the presence of her stepfather. Antonio Griffin has become a father to three children who are not his own — three. And Shaneé Moore, who grew up without her father, hoped all her life that the man she would marry would be in the image of her uncle.
MR. MARTIN: Welcome back to “Washington Watch.”
My next guests are examples of how people come to the aid of fatherless children. Nyesha Jones believes that God blessed her with the presence of her stepfather. Antonio Griffin has become a father to three children who are not his own – three. And Shaneé Moore, who grew up without her father, hoped all her life that the man she would marry would be in the image of her uncle.
I want to thank all of you for being on “Washington Watch.”
PANEL: Thank you.
MR. MARTIN: All right, then. First off, Sh- — Shaneé, I want to s- — I want to start with you –
MS. SHANEÉ MOORE: Okay.
MR. MARTIN: — because I know that feeling in terms of having to be that father figure for – for my nieces, even when it comes to dealing with my nephews as well. And so you grew up, and your – your uncle was there. I mean he – he was on it. So, tell us about him. What kind of man was he?
MS. MOORE: Yes. My uncle, he is – still is a great man. I grew up – my father lived in another state, so I didn’t have that daily, fatherly interaction with him, which left a void for me at a very young age. They always – I heard in the past someone say if you grew up without a father, you always have a void in the heart that’s in the shape of your father. But I found that my uncle made the difference in that for me. He is a man of great integrity. Not only was he a father – or, is he a father figure to me, but to – also to the other young people in my church and in my community. And I think what set him apart was that I saw the interaction between [him] and my aunt and how he respects her and how he treated her with so much affection – public affection.
MR. MARTIN: So – so, by not having a father, you obviously didn’t see it between mom and dad, but your aunt and uncle showed you the way, showed you what it’s supposed to look like –
MS. MOORE: Yes.
MR. MARTIN: — with a couple loving, a couple embracing is supposed to look like.
MS. MOORE: Exactly, because growing up, I was taught what I didn’t want. Okay? “I don’t want a man like that,” you know? “I don’t want a man like that.” “I don’t want a man like that.” But as I started to get a relationship with my uncle, I started to see the type of man that I do want: “Yes, I want him to be like that.” “I want him to be like that.” And so he was my cookie cutter, you know, for the type of husband that I wanted. I – that I eventually have now, you know.
MR. MARTIN: You made it hard on that brutha, though. I mean –
MS. MOORE: Yeah. [Chuckles.]
MR. MARTIN: Now, did your husband meet the uncle, and he was like, “Man. I g-” – “I can’t” – “I can’t do you”? Like, “I can’t be” – [crosstalk].”
MS. MOORE: [Crosstalk] – hey, I told him ahead of time, you know, “This is” –
MR. MARTIN: So, he knew.
MS. MOORE: — he knew.
MR. MARTIN: All right, then. Now –
MS. MOORE: He knew.
MR. MARTIN: — now, I w- — I want to go to Nyesha – your story – because your stepfather was all the difference. And, look, we’ve heard stories where someone says, “Look. I” – “I’m not really trying to take on somebody else’s children,” or even where a mother will say, “Look. This is not your child. Th-” – “You really can’t say that.”
But in your case, your stepdad really stood in the gap and said, “I’m going to treat you like you are absolutely my child, and I’m your dad.”
MS. NYESHA JONES: Right. You’re absolutely right. It got to the point to where he was no longer a stepfather; he was just my father, and it wasn’t just me. It’s – it was four kids, total. He, still today, doesn’t have any biological kids of his own. We are all that he know[s]. We’re his children. He raised us, and I grew up with the love and the affection that he and my mom had shown. So, I’m used to that. I want that. I need that. I love that. He was a positive, excellent example of a father. It g- — I didn’t even miss my father, because he was there. Every game, every kite-flying event, drill team – he was there.
MR. MARTIN: And, of course, he’s also right here. Give it up for her stepdad –
MS. JONES: [Chuckles.]
MR. MARTIN: — right here. Stand on up.
MR. MARTIN: Stand on up.
MR. MARTIN: Now, Antonio, what she described is what folks are supposed to do when you marry someone with children.
MR. ANTONIO GRIFFIN: Exactly. You know, we always hear the phrase “it’s” – “it’s a ‘package deal,’” you know. And they were already in a fatherless situation, you know, and I think God just – you know, I – I lost my father when I was 11. You know, he – he died of cancer, smoking cigarettes and stuff, so I didn’t really – really have that father touch, that compass, that guide myself – you know. So, I think, through my military experience and – and having impartations here and there allowed me to be able to give to them what they need. And – and I’m in a[n] interracial marriage, so those kids don’t even look like me, don’t even come from my background; but – but I still love them. They call me “Dad.” They accept me as “Dad.” I’m there for – you know, when they skin their knee, Girl Scouts, football games – all that, you know. And the – the picture that me and my wife paint for them is – is they – we want them to see love. You know, we – we try not to argue in front of them, you know. It doesn’t always work out that way —
MR. MARTIN: [Laughs.]
MR. GRIFFIN: — [crosstalk]- — but we really try to – to – to – to give them a positive atmosphere and let them see, to the best of our ability, under God’s grace and mercy, a functioning home, marriage, mother, father.
MR. MARTIN: I want to bring in Bishop Jakes. Isn’t it important that – in the cases Nyesha talked about and Antonio talked about, that the woman set the tone; that she makes it clear that, “Look. You’re stepping in. These are your children”? Because we’ve seen those examples where, even when they marry, someone will say, “Look, those aren’t your kids. Those are my kids.” And that creates friction and a dynamic in a relationship where they are basically separated from, “well, who gets to discipline, and who doesn’t?”
BISHOP JAKES: I think it’s very, very important that you discuss every aspect of the relationship. I think it’s very, very important that they have a realistic picture, that you don’t hide the children, that – that part of the dating process include his involvement with the children.
And the other thing that I – that we have not talked about that I think is of paramount importance [is] I don’t want the single mothers to be so desperate after watching this show that they run out and get anything with a zipper on it to raise their children –
BISHOP JAKES: — because 1 in 3 women in this country [is] molested between the ages of 5 and 15 by somebody who should have been loving them. So, any man will not do. It has to be a man who has some ethics and some integrity and loves the children in a correct way.
MR. MARTIN: All right. Well, Ny- — Nyesha, Antonio, Shaneé, we certainly appreciate it. Thanks a lot.