Keep Your Man Away From Our Kid

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Photo credit: karen.j.ybanez / Foter / CC BY-NC

Last week, singer Ciara had tongues wagging and quickly became a trending topic when she and her one year-old son visited her boyfriend, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, at training camp. For some, that alone was an offense. How dare she bring her child around a man who is not her kid’s father? But when a photo of her son and Wilson hugging on the football field surfaced, the “ish” really hit the fan. Rapper Future has been quite vocal in expressing his displeasure with Ciara for having her new beau in their son’s life after only a few months of dating. Public opinion ranged from the sublime to downright visceral. The largely gender-based battle line had been drawn. Men on Future’s side, women on Ciara’s.

The guys seemed to be adamant about the same thing. Ciara was wrong for including her boyfriend in her child’s life so early in their relationship. And even more wrong for allowing him to do dad-like things such as casually scooting the child around town in his stroller. Even rapper T.I., who clearly has been fully involved in the life of his wife Tiny’s daughter, tweeted that he would “go da [sic] fuck off” if the situation involved his child. Women, on the other hand, mostly wished Ciara well on her budding romance and expressed sentiments somewhere between joy and relief that she was exposing her son to a positive role model.

Who knows whether Ciara was sincere in her effort to include her son in a relationship that she believes has a future (no pun intended), or she was purposely trying to exact some type of emotional revenge against her son’s father, as some have suspected, who reportedly was unfaithful to her. The more interesting question is why did this issue strike such an emotional cord with people? Is it because many of us have had this same battle brew in our own lives?

According to the American Psychological Association, 40% to 50% of marriages end in divorce. The Center for Disease Control reported that as of 2013, 40.6% of births in our country were to unmarried women. These statistics establish that for many of us, the people with whom we bear children, will not be our life partners. Despite that, our responsibility to our children remains.

No one should be used as a pawn in a child’s life to incite rage or jealousy in an ex. It’s not fair to the child or the new love interest. And whether at the hands of mom or dad, no child should be able to recall a parent’s parade of paramours. Introducing a man or woman into your child’s life is a weighty decision that takes time and requires careful consideration. It should be viewed as a privilege reserved only for someone who has demonstrated that they are worthy and ready for the responsibility. As a divorcee with a son of my own, I will not introduce a man into my son’s life until I feel certain that he is not only good for me, but also my son, and that he will likely be a permanent part of our lives.

And not that anyone asked, but here’s my two cents on the Ciara-Future-Russell Wilson baby battle. It is applicable to anyone similarly situated. A man who is a father to his child in the truest sense of the word cannot be duplicated or replaced. When he has cultivated a relationship with his child (a son especially) that is rooted in love, respect, admiration, presence and consistency, there is no need to call interference whether it be against one man or a whole football team. He and his child’s bond is unbreakable. Rather than going to war, mom and dad should assist each other in the transition of the right third-party into their child’s life when all circumstances indicate that the time is appropriate. It is the healthiest thing to do for the child, and the grown-folk thing to do for each other. If everyone plays their position, a blended family can without a doubt be a happy family.

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