Fighting For “Equality”

I sincerely hope those who fight for gender equality will take their fight down to the courthouse steps – the steps of Family Courts all across America. Fight for men who are blindsided by unilateral divorce and truly want to be fathers to their children.

If you have been inside of any family court, you know equality is a dirty word. If you are a father, and have tried to deal with family court judges, you know what I mean.

There is an incredible amount of gender bias in the halls of these places and it needs to be put to rest. Neither parent deserves to be with the children of a couple more than the other. The blatant inequality that is on display should be addressed in a manner as vigorously as activists seem to do with issues like child abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence and poverty. In fact, it is all related.

The removal of the father from the home directly contributes to poverty, which in turn, can lead to instances of child and domestic abuse. The splitting of the home into two creates separate sets of expenses and often leads to financial hardship for both the mother and father. The long-lasting effects are far-reaching and incredibly devastating for many communities, especially ones that are without the means to work out their custody issues in a more rational, less emotional manner.

Family court is in no way the arena to find the best solution for families and children. Family court judges are certainly not looking out for the best interest of the children. If it were, the judges would find a way to maintain a healthy relationship with both parents.

Children need both their mother and father. It appears family court does not see that as a viable solution. They envision the father leaving, and paying the mother according arbitrary guidelines that are not related to the specific case in front of them. They also relegate the father to visitor status – a visitor to his own children – every other weekend.

Never good.

 

 

Slow Down!

What a different way of life.

Berkeley is unique in many ways. I had to deprogram myself and relax into a a slower and more reasonable pace of life while I lived there this summer and fall.

I learned that in Berkeley, pedestrians actually do have the right of way. What that means is that if a driver sees a pedestrian put one foot on the ground in an attempt to cross the street, they must stop driving and allow the passenger to cross the street. If not, they can get fined.

I saw many instances where people would just start walking out into the street and cars stopped cold. It wasn’t like they screeched to a halt, since no one drives too crazy. They just slowed down and let people pass in front of them.

There were times when I would get close to a corner and all traffic would stop. I would wave to have the vehicles move past me but they insisted I go across in front of them. As I crossed, I would wave my hand to gesture “thank you” like I do in the Big Apple, but they were just doing what they normally do and waited for me to cross the road patiently.

There were times when I felt frustrated with the pace of things. When the traffic was at a standstill at a few corners, I felt they would be better off with stoplights. But people just took turns and everything worked out the way it was supposed to.

it was sooooo laid back. People in Northern CA seem like they try to avoid stress as much as they can. I prefer that way of life.

When I got back to NYC, it seemed as if it’s the exact opposite.

I’m glad I found my new home- California! I love it there.

Don’t Touch My “Fro”


My little man has grown out his “fro” as he calls it. I ain’t mad at him.

He has worked on this over the past four months. Maybe he is ready to take a knee, play for the 49ers, be part of the resistance or just be the coolest son this father could ever want.

I say stay out of politricks son, it’s a trap!! Grow up to become a free thinker and just be yourself lil’ man.

I’m happy to be back in the city to be a father to my kids. I miss little things like this.

Remote Parent

 

I tasted a bit of the life of a father who is cut off from his kids. I’ve been away from my kids since July 9th of this year. The last time I saw them was in the middle of August, and that was only for about five hours.

It is the beginning of November as of the writing of this post.

My separation was voluntary. I accepted a short term job offer on the other side of the country with the expectation that making this sacrifice now will lead to longer term employment down the road. As it stands now, I have no idea if this was the right move. What I do know is that I’ll never choose to be away from my kids for this long again.

Never again.

The father who has fewer options and is separated from his kids due to a vindictive mother and/or the family court system has it worse than I do. My pain is self inflicted. I can only imagine how awful it is to know that the court system forced them away from their own flesh and blood.

It truly is a miserable experience being away from my children. I do not recommend being apart from your kids for work reasons for long. It’s just not worth the money most of the time.

I know for a fact that my children need me to be there for them. I’m missing out on months of their school year. I’m missing out on seeing them transition to new schools, meeting their new friends, new teachers, and new experiences. I can’t answer the questions they might have, address their concerns about schoolwork, engage with them regarding their thoughts about current events. I’m not able to fully engage because I’m not there. Being on the phone and speaking to them is one thing, connecting through video chat is another. Being face to face is a whole other ballgame.

It’s important for fathers to be present in a child’s every day life. They need our guidance, perspective and protection. The post-divorce model of “every other weekend” dad just doesn’t cut it. It is incredibly inadequate and doesn’t provide the necessary balance a child needs in their formative years.

Attempts at remote parenting are futile. Trying to stay close by chatting on the phone is similar to having a long distance relationship. It might work for some, but just imagine if you could only see your partner every other weekend? How close do you think you could actually be in the long run? Would you want a husband or wife if you could only see them this way for 18 years?

I’m glad I have the option of being away from my kids and not being forcibly removed. I won’t make this decision ever again. Most divorced fathers don’t get this opportunity. The feeling of powerlessness is overwhelming at times. Not being able to have a physical as well as spiritual connection is demoralizing and dispiriting.

I’m no longer choosing the remote parent model. I’m sticking close to my kids and watching them grow up up close.

 

Clayton Craddock is a stay-at-home father of two children in New York City. He has a B.B.A from Howard University’s School of Business and is also a 17 year veteran of the fast paced New York City music scene. He has played drums in a number of hit Broadway musicals including “tick…tick…BOOM, Memphis the Musical and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill with Audra McDonald. He has worked on other musicals; Footloose, Motown, The Color Purple, Bare, Rent, Little Shop of Horrors, Evita, Cats, and Avenue Q and is currently the drummer in a new Broadway bound musical titled Ain’t Too Proud.
Clayton has written for A Voice For Men, The Good Men Project and is writing a memoir about fatherhood.

Three Tips On How To Get Paid What You Are Worth For Gigs

I often hear musicians talk about the amount of money certain gigs pay. People chat about the tip jar having to be passed around because club owners pay so little. They might get paid a few dollars here and there for the gig,  but hey, at least they get a meal out of it. They complain about how hard it is to make a living and how tough it is. While some of those things may be true, it’s not always the reality for musicians. There is money to be made in the music business. The tip jar isn’t required if you get paid well. There is a lot of money out there. As a freelance musician, you just have to know where to find it and how to negotiate for the most money you can make.

I love the art of negotiation. I think it’s fun. I love going into a car dealership and hassling with the salesperson. It’s like a game to me. I tend to do it almost wherever I go to see how far I can push people in any business. I was in the market for a car a few years ago and went to a couple of dealers just to see how things have changed since my last purchase. I wasn’t necessarily in a position of power because I  needed a car, and they had the goods. The way I looked at it was like this; I was willing to walk away if I didn’t find what I wanted. In fact, that is what happened in the end. I walked away from the dealers and I found a car from a private seller and purchased a used car with cash.

When dealing with musicians, business owners or any kind of production where they need your services, always keep in mind that if they are reaching out to employ you, they want what you have to offer. While you may not have much leverage, you still have power. You must realize that there is a way for the both of you to win in this game. You just have to know what some of the rules are.

1) People want to make a profit:

Whatever someone is intending to pay you, you must understand they are making money from your services in one way or another. They are trying to pay you as little as they can so that their profit margin can be as wide as possible. Don’t feel bad asking for as much as you can because there is more often than not, wiggle room to play with. The person offering you a gig has a budget and they are trying to keep their expenses low. With this knowledge, you can go into any deal making process with less of a personal connection because it is all about money in the long run. Once you take any personal feelings out of the equation, you can get down to the business of increasing your profits while they are trying to do the same. In the end hopefully you find a way to help each other achieve similar goals without anyone feeling abused and/or taken advantage of. Look for a win-win scenario.

2) Get to know the general rates for your service in your area:

For many years, I was paid a certain rate for club dates (weddings/corporate events) as a drummer in the tri-state area. I thought I was getting paid a lot of money for a four hour gig on a Saturday night until I found out people were making $100 to $150 more than me. I then started to get hired for bands paying those amounts and realized there is even MORE money than what I was now getting paid when I asked around. I even found out that other bands had backline. When I discovered the going rate, I raised my own price and the bands that recently hired me agreed to my new fee without any hesitation. Think about what I said above. Why would someone pay you the higher rate when you don’t ask for more? They are trying to make as much money as they can. Why can’t you?

3) Negotiation is risky.

I was in a negotiation recently where I was going to have a production rent my drum set instead of them purchasing a brand new kit. We went back and forth over a few emails and they decided to buy a new kit instead of renting mine. I lost out on a whole lot of money but in the end had the chance to play on a top of the line drum set, brand new cymbals and sturdy hardware. It was GREAT. The downside is that I missed out on all of that money. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but you have to be willing to say no or you might forever be taken advantage of. In this case it was still a win-win. A brand new kit? I’d rather play on the new kit than my 20 year old one.  The same situation occurred on other gigs. I’ve asked for certain amounts and was turned down. Well, that is one of the downsides of any negotiation. But you must understand what your self worth is. If you value yourself and your services, you should demand a price that makes you comfortable and be willing to walk away when your conditions are not met. You also have to be able to deal with being told “NO” and not getting hired, or getting the money you requested.

Think about this; when you go into buy a product from the Apple store, is there any negotiation? No. You are paying for the reputation of the company and the generally great products they have to offer. You can go to Best Buy and get a Windows product and buy something else too. That is your choice. You get what you pay for most of the time. The same applies to your services as a musician. If you present yourself as valuable and price yourself accordingly, you will be surprised at how many people will pay what you request.

Sometimes you lose, but the overwhelming majority of the time you win when you approach negotiation with this in mind. Don’t be afraid to be bold. You didn’t get into the music business to be poor, behind the curtain or undervalued. This is a business more than it is about music. Deal with the money so that you can feel freer to create the music and high art you were put on this earth to do.

Clayton Craddock is a stay-at-home father of two children in New York City. He has a B.B.A from Howard University’s School of Business and is also a 17 year veteran of the fast paced New York City music scene. He has played drums in a number of hit Broadway musicals including “tick…tick…BOOM, Memphis the Musical and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill with Audra McDonald. He has worked on other musicals; Footloose, Motown, The Color Purple, Bare, Rent, Little Shop of Horrors, Evita, Cats, and Avenue Q and is currently the drummer in a new Broadway bound musical titled Ain’t Too Proud.
Clayton has written for A Voice For Men, The Good Men Project and is writing a memoir about fatherhood.