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.

 

 

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.

Five Things You Need To Know About Playing Drums On A Broadway Show

If you are at all interested in finding work as a musician playing drums on a Broadway musical, I can certainly give a few tips. I’ve been fortunate to have played in several over the past 17 years and I’ve learned a  little from each one I’ve been in.

Each of the shows I’ve done have been different, but there are a few things that are similar with all of them. Here are a few things I’ve learned and would love to share:

1) Keep Your Eyes On The Conductor

It might be tough to have to read music, play the drums as well as watch the conductor, but it can be done. In fact, it must be done if you want to get a job and keep one in this business.

Whether you are subbing or if the gig is yours, you want to make the conductor happy. If you are a sub, the conductor wants to feel like not much has changed between you coming in and the regular drummer being out. No two drummers sound the same but if you do your homework, you will sound as close to the regular drummer as possible. On top of that, if you are constantly watching the conductor, they know that you are paying attention to them and in tune with every move they make. It makes them feel more at ease and will make the show better for everyone involved.

2) Be AbleTo Play With A Click Track

Almost every show today has a click track. Not only does it help to keep the choreographer happy by maintaining consistent tempos, it keeps the pace and timing of the show precise. It also eliminates the questioning of the music department when people feel things are too slow or too fast. The click never lies.

With that in mind you must not make the click a liar. You have to be in tune with the steady tempo and, as people say, bury it. Basically, you have to make sure no one hears the click because your playing right in alignment with it. It takes a while to get used to, but after you play with clicks, it can be great for your internal clock as years pass.

3) You Are The Driving Force In The Show

The drummer is the heartbeat of any musical. You are the engine. You are truly in the driver’s seat. Whoever is sitting on that throne must take command…but take all direction from the conductor.

While the drummer may be driving the train, the conductor is giving the directions. Remember, follow the conductor.

The dancers also rely on your drumming for the accents they need for dance moves, and certain cues for beginnings and endings of songs. The drums make a huge impact.

It can be a high pressure position to be the drummer on a Broadway show because there is little room for error. If you don’t play a certain drum fill correctly, it could cause dancers to not enter properly, light cues to not be triggered at the right time, and the main characters could be thrown off. You matter.

4) Be Consistent

Everyone involved in the business of musicals wants one thing; consistency. People travel from all over the world to see Broadway shows and they expect a certain product once they have shelled out their hard earned money. When you sit behind that drum kit, everyone around you expects high quality musicianship. When you play the first note, it should be the same first note that was played the previous night. It should remain consistent for the rest of the run as well. All of the notes must be played the same way every night because it is an entirely new set of audience members seeing the show.

What does that mean to you? Even though it is the same music you played yesterday and the day before or even the same music for the past three years, you have to give it your all and stay focused. It’s not easy to do because over time, people can get bored or burned out. The challenge of playing shows is to know how to channel your focused energy into that three hours you are at the theater.

5) It Is One Of The Best Gigs To Have In New York

The music business has changed over the years and is constantly in flux. Gigs seem to be paying the same as they did 25 years ago, there are fewer places to perform and certain opportunities for drummers no longer exist, or at least, there are fewer of them. The one thing I’ve noticed during my tenure in this business is that more and more musicians are doing whatever it takes to get a long running broadway show.

There are, on average, about 20-25 musicals running at any point on Broadway. If you are the drummer in one of these shows, that means out of the thousands of musicians who come to New York every year to be in the music business, you are one of about 20 drummers to be fortunate enough to have a steady gig. This is a gig that pays pretty well, but also provides health insurance and a pension on top. Plus, if you want to take off to play other gigs, you can take off up to 50% of the shows.

You can be in New York and not have to drag drums around to your gigs. The shows start on time every day and end on time as well. All you have to do is show up….and do 1-4 above…as well as many other things. It ain’t easy. It’s even harder to land one of these gigs.

When you do get the call to play a show, and if you follow these rules, you are on a track to be working pretty steadily.

If you have any other questions, shoot me an email: Clayton@claytoncraddock.com or send me a tweet @claytoncraddock

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 25 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.

 

I Miss My Kids

 

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One thing I learned from being away from my kids since July 9th is that I’ll NEVER AGAIN take chances on future success.

Never again. NE-VER!

My days of “hoping things will work out” ended as of right now. I won’t do anything with the hope that things will get better in some unspecified time and place. No more investment now for the unknown future.

The “spec” days are for young folk, not for me.

It’s time for some stability, big payouts and living the next 49 years in the least stressful way as humanly possible.

I love my family more than anything and will be making every move, from now on, with them in mind. My mental and long-term physical health will also be front and center.

Maybe it’s just me, but as cool as things may seem on the surface, some things are just not worth it in the long term. With each passing day, I’m figuring out what really matters to me.

These two matter.

Fatherhood matters.

Raising two people who are going to be the next generation of citizens matters.

It’s time to get back to NYC and be the father I want to be…and have always been.

Nov 7th…I’ll see them again and I’m never leaving them.

 

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.

Too Little-Too Late

I woke up a few days ago to a tweet from Paul Elam linking an article on his site “A voice For Men.” It was called A Father’s Lament.

I have been reading A Voice For Men for years. I stopped over the past few because I haven’t found the information useful at this point in my life. It was certainly helpful right after my divorce because I saw there was a whole community of men who felt very similarly as I did about the family court system. I wasn’t into the bashing they tended to do with feminism and women in general at times, but I certainly understood where the hatred of feminism came from.

My views have changed since I started reading the publication in 2011, but some things remain the same.

I see way too many articles like mine still being published. The one I mentioned above sounds similar to so many other stories fathers have of getting kicked out of their home along with the trials and tribulations they endure afterward. I wrote an article called Why I REFUSE To Pay Child Support. The original is HERE. If you want to read the comments on the one published on their site, click HERE.

The issues with regard to custody, family court, “visitation,” women’s groups, hopelessness, despair, anger and frustration still persist. It seems as if the same tales get published year after year on sites like A voice For Men and very little has improved with fathers and divorce stories. I know the laws are changing in a few states so that the presumption of shared parenting is the starting line, but far too often, fathers wind up losing the race in the matrimonial marathon.

Why do men think that everything will work itself out? Why do men wait until it’s too late for advice with regard to divorce? Why don’t fathers search for information that will help them BEFORE they get run over by their future ex-wives? I continuously ask that question and get frustrated to hear excuse after excuse from people. They probably think “oh, she won’t do anything crazy.” Men might also think that bad things won’t happen to them or maybe they are truly afraid of their wives. I feel it is laziness, lack of drive, and fear of failure.

Well, let me tell you, this can be a cruel harsh world that we live in. Don’t be surprised when that lovely bride you married 7 years ago is now a totally different person. That beautiful woman is now uglier than you could ever imagine. That sweet woman is now a thorn in your side that won’t go away for 15-21 years…all because you were not asserting your rights to be a father to your children and you left everything up to your attorney and some magical force in the sky. Nope. That ain’t gonna work.

I get really tired of reading stories of men getting thrown out of the house THEY pay for, arrested in front of their kids, made to look powerless in front of a family they led the day before, and torn to pieces financially with the help of the state. It’s beyond infuriating.

When are we going to learn? When are we as fathers going to take advice from those who have already been through this and learn from their mistakes. I sure did. I was well prepared before I was even served. If I were to go back and do things over again, I would have served my ex instead of waiting for her to pull the trigger. Yeah, it’s time to be as assertive as we were when we were trying to court the women we were with. What’s up with the passivity?

Times have changed, I’ve changed, and the laws have changed. The resistance to step up and assert ourselves hasn’t. Too many fathers wind up playing catch  up and have to pick up the  pieces instead of being the one in charge of the wrecking ball.

Please, reach out to me, anyone in these organizations here or talk to any other divorced father if you feel your marriage is on the rocks. Belive me, your wife has already done it.

Be proactive. Stop being reactive. By the time you get served, it is often too little too late.

 

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.

How do you spell dad? It goes L-O-V-E

Waking up at the crack of dawn sucks. It just does. Well, it does for me.

I’ve never been a morning person. I never will be. I like to get up at about 9 or 10AM. Well, that’s just not the life I’ve chosen to live.

You see, I get up so early for a reason.

I usually arrive home from work at 11PM. I’m totally wired and wide awake. I eventually wind down so I can get to sleep at around 1AM. My alarm goes off in the morning, but I snooze for a few more minutes before I jump out of bed. I try to shake the cobwebs out of my brain and think of where I parked my car so I can go pick up my kids.

I drive over to my ex-wife’s house and get my kids at 7:15AM. We spend about 45 minutes to an hour getting to school. There are mornings where we just listen to the radio. We sometimes laugh about stories from the previous day or if we see something silly on the way. When a serious event happens in our country, we might have a brief thought provoking discussion. When I see the opportunity, I let my kids know about some cold hard truths about growing up in America. They soak it all up like sponges. In the end, I have that special time with just me and my kids. It’s time well spent.

I get the balance of my sleep some time during the day by taking naps if I’m not working. I ain’t afraid to admit, I LOVE naps. Later in the day, I pick them up from school and we spend the afternoon together at my place until I bring them to their mom’s house after I cook them dinner.

It’s exhausting, but totally worth every hour I miss of sleep during the night.

Why do I do this to myself? Well, I asked this question every morning when I got out of bed to get my kids. As soon as I think of why I do what I do, I think of how much I love my kids.

I love them. I really do.

After 15 years of fatherhood, nothing has changed. I’ve been there since the beginning. I’m glad I saw every little step my kids have taken over the years and witnessed every little development along the way. Our time is very limited on this planet and I am making sure I spend as much of it as I possibly can with my kids before they are adults and off on their own.

I wasn’t going to allow any silly “family court” system to keep me away from this. I’ll lose all kinds of sleep but I won’t lose out on being a father. That’s just not going to happen. I made sure of that.

Fathers….

We love our kids as much as mothers. We care too. We want to be there as much as we can even though we may be tired, working long hours, traveling, busting our ass to get a promotion or more money or any other thing that might keep us temporarily separate.

Dads…

We are not the babysitter. We are the guidance the protection, the focus, the spiritual uplift, the support system, the provider, the backbone, the rock, the stability, the L-O-V-E.

I heard about this artist and song a while ago after chatting with a colleague of mine named Felton Offard on Facebook. (he’s an amazing guitarists by the way). He hipped me to this guy Sho Baraka. Sho has a great new album out called ” The Narrative.”

I think this is right on point:

I learned that love ain’t based on performance
Make a mistake and I will love you in the morning
I see life in my children’s eyes
And when I’m wrong I’ll be the first to apologize
Peace to all my fathers who are working through their flaws
Fulfilling their duties and they don’t do it for applause
It’s true, any fool with a tool can reproduce
But a father is that dude that’ll see it through
Forget the stereotypes lets be clear
There are good men out there we are here

……………..

How do you spell dad?
It goes L-O-V-E
How do you spell dad?
It goes L-O-V-E
How do you spell dad?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TZxuDQZyOQ

Responsibility

Looking back at how my parents raised me, I realize how important the lessons of responsibility are to children.

I remember my father always reminding me to clean my room. He would make me take out the garbage, mow the lawn, help wash his car and clean the garage. He would offer to wash the dishes if I dried them and vice versa. No, it wasn’t a real offer, it was his way of telling me what I was going to do. He was, in his own way, giving me a small say in the matter.

My mother taught me how to separate the colors when washing clothes, how to iron and fold sheets. She taught me how to dust, polish furniture, how to set the table, how to sew on a button and how to keep our home looking spotless.

My father told me time and time again to stand up straight. He instructed me on how to shake a person’s hand as well as how to speak up with authority.

My mother was supportive. SHE was the one who bought my first set of drums from my cousin. She was the one who said I could make it as a musician. And I eventually did.

I know things are different at my ex-wife’s home, but there is very little I can do about that at this point in my life. All I know is what happens in my home. When our kids are with me, they know that one of their responsibilities is to set the table for the dinner that I cook for them that evening. They also help make the food with me. After we eat, they clear the table,  sweep the floor, and wipe the table and counters. When they sleep over, they make their bed in the morning.

After school each day, my kids know they should never come in my apartment and drop everything to go and play. They must first hang up their coats and put their shoes in the right location. If they get a chance to play after their homework, they take out their toys and put them away where they got them after they are finished. They make sure their room is in the same condition that they found it.

I am starting to notice how my son gets up in the morning, usually before I do, and dresses himself. He is so proud. He also tells me to look in his room because he already made his own bed! My daughter makes it a priority to have her hair washed and styled before we have breakfast in the morning. She also sets the table before we all have breakfast.

While it’s not perfect, after many years as a single father,  it seems like things are starting to get into a groove at daddy’s house. It can be rough on a single person to run a home as the only adult. I don’t recommend it at all. I still don’t see the attraction of the choice of single parenthood. Since I was forced into this life, I will make the best out of difficult situation.

I love the day-to-day aspects of raising children and think having a solid foundation like I had growing up helps. I feel it is important to pass on these values to our children.

I don’t know what other people do, but I feel it is important to teach responsibility to our children and to hold them accountable. It helps prepare them for life on their own.

Many of these lessons last a lifetime.

 

Single Fatherhood in New York City

Back in 2012, I completed an interview for a Columbia University graduate student of journalism named Acacia Squires. She found me through a post I made on a website about single parenthood and thought I would be a good person to talk with about my experiences being a single father in New York City.

I want to share my story.

Some people call it the “pay up or shut up” model; that’s when fathers pay for child support and alimony after divorce, but loose custody of their children. In modern law, parents’ gender shouldn’t matter, only the child’s welfare is important, but research shows that judge’s bias can lead to unequal treatment in the courtroom. In the first of this three part series on single fatherhood, we look at the story of one Manhattan dad and his fight for his children after divorce.