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.

 

 

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.

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.