Labor Of Love

I have an idea for a new reality series. It’s called “Labor Of Love.” It will chronicle the lives of men who want to “have it all.”

This show will follow men in their thirties who fight and scrape their way to corporate success and have a great time on the New York City dating scene. The problem is they don’t find suitable women who they feel they can marry and settle down with. They use dating apps to meet all kinds of women. They sometimes find it even easier to just hang out and meet women face to face at bars, nightclubs and out in the general public. They are confident, mature, interesting, well-read, bright, thoughtful, adventurous men but can’t seem to meet “the one!”

Well, what do they do? They feel that since they aren’t getting any younger, they decide to stay single. The twist is that they want to raise a child on their own. They look for women who will either be the one who will give birth to ther child, through insemination, or they will adopt a beautiful baby on their own.

These men will finally be able to raise a family. They will also continue to date from time to time if they choose to – just for the fun of it! They don’t see the need to get married or have anyone move in with them. They got this! They feel empowered knowing there is support for single parents, especially these single dads.

It seems as if our society has noticed how men’s dreams have evolved over time from the one-time ideal of having a good job, a big house, a nice relationship and then kids. Often having a family is part of this dream, but for more and more men, it’s a good job, the big house and not the other two. Settling down and having kids used to be the natural progression, but for those who have completed the first two of the four-step dream, maybe it’s just some fun on the side and raising kids on their own. Maybe this is the path for the modern man!

This show will explore this phenomenon deeper and see what life is like for men who want to “have it all.”

Sounds interesting doesn’t it? Or does it sound alarming?

Well, what if the show was about a woman making these decisions? The exact same scenario, but not a single man?

Well, there is actually is one. It’s called Labor Of Love.  It’s about women making this really ill-informed choice. What do you feel people’s reaction would be to a man choosing this exact same path as opposed to a woman? I have a feeling there would be more than a few raised eyebrows if the show was the way I described above.

There is a world of information about children being raised in a single parent home. It’s rarely a wise choice for the child, the parent and society. Why would anyone find a show about choosing single parenthood worth producing?

 

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

Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts

 

The Boy Scouts of America announced on Wednesday October 11, 2017 that it will admit girls into the Cub Scouts starting next year and establish a new program for older girls using the organization’s same curriculum.

What is the point of having girls in the boy scouts? I have no idea other than pandering to a very small minority of people who feel boys and girls are exactly the same and should always be in the same groups no matter what. Must we be reminded again that boys and girls are different?

I wish all human beings could raise a son and a daughter. I would love to see the people who feel every human is the same in every way recoil in horror as they watch their son behave differently than their daughter. I would love to watch their faces as they give a doll to their toddler son to play with but shriek as he rips the head off and looks inside the carcass to see how the doll was made.

It’s been long established that the male brain is different than the female brain. We learn differently and we see the world differently. That does not mean either is better, it is just different.

Some people seem to believe, for some bizarre reason that we are all equal. We aren’t. This horrible idea of having the girls in the Boy Scouts is a silly attempt to force the issue that we are all equal and should not have spaces where one sex bonds and has activities together. Men don’t always want to be around girls/women. We just don’t. Men and boys like to bond in our own ways just like women and girls do.

It is important  to have single sex groups from time to time. It facilitates a different type of bonding, competition and nurturing. One of the biggest advantage kids can receive from single-sex social groups is a chance to experience life outside the boundaries of ubiquitous gender dynamics.

When girls don’t have to worry about the thoughts of how they will perform when they’re with boys, girls are more likely to explore the depths of their own potential. Girls also get opportunities that are harder to find in organizations where boys make up the majority of participants. When girls and young women are in the position to hold all leadership roles, they learn how to succeed on their own terms. When there is an all female led environment, it means many more of the participants in the group are more likely to volunteer for, and be called upon to take leadership positions because there aren’t any males to compete with. From a very young age, young girls are attuned to incorrect stereotypes that cast men as more intelligent and capable than women. Single sex organizations caters to this need and address issues in ways co-ed ones might not.

That’s one of the many, many benefits of women’s colleges. The same applies to HBCU’s. Not having to stress out about racial issues being thrown at you daily creates an enhanced learning experience for people like me.

The Girl Scouts sounded like they were somewhat disturbed about this too.

“We learned about this through different channels but never directly from BSA leadership. We’ve had competitors come and go and this is yet another competitor. We’re disappointed in the way BSA handled this,” Lisa Margosian, Chief Customer Officer for Girl Scouts, told BuzzFeed reporter Tasneem Nashrulla in a statement.

“We’ve enjoyed a strong relationship and partnership with them over the years and we’re disappointed that the BSA didn’t discuss this with us to say ‘we’re having trouble with our membership.’ This is a direct response to boost their declining membership,” Margosian continued. At this point we’re just about reminding people that we have an expertise in serving girls that the Boy Scouts just don’t have,” Margosian continued in the statement.

Some have pointed out the problem has more to do with the Girl Scouts not having a high award similar to the Eagle Award. The Boy Scouts have the Eagle and the Girl Scouts have the Gold Award.

The reality is that the Girl Scout Gold Award is harder to get than the Eagle Award. There are more requirements to receive it and the girls have to earn it without help from others.  Why isn’t it more prestigious? That is a question the Girl Scouts need to address. Maybe it’s a marketing problem? I have no idea.

The Girl Scouts offer many of the same activities the Boy Scouts do, and to their credit, the Boy Scouts has programs that are open to both sexes.

I don’t see what the problem was. The Girls have their own organization as well as the boys. Are there any place or institution left where it is still safe and acceptable to be a boy, or raise one?

What if we get rid of fraternities and sororities. No more organizations like the Freemasons for men, no more gyms like Curves or Lucille Roberts. No more products made specifically for women. The Olympics? Men and Women compete equally from now on. There will no longer be organizations for women at all. N.O.W. will be N.O.E. (National Organization for Everyone.  Feminism will be humanism. No more women’s colleges. Wellesley will no longer be a school for women. They will be accepting all males who want to apply. Morehouse? A college for black men? No longer. White women will be applying now. Is this the genderless society we want?

It seems as if people are bending over backwards to try to please people. I’m not in the people pleasing business when it comes to my kids. I already know that boys and girls are different, have different needs, learn and play differently. I’m not sucking up to the left to include my daughter in every event or activity my son is in just for some notion of equality.

This was a really bad idea and I hope there is enough backlash to reverse this short sighted decision.

 

Why I REFUSE To Pay Child Support

When people ask me how can I be divorced with two children and pay no child support, I tell them I took a cue from Nancy Reagan; I “just said no.”

I took the road less traveled. One that more men should be allowed to travel.

For the past 18 years, I have been fortunate to be a full-time musician. Since the time of our daughter’s birth in 2003, I was at home with her during the day and working at night. Three years before my marriage ended, my wife and I agreed to switch roles. In order to make this arrangement work, I was extremely ambitious and found a way to work a 9-5 job as well as teach, perform in an Off-Broadway show and perform in weddings and corporate events. I paid all the bills while she took care of our daughter.

After two years of trying to fit back into the corporate world, I noticed a lack of communication between my wife and I. My focus was on our family; her attention appeared to be on the social calendar. My frustration with what seemed to be a lop-sided allocation of duties in our home-made for several stress filled months. Not only was I the sole breadwinner, I took care of many of the duties at home. The birth of our second child only intensified the tension in our home.

Working a full time job, gigs and doing much of the house work burnt me out so I quit my corporate job. Meanwhile my wife was unwilling to continue the therapy sessions we’d set up to find a way to repair our marriage. She hired an attorney and filed for divorce.

Our custody battle began in Family Court. During our first hearing, I received a court order for spousal support, which stated I was to continue paying all the bills until our case went to Supreme Court. On top of paying the household expenses, I had to pay my ex an additional $500 cash each month. I was furious. I questioned why I was responsible for everything and my wife was only responsible for being with the children.

Soon after filing, my wife began using the children as pawns. She filled the kid’s day with play dates, and after one of our many heated arguments, took the kids to her mother’s home in another state for two weeks so I could not see them. In addition to the attempts at alienating me from my children, my wife called the police after several arguments in futile attempts to have me vacate the marital residence and be thrown in jail. Luckily for me she was never psychotic enough to hurt herself or abuse the criminal justice system’s bias against men.

When our case was transferred to New York State Supreme Court, things began to change. A few months into our dispute I received an unlikely source of inspiration. My family had given me a father’s day gift certificate to a men’s spa. Here is where I received life-changing advice from a female staff member who’d gone through a divorce several years before. She and her former spouse had mutually agreed that their son be raised by his father. She informed me that in New York State, couples had the option to “opt out” of paying child support upon dissolution of marriage. I immediately called my attorney and told him I wanted to do just that: opt out.

I must acknowledge one piece of the puzzle that gave me a slight advantage that no one has today. At the time of my lawsuit, New York was the last state who hadn’t adopted no-fault laws. This gave me leverage that no one can use in court today. Now, everyone is at the mercy of their spouse and can’t contest their divorce. In fact, most people have no idea that your spouse can file for divorce for any reason and not have to prove why they want out of the marriage. This is a real disadvantage for the monied spouse in my state because the custodial parent gains an advantage with the child support guidelines. The spouse who makes more money is ordered to pay the non-custodial parent.

At the time, my attorney and I decided to contest my ex’s grounds for divorce. We were willing to compel her to tell the truth under oath. My ex would have perjured herself in court since there were several inconsistencies in her sworn deposition. Her attorney decided it would be unwise for her to proceed in that manner. This was the turning point that forced a settlement.

 

After 11 months in and out of court, we agreed that my parenting time would take place during the day; hers at night and that no one would pay child support. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I walked out of the courtroom secure in the knowledge that I could financially support our two children in a way that made much more sense to me. I did not succumb to the societal pressure to pay an ex-wife, child or spousal support because men have historically done so.

I’m not sure many men have the testicular fortitude to endure the pain it takes to achieve this goal today. Particularly since the avenue I pursued is now closed off to men in the family court’s crusade against fatherhood. I certainly thought of giving up but never did. I was also determined to get the court to understand the seriousness of my desire to be a fully committed parent and I was willing to go through the financial expense of seeing it through.

During my custody battle, I came to a deeper understanding how the courts system works and how the law applied in my particular case. I persevered by demonstrating that I was rational, reasonable, and always focused on the best interest of my children. Instead of relying solely on my attorney’s advice and historical precedent, I saw the bigger picture and thought long term.

I used several tactics to my advantage. I never left or was forced out of our marital residence, I managed to avoid physical altercations by keeping my emotions in check as much as possible, avoided being taken to jail by the NYPD by calmly explaining my side of the story and kept my focus by remaining totally devoted to my two children. I always took the high road and never talked badly about my ex to our children, no matter how tempting. I still don’t-she is the mother of our kids. They love her just as much as they love me.

I know all too well the stories of men who get taken advantage of by unscrupulous attorneys who don’t offer alternatives and other potential options their clients can pursue. State ordered child support should only be enforced when a spouse chooses to abdicate the responsibility of raising their children. There is no excuse for a parent to abandon their children. In my subsequent research, I have discovered that many fathers do not want to leave their children. Many times they are FORCED out.

 

Mandatory arrests laws that were written to protect women over the years have often been abused and are at times used to force fathers from the home straight into jail. This, in conjunction with punitive child support orders and the threat of imprisonment if it isn’t paid have been just a few of the reasons for the increase of widespread fatherlessness over the past 40 years.

The threat of divorce, child support orders or jail should ever stop a devoted father from having a healthy relationship with his children. No one should have the right to deny that important relationship unless there are serious criminal matters and there is due process.

Today it seems that many women intentionally abuse a system that was set up in the 1950′s and 1960′s to assist with the necessary expenses of child rearing for children that both parents gave consent to have. Now that women have joined the workforce in unprecedented numbers–and birth control frees them from the constraints they were otherwise under–it makes little sense to keep men stuck back in an era that has long passed. Women don’t want to go back to that era-men don’t either. If times have progressed for women, why are men forced to stay in the past?

I have seen many cases where spousal and/or child support is automatically assumed to be part of divorce even though it may be unwarranted, and most attorneys don’t even discuss potential options for their clients. I truly feel that men who desire to be a part of their children’s lives need not pay their future ex-wife at all.

My ex wife and I, more often than not, peacefully co-exist without a state ordered child or spousal support. I must emphasize this particular point: if anyone chooses the road I took, it requires a lifelong commitment of taking care of your children – something that unfortunately, most men today are not even given an opportunity to do.

I feel the default option in custody cases should be joint legal and physical custody with no court ordered child support absent a strong reason. Start with a 50/50 split of parenting time with the children. If that can’t happen and money needs to be transferred, the person receiving the funds needs to be held accountable for how the money is being spent. As it stand now, there is no way to account for how the funds are being used for the children.

 

The more often we keep the filthy claws of state and federal government out of our lives, the better. Once they get in, they never let go. The formation of the family court system, the state and federal offices of child support enforcement and all of the affiliated positions associated with it, has resulted in the creation of a massive state controlled Industry whose sole function is to affect the massive transfer of wealth from the father to the mother. The increase in state intrusion in our personal lives coupled with the culture of entitlement and unreasonable expectations currently embedded in our public consciousness, creates a system that feeds upon itself. It appears that this former government safety net has turned into a spider web. Eventually it will bleed fathers dry and the real victims will be their children.

When there are two loving parents that want to be actively involved in their children’s lives after divorce, there is no need to travel down the expected path of family court and mandatory child and/or spousal support. Women can learn from my story and understand that just because you may no longer love the father of your kids, your children do. Children need their mother AND father. Find a way to stay out of that hell hole they loosely call “Family Court.” I am living proof that there is another way.