I’VE PARENTED both as a noncustodial father and as a married father, and the experiences are vastly different – both for the parent and for the child.
As a noncustodial father, a man can be reduced to little more than a voice on a phone, a playmate on a weekend or a name on a check. He can be, in essence, placed firmly in the margins of his child’s life, even if he desperately wants to be in the center.
I have lived that unending struggle, and I have learned the lessons that it taught. But when I look back through the 22 years that have passed since my first child was born, I see much more than a lesson. I see a disjointed tapestry of love and distance, longing and hurt.
I don’t pretend to be faultless in the creation of that tapestry. It was, after all, my own shortcomings that helped to drive us apart. But we live in a society that believes that noncustodial parents should somehow be punished, and that the punishment is in the interest of the child.
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Solomon Jones is an Essence bestselling author and award-winning columnist. He is the creator and editor of Solomonjones.com and morning host on 900 am WURD radio. Click here to learn more about Solomon