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Boys need fathers to teach them how to become men

Updated: June 19, 2011 2:20AM

I can’t help but smile when I pass a man with a child’s head resting on his shoulder, or whose large hand is in the grip of a toddler’s tiny fingers.

This is a special day for all those dads who have helped their families grow. Hopefully, today your families will take the time to show how much they appreciate you.

Being responsible is hard work. But dedication pays off in the end. As one proud father demonstrated at a recent middle-school graduation when he shouted out “That’s my baby!” as his daughter walked across the stage.

We need a lot more fathers to get that excited every day about their children’s progress. After all, a father’s support is vital to a child’s success later in life.

In the black community, we’ve harped on absentee fathers for so long, that good fathers — role models for young brothers who are struggling to do the right thing — have been overlooked.

I get that.

But good fathers can’t get so annoyed by the derogatory stereotyping that their concerns overshadow the detrimental impact absentee fathers have on families and on communities.

For example, according to a Pew Research Center report released last week, nearly half of American fathers of all races under 45 say they have at least one kid who was born out of wedlock.

When we look at our own families, we know that to be the case.

The negative impact this new family dynamic has on the so-called “outside” children cannot be overstated.

But unfortunately, the pendulum has swung.

When you bring this issue up, someone is sure to proudly point out that a single mother raised President Barack Obama.

What these folks don’t mention, however, is that Obama was raised in an extended family that included a grandfather who served as a father figure and a grandmother.

A father’s guidance is so important, there’s just no telling how Obama would have turned out had his grandfather not played such a prominent role in his life.

The role of fathers came to mind as I read the accounts of how Deshon Marman, a 20-year-old University of New Mexico football player, ended up being removed from a U.S. Airways plane last week.

An airline employee complained that Marman’s pants (one online report described the pants as “pajama bottoms”) were “below his buttocks but above his knees, and that much of his boxer shorts were exposed.”

There’s a heated online debate over whether Marman, who is black and wears his hair in dreadlocks, was unfairly singled out.

I don’t put up with sagging pants.

I wouldn’t let one of my sons or grandsons get in a car with me, let alone on a plane, with their boxers showing. That’s just ignorant behavior.

And one thing all air travelers ought to know by now, airline personnel don’t play. You get in your seat. You buckle your seat belt. You keep your smart mouth shut. Or you could get put off a plane or be detained by police when the plane lands.

Was a father in the picture?

Marman’s mother, Donna Doyle, told news reporters that her son was in an “emotionally raw state after attending a funeral,” and that her son was “targeted at the airport because of the way he looks — young black man with baggy pants.”

Doyle went on to explain that her son “is a good kid trying to make it.”

You have to wonder where is this young man’s father?

I’m not saying that Marman’s father isn’t in his life, but so far Doyle has done all of the talking. Also, typically a nurturing father is going to raise his son to know better than this.

And while a mother may be tolerant of an obnoxious trend, a father is going to say: “Boy, don’t you know better? Pull up your pants.”

After all, it is one thing to walk around the ’hood in your pajama bottoms with your underwear exposed, and quite another to show up at an airport looking like you just rolled out of bed.

Obviously, Marman brought this upon himself by acting like a kid.

That’s why we can’t stop letting absentee fathers know how badly they are needed.

They are the only ones who can teach a boy how to be a man.

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