What I wish I could say to Herschelle Gibbs
Generally, I don't really care about other people's business. I've never read gossip magazines, I don't want to know how famous people live, and I can't stand the faux-real life shown in "reality" TV.
But there are times when a news story pops up on my timeline that, even though it has nothing to do with me, is indicative of a bigger problem that we should ALL address.
That's what happened when I saw this headline:
You can read it yourself, but the long and short of it is that Herschelle Gibbs' child's mother had to take him to court to force him to pay child support. From the article it also seems like he doesn't want to have anything to do with the child. And that got me thinking: What would I say to Herschelle (and other men like him) if I had the chance?
Well, I think the conversation would reflect the two immediate, and almost opposing, reactions that I would have if this was a friend of mine. I think, to some extent, both are valid and fair, so I here's what each part would contain:
Part 1: Empathy and Understanding
"Herschelle, I get that this isn't what you wanted. It probably wasn't in your plan to have a child right now, or in this way, and I can totally understand the anxiety, fear and frustration that has come with all of this.
You might be worried that you are going to have less "freedom" and less money. Well, you are definitely go to have less money - the court is making sure of that!
...too soon? Sorry.
But seriously, being a dad is a privilege and a gift. If that feels like a cliche, it's only because it is so fundamentally true. With the right mindset, it can quickly become the best thing in your life.
Yes, it's hard. But I'm sure you didn't just become one of the greatest batsmen of all time without doing some hard work. You reaped the benefits of that hard work, and trust me, the same is true of fatherhood.
Also, being an engaged father means that you leave a legacy that will last much longer and have a much great impact than hitting 6 sixes in one over during a World Cup (which, I'll admit, was awesome).
I mean, this coach has the right idea:
Like I said, I know all of this is scary, but if you need help and support, give me a call and we'll work something out. Or talk to the dads that you know and ask them to help you. Form that community around you and your child, and you will be more than fine. Trust me, it'll be worth it."
Part 2: Reality Check
"Herschelle, what the F*&%, man?
Why does the mother of your child have to take you to court to get money to care for YOUR son? Even if you don't want to be an engaged dad, you still have a legal and moral responsibility to, at the very least, ensure that your child is cared for.
Honestly, this doesn't have a damn thing to do about the kind of relationship you have with his mother. This is about you stepping up and doing the right thing for that little baby.
Also, you are adding yourself to the long list of men that give us a bad name. Some of us are trying to make changes with the way the world perceives fathers, and you are screwing with that.
Do you know what happens when a child doesn't have a father? Do you know that he will be more likely to do poorly in school, more likely to become a victim of addiction and more likely to be involved with teenage pregnancy? There is a bunch of research to back this up.
Not to mention the main role that a father plays: showing his son what it means to be an empathetic human being.
Get your sh*& together, bro. It's not too late. Yeah, you may not be in love with the boy's mother, and frankly, you don't need to be. All you need to do is love the child - you still have a chance to make a real impact in his life."
So, obviously, this is never going to reach Herschelle Gibbs - I don't have that kind of following - but even if it did, do you think these words would change his mind about fatherhood? What do you think we could and should say to men in this situation?