I’ve held a number of titles in my years. Reporter, Editor, Publisher, General Manager, Scoutmaster, R.A. Leader, Finance Committee Chairman, apprentice roofer and CDL certified truck driver. Some were more highfaluting than others, some paid better and all satisfied in one way or another.
But my favorite title is Dad.
No pay comes with that title, it can only be officially used by a select group of four people and its designation is really rather common.
But of all the names, rank and posts I can claim in this world, that one means the most to me.
We are at the midway point this week in a five-part series of stories dealing with teen pregnancy.
Today’s stories deal with a man’s responsibility in bringing another human being into this world.
The genders being what they may, it is not fair what teen pregnancy brings on a girl and the smirk and smile it brings on a boy’s face.
At the risk of hurting my Christian witness, let me be the first to say that 40 years ago when I was a teenager I had the same lusts and desires today’s young bucks have.
But I also had a good name that was handed down to me by my father and a mother who lived with Daddy all his life. I was one of the lucky ones raised in a home with expectations, rules and prayers for protection for my two brothers and myself.
To have gotten a girl pregnant in the 1970s meant buying a ring and gathering at a local home for an evening wedding. How long we stayed married, how we made ends meet and how the rest of our lives panned out would have been anybody’s guess.
I guess those rules, regulations and prayers worked because my brothers and I have found women who will live with us. We have each only been married once and we all have adult children.
Dad always pays
I hear people in this town giggle and laugh when they tell the latest news on a girl and guy who have gotten pregnant.
There is no longer any hypocritical righteous indignation, no shotgun weddings and no commitment to be mother and father, together, forever. There is also no man standing in the gap to provide and protect that child and mother from a very cruel world.
I do hope the men reading this column will also read the story on Page 2A and point out the legal ramifications of fathering a child to their sons.
Older men who get a teenager pregnant can and should be thrown in prison. Boys who get girls pregnant need to know they can face 20 years of monthly child support payments.
And last but certainly not least, that child you have fathered will be a dark blot on your heart and soul as long as you live if you don’t do the right thing and raise him or her right.
My dad was not perfect, but he kept the bills paid, he loved my momma forever and he did everything he could to prepare me to stand on my own.
I never will forget what my Dad told me when Sara and I started having babies.
“Momma carries that baby for nine months. You’ll carry them for the next 18 years.”
You see, somebody somewhere has to go to work and pay to raise that child.
A 2011 report from the Mississippi Economic Policy Center and the Women’s Fund found teen births cost Mississippi $155 million in 2009.
That same study showed 80 percent of teen moms will receive welfare assistance and public health care at some point.
And I look at my paycheck and wonder why my taxes are so high.
Real men understand quickly that dad always pays.
Boys to men
Let me be the first to point out I have four boys and there are no guarantees.
Just like my parents, I have expectations for my boys, rules and a daily stream of prayers. But something could “happen” and I could become a grandfather quicker than I think.
If nothing else, this five part series has confirmed in me the need to educate boys and girls about sex and not only how babies get here, but what happens to the three of you after that baby arrives.
I am quick to tell people I am not raising boys. My job as Dad is to raise men.
This world is full of 20-, 30- and 40-year-old boys. They are a drain on our economy, useless in most situations and an insult to God and our gender.
Teaching sex education to girls and guys is great. But teaching boys their role and responsibility as a man is half the battle in stopping teen pregnancy.
There is work to be done guys! It’s time to man-up.
Floyd Ingram is Managing Editor/News for the Chickasaw Journal. He can be contacted at 456-3771 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.