Dad’s Day: A Fight Worth Fighting For
Brian Jones knows firsthand how important fathers are in a child’s life because Jones grew up without a father. When his own child was born, Jones vowed to be a good parent to his son, no matter what.
“I decided when I was young that I was not going to let my children grow up without me,” Jones said. “I’m not going to be like my father. I’ve got to break the curse.”
What Jones couldn’t predict at that time was what a difficult battle lay ahead of him. Not only did he have to fight his son’s mother, who was living in another state, he had to fight what he says was a prejudicial court system.
But Jones never gave up. He didn’t want his son to be filled with the anger and resentment that can result from an absent father, the same anger and resentment that he had felt for so many years.
Holding on to hope and trusting in his Christian faith, Jones relentlessly worked to be a good father. Despite his frustration, Jones kept fighting, eventually using his experience to write a book, Forgive and Forget by Faith, No Matter What in order to support families going through similar struggles. In the book, he writes that being a father is “a fight worth fighting.”
“I want to be a mentor for other non-custodial fathers,” Jones said. “I want to help families. You only have so many years before your children are grown, and if you’re not present for them, you don’t understand the detriment you’re causing. Children can develop many problems when parents split up and aren’t around – depression, suicide, anger – all can stem from childhood, and then you have a bruised and broken adult who may be a menace to society. When parents don’t communicate, it’s harmful.”
Jones said that as a child he was very angry with his father, a talented musician making a good living in California. He would occasionally send toys or gifts, but they were mainly for Jones’ older sister. Deeply hurt by his father’s cruelty, Jones said he would destroy the toys out of pent-up anger.
“I began to almost hate him,” Jones said. “I needed my daddy, but he wasn’t there. As a teenage boy, I needed so many things from him. He wasn’t taking responsibility for his family. Resentment began to fester.”
Jones credits his mother for turning him away from bitterness and toward forgiveness. “My mom kept us out of trouble,” he said. “She kept us in church. She told me I needed to forgive my father and that forgiving and forgetting is a process. When you go through something that cuts your heart, you need God. I couldn’t do it on my own. Mama prayed and gave us wisdom.”
Jones said his mother told him, “I want you to love him anyway. I want you to love your father.”
Watching his mother make sacrifices for the sake of her family gave Jones the role model he needed. She worked as a seamstress at Miss Jackson’s as a young woman, but eventually worked her way through college and became a teacher. Jones started classes at Tulsa Community College, but struggled as a young adult. Finding it difficult to manage college with no transportation and no computer, he dropped out in frustration, but returned to college later to earn a Bachelor of Science in Business Management at age 30 while working full-time.
The determination and faith that he learned from his mother also gave him the tenacity to be part of his son’s life in whatever way he could.
“I always paid child support, travel and attorney’s fees,” Jones said. But he was continually at the mercy of his son’s mother when it came to when and how long he could see their son. She did not want to communicate with Jones outside of court, and made seeing their son very difficult for Jones. He missed holidays, birthdays, and many milestones in his son’s life. Jones was discouraged, but kept fighting for more visitation rights.
“I felt like I’d been rejected by my dad, denied my son and rejected by the court. Then God sent me an angel at the court who connected me with an attorney who represented me for free,” Jones said.
Because he never gave up on being a father to his son, no matter how rough the path, Jones says they have a good relationship today.
“My son loves me,” he said. “He told his mom he wants to live with me, and she agreed. Even though he was afraid to talk to her, he was able to tell her. He’ll be here to go to OSU in June. I can give him me. That’s what I needed from my daddy.”