Are Unwed Celebrity Fathers Like Diddy Setting A Bad Example?
A few months ago, I tried to make the point that rappers are some of the worst role models in the world. I pointed out that while there are a handful of rappers—including Jay-Z, Diddy and Snoop Dogg—who have built empires and shown kids out there that they can have a positive future by putting in a lot of hard work, there are also a lot of rappers who have gotten into trouble with the law, experimented with drugs and just generally done a poor job of showing the next generation how to act. I tried to make the point that, despite the fact that parents and not rappers should be role models, kids continue to look up to rap celebrities and following in their footsteps.
Looking back on the piece now, I glossed over a large issue that I think it’s time to mention: Unwed celebrity fathers, including rappers like Diddy, Lil Wayne, and Rick Ross. The sudden spotlight cast on this issue stems from a recent interview that Diddy did with The View last week that we covered briefly on Dr. Jay’s Live last Thursday. If you haven’t seen the interview yet, take a look now:
Essentially, Barbara Walters asked Diddy about being the father of several different children by several different mothers without being married to any of them. Diddy has been asked questions like this before—most notably during a Nightline interview on ABC with Martin Bashir earlier this year, where he spazzed out after being asked about his kids—but, naturally, Diddy knew his audience and kept it a little more even-keeled this time time around, simply explaining that he doesn’t know why he’s not married yet. He also made it a point to say that all of his children are happy, healthy and well taken care of at this point in their lives and added: “Every woman that I was with, that I had a child with, they did deserve for me to marry them. But there’s things going on in my life…I’m not gonna say it’s all the way me, but I’ll take full responsibility as a man.”
That’s all fine and dandy, but the fact remains: Anytime an unwed celebrity has a child out of wedlock, whether they are male or female, they’re setting an example for all of the kids, teens and young adults out there. They may not think so—and they may hide behind their “But they’re well taken care of!” excuses—but the way that celebrities handle issues has an influence on the rest of the country. So when Diddy gets on national TV and talks about being an unwed father and offers up little more than a Kanye shrug to help explain himself, it resonates down to everyone watching him.
I’m not putting all of the blame on Diddy here, either, because he’s only the latest celebrity father to do it. But there are other rappers who have done the same thing as him, including Lil Wayne, who has several children by several different baby mothers. And there are also a ton of non-rapping celebrities, both black and white, who have made the decision to have a child out of wedlock and refused to address it very deeply.
The problem is that, while Diddy, Lil Wayne and other single fathers out there are able to take care of their kids and provide for them financially, not every young man who has a child out of wedlock can do the same. Similarly, single celebrity parents don’t talk enough about how their jobs wreak havoc on their kids lives. Had Diddy gone on The View and said something along the lines of “I provide for my kids financially, but I also realize that I’m not able to do everything I should be doing because of my commitments elsewhere” or “I really wish I could see my kids more often—that’s something I wish I would have thought about being having a child,” he would have, at the very least, been making his situation seem more difficult than he actually led us to believe. And by doing that, he might have taught a young man out there a thing or two about what it takes to be a parent and how even he has shortcomings when it comes to fatherhood as a result of the fact that he’s not married.
The bottom line is that it takes time, money, effort, blood, sweats, tears, frustrations, excitement, patience and, most of all, love to raise a child properly. You have to be fully committed to doing it and you need to be a parent first and foremost before anything else. Unfortunately, there are a number of celebrities out there who have jumped into parenthood ahead of schedule. And while they might very well end up raising some pretty terrific kids, they also needs to realize that their actions, their words and their decisions as it pertains to parenthood affect the thoughts, beliefs and opinions of millions of young people everyday.
It’s one reason I wish Diddy would have given a different answer he did. It’s clearly not something he enjoys talking about. But it’s something he has to talk about moving forward if you wants to make the right impression on everyone out there who looks up to him.