SIMMONS: Cosby gets serious about fatherhood

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My dad and I used to have stimulating conversations about faith, family, personal responsibility and the rewards of hard work, and I miss him.

An Army veteran who designed medals for our armed forces, my dad, Arnold P. Simmons, remained a student of religion and history until succumbing to Alzheimer’s more than two decades ago.

He also was the funniest man I knew and very opinionated (wink, wink). And while no one can possibly replace him, I sought out, for this Father's Day message, a man who comes pretty doggone close.

Dr. Cosby, I presume?”

“Yes,” Bill Cosby replied from the other end of the phone Tuesday evening.

After the social obligatories, our conversation touched on not only the meaning of fatherhood, but “daddydom” and the “love package” — and on the op-ed piece he wrote in the New York Post that has, unfortunately, drawn criticism about Jew hatred from the here-he-goes-again crowd, the one that thinks he’s puttin’ down black folk.

But early on, Mr. Cosby expounded on Father's Day itself, with a doff of a hat and a bow to moms, of course.

“If you’re looking at Sunday, it’s a day for all of us who made the children. And it’s a celebration of being around where the fullest of the celebrations is, with the children who can make it to the table, celebrating with the father and the mom — whose labor pains get another year longer.

“Many times she’s in charge of what father may get on Father's Day,” he added, as I sensed a slight smile even through the phone line.

“A father, a father who is there for his children, who is there with the mother, completes the love package for the child,” Mr. Cosby said. “[A son] sees that mom is happy, and he can emulate that, carry that love to his own children.

“When mom is not happy, and you [the son] are told you’re the man of the house and you’re already feeling abandoned — whether the father is absent because he is at war or lives down the street — that abandonment can last for a long, long, long time.”

This humorist, though, said he had a special Father's Day message for males who have yet to become fathers and for the messengers who need to step forward and deliver it.

“If you want to become a responsible father, know that when you become a father, it’s for life, and that it’s for the life of the child,” he said. “That’s your promissory note, and to make sure there is love.”

To illustrate the abandonment a child confronts even amid a victorious feat, Mr. Cosby, an athlete in his younger days and still a diehard sports fan, spoke of a youngster who had just won a championship football game, yet afterward felt dejected because he was walking away with only mom at his side, while a player on the losing team had their dads by their sides.

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About the Author
Deborah Simmons

Deborah Simmons

Award-winning opinion writer Deborah Simmons is a senior correspondent who reports on City Hall and writes about education, culture, sports and family-related topics. Mrs. Simmons has worked at several newspapers, and since joining The Washington Times in 1985, has served as editorial-page editor and features editor and on the metro desk. She has taught copy editing at the University of ...

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