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Updated: Oct 16, 2021

Too often we focus on the bad and forget the good that others do regularly. So today, I want to show my appreciation to the father of my boys, Richard Mangongo. This is not to brag about him, but to say that fathers do not have to be married to their children’s mother to be present in their children's lives. Three days ago was Father's Day, and I wanted to write this post, but I couldn't quite put together how I wanted it to come out until last night while lying down in my bed. When Richard and I were dating, he asked me, "What is your biggest fear about our relationship?” I couldn’t answer right away because it hit a nerve. After collecting my thoughts and my emotions I said, "My biggest fear is to be married to you, have children, and be divorced, leaving me alone to raise them by myself." I was very serious because it is a responsibility that I was too familiar with. I hated being a single parent, and I never imagined walking the same path again. Nobody should have to raise a whole human being alone. My daughter's father walked out on us when she was two and half years old, and for ten years, up to that point, I had been "doing it alone", while maintaining a military nursing career. I had a legitimate reason to be afraid, and although Richard did not respond, he understood. Fast forward to now; we are divorced with two boys, a 5-year-old and a 4-year-old. Shocking! Richard was a terrible husband to me, but he is an EXCELLENT father to our boys. I appreciate him for it, and I tell him every chance I get. Without our marriage, being there for our kids is more important to me than anything else. When Richard moved out three years ago, he made sure his house was close enough to ours so he could be with his kids as much as possible. In the three years since our separation, he picks them up on Friday night and returns them on Sunday evening.

When schools were in, he dropped them off at school every morning while I picked them up after school. We would do this song and dance every day until Friday evening, and the process would start over. He’s never missed a weekend without consulting me. If I need him to take the kids on weekdays, or if he needs me to keep them on the weekend, we talk about it. His commitment to our children is unwavering. Every time our boys come back from their dad's house, they talk about all the cool things they did together. I can see the love and excitement they have for their father. Our boys are a priority in their father's life, and they know it. There are lots of single parents in the South Sudan community. But, unfortunately, too many mothers are raising kids alone for many reasons. The most devastating part is, too many fathers are not present in their children's lives; and I beg the question, why? Mothers, if this is your doing, stop it! Your children deserve to have both of their parents present in their lives daily if possible. Do not deprive them of their rights. Instead, research children raised by two happy parents compared to children raised in a single household. You should agree that you are doing your children a disservice by keeping them away from their fathers. Whatever happened in you and their father's marriage is between you two. Do not allow your children to grow up without knowing what a father's love is because research has shown that they will continue to look for that love, and often in the wrong places. Fathers, why are your kids paying for your mistakes? Marriage failure is not a crime that your children should pay for the rest of their lives, so WHY ARE YOU SO BITTER? Even if you cannot stand the sight of their mother, they were created in love and needed to be raised in love by both parents. Even if they weren’t created in love, it isn’t their fault and they deserve to feel the love of both parents. You two do not need to be married or live together to do that! Whatever your life circumstances are, you can make a change and decide to be the father your children deserve to have. It's never too late! I am grateful that I choose Richard Mangongo as my boys' father because he is absolutely the best father my boys can ask for. Even though we failed as husband and wife, we still have a responsibility toward our boys, and he is holding up his side of the bargain. He doesn’t treat their visits like he is babysitting his own children, he is raising his children! He reconfirms his commitment to them every day that he shows up to pick them up.

Thank you Guan Muoch and Mobassi for not allowing me to do this "alone again".

Nyajuok Tongyik Doluony

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