By Kenneth Braswell and Joshua DuBois

If you are a father like we are (one an old pro, and one a
new dad), you must be thinking about all of the gifts you have to purchase over
the next few weeks. You’re probably waiting until the very last minute to
complete your shopping, dashing from store to store looking for the toy that
was sold out five weeks ago or the piece of jewelry that turns out to be the
same one you purchased for your wife last year. We all know the feeling: the
agony of men in the mall!

If you are like us, you will also find joy in watching the
smiles of your children and family as they open their gifts. You’ll put on the
face of excitement and belt out a “WOW,” when your child hands you the pair of
macaroni shoes they made in school. You will muster every muscle in your body
to form a smile and say, “it’s beautiful!” Why? Because we love them. And
because that’s what we seek to do as dads: care about others before we care
about ourselves.

However, let’s reflect for a moment and like George Bailey
in It’s a Wonderful Life, imagine what
this holiday would be like if we weren’t around. Where would the joy be if we
were not there to make a last minute mall dash, join our families in front of
the tree on Christmas morning or to feign excitement about another pair of
macaroni shoes.

As men, we often take our health for granted, thinking the
pain or the ache will pass like it did in college. Our families, friends, and
co-workers take our health for granted too. They make plans and depend on us to
be there for them.

But what if – because our health failed us – we weren’t able
to be there for our family during the holidays? Today, men account for
57%—nearly six million—of the 10.5 million Americans who are currently
uninsured and eligible to purchase health insurance coverage through the Health
Insurance Marketplace. As the year comes to a close, we have to examine the
state of our bodies, our minds, and our lives. Do you still believe you can
jump over tall buildings in a single bound? Run faster than a locomotive? Bend
steel with your bare hands? Even if you could, Superman still got hurt from time to time. And given his job at the
Daily Planet, he probably had health insurance. And fellas – we are many
things, but we are not Superman.

Did you know that unintentional accidents are the third
leading cause of death for me?[i] Did
you know that men – particularly men of color – have elevated rates of heart
disease, diabetes, and other preventable ailments?

This holiday season, while we’re making preparations for
everyone else, we have to think about ourselves as well – to ensure we can
continue to be present for our families.  Men, this Christmas season, go ahead and get
that check up. Schedule the appointment. Take the screening or the test.  Sign up for health insurance at healthcare.gov
today – the final deadline to sign up for coverage is January 31st. It
will be the best gift you can give to yourself and all those who love you.

Kenneth Braswell is the Executive Director of Fathers
Incorporated. FI is a 501©3 not-for-profit (S) corporation and is dedicated to
strengthening the community and family infrastructure by encouraging and
enabling the positive involvement of fathers in the lives of their children.
For more information visit
www.fathersincorporated.com
and follow us on twitter at @fathersincorp

Joshua DuBois is founder and CEO of Values Partnerships
and former Director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood
Partnerships. He is one of the country’s leading experts on religion in the
public square and issues impacting African American communities. For more
information visit
www.joshuadubois.com
and
www.valuespartnerships.com.

[i] http://www.cdc.gov/men/lcod/2013/index.htm

Posted by Fathers Incorporated

Fathers Incorporated (FI) is a national, non-profit organization working to build stronger families and communities through the promotion of Responsible Fatherhood. Established in 2004, FI has a unique seat at the national table, working with leaders in the White House, Congress, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Family Law, and the Responsible Fatherhood Movement. FI works collaboratively with organizations around the country to identify and advocate for social and legislative changes that lead to healthy father involvement with children, regardless of the father’s marital or economic status, or geographic location. From employment and incarceration issues, to child support and domestic violence, FI addresses long-standing problems to achieve long-term results for children, their families, the communities, and nation in which they live.

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