By T. Scott/EEW Magazine News Staff
In April 2000, Donnie McClurkin fathered a son, Matthew, now 12. Though the gospel great views having a child outside of wedlock as a “personal failure,” he is on record saying, “I don’t regret my son. I love him.” Now McClurkin is on a mission to demonstrate that professed love by making “drastic changes” in order to be a part of the tween boy’s life consistently.
In a deeply personal and revealing interview on a recent episode of TBN’s Praise the Lord, McClurkin opened up about his complex relationship with his son Matthew in a way he never has. The “We Fall Down” singer is working hard to break a cycle of neglect that began with his own father. “Although my dad was in the home, he never spent time with me,” he told Kirk Franklin in front of a live studio audience—a mistake he hopes not to make with Matthew.
“That’s been my Herculean task now, to heal that stuff with my son and be that father,” he confessed, stressing the importance of family. “Family is everything to me…everything I have hinges on my relationship with my family and the only part of my family that was broken was me and my son.”
Though the successful singer and pastor of Perfecting Faith Church in Freeport, NY, who is gearing up for the 16-city King’s Men tour with Kirk Franklin, Marvin Sapp, and Israel Houghton, has supported his offspring materially, he has not provided something money can’t buy, which is time.
“I’m a good supplier. I’m a good provider,” McClurkin said, but, “I had to make some drastic decisions and changes just recently, just within the last month” to make Matthew a regular part of his life.
Though McClurkin praises Matthew’s mother, Kim, for doing a fantastic job with the son they share, he knows she cannot fill a father’s shoes.
“Now [I’m working] to relate to him every day and [things like] picking him up from school [is an adjustment],” said McClurkin, who transparently added that he is fearful of failing. “I got up in the morning and [prayed] a simple prayer,” he shared. “I looked up to God and said, ‘God, I’m afraid, so help me to be a good father.’”
Day by day, he is growing more comfortable with his role and is learning lots from an unlikely teacher. “My son is teaching me how to love,” McClurkin said. “My son is releasing me to love.”
This is not the first time McClurkin has opened up about painful and private issues to help others. In June, he wept during a conversation with CeCe Winans on TBN while discussing his molestation by two different male family members.
Watch the video below of Donnie McClurkin sharing his fatherhood journey at the 20:20 mark.
Perhaps the high profile Christian leader’s admission of failure and fear in the area of fatherhood will encourage other men to repair their fragmented relationships with their own sons.
According to 2011 U.S. Census Bureau data, over 24 million children live apart from their biological fathers. That is 1 out of every 3 (33%) children in America. Nearly 2 in 3 (64%) African American children live in homes without the presence of a father.