Without A Dad
My father passed away soon after my 15th birthday. We were never close. I hardly knew the man. Whether he had a clue about me – a child he saw no more days than in a month before his death – I am not sure.
So, Father’s Day was never celebrated in my house. “Daddy,” did not live with us.
See, I am a member of that statistical group – Fatherless Children and according to the “U.S. Census Bureau, one-third of all American children are growing up without their biological fathers.” As I did not grow up in the United States (US), this information was obtained from the website “Growing Up Without A Father” that also highlighted the following finding:
“A study of 13,986 women in prison showed that more than half grew up without their father. Forty-two percent grew up in a single-mother household and sixteen percent lived with neither parent.”
Specifically to my ethnic community in the US, “among Black children, 48.5% are growing up with a single custodial parent,” according to the website, Without A Father.
Looking to Canada, my second home, between 2006 and 2011, “lone-parent families increased 8.0% over the same period. Growth was higher for male lone-parent families (+16.2%) than for female lone-parent families (+6.0%).” So says The 2011 Census of the Population.
Fatherlessness – A Growing Epidemic
Seems we are in the midst of reaping the fruits of an ever-growing epidemic of fatherlessness – in the United States, here in Canada, and according to the following report, in the United Kingdom as well:
“Growing up without a father could permanently alter the structure of the brain and produce children who are more aggressive and angry, scientists have warned. Children brought up only by a single mother have a higher risk of developing ‘deviant behaviour’, including drug abuse, new research suggests. It is also feared that growing up in a fatherless household could have a greater impact on daughters than on sons.” Ben Spencer, Mail Online
“Our fatherlessness problem is being a world leader in fathering children outside marriage or even permanent committed relationships, something which we have glorified and normalised. The 2011 census says 68 per cent of Jamaicans over 16 (why starting at 16?) have never married, against a mere 24 per cent which have and remain married. Over 80 per cent of Jamaican children are born out of wedlock. The majority of these used to not even have their father’s name on their birth certificate, the most basic association with a father.” The Cost of Absent Fathers, 2013
Can you see my raised hand from where you are? Yes, I am on this list as well – my father’s name is not on my birth certificate. For 50 years now, I have proudly bore his name but half a century ago he had no desire to acknowledge his association with me.
Living the Reality of Fatherlessness
Yesterday, Clara Brown, one of the Contributors to this blog, wrote on the importance of educating girls. It is a sentiment that is wholly endorsed by me. Without the benefit of education, coupled with my inherent curiosity, my fortunes in this life might have been very different. My name might have been on a third list – former or current inmate of a federal penitentiary.
Not every child growing up without a father in the home will end up in prison. That is not my point. Neither is it a suggestion or joining the bandwagon of fundamentalists who preach fire and brimstone on the heads of women with children born out of wedlock.
As the child of a single parent, and a single parent myself, I know that there is a place outside of “the big house,” for fatherless children. Frankly, growing up without a father is preferable to me than growing up with one who is abusive, an alcoholic or a drug addict. However, having had close contact with fathers who were true “Dads,” I see the advantages of growing up, being nurtured and protected by both parents or at least with the active presence of a father in your life.
Reviewing a list of “likely to be present,” issues in the lives of fatherless children in the US, as presented on the website: Growing Up Without A Father, I identified the ones that are relevant to my experience:
- “In trying to satisfy their unmet emotional needs fatherless girls are more likely to be sexually promiscuous and are more vulnerable to the advances of predators who see their emotional needs and profit from them through commercial sexual exploitation.”
- “Children in father-absent homes are five times more likely to be poor. In 2002, 7.8 percent of children in married-couple families were living in poverty, compared to 38.4 percent of children in female-householder families.”
- “Women whose parents separated between birth and six years old experienced twice the risk of early menstruation, more than four times the risk of early sexual intercourse, and two and a half times higher risk of early pregnancy when compared to women in intact families.”
- “An analysis of child abuse cases in a nationally representative sample of 42 counties found that children from single-parent families are more likely to be victims of physical and sexual abuse than children who live with both biological parents. Compared to their peers living with both parents, children in single parent homes had:
- a 77% greater risk of being physically abused
- an 87% greater risk of being harmed by physical neglect
- a 165% greater risk of experiencing notable physical neglect
- a 74% greater risk of suffering from emotional neglect
- an 80% greater risk of suffering serious injury as a result of abuse
- overall, a 120% greater risk of being endangered by some type of child abuse.”
Survivors And Thrivers We Are
This is the story of a large part of my life. There is, however, another part. The woman who many of us are, us fatherless ones, is Survivor. In fact, many of us are now “Thrivers,” because we spent most of our lives unsuccessfully searching for the love, care and protection that only a Dad can give.
We learned how to swing a bat, throw a line, and change our car tires on our own. We had to.
This Father’s Day, we the fatherless will honour the men who did more than donate their sperm. The men who stepped up, stayed and stuck it out, was there for their children even when the marriage or relationship did not work. Let us pray for the men in our communities who have become surrogates for the community children. Children who feel like surrogates in their community might feel like that even in their own immidate family. I know a fatherless friend who had some serious family issues because of it. They had to call in a Mediation lawyer. It really did help them sort out their legal family disputes but also their emotional issues within the family. He says they were essential to solving the family issue and could not recommend them more.
A Father’s Day Poem From The Fatherless Children
Father’s Day Prayer by Kirk Loadman
“Let us praise those fathers who have striven to balance the demands of work, marriage, and children with an honest awareness of both joy and sacrifice.
Let us praise those fathers who, lacking a good model for a father, have worked to become a good father. Let us praise those fathers who by their own account were not always there for their children, but who continue to offer those children, now grown, their love and support. Let us pray for those fathers who have been wounded by the neglect and hostility of their children.
Let us praise those fathers who, despite divorce, have remained in their children’s lives. Let us praise those fathers whose children are adopted, and whose love and support has offered healing.
Let us praise those fathers who, as stepfathers, freely choose the obligation of fatherhood and earned their step children’s love and respect. Let us praise those fathers who have lost a child to death, and continue to hold the child in their heart.
Let us praise those men who have no children, but cherish the next generation as if they were their own.
Let us praise those men who have “fathered” us in their role as mentors and guides.
Let us praise those men who are about to become fathers; may they openly delight in their children.
And let us praise those fathers who have died, but live on in our memory and whose love continues to nurture us.”