Recently, I wrote a commentary on a recent murder that happened. This murder happened by a young African American teenager in Philadelphia. He murdered his mother. It really hurt my heart to read about. There were some important comments made in response by mothers. So, I decided to write a letter to my sisters…
~This is to all my sisters….my single parent sisters~
I want each of you to know that when I lift up the fact that there is something…no some-one missing in this boys’s life that could have made a huge difference it does not negate or cancel out his mother’s efforts or actions to instill love, values, discipline, etc in this boy’s life.
I can understand why as single mothers there may be sensitivity when attention is called to the gaping hole and pain that exists when a father is absent. Because it is painful. But, let’s be real…. I know first hand. My father was an on again off again presence in my life for much of my childhood. It wasn’t until my mother remarried when I was 6 that I had a CONSISTENT male figure in my life. And, maaan did my stepfather make a huge difference. His mere presence, let alone his investment in me and love for me dramatically impacted my view of men, and the world…
But, guess what? Even with his undying love for his little girl (because he truly took me on as his own) it did not and could not fill the hole that was left by not having my biological father in my life.
Someone said: I AM THE FATHER. No…..you are not. You can no more be a father than you can sprout a penis or make sperm.
As women most of us can certainly understand how an absent mother can significantly impact a child. So, let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that an absent father does not. I’m not sure why some sisters felt the need to list the accomplishments of their children and talk about all that they have done to sacrifice for and raise their children well. My shedding light on the absent father in this scenario again was not an attempt to knock that mama or any mother.
My talking about the absentee father is certainly not saying that if a father or male figure is not around the male child will be an absolute failure. My point was that men make a difference in the lives of little men. You can have a successful young man come out of a single parent (woman) household and be SUPER successful in the world’s eyes. But, I guarantee you (and this is not just my opinion….this is based on years of experience, working with hundreds of young adolescent males, and the research) HE WILL STILL HAVE ISSUES TO DEAL WITH PSYCHOLOGICALLY AND EMOTIONALLY AS IT RELATES TO NOT HAVING HIS FATHER OR RELATIONSHIPS WITH A MAN WHO GENUINELY LOVES AND LOOKS OUT FOR HIM.
PLEEEEEEEEASE understand that there is NOTHING you can do about that. Even in a two parent household there are pains that children will experience from one parent or another that the other parent can do NOTHING about. We can love the child, be there for the child, but you cannot take the pain away or fill the hole up for your child. Im sorry, you just can’t. Only God and that person can do it for themselves….
Now, as I mentioned in the post I have counseled African American male teens for several years and the common thread for the children I have worked with is that they are angry, delinquent, oppositional, and have no fathers. Now, wait a sec, IN ADDITION to that the environments they live in have a whole bunch of negative influences….oftentimes their mothers have significant emotional and mental health problems , these young men are not being exposed to different possibilities for their lives , and their are generational issues in the home like alcoholism, drug abuse, neglect etc.
So, I AGREE, having a home with an absentee father does not doom one to a life of misery by any means.
BUT KNOW THIS: The young men who had uncles, brothers, etc. STILL DID SIGNIFICANTLY BETTER than the ones with no male figure. Even the young men I worked with who had dysfunctional, f*@ked up fathers who were in the home or consistently involved in their sons’ lives DID SIGNIFICANTLY BETTER than the ones with no male figure.
Many of you said that you make it a point to have men involved in your childrens’ lives and that is so crucial! So, it seems to me that some of us understand that just because there is no father in the home doesn’t mean that our children can’t be exposed to examples of and HAVE RELATIONSHIPS WITH (there is a difference) strong men.
Like someone said ….it really does take a village. Why, a village? Because each person, each gender, each generation has a part to play…..has a role. If one person could do it all there would be no need for the village. But, it’s NEVER that simple…..NEVER.