Are You That Father?

    As a Literacy teacher, I am always prepared for literature that we read in class to elicit feelings in my students due to connections that they make to what the characters in the book are going through.  We are currently reading a book about four children who were abandoned by their parents and the events caused one of my students to have a very emotional reaction.

    We were having a class discussion about the chapter we had just read and I asked if it was realistic to say that losing a parent early on has a profound impact on a person’s life long-term.  One of my male students raised his hand and stated that if his father died it would not affect him at all because his father was never there for him and walked out when he was little.  He then proceeded to sob uncontrollably to the point that I had to stop the lesson to comfort him.

    As I reflect on this experience, I can’t help but think how familiar this story is in most of my students’ cases.  Many of them come from single parent homes and are being raised by their mothers with little or no financial or emotional help from their fathers.  One would think that these children are just fine because, after all, you can’t miss what you never had in the first place, right?  Wrong.

    I’m the mother of two sons and I often observe my boys interacting with my husband.  As much as I would hate to admit that I can’t do everything on my own, there are things that my husband imparts to my boys from the perspective of being a man that I would not be able to.  This doesn’t take away from the marvelous job that many single mothers are doing raising their children alone.  However, it is heartbreaking that these absentee fathers don’t realize the impact that their absence is having on the lives of their children.

    It saddens me to think of my student who must feel so much betrayal at the actions of his father.  No child should have to bear this type of burden at the hands of a parent who is supposed to nurture and protect him.  I made it clear to my student when I spoke to him after class that he has the right to be happy and have a wonderful life and should not let the actions of adults impede his quest for success and happiness.  Words are easier said than done, though…He is a teenager and needs a positive male role model more than anything right now.

    If any fathers who are “that father” are reading this post, I hope that they will realize what an impact their absence is having on the lives of their children.  It is time for them to put aside petty conflicts with the mothers of their children and step up to the responsibility of being real men.  The day they conceived those children did not make them men, taking care of them and being there for them through the good times and the bad times is the test of a true man.  For those men who are not “that father” I applaud you for being there for your children and stepping up to the plate.

    Let’s discuss, how much of a negative impact do you think absentee fathers have on the overall success of their children throughout their lives?

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  1. This is heartbreaking and yet so true. The one thing that my ex and I agreed on was that we wouldn’t let our personal issues come between the relationship that we each have with our daughters. Like you said, as much as we want to do it all and can handle everything, there are things that a father brings to his child (whether a boy or a girl) that as a woman, I never could.

    I send hugs to your student and hope that perhaps that experience begins the healing for him. So many times kids just bottle it up and try to ignore it. I hope that he is able to grow from this and learn from the lessons you were trying to impart on him.


    • I think it is wonderful, Sili, that your ex and you have agreed to be amicable for the sake of the children. That is what mature and responsible adults do. I also hope that my student will find a way to heal from this so that it doesn’t stand in his way of becoming great.

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