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THE ALCHEMY OF LOVE IN FATHERHOOD: CARRY GREAVES

A recent survey from Careerbuilder.com stated that almost 30% of Fathers would be willing to take a pay cut to spend more time with their children. And about 35% of 25 million American children live without their biological fathers. Is this a good thing? In one sense we may feel good that many Fathers would take a pay cut to spend more time with their children. But on the other hand, there are still so many children who are living without their biological fathers. What’s even more painful is that many of these same children will most likely have behavioral problems in school, be more likely to get involved with drugs of all sorts, and come in contact with the criminal justice system. And their social interaction with others will be difficult and, to a degree, hampered.

Many fathers who unfortunately live in low income communities are more prone to be absent from their children’s lives for many reasons. And one of the reasons, from personally speaking to them, is that they feel they could not provide for their children financially the way that they wanted to. As a result, some of them turned to illegal activities which they believed would have made a difference financially. But the end consequence was coming in touch with the prison industrial complex.

Most of these Fathers know that taking such a position was and is not an excuse or justification for them abandoning their children. Most studies indicate that the children’s biological fathers leave their children’s lives by the age of three years old. And at this age, most children are very impressionable and are influenced by what they hear and/or see in their environment.

A radio show host in New York City was speaking about the state of fatherhood when a young woman called in and pleaded to the listening audience:

“For all the men who are listening, please do not leave your children’s lives. They need you whether you know it or not. And they need you just like they need their mother. And because my father was not in my life, I became pregnant at 15 years old. And now my son’s father did the same thing my father did. He left. Now I’m raising him all alone with the help of welfare assistance. Please stay, love, and communicate with your children even if you’re not with their mother.”

The caller was crying through her whole statement which gave a glimpse into the pain and disappointment that she was dealing with, which will inevitably transfer over to her son if she does not get some type of counseling or closure.

But the damage will probably not stop there. It’s like a revolving door. The son of this woman caller will likely grow up despising and feeling angry at his father for not being there for him or his mother. And this can continue, if he is not properly educated about the dynamics of Fatherhood, well into his adult years – especially if he is to ever become a father.

In the words of author and Professor Cornel West, who stated:

“When a child is deprived of parental love, that youngster is able to grow up in an infantilized state . . . never developing a love of self, never developing the ability to reach out to others. This is a recipe for violence against oneself and against others, for anger and aggression remain raw and exposed, untempered by a commitment to anyone or anything. It is also a recipe for civil collapse.”

To promote father stability in their children’s lives, communities must begin to establish forums that convene regularly to have “straight-no chaser” dialogues about the issues surrounding Fatherhood. Fathers of all Walks of Life and professions should also be in attendance as participants. But in these forums, children should also play a role because they are the ones who are mostly affected by not having a father in their lives. As we know, the solutions that may come up may not be ideal or perfect but the effort of putting it into action is a start. As a community, we will have to persevere in the face of any oncoming difficulty that may be in opposition to creating such forums of Fatherhood discussions.

In each community, community leaders within these forums will have to mold helpers from amongst them to help fulfill and promote the solutions that deal with the issues of Fatherhood. Although some of us may be at variance ideologically, we must acknowledge and show deference for each other’s role in building stable family structure within our homes and communities.



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