*Close to 40% of Americans grow up without a father.
This explains why so many people are bitter, angry and sometimes even hostile towards men. It explains it, with the caveat of complete blame for men, which is becoming an American pastime.
Who knows how many of those fathers have been pushed out of the children’s lives? I ask this because at some point, folks need to seek resolution instead of holding on to pain and anger, which only helps to continue the cycle.
But Americans do hold on to pain and anger and African Americans more so than anyone else—particularly when it comes to daddy issues.
The pain and anger from not having a father, or from having to raise children without the help of a father festers and morphs into deep resentment for the absent father, and for many, resentment of men in general.
That resentment has become devaluation. Psychology 101 reveals that a basic human response to being unable to have something is to begin to reject the desire to have it. This is why we hear so many women state proudly that they neither need nor want a man in their lives. They are in pain and they are angry because they did not have it, and they attempt to convince themselves that they no longer want it.
In dating and relationships, it has become man repellent.
In the homes, it has manifested as something more destructive.
Devaluing men has resulted in throngs of adult males who are anything but men, having been raised by women who placed no value on men—including the ones they were raising. This only adds to the number of fathers who have no idea how to stand up and be men or fathers.
Some women have become so comfortable devaluing men that many now celebrate Father’s Day by claiming that they are holding both the male and female role in parenting. The subtext is screaming that men are so unnecessary that women can fill in their role and nothing will be missing.
The problem is that a great deal will still be missing. For example, a woman cannot provide a child with male modeling, something crucial to the development of a child’s social coping skills.
Without male modeling, boys will be unable to interact with men and so will struggle to fully develop as men. Girls will be unable to understand interactions with men and so will struggle in relationships, dating and subsequent motherhood. Both will grow up believing that men are unnecessary.
How is a boy or young man supposed to become a fully functioning member of society if he has no idea how to interact with other men and worse, if he believes that his very existence is unnecessary?
Many women find themselves in the untenable situation of raising children alone. And while some of them may do the very best they can as single mothers, they cannot function as fathers.
Previous generations understood this and sought to fill the father’s role with older brothers, uncles, grandparents, coaches and other community members.
Many of today’s single mothers have convinced themselves that they can step in and fill the role of the father themselves.
It’s creating a cycle, since these women who grew up without fathers themselves need to be validated because they won’t get therapy. Their abject need for validation ruins their own children who won’t be able to become men or hold men. What man would stay with a woman who is constantly competing with him, challenging him and devaluing him?
When we speak of modeling, much of what a father teaches a child comes from the child’s observation.
For example, everything I do, my son wants to do. He watches the way I talk, dress, chew, sit, stand and pee, and tries to duplicate it all. I watched my Father and now, I’m watching my son watch me. He doesn’t watch his mother with the same intensity and he is watching me instinctively. He also understands, instinctively, that Daddy will protect him. This is the baseline and will be valuable, in addition to the discussions that we have now and will continue to have over the years.
The ignorant women who claim to be both mother and father need to think about this when they wish each other Happy Father’s Day, devaluing men. They should ask themselves: “What are you modeling for your son without a man? What kind of man will he be if he grows up celebrating you in a male role as a father? What kind of man will your daughter select if she grows up believing men have no value?”
And we have to ask ourselves as a people, why do we establish and support such wretched behavior? While others may do the same ignorant things, we have gone to great lengths with it. So much so that corporations are marketing products that pander to our own pain, anger, confusion and abject ignorance.
Hallmark’s Mahogany line of greeting cards now makes a card for mothers who want to celebrate each other on Father’s Day. There is no “Happy Father’s Day” card for females in any other race.
Something is very dangerous about that.
It crosses a line that hasn’t been crossed before. Father’s Day was created by the child of a man who had become a widower and raised his six children alone. Mother’s Day was already a holiday and instead of celebrating him on that day with “Happy Mother’s Day”, his daughter wanted him to have his own day. When women find themselves raising children alone, why do they feel the need to have both Mother’s Day AND Father’s Day?
We know that there are some men who dodge their responsibility as fathers. And that has to be addressed. That has to be improved.
There are men who are stepping in as mentors. There are also organizations emerging to address the issue, including the National Fatherhood Initiative and Real Dads Network.
It is understood that there are reasons on both sides of the gender divide that find mothers raising children alone.
Some of them are on the male side, with shiftless men who refuse to own up to their responsibility and do everything in their power to avoid fatherhood.
Some of those reasons are on the female side, with vindictive women who do everything they can to force the men out of their children’s lives, since they want the men out of their own lives.
But whatever the case, we cannot pretend that a female can fill the role of father.
We are now in the third generation/cycle of American male devaluation and even some of these frail, spineless males are afraid to confront the beast. But if we don’t shout: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, then tomorrow’s children will be going straight to hell in a handbasket.
There’s enough negativity surrounding fatherhood—particularly Black Fatherhood—that more needs to be spoken either in positive or at least for pragmatic purposes.
The work of assuring that more fathers are in the lives of children is the work of us all.
And, the most important part of that work is beginning to value men.
Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology “Notes From The Edge.” James’ stage play, “Love In A Day,” opened in Los Angeles this Spring and will be running all Summer. View previous installments of this column at www.bridgecolumn.proboards36.com. Reach James at [email protected].