While Father’s Day is coming up and you are probably feeling one of two ways. Either you are already tired of the commercials about what manly gift to get dad or you’re disturbed by some of the news about despicable crimes that fathers have committed. Like this man in France who allegedly killed his two small children in his first unsupervised visit with them.
Father’s Day is typically less heralded than Mother’s Day and I have always wondered if this is a reflection of our society. Stories of great mothers are not hard to find, whether it is a single mom or not, the celebration of great mothers is highly visible. If as a society we celebrated the successes of great fathers the same as mothers, and didn’t treat Father’s Day as a secondary celebration maybe we could make a dent in the rising epidemic of absent fathers.
15 million or one in three children live without a father; this is even more prevalent in the black community where 54% of children live without a father. If you visit any poor urban community it won’t be hard to find evidence of the absent father. When you also consider that one in three black males can expect to go to jail at some point in their lives, you can begin to see why the epidemic of absent fathers impacts the black community more than others.
I did not grow up without a father, but grew up in an area where the lack of fathers was prevalent. As we got older the cycle continued. The presence of a father in my home helped me to understand the importance of being in my children’s lives. Others who grew up with me and had no father have different perspectives. Some vowed to not be like their absent fathers, while others feel they turned out alright so their involvement in their own kids’ lives is not very important.
The epidemic of absent fathers is a contributing factor to many issues destroying our communities, and it needs to be addressed. One way to address this is to not treat Father’s Day and fathers in general as the secondary parent in the level of importance. The more we talk about and showcase how fulfilling it is to be a father both for the child and the father maybe we can make some progress. It seems on some level that society has accepted the fact that fathers are secondary and not as important which is why we don’t celebrate fathers with the same vigor. If we begin to change that, maybe we can impact more fathers to be active in their children’s lives and this holiday can take on a whole new meaning.