Father’s Day

I wrote this post a year ago on Father’s Day on my personal blog. Given that it’s still relevant, I am sharing it here, as I know for many, Father’s Day carries with it a lot of pain and brokenness. I kept the post in present tense.

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Prior to getting married last year, I didn’t give much thought to the Father’s Day holiday, as I was raised in a single parent household. I began to think about it more when my wife asked me to join her family for their Father’s Day get-together. I opted out of going and instead chose to visit my grandma in my hometown while my wife went to visit with her family. My view of Father’s Day is different than some; however, I know I’m not alone in this.

Some effects of fatherlessness

A two parent household is ideal; however, for many that’s not a reality. Furthermore, it’s sometimes better for the child not to have an unhealthy parent around.

Given that I work in community mental health, I see a lot of children living without an involved father or father figure. While fatherlessness alone would be a simplistic and erroneous explanation for their behavioral and mental health challenges, I’ve worked with many who struggle emotionally because their fathers are uninvolved or inconsistent. It has gotten to the point to where I begin writing “n/a” on the paperwork before asking questions about a child’s father. In the rare instances where a young client has a loving and involved father, I usually commend the father for being involved, especially if it’s an African-American father (*African-Americans have significantly higher rates of uninvolved fathers than other races in the United States).

There’s a lot of correlational research out there linking fatherlessness and mental health. Depending on the circumstances, those who grow up without fathers may have lower self-esteems, are more likely to live with a lower socioeconomic status in childhood, and may struggle with secure attachment with caretakers. These are just a few examples and don’t apply to everyone in this circumstance.

Ironically, I was born on Father’s Day; however, mine wasn’t in attendance, which makes sense. The news of my mother’s pregnancy was met with his insistence that she get an abortion and later, domestic violence towards her which thankfully did not result in loss of pregnancy. In my case, my father being uninvolved was more of a benefit to me than a setback. From what I’ve heard, he was/is involved in drug trafficking. A few sporadic encounters during childhood showed me that he isn’t a great person. I’ll spare you the details.

I’d be lying if I said there weren’t times where I envied my peers who seemed to have great relationships with their fathers; however, I don’t recall getting too sad about it.

Silver lining

Equally as common as fatherless children are the people who pick up the slack in their absence. Grandparents, stepparents, aunts, uncles, family friends, etc. In my case, that person was my grandmother. With her being involved, I had the fortune of being raised by not one but two mothers. Perhaps this isn’t ideal, but I like to think I turned out ok

The longer I work in the counseling field, the less I believe in the concept of a “normal family.” There are so many other configurations of family systems that work just as well. As long as a family system has people that love, encourage, and support each other, then it’s “normal” in my opinion.

Conclusion

While my posts tend to be more research-based than personal, I figured reflecting on my different perspective of Father’s Day would resonate with people like me. If you’re reading this and you’re an involved father, Happy Father’s Day! I commend you. If you’re like me and have a different experience with Father’s Day, be sure to take the time to reach out to those who filled in the gaps.

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Update: My own perspective on Father’s Day is evolving, as my wife and I are expecting our first (and last!) child around Christmas this year. I look forward to the journey for being a father. I had some good role models.

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One thought on “Father’s Day”

  1. Charna Brown says:

    Thank you for sharing and I will have my son read this

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