There is now more than ever before a void in the traditional family unit, and that is the absence of fathers. This void has left sons and daughters in an environment where they have created their own interpretation of what is right and what is wrong.
Fatherless homes, especially for young boys, can mean that kids grow up without a role model and a mentor. Children then search out father figures in all of the wrong places. Some in today’s society are calling into question the exact role of fathers and how they are viewed. We are perceived as providers, breadwinners and disciplinarians. However, there are other characteristics such as kindness, generosity and understanding that we have as well. Those aforementioned traits are not extolled enough in my view.
Over the years I have started to consider why boys in particular need their fathers so much. Most literature will say that the absence of fathers is one of America’s greatest social challenges. I agree. Pretty much my actions and behaviors as a man are all based upon my father. My father was Jamaican and he was my parent and not my friend. He also had an unbelievable work ethic.
My father did not try to curry favor with me. He didn’t try to “buddy up” with me by acting a certain way or doing certain things. I can say with a high degree of certainty the same was true of the fathers in my neighborhood in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. So my parenting skills were shaped by both of my parents, yet my father’s influence is my foundation.
I know that I was not the most popular person in my house as a father, nor am I now as a grandfather. I believe my father saw his role as preparing me for a bright future in a tough world. I see my role as the same. The global opportunities for young people these days are endless. Yet in order to take advantage of them, both boys and girls must be prepared educationally, socially and spiritually. If you leave one of these out you may miss the boat of opportunity.
I tell my grandchildren, especially my grandson, that each day. He takes great pleasure in beating me now in basketball. However, I remind him that I am not his competition and that his competition is sitting next to him each day in class. He must beat them educationally in order to get his share of the world’s pie.
If you as a father do not have a relationship with your child, then develop a relationship. If they are not with you, then enhance your relationship with the custodial parent so that you can spend some time with them. Going to the movies or to a game could be a start. Because you are out of the house does not mean that you cannot be in their life. It takes more effort but in the end it will all be worth it.
Don’t let days and weeks pass without connecting with them. Maybe on holidays you will get a necktie and a pair of argyle socks. These gifts date me so you may be smartphone eligible!
Children have memories, so let them remember you were in their life.
And remember, being remembered is a great thing!
Could training in implicit bias be helpful at your institution?