Warning: This piece is raw, rough and personal. It is about fatherless children- and the men who hung that label on them. Do not proceed if harsh truths are too hard for you to take. But if you can move forward with it, just know that the purpose of this piece is to help those that might need it- not to hurt them. However, some of the words that follow will hurt. At least you can proceed knowing up front that I am not telling you what I think, I am telling you what I know. For the second time in a single paragraph I am pressing the point that this is highly personal.
I know this issue from every angle and can speak with enough authority to tell you that most of what you have read on it is virtually useless. For starters, women cannot help a man understand this issue. This is a case where gender is everything. So ladies, this is one of the few times where you need to be cool with being in a support role and nothing else. You can lead in almost any other circumstance but not here. Unless you grew a pair of balls after you birthed your last child, you can’t tell a man shit about how to get out of the mess that he makes when he abandons a child. I know it hurts, but your hurt is just one of many hurts in this harrowing scenario.
Besides, the men who you think are such shining examples of fatherhood and may have your respect and adulation may have two kids somewhere that he hasn’t seen in a decade that you don’t know shit about. So abandon the pretense that you can tell anything about this subject that a man does not give up voluntarily. Absentee fathers have learned to hide in plain sight like you wouldn’t believe.
And getting women like you to see them as great fathers is just the elixir they need to keep their own demons at bay.
The abandonment of a child for any reason is the social equivalent to perpetrating a church bombing- only in this scenario a family home is being decimated. Like church, a family home is a place where people should congregate in peace, joy, love and comfort but it can be converted into an emotional house of horrors by the act of a single individual’s depraved indifference to the lives and well-being of others. And just like in a church bombing, the damage can be extreme, far-reaching and permanent with the innocent children suffering the greatest injuries.
The core ethos of this communications platform is aggressive, bare knuckles political discourse. But politics is not just about elections and public policy. Politics play out in our most personal intimate relationships as well. And our family dynamics can be every bit as political as anything we can watch on CNN or MSNBC on any given night. Doubt my account when you ask a grown woman how she feels about the other children that her absentee father raised their entire lives while ignoring her very existence. It doesn’t get any more political- or painful- than that. In the end, the lives of these children was determined directly by thier tribal affiliation: who was their mother and what influence did she have with the father. Those politics have led men to rationalize and justify abandonment and that is where that church bomb finally goes off on the abandoned child and the mother holding him. And that ain’t a pretty picture.
There is nothing more damaging to the family dynamic than the absentee father. There isn’t even a close second. And I am well aware that women pull disappearing acts here and there but this is a space for real dialogue so I am not even entertaining any discussion that draws on false equivalencies. By every statistical measure, fathers being absent from the lives of their children is the scourge of our society- every bit as damaging as drug addiction, poverty and violent crime (all of which have been linked to an increase in fatherless homes). To this very day, the number one statistical proxy for determining the social station that a child will occupy is the educational level of that child’s father. That is a disturbing statistic but it’s real. So where does that leave the child with no relationship with her father? Out in the cold yet again.
It is frightening how easily we can make excuses for depriving a child of what rightfully belongs to them but we complain like bitches when a referee makes a bad call in a fucking football or basketball game because it unfairly deprived someone of something we think they should have.
Meanwhile, the children we sired and fired without cause will be left to their own devices to balance themselves emotionally and psychologically in a world that reminds them constantly that they were rejected by the man directly charged with protecting them. How in the fuck do they manage to do that? They may be lucky and have a mother that is especially adept at treating thier wounds and changing the dressing knowing full well that the wounds will never really heal. So a skilled and committed mother can be a huge help but that’s not going to be enough. God is going to have to step in somewhere to close the gap but who knows when or where or how that may come to pass. But that gap is there as long as the child’s father is not. That is the arithmetic of life.
The mothers of these abandoned children are stuck figuring out how to build a Frankenstein’s Monster type of father for her children until they find a full time replacement. So she’ll find one man to do one thing. Some other man to do another thing. And yet another man to do that last thing. All the while trying to balance her own life and identity as a woman. Does she really want to have to lay down on top of somebody or lead somebody on just to have someone to go to the Father-Daughter dance with her little girl or teach her son how to tie a tie?
She may not have to go that far, but she’s got to do something to fill the void that was left when you made her and her children into statistics. That takes a level of social dexterity that we cannot meaningfully relate to as men. And we loved the fuck out of her when we were making that child so we can’t shake the charge of being an asshole when we hate them so much such a short time later that we leave them in a quagmire that makes the war in Afghanistan look like a game of checkers.
But it happened. You fucked up and now you know it. Where do you go from here? You just have to own it and bull forward against ferocious headwinds. Here is the real deal: whatever the reason was that you decided to leave this child on the side of the road of your life’s journey, your decision to come back to pick them up will be far more consequential. Make no mistake about it: It will be a bitch to deal with all that is involved: people minding your business, making their comments or taking shots- knowing half the story at best. Fuck them. Maybe you’ll have to deal with the courts. Fuck them too. Maybe the mother’s bitterness will be so extreme that volatility is always imminent. But hold on to her “fuck you” for a while and just be cool. You may or may not need hers later. Just give her time to vent as she needs to while you re-engage. Dig the fact that you did the wrong thing and she got hurt because you did. She is entitled to some time to bitch- even if she deserved it when you broke off with her as the preamble to your fucked up decision to also break off with the child.
This is the test that you will just have to put yourself to. Expect and prepare for the worst if you want to bring that little kid back into your world. Test yourself to see if you can take it and sacrifice your own interests for those of the child. You may not have it in you to do it- the weight may be too heavy to lift- especially if many years have elapsed. But I know for certain that you’ll never know until you try. While you cannot change the fact that you fucked up in the past with this child, you have complete control over what happens tomorrow. And at the risk of pulling on emotions, your child will probably be glad to have you back- regardless of the circumstance. That was the most bitter-sweet lesson I ever learned.
∞ Thanks 4 checking in- Do your thing 2day & I’ll see you tomorrow π