The Missing Parent.
Many stories about women growing up without their fathers have been publicized throughout entertainment in documentaries, movies, and music. Millions of children across the country are growing up without their biological father or a father figure. According to the National Fatherhood Initiative, the urban community and African Americans have the highest statistics of father absence homes. Researchers from the Psychology Today have stated that young women and men suffer from confusion and emotional pain without a father figure present. Yet, women have a high risk of relationship failure without the lack of a father figure. The bigger problem is the growing trend of fathers disconnecting from their children. Today’s couple co-habitat without the commitment of marriage, and have children out-of-wedlock. There is an old saying “it takes a village to raise a child”. Yet, the village particularly in the African American communities in Detroit, Chicago, and Benton Harbor, MI has transitioned from collectivism to individualism. Two devoted fathers discuss the growing trend of absentee fathers in the urban community.
There are many factors to the cause and effect of father absence on women. Due to Wisconsin Senator Grothman’s statement on CNN, that women are responsible for absentee fathers due to their choices or “unplanned” pregnancies, the focus have shifted off of men as the main problem in this epidemic. Some men have even chastised women for hindering fathers in their children’s lives. According to author Shannon Rayford, throughout history African American women have seen themselves as head of their households. They have been left to raising their children on their own. Many have raised their girls to play the same roles as themselves, but have spoiled their boys by giving them no responsibility and no male figure to look up to.
The psychological effect of absentee fathers has plagued many women for years. In a single parent household their is a void of the other parent missing that a strong effect on the child, and their ability to communicate with the opposite sex. Women who grow up fathers are often in search of a “father figure”. Typically, young girls try to find a mate who is similar to their father, but the absence of a father can lead to confusion on what to look for in a mate. Devan Bell, a successful social worker from Michigan speaks out on her emotional journey growing up without her father.
Although millions of children are raised without a father, statistics show the disportionate rate of African American children growing up without their father in comparison to other races and ethnicities. According to The Grio. com, President Obama stated that “Twenty-three percent of young people are growing up without father, in the African American community it’s close to fifty percent, maybe a little over depending on the stats you look at. So there is a real crisis going on in the African American community on this issue”.
Despite the statistics, they are many African American fathers in the urban community that are actively involved in their children’s lives and present in the household. Keith Gavin, a devoted husband and father believes in dispelling the stereotype of black males in the urban community. Keith Gavin just recently celebrated his daughter Kaitlyn’s fourth birthday, and believes in being a positive role model for his daughter.
One of the key solutions of finding the root too absentee fathers, is to communicate with an absentee father to find out why and how they dis-connect with their children. Joseph Outlaw, a former absentee father explains why he was absent from his daughter’s life, and how he has turned his life around to become a better father.
Many African American children grew up watching “The Cosby Show” in awe, and wished that they had Cliff and Clair Huxtable as their mother and father. Instead many children just had Clair Huxtable without Cliff Huxtable. According to InSightNews.com, psychological studies addressing the impact of fathers on both the biological and emotional development of girls show equally compelling evidence that girls are in need of fathering. For example, in one study, a team led by psychologist Bruce Ellis of the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, England, followed more than 700 girls from preschool to age 17 or 18, monitoring 10 different aspects of their lives including family income, behavioral problems, exposure to violence and parenting styles. The study confirmed that teenage girls raised without fathers are more likely to suffer from depression, drop out of school, and have other behavioral problems. Children in urban communities across the country continue to struggle with the adversities of everyday life in addition to they dynamics of family structure. Organizations like the National Fatherhood Initiative and The Black Star Project are promoting fatherhood among all racial groups, and tackling the crisis of absentee fathers in the urban community with workshops, seminars and support groups. Families and relationships will continue to face obstacles, with continued support and research the epidemic of absentee fathers can decrease with both parents communicating effectively for the sake of not only little girls, but all children.