Writing on The Wall
A few years ago, I was doing a walkthrough of a real estate listing for a home that was vandalized by previous renters and as I walked the rooms, I noticed the graffiti on the walls—blue ink, black ink, red ink. I could smell the musty odor of an unkempt, untidy home. The family had used the walls as their notepad and had scribbled messages, phone numbers and addresses all over the white walls. I entered one of the bedrooms that I presumed belonged to one of the children in the family and noticed that this room was also tagged with graffiti. As I was leaving the room, I noticed a paragraph in perfect penmanship on the wall. It read:
“My Mom tried to raise us like suburban kids in the projects. She let me believe in Santa and all that crap. We had some man murdered a few doors down and the police didn’t come and get his body till daylight the next day. Actually it was noon.”
The message continued “But Christmas and the yearlong anticipation of Santa coming to the projects were incredibly real to me…until I was about 6 years old. That’s when my demands on Santa (my mama on welfare) got a little too steep. I was like Dear Santa: where the heck is my daddy and my grand daddies?”
That note on the wall spoke volumes to me. It touched me at my very core as I could relate to the sadness and to an extent, the anger of that six year old boy. In this blog, I would like to provide some insight and solicit some feedback on a concept I deem “The Daddy Issue”.
“The Daddy Issue” refers to a lack of emotional and psychological balance that results from the absence of a father, the abuse of a paternal relationship or paternal unreliability. Symptoms of “The Daddy Issue” at play include a deep-rooted frustration or anger at the slew of unanswered questions that arise from the continuum of its causes. At one end of the continuum of causes is paternal abandonment – where a father is totally absent from his child’s life. On the other end, there is paternal apathy which refers to the present but absent father who ignores the bulk of his responsibilities as a father.
Research shows that there are six primary areas in which people who experience the Daddy Issue are affected—financial stability, substance abuse, emotional health, educational achievement crime and pre-mature exposure to sexual activity. Consider the following statistics:
20% of children in 2 parent homes will experience poverty before 11 years old as compared to 75% of fatherless households
Children who live apart from their fathers are almost 5 times more likely to smoke cigarettes as teens
Children from mommy only homes are 3 times more likely to experience emotional and behavioral problems
Fatherless children are twice as likely to drop out of school
In 2005, 70% of men in prison came from homes with no father
Although these statistics only scratch the surface, they provide some insight into a phenomenon that needs attention. As someone who has personally experienced “The Daddy Issue”, I have a distinct passion for getting to the heart of issues related to fatherhood. Each week, I will outline the case for change in how fatherhood is viewed and conducted. I will showcase studies and statistics that will open our eyes to the "reproduction of fatherhood" and the need to prevent generational perpetuation of “The Daddy Issue”.