Happy Father’s Day, but Where is my Father?

As children, we all have at least one repetitive question that follows us throughout our childhood. Some of us ask, while others never get the nerve to. One question that unfortunately many African Americans have been able to connect with is, “where is my father?”

Father’s day has a different meaning for me. I see it as a yearly reminder of the question that every year I was afraid to have answered. In elementary school, we were instructed to make cards, draw pretty pictures and be thankful for our fathers. But what was there for the kids who didn’t know who their fathers were, to do?

I was instructed to make a card for my mother, and happily did so, but still the burning question of who he was filling my 9,10, and 11-year-old brain. 

Was he dead?  

Did he not want me?

One day, when I was about 12 years old, I arrived home, from a long weekend at my cousin’s house. I opened the door, walked into the living room and a man who looked familiar stood up. He smiled and asked, “do you know who I am?” Confused I responded, “my cousin.” He looked at me, grinned, and responded, “I’m your father.” 

While I eventually met mine, many children never meet theirs, who year after year agonize over the pain of not knowing. Never throwing the football around with him in the front yard of your Grandmother’s house in the warm summer heat; never connecting with him on a level that you never quite could with your Mother; or even feeling comfortable enough to open up and express yourself as a more authentic you. 

I later found out that when I was about 3 my mother decided to keep me away from my father [thus mitigating the celebration of Father’s day]. They were young, immature, and just couldn’t see eye to eye. Yet, this decision affected me in a way that a child should never be affected. While I don’t necessarily blame my mother for her decision anymore, it gave me insight and made me become more appreciative of the relationship I was able to later develop with my father. 

On this Father’s day, we must all think about all the children, no matter the circumstance, with missing fathers. Consider the empty space they feel and offer them emotional support. Remember, you make your own family, so if you can stand in for their lack, do it. Educate others and spread awareness about the lack that lies on the outskirts of this joyful holiday. Find ways to sprinkle a little joy into the lives of the children who wonder, “who is my father?”  

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