1) Define the term father
The term father is normally defined according to biological relation, stating that a male has the right to have a legal or social relationship with his child. In my opinion, it’s just a statement on a birth certificate. The status, ‘father’ should be earned not given.
2) Tell me about what makes a father in your perspective.
What makes a good father, is their unconditional love for their child, willingness to be present and involved, and their endless support.
3) Tell me about your first encounter with your father and how was it?
As my parent’s divorced when I was 16, contact with my father after that was almost non-existent. He was in my life before that but his presence was quite fickle. Life without my father was unchanged after the divorce which showed me how little he was in my life. So, just because the father happens to live in the same building, doesn’t mean he’s present.
Don’t get me wrong, there were good days and memories of my father where he showed he was trying but his absence became more and more frequent as I got older. Going back to the divorce, the one thing that broke mine and my father’s relationship was the fact that he blamed me for the divorce.
So in that sense, you could imagine how it would have made me reluctant to go see him, but I did. That would have been my first encounter, purely to encourage him to contact my younger sibling, and that was a year and a half after the divorce.
It was awkward and upsetting, he tried to force money into my hands as if it would pay off the time he spent not contacting us but I could see that he wasn’t going to try to make an effort. It made me think, how can you just give up on us?
4) Tell me about why you think some fathers leave their families?
I think some father’s leave their families because they simply don’t have the guts to cope with all the responsibilities, which come with raising a family. So, like a coward they run, unaware of what they are leaving behind. Some eventually realise when it’s too late and the children no longer want contact.
5) Why do you think the issue of absent fathers is highly prevalent within the Afro Caribbean community?
I reckon there are more absent fathers in the Afro Caribbean community because they are less likely to be married to the child’s mother. So if the couple encounter problems in the relationship, there are fewer obligations to make the relationship work. Often, couple’s tend to try and make it work for the sake of the children, however this agreement soon dissolves leading back to square one.
6) In your personal experience what impact has the absence of your father had on you?
I would like to say that my father’s absence didn’t affect me but I would be lying. When it comes to men I’m certainly sceptical of their intentions before getting involved. At the same time, when I am involved I do become very vulnerable, very fast. I go into a relationship expecting there to be problems, so I don’t give my all into the relationship. It also made me feel resentful towards those with both parents in their life, I’m not going to lie.
7) Do you think that the issue of absent fathers has a link with self-esteem, emotional and psychological distress if so why?
I do. Both parent’s build a solid foundation, in which to bring up a child. If there is a divorce, both parents can still be in that child’s life and, support and care for them to the fullest. I’m not putting down any of the single mothers out there who have done this two-person job independently, but I will say that they are kidding themselves if they don’t think the child thinks of their father sometimes.
Especially, when they have so many friends around them who have both parents present. Often the child would blame themselves, which must have a negative impact on emotion and self –esteem. A lot of children tend to act out as a way of expressing how they feel indirectly which links to emotional and psychological distress.
8) In your view, do you feel there is an obvious difference between a child growing up with both parents and a child growing up in a single parent home? If so, what are these differences?
Yes, I feel there is a difference. In my opinion, those who are brought up without a father have negative views of men. The way they choose to deal with these views however, may differ. For example, rejecting of potential relationship due to an overall lack of trust in men or being overly demanding on emotional reassurance due to an overall fear of abandonment. Those who are brought up with a father may feel more neutral, so may pursue the chance of a relationship or be a lot more self- reliant.
9) What advice can you give to any female growing up without a father in the home?
Your mother is still there, give her some credit, she’s doing a two person job all by herself. If you are able to contact your father and the absence is impacting on your current life, you contact him.
I know it sounds ridiculous but sometimes it will give you the closure you need to move on, it may even open up a relationship (that’s if you want it to).
But often we beat ourselves up because there are a lot of unanswered questions, gaps that need filling in. You wouldn’t want to go about your life wondering.
10) What advice can you give an absent father?
Go back to your children/child, they may forgive you if you make to effort to get back in contact. Mistakes can be amended, to a limit. You may be surprised. Don’t be stupid, you need your children just as much as they need you, don’t leave it too late to realise that.
Naomi, Reading UK