This past weekend, I watched an episode of the tv show, Iyanla Fix My Life on the OWN Network. This particular episode was about siblings who grew up in foster care because their mother was a drug addict and they had been taken away from her. Their stories seemed to be taken from a scene in the tv show Criminal Minds. One sibling said he had been in over 54 foster homes. All of the siblings appeared to now be in their twenties or early thirties. They had been raped, molested, forced to perform sexual acts on each other in order to eat. If they refused, they were locked away and served only water and two slices a bread once a day. One young man said he ate bread and water for over a month and was beaten with a baseball bat. To live through such horror, torture and pain at the hands of those who the state paid to care for you, is totally unacceptable and mind blowing. Their foster parents did have criminal minds. To say the least, these siblings are in emotional crisis. Iyanla did a pretty good job with trying to help them, but their journey is a long way from over.
During the show, Iyanla asked the question, “Where was your mother?” They explained that she was a drug addict and they had been taken away from her. But what confused me was no one mentioned or asked, “Where was your father?” If mom wasn’t there, why no one asked or even thought about dad? While I am not giving mom a pass, I am also not giving dad one either. But our society has been programmed to believe that the children’s safety and care falls only in the hands of the mother. And that is simply untrue. Dads have as much of a responsibility to the child as the mother.
We see the rise of fathers who are now taking a stand and becoming more involved and engaged in their children’s lives. We see all of the videos on social media that goes viral when a dad does his daughter’s hair, attends the father-daughter dance, or takes his daughter to dinner. We celebrate them. And I love that. I too have shared these videos. I think it’s wonderful. But let us not celebrate dads only. I don’t want fathers stepping up for the accolades.
Because every single day mothers around the world are caring for their children alone and are rarely celebrated. I have yet to see many videos go viral on social media of a mom who does her daughter’s hair or even her son’s hair. I don’t see viral videos of mom cooking for her children or going to their basketball games. Why? We’ve been programmed to believe that the care and welfare of the children falls solely on the mother.
But I beg the differ. We get our identity from our fathers or paternal connections. Your identity dictates everything about you. How you view yourself, others and the world. It dictates what you think, say and do. It dictates the choices you make in life. Here’s the real key, our pain can never heal until we heal our misplaced sense of identity. Fathers you hold the key to shaping your child’s identity. You do.
Recent studies have found that 70% of the female victims who fall prey to human and sex trafficking are fatherless and come from foster homes. Many of the victims have said they never felt security or love from a man until they met their pimp or perpetrator. Every human has basic emotional needs and there’s no way around this truth. These needs must be met and if they are not met by our primary foundational relationships with our fathers and mothers, they are many times met by people with bad intentions to harm us.
As I think about those siblings on Iyanla’s show, my heart gets heavy. Yet, when I think about the power we have to change fatherlessness by elevating the awareness of the many negative consequences it has on the lives of girls and women, I am hopeful. I believe we can make a difference. It starts with all of us attending to this arising moment. It starts with making sure dads understand they are needed and they have a responsibility to step up. To step up even if no one sees or notices. To step up where you’re celebrated or not. I will NOT pat you in the back to do what women have done for centuries. I will however, continue to encourage mothers and fathers to attend to this arising moment. That moment is now. And together, we can make radical change in the lives of the fatherless generation. Let’s attend to this arising moment.
Ready to become apart of a community that is attending to this arising moment? Become a Certified Fatherless Daughter Advocate today!