Two words that can easily scratch below the surface of a teenager exposing years of bitterness, insecurities and depression. I was once told that all I had to do in order to get to the core of a young person’s life struggles was ask how their relationship with their dad was. I’m not entirely sure I agree with that as the role mom plays seems to be too minimalistic in this scenario. An absentee father, however, is usually what you find in single parent households which makes this theory ring true most of the time.
I grew up with a compilation of “dads” ranging from my biological father who was out of the picture at 10 months to a boyfriend who decided to play house until his drinking got in the way. I would be lying if I said that my lack of a present dad didn’t effect me. When I met the man I call my Dad, I started the long road to healing; it’s a road I am still on today.
Most of our families at Joshua Station are made up of single parent homes with dad being long gone. We do have a few that break that mold, but most families are structured this way. Having experienced childhood without a dad around, I am aware of the impact that a healthy male relationship can have on their future.
It brings me great joy to see many of my friends taking the responsibility of being a dad so seriously and with excitement. I love being a dad to Emery. I find myself praying daily that nothing happens to me so that she doesn’t have to grow up without a dad around. I am often afraid of not being a great dad, but my experience (and that of many of J.S.’s youth) has taught me that the most important thing is to be a present dad. Perfection is unlikely, but I want Emery to grow up knowing that I was there with/for her.
After becoming a father myself I can’t help but ask, with great sadness; Where’s dad? It just makes no sense to me that so many men would choose selfish ambitions over being with their kids. Seeing the pain in these kids’ eyes when we talk about absent fathers has taught me to simply be a healthy male presence that they can rely on. While that betrayal will not be erased by my presence in their lives, baby steps toward healing are entirely possible. I pray for those baby steps in my own life as well as the youth of J.S. who are without one of their parents at home.