The Trials of Fatherhood

November 22, 2011

I remember when my daughter was a baby of about 11 months and I had to go to court to see her on a regular basis. I ended up having to fight the system as hard as I could to get two days a week for visitation. I can recall doing everything I possibly could to not only never miss a date when it was time to pick up my child but also to never be a second late. And I realize now just as I realized then that the main reason for my dedication was the constant fear that if I ever went over a week without seeing my child then she would forget me and I would soon be replaced.

Fatherhood can be a very unforgiving enterprise. It is very common for people to spend their whole lives hating their fathers without ever making an honest attempt to empathize with him. It’s a role that has become dispensable in society. In most cases having a healthy relationship with ones father is seen as a luxury as opposed to a necessity. At times when I would go to get my little girl I would read the faces of the people in the house where she lived and they would all say; “Why are you still coming here? How long are you going to keep this up?”

 

American households no longer know the function of a father. Fathers have become the appendix of the family unit, particularly when a couple splits up. There is no law in place that says a woman must allow her children to see their father. A father must go to family court and in the state of California he must pay upwards of $400 to start the mediation process. I’m sure most people can’t imagine how degrading it feels to, in essence, have to save up to buy your own child. I do believe this is was what caused Huckleberry Finn—the protagonist of Mark Twain’s most revered work—to experience an epiphany regarding the institution of slavery. It occurred after he discovered that his good friend Nigger Jim planned to work hard up north so that he could earn enough wages to eventually purchase his children who were still in bondage. Ultimately Huckleberry Finn who in so many ways represented the American conscience began to see that despite the popular opinion of the day and alleged biblical verses that justified the practice, slavery was in fact very immoral.

 

I wonder about the emotional shortcomings of a fatherless culture. How limited is the future of a people who fail to appreciate half of what brought them into existence?

-YB

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