The Absent Parent

As I reflect over my childhood, I often think of how blessed I was having been brought up by both my mother and father. Both of my parents were very influential over my life and my decision making. Although sometimes I didn’t make the best decision, I made choices based on what would please my parents. My brother and I were raised in Jackson, specifically the suburbs of South Jackson. During the summer months, when we were out of school, my father would often take my brother and me fishing, swimming, and to his home state of Florida. My dad taught my brother and me both valuable life lessons that we are now able to apply to our adult lives. My mom also made sure she played a valuable part in our upbringing as well. Often times she and I would have a mother and daughter day out, which would occur mostly on the 3rd Saturday of every month, and during this time we would shop, eat, and have long conversations about what was going on in my life. Both of my parents had a vital role in molding me and my brother into the mature, responsible adults that we are today. Without the leadership and sternness of my father, and the nurturing and caring spirit of my mother, I know without a shadow of doubt that my brother and I would not have turned into the law-abiding citizens we are today. This is why it is my belief that both parents should assume equal responsibility in raising a child.

Growing up, my dad made sure that all of my teachers, and staff at each school I attended knew him on a first name basis. He made frequent visits to my schools, some of which I had no prior knowledge. He would often sit in my classes and observe my interaction with the teacher, and students as well. Anytime my teachers needed a volunteer for help, whether it was a field trip, pep rally, teacher-student basketball game, or field day, his name was the first on the roster. I can recall one day he came to Peeples Middle school, where my brother and I were both APAC students, to participate in a student-teacher basketball game. Although my dad stayed at the schools more than some of the students, he never embarrassed me, and I was always happy to see him there, even when I was in trouble. Knowing that he would come at the drop of a dime reassured me of one thing; I had a supportive and loving father who would always be there for his children, no matter the situation or circumstance.

My father would often take my brother with him wherever he went. Whether it was right down the street to the store, or to work with him for the day, he felt that anytime he spent with him was valuable. I can remember once, my dad took my brother to the Hinds County Detention Center, where he was a deputy sheriff. My brother had been acting up in school, which was totally out of his character. He had never been the type to get in trouble at school or try to fit in with his peers. This particular day he had been acting up to a point where my dad felt that it was necessary to show him where he could end up if he chose the wrong path in life. I wasn’t around during the conversations they had, or even when he was locked in that cell for eight hours, but I do know one thing, it worked! My brother finished high school, and went to college where he majored in criminal justice. Once he graduated college he went into the law enforcement academy and finished at the top of his class. Most of his childhood friends who grew up mostly without their fathers or a positive male role model, took a total different path in life. Most of them did not finish high school and made no attempt towards college. They have yet to be successful in life, and they still live with their mother. This is the clear difference between a household with both parents, and a household with only one responsible parent.

A woman should not have to raise a man alone. In order for a boy to mature properly into a man, a positive role model must be present in that child’s life. This is evident in my household. I am currently raising two sons with an almost absentee father. Although there father isn’t present, I have a father who is present in my sons’ life. I am also blessed with a great brother who is involved as well. My father grew up with no father, but a mother and grandmother present, which is where he received his foundation. He made many mistakes in life but his maturation into a man was crippled because he had no positive male role model evident in his life. Had his father assumed responsibility, I’m sure my father’s upbringing would have turned out very different. Children need the ‘rod of correction’ to drive out foolishness, especially boys who are growing into young men. Young men long for assurance from their fathers, and often times when that assurance from a male isn’t given, it causes unruly behavior because there is a void in that child’s life. This is evident in the many jails and prisons in this country.

It is healthier for children to be raised in a home with a stable environment where parents share equal responsibility of raising that child. A child must be fed spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. One parent can get the job done, but when both parents are on one accord and are looking out for the betterment of that child, he or she has a better chance of being successful in life. This is proven day in and day out when you look at our judicial system, schools, and even in your own neighborhood. Many struggles that come from raising a child is because that child is a victim of having only one involved parent. In order to give any child the best chance at succeeding in life, both mother and father must actively do their part in that upbringing of that child.

In order for this society to see change, we must first start at home. Oftentimes single moms rely on teachers, coaches, social workers, and any other professional who comes into contact with their child to ‘help’ with the raising of their child. This is because one parent feels that the attention, support, and love they can provide is not sufficient enough for their child. This is where the saying “it takes a village to raise a child” derives from. It actually does not take a village but if one parent assumes all the responsibility of raising that child, then the parent often feels there is more on them that they can bare, causing life to be more difficult. This adds on to the stress the child has to deal with as well. Two has always been better than one! Financially and physically, when there is more support life can be a lot simpler, and a child can enjoy being a child.

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