Fathers and Daughters

Fathers and Daughters

Janae Polk, Staff Writer

“A good dad is someone who doesn’t abandon their child in any situation, someone who is a rock for their child and is a prime example of what every man should be,” says Erica Bentley.

The prevalence of black youth and their absent fathers has always been seen as comedic to the world, but while many mock the children who are missing a parental figure in their life, they fail to understand its crippling effects.

In reference to Child Trends.org, the distinction between race and living with two married parents is staggering.

Only 34% of Black children live with married parents in comparison to 83% of Asian children, 74% of White children, and 60% of Hispanic children.

ChildTrends.org also notes that in 2015, 8% of Black children live with no parents, and 49% of Black children live with their mothers only.

When Black fathers choose to abandon their children, it is almost always taken as a joke and is not fully analyzed as a psychological detriment.

Most of the time, it is expected that those who don’t have fathers will eventually lead a life of crime. The stereotypical phrase, “Black boy and no father”, has always been saddening to hear.

However, we forget that there are, in fact, Black daughters who don’t have fathers.

Young Black women already bear the burden of social stigmas, and work to meet the high expectations of society. With the rising stereotypes of no future for Black boys if they don’t have a father, it’s imperative to understand that the tables can turn and Black women can receive the same treatment.

Parents play a huge role in a child’s growth and development. Without their presence, abandonment issues and trust issues may flourish.

Erica Bentley, a junior who’s been without her father for years mentions, “My mom was really good at being both parents, but she said the only thing she regrets is that I didn’t have a father around. Fathers are supposed to treat their daughters like princesses and be an example that you compare your future partner to.”

A daughter looks up to her father as an accurate example of what their future spouses are supposed to be; without the proper guidance, many young girls can become vulnerable to the men of the world because they were never taught what to look for.

Bentley continues to say, “I don’t think my stepdad could replace my biological father whatsoever, because I still call him by his first name. He is also weirded out when I call him dad, so we have an agreement of sorts that I don’t call him dad. I never really saw him as my dad; he’s just a father figure that helped a little bit with raising me. I know he cares about me, but he’s not something I’d compare my future husband to.”

Even alternate parental figures can’t seem to fulfill the void in the life of a child with no present biological parent.

Bentley notes, “The love isn’t the same, like a father and daughter connection is supposed to be. It’s more like we’re kind of buddies, friends that put up with each other because my mom loves us.”

Bentley’s life with her father seldom present caused her to experience sentimental issues.

“Mom took me to therapy at eight,” continues Bentley, “I was having anger issues at that time, and I thought that was why she took me to therapy, but she took me to therapy to find out how I felt about my dad. I was pretty much fine. I cried a little bit, but it wasn’t a whole thing about ‘Hey, I need him in my life.’ It was like abandonment issues, so I think dads staying in their kid’s life is extremely important because girls need father figures to know what men should be like. Even if you’re lesbian, you need your dad to be there so you know how guys in society function.”

“My mom and I thought [my biological father] fit the stereotypes of black fathers, like black dads can’t handle and they leave, or they’re the most nurturing; there’s no in between. He didn’t want to fit that stereotype, but he ended up being it.”

Kennisha Gamboa, a junior who hasn’t known her father since birth, says: “I feel that you can’t love something that was never there, if you’ve never seen it, or if you never experienced it. I don’t know my father as a person. Yeah I have his last name, and some people say I look like him, but I just see it as two people who look alike, honestly. I can’t love a person I never met, and I also can’t love a person that’s never been there for me, wanted to take care of me, and want to know about my life.”

In the beginning she says, “[I never] thought about it, until the moment [my mom] said, ‘Oh your dad saw you on Facebook.’ That was the moment where I was like, ‘Oh yeah, I don’t have a father.’ That was the first moment it clicked in my head that he wasn’t there and she told me it was for the better. If he were here, who knows what my life would have been like. He’s a troublemaker, so even if he was here, would he actually be here for me?”

Gamboa also mentions normally children with fathers can say things like “‘Oh my dad took me shopping’ and I’m just like, ‘Oh, my mom took me shopping.’ I feel like my friends all have father and daughter things. When people say they’ve done things with their fathers, I can’t relate because I’ve never experienced the same thing.”

Despite Gamboa’s father’s absence, she notes it helps, “ build a better communication with [her] mom.”

“If I were to write a letter to my father, I would tell him I’m a great and wonderful daughter that you could have had. I may not be an ‘A’ student or the best you could ever find, but you missed out on a lot, and I’ve done a lot. I have my own job and I’m only seventeen years old, I give back to my grandma; I do a lot, and you’ve missed out on all of it… you still didn’t make an effort, which shows that you didn’t want to be there from the start. Honestly, I thank you for not being in my life. I feel like I’m a better and stronger person without you… your absence has built a better connection between me and my mom.”

Not having a father or a parent in general is something most wouldn’t want to endure. It could be a hard life for anyone, not being able to relate or be involved in certain activities, or not being able to find an adequate way to celebrate father’s day. All these factors play a huge role for those who don’t have fathers in their lives.

Although the message is clear, we cannot ignore the significant amount of Black sons whose fathers are seldom or never present.

However, there are also many Black daughters without fathers, and that holds the same impact on their lives.