As we prepare for the Fathers Matter Forum in March, we want to highlight some of the organizations in our community that are dealing with the issue and working with at-risk youth. To sign up for one of the forum sessions, visit this link: Fathers Matter Forum Registration
This is a guest post from Laura Fater, Marketing Assistant at the Crossing.
He enters the classroom with his head down, earbuds in, shoulders hunched –his whole body is a flashing neon light that says “DON’T TALK TO ME.” The teachers in the room call out his name and wish him a good morning, but the only response is a sullen, side-eyed look.
Mornings aren’t good – they’re just the start to another bleak day. His mom gets him up and out of the house every morning the only way she knows how – with verbal punches and kicks that are not nearly as effective as the guilt he feels over her tearful “I don’t know what to do with you” which signals the end of their morning routine.
The truth is he doesn’t know what to do with her either.
They were allies once, before his dad chose drugs over his family, before there were arrests, convictions and sentences handed out. When his dad was hauled away by the police the last time, something broke permanently and even though he and his mom have tried to put things back together, they keep cutting each other with their jagged edges.
They have moved multiple times, alternating between family members and friends, borrowed beds and rented rooms. His mom has a steady job but can’t keep up with the bills. He knows that part of the reason mom has a live-in boyfriend is because he helps pay the rent.
He often stays up late playing video games, because it takes his mind off of things and in the 2D world he has some control. School is something he used to be good at, but it seems pointless now. He got behind with all the moving around and what good is memorizing a bunch of facts when he can go down to the corner and sell some weed, make a quick profit and have money in his pocket right now, when he needs it? A diploma might be good for the future, but today has enough trouble of its own, and tomorrow isn’t looking so good either.
His story isn’t factual, but it’s true – it’s typical of kids who walk through the doors at the Crossing. Most of our students come from father absent homes. They are more likely to have emotional and behavioral issues; more likely to be sexually promiscuous; more likely to engage in drug use; more likely to become low-wage earners; more likely to be incarcerated and become repeat offenders. Study after study has shown what we at the Crossing see every day –
It matters that there is a Dad to tie shoes, read books and throw balls. It matters that there is a Dad to say good job or try again or that was wrong and you need to make it right. It matters that there is a Dad to tell his son he can do this, he can reach his goals, he can earn respect and he is of great worth. It matters that there is a Dad to tell his daughter she can do this, she can reach her goals, she is loved and she is valuable.
Even if the Dad is far from perfect, even if he doesn’t do all these things, his presence matters and helps anchor the family boat. Moms more often than not, keep the boat floating, but without Dad there is drifting, and if he leaves, for whatever reason, there is significant debris left in his wake.
About the Crossing: Here at the Crossing we know that we can’t replace anyone’s Dad – but what we can do is supply the connections and support that students from father absent homes are desperately missing. We can affirm their efforts, help them to reengage, reinforce the idea that they matter, and help them to trust men again. Our dedicated staff and our amazing volunteers are all parts of making this happen. If you would like to impact the life of a Crossing student we are always looking for assistance in helping to reduce the effects of the father deficit.