We just celebrated Father’s Day this past weekend and in the wake of the pomp that came with it, I could not help but wonder how children that were raised without their fathers felt like. Well, Mother’s Day was in May and that too, got me thinking and for this reason, I have decided to pen down a heartfelt article on absentee parenthood.
Absentee parenthood is prevalent in our communities today more than ever and this has to be talked about because it is affecting how children are raised, how they tun out and how they raise their own families in the future.
My father passed away when I was eight. This was a tough period and in as much as I did not fully comprehend how losing him would affect me in my adult years, I now know what the gripping fear was all about.
A father is a daughter’s first love and a son’s first hero
Looking at my daughters now, I admire how confident they are and this is because of their father’s affirmation of how beautiful and strong they are every single day. I grew up without that and I now see how having a father would have raised my self-esteem and I would not have struggled with such things in my late teenage years.
Absentee parenthood is spoken about in hushed tones and I literally want to shout from the rooftops and talk about this elephant in the room.
Heartbreaking scenarios of absentee parenthood
I have been a part of conversations where people talked about growing up without fathers or mothers and how they felt this has affected them in their adult years. One young woman in her early twenties lost her mother at the age of 10 and her father decided to take a hike and not be in the picture afterwards. This lady now has a three-year-old son that she got at the age of 20 and in as much as this young boy is the light of her life, she feels that she would not have had a child at that early age if her mother was still alive. She took us back to three years after her mother passed on when she had her first period. Being raised by her maternal grandmother, she was afraid to let her know and she struggled and used pieces of clothing as sanitary wear.
Another young man that got himself in the wrong company and was even jailed for 6 months talked about how his absentee father fueled his lack of direction in life. He says he has never met his father and does not wish to meet him after he was told that the man took off after he impregnated a 16-year-old school girl that he purportedly loved.
James, not his real name, on the other hand lived with both his parents in an affluent neighborhood. He went to a good school and everything was provided for him. He had nannies at his beck and call but he says he did not feel his parents’ love because they were always preoccupied with work – going on business trips and never bonding with him. He says his life was like a surgical theatre – cold and with no life. He wished he was born in a different family where they were not affluent but where he could get his parents’ affection.
Jane, also not her real name, recently went to join her mother in Berlin, Germany. Her mother had gone there for work when she was six years old and she was left in the care of her aunt. She says she her teenage years were tumultuous because her aunt would accuse her of things she did not do and her mother sided with her sister because who would trust a teen with raging hormones anyway? With that said, upon completion of her high school studies, she traveled to Germany but she says things are not any better. She and her mother are strangers. Bonding for these adults has been an uphill task.
All these scenarios are instances of absentee parenthood and how it has affected these young adults. There are many young ladies left with the sole responsibility of caring for their young children and in most cases without an income. They are devastated and depressed and do not know where to go for help.
The good thing is that the law is on their side and that these fathers are mandated by the law to pay for child support and vice versa. According to Article 53 of the Constitution of Kenya, the non-custodial parent is required to provide for the child financially. The two parents could go for an out-of-court parental agreement where both parties sit with their lawyers and draft a parental responsibility agreement. In the event that the non-custodial party resists the agreement, the case is taken and resolved in court.
Have you experienced absentee parenthood? Is your partner an absentee parent? How would you like to change that?
Let me know your thoughts because according to me, our children deserve better – they deserve our presence more than our presents.