Friday, June 19, 2009

Fathers Day

Before I start my rant, I want to wish a very Happy Father's Day to all the Dad's out there who are standup guys and take an active role in the lives of their children.
It's easy for me to forget that those men exist sometimes because I've sure as heck never seen one. My own father managed the remarkable feat of being an absentee dad despite the fact that he still lived in our house. He'd been known to remind me many times that he "liked me fine until I started talking." Yes, he's a real gem, that father of mine. He's still alive and even lives in the same state I do but we've long since stopped communication. I tried over and over again to extend the olive branch and see if we could have a relationship. In the end I had to accept that he's a broken, bitter and hateful man and that nothing I say or do will ever turn him into the caring father I want.
Likewise, my daughter has an absentee father. Hers is a true absentee father. He's never met her. He did see her in court one time but he's never spent any time with her at all. We no longer correspond. He doesn't know one thing about her. I don't understand how he does this; how he has other children who he is involved with and then chooses to deny one. I surmise that he did it for self preservation because, as I mentioned in my initial post, I found out when Bianca was 7 months old that he was married. Perhaps it was an ultimatum from his wife; last I knew they were still together. Perhaps it's just his anger at me. I don't know. I will never know. I'm a girl who craves answers so it's hard for me to accept that I will never be able to know. It's harder to accept the impact it has on my baby.
Father's Day was first celebrated locally in 1910, initiated by a woman wishing to honor her father who was a widower and Civil War veteran. Apparently the idea was mocked and came up against much opposition. It wasn’t until 1924 that President Calvin Coolidge made it a "national event." Then, in 1966, President Johnson signed a proclamation declaring the third Sunday of June as Father's Day. President Nixon made it law in 1972.
I wonder what those who lobbied to make this a national holiday would think about the state of fatherhood today. In America:
~ An estimated 24.7 million children (36.3%) live absent from their biological father.
~ There are almost 17 million children (25%) living with their single mothers.
~ 1.25 million or 32% of all births in 1995 were out-of-wedlock.
~ 26% of absentee fathers live in a different state than their children.
~ About 40% of the children who live in absentee father households haven't seen their fathers in at least a year while 50% of children who don't live with their fathers have never stepped foot in their father's home.
~ Children who live absent from their biological fathers, on average, are more likely to be poor, experience educational, health, emotional and psychological problems, be victims of child abuse, and engage in criminal behavior than their peers who live with their married, biological mother and father.
~ Currently, 57.7 percent of all black children, 31.8 percent of all Hispanic children, and 20.9 percent of all white children are living in single-parent homes.
Is this worth celebrating? I suppose the good fathers deserve a celebration in light of how rare they are becoming. The rest of the deadbeats....well, I hope they have a crappy day fraught with guilt, shame, self-reproach....and maybe some food poisoning, too. ;oP

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