Wednesday, March 13, 2013


A few weeks ago I told you that I had a post mentally prepared about my father and great-grandfather, but I didn’t feel well, so I didn’t post it. Well, I’m still not ready to write that story, but I have been thinking a lot about fathers.

Arlee Bird over at  Tossing It Out has been devoting some of his blog space to controversial topics like marriage, divorce, child rearing and violence in America. During some of the discussion the importance of Fathers came up and it started me thinking. Now, I’ve read a lot of the books and seen some of the studies, but I feel a little better telling you about the ‘up close and personal’.

If you come by here regularly you already know that I live on an island in the Caribbean. While there are many aspects of ‘life on de island’ that are absolutely delightful, buy there is a downside. The culture is extreme. Let me explain.

Actually, I’m not going to even try to explain all the extreme circumstances and absurdities of the culture here but for one aspect that has to do with the importance of Fathers. Here, Fathers are almost non-existent in the home. Most children are raised by single women. Marriage is generally not a factor, but even when it is, most of the men don’t stick around or with one woman long enough, to see their children through the toddler years.

Most of these men are proud of their ability to sire offspring. One man even publicly bragged that he had two sons born on the exact same day (not twins). This man also stated that he was the father of nine (9) children. He was about thirty-two (32) at the time. Of those nine children there were eight different mothers involved.

I will be the first person to say that I think mothers are maybe the most important component in making up and taking care of a family on the day to day basis, but fathers are just as important. Families without fathers suffer dramatically. While it is often women who take on the greater share of basic child rearing responsibilities, fathers play an ever important role, especially in the lives of male children. There is not much that can replace the positive role model of a dad to loves and provides for his family. Every child needs to feel a fathers love and devotion not only to them, but to their mothers, also. While I see the need for dad to be a role model of honesty, integrity and strength to a young man, it’s also important for young women to recognize these traits in their fathers as they seek their own relationships with men.

Here in de islands we have an ever increasing problem with gangs and their related violence. We try hard not to scare the tourists, but crime is ever on the rise to the extent that our sister island has held the noteriaty of having the most murders per capita of any area in the US. (They may recently have been outdone by the City of Chicago, who now holds the title “Murder Capitol”, but they are at least a close second and with a much smaller population). Is it any wonder that adolescents who do not have a complete family turn to acceptance within the gang mentality where they are encouraged, strengthened and modeled to become perfect citizens of crime and violence. They feel secure within that ‘gang family’ who celebrate their achievements at stealing, extortion, and even murder.  Weapons become hugs and secret signs and colors replace a ‘good’ family name. While gang members come from every demographic those children who reside in a single parent home are more likely to seek the acceptance and approval of ‘the gang’ than those with a more traditional family life.

Bringing this topic home, I need to say that my father was very important in my life. He was a hard man and having to get things by Daddy was never easy. There were many attributes of his that I expressly did not want to replicate in my relationships with the opposite sex and there were many others that I felt requisite. When I was about six or seven years old, my mother took a job outside of the home. This was in an era when most moms were at home and school assemblies where held during the day. My fathers job called for him to work rotating shifts, so two months out of three he was available during the day. When it was my classes turn to make a presentation, you would find all the mothers sitting on the front row in the small folding chairs provided for students and there would be my daddy, folding his six foot two inch frame into that tiny space and clapping louder than anyone else when I gave my part in the assembly. Daddy attended parent teacher meetings and the return signature on my report cards were always his. He taught me to shoot a gun, ride a horse (kind of), how to fish, and be respectful to others, especially my mother. He taught me about honesty, integrity and responsibility. I was never allowed to blame my errors on someone else.

Recently, I watched from the sidelines as my best friend’s son fought through the judicial system for the right to raise his daughter. This little girl’s mother, to whom he was never married, suffers from a multitude of emotional problems and a very intense addiction to alcohol. At one point in his legal battles the mom offered to end the fight for a sum of money (she basically offered to sell his own daughter to him), he declined and spent more than her request to have his daughter legally awarded to him as her primary guardian. The mother has only supervised visitation. This young man is another tough guy, like my daddy, and yet he sees that his daughter has bows I her hair and birthday parties at the beauty shop with her little friends. He mourns the lack of a positive young female role model in her life and constantly makes excuses for her mother who makes less than half of her scheduled visits. This guy knows how to be a father.

Most people who had a good relationship with their fathers can easily see the importance they have played in their lives. Those who did not have such a relationship almost always can see the lack thereof as a deficit that nothing could replace. While mom might seem to be the more important figure on a day to day basis, don’t discount the importance of fathers in the home and lives of their children.

Think about it. How important was your father in your life growing up? How important is he today? How would your life be different if he had not been there? How different could your life be if he had?


  1. Amen! I think kids need to see good examples of both parents. A father to show his son what kind of man he should be and what kind of man his daughter should seek - and vice versa.
    My father was the tough military kind of dad. He taught me a lot about responsibility.

  2. I completely agree. Fathers are so important in a child's life. My dad wasn't one of the good ones. He had his problems stemming from his own parents and took it out on my brother and I. Yet those few days when he was good, he was a man I respected. His depression won in the end, and he passed away six years ago. Those little shining moments that I experienced with my father, those are the ones that have stuck with me and to which I aspire as a parent.

  3. My father had no use for a first born daughter, and I fought him verbally all the way until I left to go to University at 18. I was a good kid, never in trouble, and I had honor roll grades.

    He was a 'my-way or the highway' type of father. We never reconciled, but I did attend his funeral.

    The father of my kids (hubs is #2) is understanding and devoted to our two girls. His parents didn't give much thought to their kids either, leaving them at home for two weeks by themselves when they were young boys under 10 yrs. No one checked on them for two weeks. I was horrified when I heard of this. They ran out of food. The parents were visiting relatives two provinces away and never even phoned.

    Not all parents are created equal, but I agree that a good role model - no matter which it is, helps. I've heard many men in their late twenties and thirties blame a lack of a father image for their problems.

    It's a huge problem. Sorry for the long comment. I'm glad you had a father you could admire. You were lucky.

  4. Very insightful post. My father was not a prominent figure in my life, but my mother made up the difference.

  5. My dad was a good provider but maybe not the best 'dad.' But I still miss him.

  6. FAE ~
    This was an excellent post!

    I got one of the "good dads" and learned so much from him. My strong work ethic I got from him, along with my wacky sense o' humor.

    I'm going to paste below the same thing I posted recently on Arlee's 'Tossing It Out' blog because I think it speaks volumes:

    From 'IS GOD ON AMERICA'S SIDE?' (2008), by Erwin Lutzer:

    Incredibly, one in every one hundred adult Americans is now in prison - that makes 2.3 million adults behind bars. Michael Singletary, retired Hall of Fame linebacker for the Chicago Bears, gives his testimony in prisons. He says he asks prisoners, "How many of you had a warm relationship with your father?" He recently reported that he is still waiting for the first hand to be raised.

    Now that's something to really think about! (Odd how the media and entertainment sources and social engineers have led us to conclude that fathers really aren't a particularly important part in the raising of children.)

    Again, an excellent blog bit, my friend!

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  7. Hear Hear! Parents can screw up, sure. We do it all the time.

    I go a little nuts when I see the importance of fathers minimalized. At church, the bishop didn't make sure there was any recognition of fathers on Fathers Day while doing something special every year for mothers. Until I took him to task over it. They now recognize fathers.

  8. Nice post about fathers...wanna follow each other?

  9. My Dad is simply amazing. He has always been a solid, shining example of what a father should be. I have always had a tremendous amount of respect for him, and that has only grown with age. I feel very blessed every single day I still have him here with me.

    When I first met The Husband, I honestly didn't pick up on how much he was like my father. Now that we have kids, it is ridiculously easy to see I chose to marry a guy who parents almost identical to the way my Dad did- tough but fair, consistent, always present, loving, hard-working and full of integrity. I know my girls need him in their lives every bit as much as they need me, if not more so!

    Great post Faraway!!

    PS I received your e-mail and plan on working on your stuff sometime this afternoon, so I can get it back to you real soon. :)

  10. Wow, some really great comments that only go to prove my point.

    Alex - About all I can say is Amen to that again.

    Christine – See even with a dad that you claim wasn’t ‘one of the good ones’ you still aspire to the FEW good things you remember about him. Dads are so important.

    D.G. – First no need to apologize for a long comment. It was a very good one. I’m sorry for the unfortunate relationship you had with your dad. Your husband’s experience is beyond sad and I have no words. BUT, I am encouraged to see that both of you have taken your bad examples and turned them around, so that you are both working hard to do positive things in your own family. You are entirely correct ‘not all parents are created equal’ and we all make mistakes, the important thing is to not keep perpetuating those mistakes.

    Linda – Thanks for the compliment. I’m glad you feel that your mom made up the difference for you.

    MS - You dad must have done something right that you still miss him. Providing for a family isn’t easy and many times that becomes confused with actually being there for your kids.

    STMc – Thanks for posting that quote here. I remember it from ‘Tossing It out”. It’s a very profound statement about our society and the importance of fathers. I’m glad you had a ‘good one’, it obvious by the way you talk about him and his influence in your life. Thank you for the nice compliment .

    Donna – Good for you. Fathers are often overlooked, even on those ‘Greeting Card Holidays’. Just like everyone else, they need a little recognition and encouragement to keep up the good work.

    Gabriel – Thank you.

    Jaybird – Isn’t it funny how that works out? I think women often aren’t conscious of how important a role model their father’s were in the choices they make regarding their companions. I’m glad to hear that you had such a wonderful dad and that your husband fills those same shoes for your daughters.

  11. Amen. I completely agree with you. I know there are single parent households that work out fine, but in general, having those two loving parents can really make a huge difference in your life.

    I can't imagine my life without my dad. He shaped me into who I am, and helped mold a lot of my morals and values. I'm almost 30, I'm happily married, and going to have kids when the time is right.

    Meanwhile, my dad's sister married a man who was a deadbeat and left right after the kids were born. My cousins did not go to college, they do not have jobs, they all had a bunch of babies out of wedlock by a bunch of different men/women, and my aunt is now a great grandmother. A GREAT grandmother, and she's not even 60. Think about that. All of them had kids around 15-18 and never went anywhere in life, and now THEIR kids are having kids in their early teenage years (and not doing anything with their lives). It's just a huge trainwreck.

    People can say what they will, but I know that not having a father in their lives created a huge domino effect for that entire side of the family, not just of their own generation but generations to come.

  12. Beer Boys - It's so true that having both a mother and father as an active part of the family and home is vitally important. The example you have given within your own extended family is unfortunately a cycle that far too many people fall into. They simply don't know how to break the pattern.

    I've spent some time down here in de islands working with teenagers and some of the young men and women say how they want it to be different for their children, but far too many of them fall into the same circumstances that they were raised in; single family homes. Or there are the situations where their parents(the grandparents) are raising the children. It's sad. Nobody gets ahead, and too many children are left to basically fend for themselves never knowing what life could be like with the love and support both a mother and a father.