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Straight No Chaser: Absentee Fathers Are No Excuse for Kids Failing

Op/Ed By Gloria Winston


gloria newBefore the emails and calls begin arriving, I thought it would be best to offer a disclaimer ahead of the thoughts that will follow.

I am not a psychologist, or a psychiatrist, nor do I have any scientific data to support my opinion.

My thoughts are just that, my opinion.

Recent events, and personal experiences, have contributed to the fact that it is time our young men stop using the fact that they’ve had an absentee father as an excuse for their failures and/or bad decisions.

We have all heard the words “I never knew my father…so, therefore…”

Not knowing one’s father is indeed a sad situation, and a father not being in the home is not the way it should be. However, I’ve known too many men who’ve never known their fathers, or have never had a proper relationship with the ones they do have, who are successful.

So, how does that happen?

Support from mothers and fathers, both females and males, is no doubt important in a child’s life.

In addition, there’s no question the decision-making processes we acquire as adults begins with what we have been taught or exposed to.

But, to say it is acceptable to fail, or to use the fact that your mother or father may not have been in the home, does not hold much water with me.

It is a myth, in my opinion, for one to hold onto this reality, and to use it as a reason not to try.

Failure is not an option, it’s a choice.

And, circumstances and situations that seem ideal do not always guarantee success in life, either.

Recently, a friend of mine left this universe.

And, when he  left, he left behind children he’d had no relationship with, until later in life.

There were certain circumstances which had not allowed him to have a proper relationship with his children during their early years.

However, the lack of his presence in his kids’ lives did not prevent two of his sons from becoming self-made millionaires.

In fact, it was his absence that seemed to challenge his sons to make solid decisions and career choices.

Their mother also not only provided a solid foundation for them, as children, but I believe there were also men in the family who spiritually took the place of their absent father.

I also believe brothers, uncles, granddads, and other male figures contributed heavily to their upbringing.

I am also certain close ties to a church family was a contributing factor, as well.

Most importantly, these young men chose not to wallow in a “woe is me” frame of mind, while lamenting “I never knew my father!!”

That path would have been the easy way out.

It would have been easier for them to watch the world from behind bars, and end up as criminals that may have dropped out of high school, while, all the while, using the fact that their father had not been in their lives as an excuse to fail.

And, a father being absent from a child’s life is not always the parent’s choice.

Sometimes, an untimely death may occur.

But, whatever the reason may be, the father being absent is NO excuse for making decisions that may put you at odds with the law, or make you become a disruptive member of society.

Moral compasses, and values, begin in the home, and a solid foundation is possible with or without the missing parent.

Foster children, and those who have been adopted into families they have not naturally been born into have also had the ability to succeed in life.

How does that happen if absentee fathers are the sole reason for one’s failures, or bad choices?

I have another friend who is not only a successful entrepreneur, but who has published several books, is a land baron, general contractor, races horses, and also conducts seminars and workshops to give lessons to those who may be interested.

He is a true GIVER, while others have spent a lifetime becoming TAKERS.

But, more significantly, he has been the epitome of demonstrating what real men do with their children, in spite of not having his own dad in his life.

This young man could have failed, and become a statistic like many others; however, he made the decision to fly like an eagle, instead of continuing to hang around the chicken coop.

In many cases, an absentee father can drive the abandoned child to be the parent their mother or father has not been.

I also have another friend who is so determined to not be like his father, he stays in a loveless relationship, just because he is determined to be there for his children.

According to my friend, what he lacks in terms of female support and companionship is not enough of a reason for him to leave his children.

I consider this decision to be an admirable one, because I’m familiar with the circumstances of his childhood, which are driving him to stick and stay.

Alcoholism and abuse are the reasons he does not drink.

And, participating in daily activities with his children, and supporting them, are the decisions which drive him.

He has not only stayed out a sense of duty, but, he’s stayed because he’s showing his children the love he may not have received in his own life, during his formative years.

And, ultimately, women who are raising children on their own must also admit they may have made a bad decision  in choosing the fathers of their children.

They then need to be wise enough to make sure their sons and/or daughters will be exposed to, and spend time with, ideal surrogates; those who will have a positive impact on their child’s upbringing, and decision-making processes.

I am just personally tired of hearing the excuse that, because someone’s father was not in the home, it has given them the license to quit, or to fail.

There may be some mothers who are promoting that concept far too often, and in far too many cases; however, I say, NOT!!

Gloria Winston is a Community Activist, Writer, Communicator, and Political Activist. She is a native Rochesterian and has been involved with numerous community organizations in Rochester. Contact Gloria at:

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