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The Dad Factor

Great men. I’m kind of obsessed with this notion of what it takes to be one. It’s a combination of men who make their way, striving to better their world by making money, taking risks, providing for others and culling a sense of community and nationality that leaves a legacy of good behind it.

They only seem to exit now as names on buildings. Carnegie, Rockefeller, Bell, Wilson, Ahmanson. These are American heroes. Men of change and men of courage. Men who wrote their own rules and pioneered new ideas. Just Google Andrew Carnegie and get blown away by his contribution to our American life.

I don’t know how they are made, especially when their backgrounds vary so but Malcolm Gladwell has done his part to study this “Outlier” paradigm. To paraphrase my take on his book, it’s known that the immigrant population from the early 1900’s spawned doctors and lawyers in their children. The Have Nots become the Haves and their cultures are preserved in the pockets of their settled lands on this land. It’s the American dream. But it doesn’t play out like that now, not in the almost identical demographic of children of recent South American immigrants or impoverished African American families.

This overview of how it has been is noted through a lens of wonder, looking for a missing link or pattern of change that exists for the bastion of boys and girls our charity serves. Without question, the unifying family dynamic for them is a lack of father figures. Across the board. And it causes a hole in the foundation of their systems which is so common that the commonality of it almost makes the hole go away. The children of these fatherless families begin at a very early age collecting each other, not isolating because of it. Like a mitosis of like kinds who share a need for a proton that their friends don’t have either so they try to bond positive to positive causing a bouncing off of each other that doesn’t hold but understands each other. And it doesn’t form anything lasting. It can’t unite because it’s too similar in what it is missing. And it doesn’t work.

These communities of kids who form crews and families at an early age to bind their missing, often suck down into abusive, co-dependent attachments. And it’s not their fault, it’s by nature what happens. Once one of these kids starts to feel that there is someone near who holds an electron for their proton – be it a friend who has a dad or a date who doesn’t but has a need for creating a dad – they grab on to this union to save their life because our nature is to find that bond.

But what is fundamentally wrong with not having a dad present? What is it that has these like-kinded kids end up in the same place together, in the streets, without fathers, blasting their mischief on walls? Where are these dads who are not present? And what caused them to leave?

It’s insidious the absence of fathers. Everyone bravado’s up to be the dad who is mythical and missing in place of a human who just does their best at being around, providing or supporting their family. Just staying around for your family is not as difficult as imagined. We are here to manage communication, love and authenticity. It’s a hard job but it’s not as complicated as the wake that leaving leaves for everyone. Every kid without a dad has a spot that someone fills or a drain that stays open, unless they do a lot of work to heal. But these teenagers have a lot to deal with because of their complicated wake of missing a dad. It’s no wonder they gravitate toward an overwhelmed state of “what the fuck” and “who cares” when what they really are saying is, “why doesn’t anyone care and where the fuck are they?” as they bounce around at night with their friends.

I don’t know if I am right, but I know I hear from them secret wishes that they knew their dad, or liked their dad who they barely know or even knew where their dad was, or could visit them in jail. I know that it’s always a conversation with me eventually from them and I do not ask. It’s like the people who don’t finish college – it’s rare to hear a college grad say, “I graduated from college” as often as someone who lets you know that they did not.

Am I wrong? Am I on to something that’s already known? Should I read a book about it?

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  1. Moses Nasser

    Awesome article, very insightful, thank you. And I think you are onto something, absolutely. The influence of my father is what pushed me to be “successful”. He was a first generation immigrant, just like what you talk about in the article. 🙂

    A great book that will give you some more insight is “The Complete Yoga of Emotional Sexual Life” by Adi Da Samraj.

    Thank you!

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