I love when people who barely know me can read me enough to know that I’m damaged goods because I grew up without a father and also that I’m a hater of men.
Ugh. Really??? From a person who had no father growing up, I’m not in prison and never done anything remotely criminal. If it wasn’t for my mother who ran our family, I’d be a different story.
— Elle Buck (@everyday_elle) January 22, 2018
Look at all of the animosity you Harbor toward men.
I’m not saying this to be callous.
The fact that your father was not around, psychologically, plays a significant role in this.
I didn’t say one necessarily goes to prison.
Yet 80% + of female prisoners have no father
— Servus Christi (Joshua) (@Chavestry) January 22, 2018
Obviously growing up without a dad wasn’t how I envisioned my childhood. I didn’t plan on having an alcoholic father who came around when the guilt set in. I couldn’t have written the narrative of him landing in prison. And when he was released and did come home, I didn’t orchestrate they’d be the last days I’d spend with him because he’d die of cancer when I was 11.
As much as I try to be OK with my life, there will always be echoes of that loss. Being psychologically damaged or whatever you call it, is one way of looking at it. We all have heard the statistics of growing up without a dad. We get it. It sucks. It’s not what I asked for in my own life–and it’s not what most people want for their life either.
Stop Using the Father Card to Prove Patriarchy
The carelessness of which this was stated can only lead me to assume that this guy needs sensitivity training. That and he has women issues. Who throws around loss like that? Who thinks it’s ok to just willy-nilly mention my Dad being absent and how it has affected me?
You know what? No one gets to tell me how that loss has affected me. NO ONE. Only I get to tell you how it has changed me. That’s my story and no one has the right to tell it for me. Furthermore, using my loss to prove patriarchy is so disrespectful.
My Story To Tell
So let me tell you how it did change me. Growing up without a Dad was hard. The kids at my Christian school made careless comments about how my Dad died because he couldn’t stand me and my siblings. That was about the only time I heard anyone say anything about him. When I brought him up in conversation, my Mom got angry. She had unresolved anger at my Dad because even when he was alive, he was not a good father. I have some good memories of him, but that’s because my Mom had a ton of patience for his addictions and she allowed him to come around for our sake. She wanted us to know him. And when he was dying, she actually let him move back in the house. My mom was a rock in a raging sea. She wasn’t perfect, but if she hadn’t been the amazing woman that she was, I would not be here.
The “significant role” my dad played in our family was to scar my Mother and then leave her to fend for herself when he died. Because of that, we didn’t talk about him and I grew up with more questions than answers.
Fathers Aren’t Perfect
Don’t get me wrong. I loved my Dad. I wished he would have been around growing up. However, I also know he had big, huge problems. When I was a child, these things weren’t obvious to me. All I knew was that I no longer had a Father. I didn’t see the whole picture until I was an adult and went searching through his prison records. Let’s just say, it made things real clear to me.
When my Dad died, he left us with a ton of medical bills. We lost our house. Part of this was my mom’s radical belief that God would save our house; the other part of it was my Dad who didn’t have a job to help pay for anything and any money he did get, he drank it away. So when he died, that became my Mom’s problem. And because of that, I grew up extremely poor. We had to take hand-me-downs from people at church, get food from a food shelf, and move around several times. We lost our house too. We only had a car because my Mom ran a ministry and the car was used for the ministry, so my Mom also used it to drive us back and forth to school.
When I was 17, my brother couldn’t handle all of this or living without a dad, so he took his own life. Do I blame this on my Mother or on my Father? Which one gets to take on the blame for a suicide? While my Mom could’ve been more sympathetic and had my brother in therapy, I could also blame my Dad for smoking and drinking himself to death. Either way, it didn’t bring back my brother.
So I guess this tweet applies:
There are exceptions to everything ma’am.
What you’re implying is radically false. It is quite uncommon.
Here are the realities. pic.twitter.com/6DBUp3sUKu
— Servus Christi (Joshua) (@Chavestry) January 22, 2018
In the meantime, I had the added shame of a suicide in our family. Alcoholism, death of a parent, and poverty are enough shame, don’t you think? Well, apparently it was my job to handle it some more. Despite all this, I graduated high school, traveled with Christians to Cuba & Mexico, dated and then got married to my husband, and had children. 29 years after the death of my Father, I am here.
Not Your Statistic
I’ve never been to prison, I’ve not tried to take my own life, I never ran away from my Mother, & I am not an angry rapist.
Maybe these statistics are accurate and I’m the “exception” (I have 8 siblings who grew up fatherless and they didn’t exhibit these either except for the suicide). I give my Mom credit for all the work she did to keep us fed, clothed, and alive. She may not have been the perfect mother–her anger and depression got in the way of that–but I know she tried her best given the circumstances. All of her kids have residual issues from not having a Father, but we learned how to survive and to make the most of it.
Quit Shaming Women
I also know that there are moms out there doing the best they can. They have left cheating husbands; they’ve survived abuse; they are widows. They are trying to raise their children to be loving adults. They already know the statistics of divorce and being without a Dad. Or, they are like me–trying to make the best of growing up without a Father. And you know what? We rock. We are resilient, learning from our past. If you sat down with one of us, you would be amazed at what we’ve been through and how we’ve made the best of it. If you had any empathy at all, you’d realize how much more loving we are because we know what it’s like to not be loved. Our children, while “psychologically” dealing with hard things, amaze us with their strength of character. And even when we go through the valleys of life–some of these statistics–we get help and we get through it. In fact, the people I know that are struggling are from all walks of life–divorced or not. Life is hard. The broad strokes of the “fatherless” brush are not entirely truthful, let alone helpful.
My past hasn’t turned me into a man hater. What I am is a person who doesn’t deal well with blanket statements, hurtful & insensitive comments, and someone I barely know trying to tell me how my loss affected me. That doesn’t make me a man hater. It makes me a person who cares about humanity.
Dads Matter, Of Course
I’m thankful for the Dads that make a difference–the ones that love their children no matter what, that are around not just taking up residence in a chair, but in their lives. They are not always given enough credit for what they do. And if you are lucky enough to have someone like that in your life, make sure you tell them.
It’s taken sheer resilience to bounce back from my childhood and to be the person that I am today. In some ways, I’m thankful for going through it because it’s made me a much more empathetic person. I don’t judge people when they go through hard stuff and I don’t consider their lives ruined by circumstance. We all have bad things that happen to us and it’s our reaction to it that counts. Even if it takes us years to bounce back, at least we are making the effort. It’s easy to sit back and judge situations and make black and white comments about it. I’d expect nothing less from someone who sits behind a twitter account demanding men be in charge, decrying divorce, and making women second guess their relationship with God.
The Fatherless Are Not Doomed
Isaiah 49:15 says, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” To say that a person who is fatherless, whether by death, divorce, or any other reason is doomed or damaged, is to forget that God cares about the orphan and the widow. (See James 1:27). The same people that like to shove Bible verses in my face are the same people that forget what God is really like. Thankfully I don’t answer to any of them for how I believe.
Most people have to deal with hard childhoods and tough circumstances, but through those hard things, they have choices along the way to improve or enter a downward spiral. I know many people who choose to improve and learn from the hard stuff, but we must have sympathy and love for those who don’t. We don’t know what they’ve been through, so we don’t get to redefine the narrative and use it however we wish.
We are not a statistic. The absence of a Father doesn’t prove the rightness of male headship. All it proves to me is that the patriarchal movement is dangerous, lacks empathy, and has a lot to learn about humans (& apparently wildlife too).