Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Graduations attract deadbeat dads…

and heretofore missing moms 

Graduations, commencements or other school-ending exercises bring out long-lost relatives and friends.
The most intriguing among these are deadbeat dads  and missing moms resurfacing after eons of being out of contact, out of mind and out of the lives of children who achieved in spite of abandonment.
School closings and the awarding of diplomas and degrees have some kind of eerily magnetic attraction for deadbeat dads and increasingly moms who have been missing in action (MIA) for previous years.. Somehow they get word that their otherwise abandoned children are being honored, and, with camcorder in hand, they show up beaming and basking in the glory of their offspring's' achievement.

These Johnny-come-lately, ought-to-have-been-here fathers'  and  Jane-come-lately mothers’ presence confounds children and their guardians alike. They want to feel pleased and proud but must first overcome anger and resentment. It's a toss-up as to which is exhibited.

These are the fathers and mothers who failed Parenthood 101, which only requires love, moral support and nurturing. Many dads are in the deadbeat category because of confusing financial support (Fatherhood 201) with just maintaining a presence of the lives of their children. MIA Mothers have similar reasons for falling into the same category.

Many men are known to just walk away rather than face a family with empty pockets and dim chances of being able to shoulder financial responsibilities. Frustrated mothers, especially teenagers, grapple with the awesome prospects of moving from childhood to parenthood and give up their child or children to grandparents. Breakups of marriages, relationships and related situations have their place as backdrops to disconnecting fathers and mothers from families. So do "Mama's baby, Daddy's maybe" predicaments where paternity is in question. The saddest scenario is that of the hit-and-run father who never acknowledges any responsibility but boasts of being "Mac Daddy of the Shorty."
Some children growing up without the presence and participation of biological fathers are fortunate to have stepfathers or other father figures who fill the void and provide the other half of parental guidance. That is not often the case as women (mothers) head more than half the households in many urban and poor communities.
While single mothers are likely to leave a child in the hands of grandparents, more and more married moms are leaving one or more children with a dad.

Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Clubs, Jack and Jill organizations, the Links, 100 Black Men, 100 Black Women, and numerous other groups were formed to address the rapidly expanding problem of children without active fathers - and sometimes mothers - in their lives.

The naked truth: Disconnected parents tend to reconnect, albeit briefly, with their estranged children at graduation exercises. Even more astonishing are incidences where graduation is the very first time some children come face-to-face with parents having been theretofore missing in action.

Such men are known colloquially as "sperm donors" and shy away from assisting with the long journey of preparation but delight in using a camcorder to record the accomplishment of graduation. Sadly, or it is gladly, missing mothers find ways to reconnect graduation approaches as well.   
Some say better late than never.

Dr. Hilliard Lackey hlackey@bellsouth.net.

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