By Paul Brett
“I was a very angry young man who grew up without a father for my entire life,” said 32 year-old Karl Richards, a mechanic who lives in Cascade in southwest Atlanta. “I grew up with my mother and younger sister and it was very tough not seeing the man whose habits I inherited; whose features I adopted,” he noted.
The cycle of fatherlessness has to do with a dysfunctional and repetitive habit of some fathers from consecutive generations who abscond from their fatherly responsibilities. This could have a severe emotional and economic impact on the development and socialization of children and especially boys. In some cases, the consequences of the foregoing could result in a plethora of other social problems such as crime and gang-related situations on a national and global scale, as some boys in particular struggle to find appropriate role models to emulate.
The cycle of fatherlessness could continue for many years if a boy or man doesn’t consciously end it. This means, he would have to live his life counter-opposite to the dysfunctional state in which he was molded by being a model father. Statistics show that more than any other group in America, the African-American (or black) community is mainly affected by this ongoing social problem.
Karl’s anger triggered a number of unfortunate situations before he turned 21. When he was 16 years-old, he had several run-ins with the law for smoking marijuana, bullying and vandalism. In addition, his mother had to take off time from work to attend several meetings at school to discuss his truancy and several physical fights he had had with his school mates. Karl’s consistent hiding from school impacted his grades and so he was forced to repeat his senior year while he watched some of his classmates graduate.
“By the time I graduated it was too late for me because I had already given up on myself and had no plans for a career or going any further in my education,” he noted in silent reflection. “I couldn’t fill the void of not being able to belong. No therapy could fill the void of not having a father to look up to. There was something missing in my life and my poor mother could not fix it. After I graduate high school, she thought that getting a practical skill was good enough for keeping me out of trouble and because I love cars I decided to become a mechanic. It was the best decision I’ve ever made because it saved me from a going down a destructive path,” he explained with a reflective nod.
He went on to explain that his teen years were the most difficult as he suffered from an identity crisis.
“I didn’t know who I was. I would see my sister spending time with her father and suddenly felt jealous and angry. When this happened I would end up hanging out with my friends at the corner all day smoking or looking for trouble because I was trying to fit in somewhere and I felt loved by my buddies. I was a very angry kid back then,” he ended.