Father’s Day has come and gone, but it conjured memories of the man who has been a constant force in my life.

I credit my father, who today is still the best man I have ever known, for being a shining example of what a dad truly should be — loving, supportive and never turning his back on family.

Unfortunately, thousands of fatherless children born each day might never experience the kind of steadfast and unconditional love a father can give to his child.

Where did we go wrong?

Today the role of “father” seems to have been corrupted by a lack of accountability for offspring.

Although it is not generally accepted in society, many groups think it’s normal for a man to abandon his children without consequence.

As a result, the government is forced to intervene on behalf of the abandoned child, further straining the dynamic of the relationship. And some mothers’ lack of respect for their children, purposely impregnating themselves to trap a man with no regard for the innocent life, does not help matters.

I can remember an anthropology assignment in college that asked whether absent parents should be forced by the courts to spend time with their children.

For me, this kind of interference further diminishes the responsibility of the father and turns the child into an entity rather than a person in need of true affection.

What it boils down to is an egregious misunderstanding, not only of the role of a father, but also the role of a man.

The paternity system consists of the fathers of today being taught how to parent by the fathers of yesterday. But if there are no fathers of yesterday, how can the fathers of today ever learn?

Sons are reared and learn by the example of the men in their lives. So we cannot blame young men for not knowing how to be fathers when they have never known what it is to be a man’s son.

When a child is a victim of neglect, he or she will likely miss out on some of life’s most valuable lessons and lack the understanding of self-worth and self-obligation.

Speaking from personal experience, my husband was raised by a single foster mother. He never met his father.

Now that he has a son of his own, he sometimes struggles to find the balance he longed for during his childhood that would allow him to nurture a boy into a man.

As a parent, I cannot sympathize with a person capable of walking away from their own child, regardless of their economic or social status.

At the same time, it is easy for me to have such an opinion, but my judgments will not change the situation.

What will? At this point, the answer is anyone’s guess.

Until we find a solution, this vicious cycle will sadly continue for generations to come.

April Lawrence Grant is a Herald correspondent.


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