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Iyanla's Letter for Fatherless Sons: A Call to Action for Fatherless Sons

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Iyanla's Letter for Fatherless Sons: A Call to Action for Fatherless Sons

Iyanla Vanzant

When my young son's teacher asked to see me, I reacted defensively. I was a 17-year-old girl thinking: "What had he done this time? What am I going to do with that boy?" The conversation was a rude awakening. "Your son pulls his pants down when he uses the bathroom," the teacher told me. "He doesn't know how to use a urinal." I turned my face to hide the tears of embarrassment. In that moment, as I explained our situation, the realization hit me like a ton of bricks: I am the mother of a fatherless son. Listening to the corrective measures offered by the teacher, it became clear that I was training my son from my perspective as a woman. There were some things that I just didn't know—and others I had failed to realize.

When a boy doesn't have a father to show him the way, he can never be quite sure about the manhood things he needs to know. He's never really clear about how strong is strong enough, how soft is too soft, or how much doing and giving is enough, from a man's point of view. A boy needs a man to teach him how to push forward and when to pull back. A man can demonstrate to a boy when to stand up—and for how long.

When a boy doesn't have a father to guide him, he's not sure when to speak up or when to shut up. A man who did not have the input of a father is never quite sure about what other men will think about what he has to say. When a boy doesn't have a father to show him the way to being a man, he's never quite sure who a man is or what a man does. A woman may cry when she's afraid, scream when she's angry, eat chocolate when she is depressed or off balance. What does a man do? How does a man handle turmoil in his mind or heart?

When a boy doesn't have a father, he grows up never feeling quite sure about himself, his life and what is expected of him. He may overcompensate, undercommit and, in some cases, just give up rather than fail. He may grieve silently what he missed and what he may be missing. He may quietly long for the love of a father. He may believe he lacks that special something that makes him worthy of love.

For years, I watched my fatherless son struggle. I cried about his failures. I took credit for his success. Like so many mothers raising fatherless sons, I made his life about me, failing to recognize there were things he needed that I just didn't have to give. It wasn't a failure on my part or his part. It was simply a reality, a truth that neither his father nor I considered.

My son's story is a familiar story. It is the story of hundreds of thousands of boys growing up without fathers, with only their mothers' perspectives of manhood to lean on. Some of those perspectives are clear, powerful and loving. They work well to shape a boy's mind and heart. Others do not. They are perspectives filled with anger, disappointment, vindictiveness, fear, shame and guilt that is impressed upon a boy's soul about who he better or better not be as a man. All too often, these are the perspectives that pave the road to prison, drugs, domestic violence and arrested manhood development.

Shall we blame the mothers? Shall we call the fathers guilty? I suspect that neither would be a good fix. What needs to happen quickly is that parents must become responsible and accountable for the lives that God has placed into their hands. The mother of a fatherless son must keep the door open. The father of a son must learn how to, and be willing to, walk through the open door to his son's heart and life. All boys need to know what it feels like to have a man—a father—love them.

Get resources for fathers and support for fatherless sons


Read more: http://www.oprah.com/oprahs-lifeclass/Iyanlas-Letter-for-Fatherless-Sons_1#ixzz2ScSyd9QM

by on May. 7, 2013 at 11:03 AM
Replies (11-19):
OHgirlinCA
by Platinum Member on May. 7, 2013 at 1:08 PM
1 mom liked this

 I think as long as there is an active male role model in a child's life, they will be just fine. 

futureshock
by Ruby Member on May. 8, 2013 at 9:34 AM


Quoting OHgirlinCA:

 I think as long as there is an active male role model in a child's life, they will be just fine. 

How active would he have to be?  How could anyone replace the actual dad living under the same roof loving and raising his child every day? 

Could a female role model replace a loving mother so easily?

viv212
by Gold Member on May. 8, 2013 at 9:40 AM
I can relate too but my child is a girl. She didn't have one stable man in her life growing up. As she became a preteen I was scared shitless. A young girl with no constant male figure looking for that male attention? We are mostly a family of women and my dd's niño moved about an hour and a half from us.

Then I met my now boyfriend and I'm so damn thankful for him. He stepped up to the father role on his own and my dd respects and loves him.


Quoting lizmarie1975:

I feel her pain. For so long, I've felt guilt over not providing a father that loved my son. It wasn't my fault that his father left and left for good. His father knew my home addresses (just 2), my work address & phone number, and my cell phone number (I've only ever had this one) and the only time he ever called was to ask if I would agree to terminate the child support agreement because he didn't feel he should have to pay for a son he didn't see.

Notice, he didn't express any desire to see him...just to stop paying $25/month for him.

Each time, my son had some problem, I've blamed myself.

ETA: I was lucky that brothers took on helping to look after my son, providing that male bonding experience.

Della529
by Matlock on May. 8, 2013 at 9:42 AM

 Bump for later.

MeAndTommyLee
by Platinum Member on May. 8, 2013 at 10:13 AM
1 mom liked this

I agree, but the dialogue can only start when an awful lot of mothers cede to the fact that sons DO need fathers in the first place.  Simple providing a `father figure' is not enough, and it barely scratches the surface.  I looks good, but looks are only skin deep after all.  I know as a mother of 6 boys, I have relegated DH to better explain `boy' situations from a males POV.  He's best at it.  The way young girls would rather DIE than talk to dad about their periods, boys don't want their Mom;s to know what's going on down there at a certain age.  Can you blame them?  Sure, a single mom can pull a book off the shelf and educate herself in a very sterile, proper way; but where is the emotional view in all of that.   Boys need to watch  what a real man does when he grows up and has a family and not just be told about what a women expect from their men from their mothers.

Quoting Donna6503:

I think this problem, is a lot bigger problem that society will need to deal with in the near future.


 

krysstizzle
by on May. 8, 2013 at 10:44 AM
1 mom liked this

No.

In fact, nuclear families can be a serious problem and the idolizing of them is a major problem in our society. Nuclear family structure resulting in isolation and anomie is the problem; single parent households existing within a society that perpetuates that only feel the blows harder. A cohesive extended family and connected community are the key issues, and they are continually ignored in conversations like this. 

See here and here for examples of anomie and how the nuclear family facilitates isolation within a society. 

Ther are bigger issues and these conversations to vilianize single mothers completely miss the point and exacerbate the problems.


Quoting MeAndTommyLee:

I agree, but the dialogue can only start when an awful lot of mothers cede to the fact that sons DO need fathers in the first place.  Simple providing a `father figure' is not enough, and it barely scratches the surface.  I looks good, but looks are only skin deep after all.  I know as a mother of 6 boys, I have relegated DH to better explain `boy' situations from a males POV.  He's best at it.  The way young girls would rather DIE than talk to dad about their periods, boys don't want their Mom;s to know what's going on down there at a certain age.  Can you blame them?  Sure, a single mom can pull a book off the shelf and educate herself in a very sterile, proper way; but where is the emotional view in all of that.   Boys need to watch  what a real man does when he grows up and has a family and not just be told about what a women expect from their men from their mothers.

Quoting Donna6503:

I think this problem, is a lot bigger problem that society will need to deal with in the near future.




Peanutx3
by Ruby Member on May. 8, 2013 at 11:31 AM

I wholeheartedly agree!!!!!


Quoting krysstizzle:

No.

In fact, nuclear families can be a serious problem and the idolizing of them is a major problem in our society. Nuclear family structure resulting in isolation and anomie is the problem; single parent households existing within a society that perpetuates that only feel the blows harder. A cohesive extended family and connected community are the key issues, and they are continually ignored in conversations like this. 

See here and here for examples of anomie and how the nuclear family facilitates isolation within a society. 

Ther are bigger issues and these conversations to vilianize single mothers completely miss the point and exacerbate the problems.


Quoting MeAndTommyLee:

I agree, but the dialogue can only start when an awful lot of mothers cede to the fact that sons DO need fathers in the first place.  Simple providing a `father figure' is not enough, and it barely scratches the surface.  I looks good, but looks are only skin deep after all.  I know as a mother of 6 boys, I have relegated DH to better explain `boy' situations from a males POV.  He's best at it.  The way young girls would rather DIE than talk to dad about their periods, boys don't want their Mom;s to know what's going on down there at a certain age.  Can you blame them?  Sure, a single mom can pull a book off the shelf and educate herself in a very sterile, proper way; but where is the emotional view in all of that.   Boys need to watch  what a real man does when he grows up and has a family and not just be told about what a women expect from their men from their mothers.

Quoting Donna6503:

I think this problem, is a lot bigger problem that society will need to deal with in the near future.






happinessforyou
by Bronze Member on May. 8, 2013 at 11:32 AM

For the sake of all children- I wish men and women both made better choices for the sake of the children. Men are important, just like women are important. Society and life for all kids could be so much better if the adults all made better choices.

Peanutx3
by Ruby Member on May. 8, 2013 at 11:37 AM


Quoting futureshock:


Quoting OHgirlinCA:

 I think as long as there is an active male role model in a child's life, they will be just fine. 

How active would he have to be?  How could anyone replace the actual dad living under the same roof loving and raising his child every day? 

Could a female role model replace a loving mother so easily?

You can't replace actual dad but father figures can add much to a fatherless childs life.  My kids have multiple father figures who have stepped up and provide that important guy stuff.  I see my kids thrive when these guys are around.  They are a mix of Matt's coworkers and friends and uncles.  


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