“I Grew Up a Fatherless Child…” ~ by Cherilyn Smith of “Black Women Deserve Better” [Event Post]

Yes, I overcame numerous hurdles which have developed my resilient and resourceful character, but at what cost? When is the price too high? Some fatherless children can and do go on to do awesome things. (Note: SOME!) The tragic reality which plagues a majority can no longer be ignored. Disproportionate numbers of fatherless children are the walking wounded.


“I Grew Up A Fatherless Child…”


My parents were married, but separated when I was just an infant. My mother and I were on our own for many years. She eventually remarried and we moved out of the inner-city. So why am I writing on the subject of out-of-wedlock children? Abandonment is another factor to consider when examining fatherless homes. Basically after separating, my father behaved as if marital dissolution absolved him of any parental obligation. By the way, simply tossing a check to your child’s mother doesn’t cut the muster either.

Consequently, my grandmother and aunts helped raise me while mom worked. I am deeply grateful for their boundless love and never-ending support. The fact still remains; there is no substitution for an involved father. There will be no politically correct diatribes about lollipops, rainbows, smooth sailing and sitcom happy endings. My childhood was a confusing, painfully awkward, stunted shell of what it should have been. Had my biological father made any genuine attempts to be a parent, perhaps this story could have been different. Yes, I overcame numerous hurdles which have developed my resilient and resourceful character, but at what cost? When is the price too high? Some fatherless children can and do go on to do awesome things. (Note: SOME!) The tragic reality which plagues a majority can no longer be ignored. Disproportionate numbers of fatherless children are the walking wounded. Most are unable to fully cope and persevere without their dad’s presence. The evidence of which manifests itself in violent, crime-ridden neighborhoods. By no coincidence, OOW children and broken environments tend to go hand in hand. It is not uncommon to observe two or three generations of fatherless residents concentrated in one area.

“Fatherless families tend to breed more of the same with future generations…”–Anonymous

On the other hand, children affected can display their hurt in various ways. When younger, I was extremely introverted. The discarded child on some level is always aware of the void left by the absent parent. I was very much cognizant of my father’s rejection and campaigned very hard to “win” his love. Everything from sending report cards, to holiday greetings, heartfelt letters, and leaving messages (All of them pretty much ignored). There were times my biological father ignored me in person when I would say “Hi Daddy!”. A “spirit of rejection” can attach itself to the child for life and negatively impact any future interaction with others. Occasional “ego bruisers” which everyone receives throughout life would not be applicable here. In this case, the spirit of rejection can arise when a child is born into circumstances where their existence is undesired or considered a hardship. Typically the father initially opens those doors when conception is discovered. Lack of emotional and financial support ensues from his displeasure. When a man doesn’t rise to the occasion, tremendous burden is placed upon the mother. Therefore the child is mentally rejected on some level by both parents. Do not be fooled into believing “not talking about it” around the child is the silver bullet. Quite naturally, domestic disputes in their presence are unacceptable. However we cannot fool the mind and heart. Our children instinctively know when something is amiss. If unchecked, fatherless children will seek affirmation and acceptance in the wrong places. This affected my ability to formulate friendships which were on equal footing and reciprocal. My lopsided perceptions and negative internal dialogue were red flags, creating fertile ground for predatory situations. Risk factors for several areas of exploitation drastically increases within fatherless homes.



Child Abuse

Inferior Education



Teenage Pregnancy

Trouble With Authority

Substance Abuse

The dangers awaiting women and children who are left to fend for themselves can also be found in the Bible. Repeated admonitions are made in regards to their treatment. God often made special provision for widows and orphans due to their compromised state.

Job 24:3

“They drive away the ass of the fatherless, they take the widow’s ox for a pledge.”

Psalm 94:6

“They slay the widow and the stranger, and murder the fatherless.”

Isaiah 10:2

“To turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless!”

Job 29:12

“Because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him.”

Zechariah 7:10

“And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.”

“When young women grow up without a father they feel rejected and as a result they go seeking the approval of men their entire lives. This usually ends up in the girl having pre-marital relations as a remedy to feel wanted.” -SW, Reader of the blog “Black Women Deserve Better”

Psalm 68:5

“A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation.”

I would never advise anyone who has grown up without a father to simply “get over it”. No one gets off that easily –not even the abandoned child. The process of healing a damaged spirit is a journey to embark on with a committed, purposeful heart. Inappropriate habits have to be unlearned and subsequently replaced with productive interpersonal skills. Make no mistake, fatherless children who are now adults need to take the reins immediately and stop the cycle. A dismissive attitude does not negate the disastrous outcome of this epidemic. Our sloppy attempts to sweep matters under a rug have been unsuccessful to say the least. Even worse, the misguided slogans and mantras designed to normalize or uplift out of wedlock settings equivalent with nuclear family homes. Relatives and friends often feel coerced into condoning the situation with motives of sparing loved ones from further embarrassment. The pattern of OOW children and paternal abandonment is at an all time high for Black Americans. Reversing this pattern will mandate a significant undertaking. No longer can Blacks rely on “community” efforts. Recent initiatives have failed miserably and were often haphazard to begin with. Previous generations instinctively knew the importance of establishing the ground rules for male/female contact of any sort. Presently, there are little if any levels of accountability. Not having a plan in anticipation of high-risk situations is naivety at best; at worst, a recipe for disaster. Families must build a hedge of protection, by taking deliberate steps to educate and promote legitimacy. Single men and women must also become proactive in dealing with the opposite sex. Each sexual encounter has the potential to create life. Passivity in our love lives is not an option. A potential mate should be vetted for qualities which make great husbands and fathers. Couples who find themselves entangled in an unwanted pregnancy often blame one other. Character assaults become commonplace. This is the expected outcome when failing to plan and set high standards for romantic partnering. Tension of this magnitude sets the stage for long-term imbalance, directly impacting any children involved.

For example, Eastern Michigan University’s football coach Ron English expressed the desire to recruit young men with strong family backgrounds. Coach English was recently quoted in “The Detroit News”:

“We wanted guys that had a father in their background,” English said. “A guy that’s raised by his mom all the time, and please don’t take me wrong, but the reality is that you’ve got to teach that guy how to be taught by a man.”

Sobering words indeed! Regretfully, we live in a society where the conduct of numerous pro-athletes equates to a blinking neon “NO DADDY WAS HERE” sign. Teachers, employers, law enforcement amongst others in leadership roles can attest to this. Who wants the collateral duty of “re-parenting” a fatherless child layered upon existing obligations?

Finally, a word of caution against heeding those who give the appearance of endorsing dysfunction, especially when directed at minorities. In my experience, the following personality types come into play:

Misery Loves Company – Those who aspire to feel superior by offering inappropriate and harmful counsel. Deep down the “misery” crowd does not want anyone else to do better.

Do-As-I-Don’t-Do – Dispenses a batch of poison for others which they do not ingest. Would not live in areas predominately occupied by fatherless children. Nor do they want fatherless men to marry their daughters. When hearing comments diminishing a father’s importance, consider whether or not the speaker would take in a “castoff” child into their homes.

Thankfully with the love of Christ and good old-fashioned hard work, my life has much improved since childhood. The man who married my mother 18 years ago has fulfilled the role of “Daddy” in every way that truly matters.

About Cherilyn Smith

Cherilyn Smith is the admin of “Black Women Deserve Better”. She also published a book by the same name in 2008. Cherilyn is proud to be part of the “Black Women Empowerment” blogger network. Her comprehensive approach to dating, love, beauty and life in general has inspired many. She currently resides in Honolulu, HI with her husband.

“King James Version Holy Bible” 1611 Edition

“The Negro Family: The Case for National Action”

Office of Planning and Research, United States Department of Labor


“Spirit of Rejection” Dr. Richard Ing


“Healing of the Spirit” Dr. Arlin Epperson


“New-look EMU Ready To Win” Josh Katzenstein “The DetroitNews”


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