August 26, 2014 Jason

The Invalid “No-Daddy” Card

For those who don’t know by now, this site is comprised of myself, Will, Laurent and Larry. We have known each other, collectively, for the better part of 14 years. Only one of us had the disadvantage of not having a father in the home growing up. Yep, you guessed it. Me. You can use this site to ask any of them “Did Jason throw around his “No-Daddy” card to bring on self pity?” I’m more than confident they will all say “Nope”, but you can still try and ask them.

Yet, for many fatherless youth, this “card” has been so utilized that the preverbal bar strip has been worn out. Why is it so tempting to use this card? Easy…but before I get into my reason(s), let me shed light on what life without a father in the home was like.

I never forgot that one cloudy day in the 3rd grade when I fully understood what divorce meant and realize that my parents were divorced. I take that back, it wasn’t cloudy, it was a thunderstorm, figuratively and literally. It all clicked. I was in a single parent home. The reason it didn’t hit me sooner was due to the fact that my brother, who is 13 years older than me, and my grandmother also lived with us. It was like my mom, brother and grandmother was all pitching in to fill that void. And to make my understanding more complicated, my dad would occasionally visit me, so I did know who he was despite him not being in the home with me. Prior to that thunderous day, I thought that was the norm. To also add context to this, that day in 3rd grade happened a few months after I moved from Philly to Richmond. Philly had a way of making a fatherless home seem normal, but once I moved out of Philly to a suburban elementary school…BAM. Reality was exposed and I was handed the “No-Daddy” card.

close-up of human hands cutting a credit card by scissors

Now, I truly believe that upon revelation, you are faced with a choice; to use this revelation as a crutch or as a stepping stone. Despite my new surroundings, I still had friends without fathers. I would low-key pay attention to how they would use this card. This “No-Daddy” card was almost the equivalent (in the eyes of the fatherless) as a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card in Monopoly. If they had random anger, they would just whip out their card. If an authority figure told them to act right, they would just whip out the card. “You ain’t my daddy” would be like reaching in your pocket for that card. I saw seen it used all the time. I, myself, had been tempted to use it.

So why didn’t I use it? Because in the grand scheme of things, it was invalid. Let me explain. I started to notice a trend in my own lineage. My dad wasn’t in my life that much growing up. His dad wasn’t either. In fact, about 3 generations of that went on. Then I started thinking about my future. When you actually start thinking about your future, especially as a teenager, a lot of crap becomes invalid. I didn’t want to be that absentee father to my (then) future kids, so I cut up my card. I didn’t want to be in the same spot later on in life, so I cut up my card. Yes, making effort is harder than making excuses, but making excuses doesn’t add water to the soil.

I also realized in life that “cutting up” something still doesn’t eliminate the problem. It was still tempting. I could have easily taped up the card, but to further obliterate the card, I sacrificed my defenses and worked on rekindling a relationship with the father that I once despised for not being there once I was grown enough to do so. I’m proud to say that my kids are card-less, and not only that, but I can also say that I changed my own narrative, because I’m currently growing WITH my dad.

Now, for those who never knew their father, I would say for you to keep your eyes on the future. There are many celebrities who grew up without a father. [Click Here for a small list]. Continue to press on and make a better life for your kids. If you don’t have the desire to have kids, at least make life better for your older self. You are not weak because you grew up without a father. In fact, it is the void that gives you the opportunity to display your strength and become better than your original surroundings. To become something you never saw. That’s called being a pioneer. Fatherless boys are given the platform to be pioneers by default. Take hold of that platform and destroy the card. Will it be easy? Nope. I cried many of nights, but I was determined to exchange those tears for the smiles of my kids. We are the change we constantly seek.

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