Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Where have all the fathers gone?

In the play "Footloose" Ren, one of the leads, and his mother have been abandoned by his father.  Once he wonders what he did wrong to have his father leave.  Within the last month I have witnessed and listened to six young people wonder the same thing.  Their parents have split and the children blame themselves for the split.  Some have been so upset that they have moved from their homes to live with others.  It seems the "sins of the parents" have been heaped on them.
Several years ago I wrote an article that has been printed in several newspapers.  It is below the picture of my friend, Lucas, and his children.  He not only takes them as a family, but gives them individual time.  I hope you enjoy the article.  A former student who is now married with three children came by the school to ask for a copy to give to her husband.
Where have all the Fathers gone.

To be an orphan, your father doesn’t have to die,” says Paul Quinnett in his book, "Fishing Lessons."

This came to mind last summer as I guided a man and his 13-year-old daughter. The fishing was okay, both caught fish, but during a slow time, the conversation went to family. The man lamented that of his eight children; this one was the only one that really recognized him as their father.

“I failed with my children of my first marriage, but learned my lesson,” he said. “This one is not going to get away.”

The next day I fished with another father and 12-year-old daughter combination. This was his only child. These fathers do not want these two children to be orphans while they are still alive.

I thought back of my own father. A quiet, small, but loving and caring man – one who was my best friend.

One of ten children, I was still given the individual time needed. We hunted, fished, trapped, camped, worked hard and played baseball together.

Oh, I was no angel growing up, but Dad knew what buttons to push when they needed pushed. At times when I got in trouble he would load the boat and head for a lake or the river with me. Not much preaching was done – but I knew how disappointed he was in me. One-on-one time was the best.

It was left at that. I found it very hard to jump out of a pickup going 50 miles per hour or to walk away from him while the boat was in the middle of a lake.

A few years ago I owned a fly shop in Island Park. Two mothers come in, each with a teenage son. They bought some rods, reels and a few lures so the kids could hopefully catch some fish.

They were not a happy bunch. The boys were being forced into something they were unfamiliar with and not wanting to learn. Most thirteen-year-old boys have a mind of their own, with their mothers not part of the picture.

As they left I wished I could take them fishing as they were headed for failure.

Just before closing the four came back having lost the lures and tangled the lines – what a mess. I suggested I take the boys fishing on Henry’s Lake with the moms picking them up at sundown.

What a ball we had catching and releasing fish with me listening and being taught a valuable lesson – don’t ignore my children as their fathers had them.

In my study I have a bumper sticker put out by Zebco. It says, “Don’t let your kid be the one that got away.” True, Zebco wants to sell you fishing gear, but the message is clear.

As a classroom teacher I have seen some that have gotten away – or have been abandoned by parents. They might as well be orphans.

Quinnett ends the article with, “Wherever it is that all the lost fathers have gone, I pray they will find their way back. And soon. Their children are looking for them.”

Have fun year – with your kids.


Betsy from Tennessee said...

Oh Bill, This is wonderful... I do worry about kids today---not only because of a missing father, but in many cases, a missing mother also. Kids have a rough time these days.

My youngest son is divorced---but is still the BEST father I have ever seen. His entire life is about his two kids.. I'm SO proud of him.


Robert Mortensen said...


Jann said...

Very, very nice, Bill. My dad and grandpa took my only brother hunting, but I was the one who tagged along when he went to the hardware store or elsewhere running errands. A girl's time with her dad is very important too.

Sunny said...

Your excellent article reminded me of what a wonderful Dad I had and how sorry I feel for the kids deprived of having a Father's time.
I think in today's society, it's a lot harder to be a child.
Sunny :)

mountain.mama said...

This is so true, kids need their parents, their time and their energy and their love. Unfortunately I work with the kids who don't get this and it's very sad sometimes to see the damage that results.

NCmountainwoman said...

Excellent article. Very timely in this day and age.

troutbirder said...

Well said Bill. I did all I could to encourage the moms who came to watch their sons play hoops with no father in sight.