My Daughter’s Keeper
By Zerline Hughes
This blog is turning out to be quite the conversation starter. Score! One post helped one reader find summer camp option at the 11th hour.
Another follower, a fellow school parent, recently called me to chat about the post on my son’s Big Brother program mentor. She told me a short story about her daughter not having a relationship with her father and asked if there was a sort of Big Brother program for girls in need of father figures.
Wow! What a great idea. I haven’t heard of anything like that but I LOVE the idea. Sounds like another nonprofit in the making.
My daughter is in Girl Scouts to fill a void and provide mentorship, but I just realized with that night’s phone call, that aside from her father’s once to twice monthly visits and interrupted phone calls, there’s nothing formal in place for her to get that “manly” mentoring that girls, too, need.
Well, lemme step back; that’s not exactly the case — not anymore, at least. I’ve had a steady boyfriend for nearly three years now. And over the past two years, we’ve all grown closer as a family, taking trips, having family cookouts, going to car shows (even though my girl hates that particular annual trip), having picnics and I think its making a big difference.
So with the combination of ex-husband, boyfriend, and for the boy, a Big Brother mentor, my kids, I pray they have what they need.
But back to my colleague: what would, in fact, be a good alternative for girls without that father figure in their lives? Maybe a church program that looks to fathers, grandfathers, other men of the church who have the time to devote time to little girls; maybe the Big Brother program could expand its services to be Big Brothers to our daughters in a special offshoot pilot program. Do ya’ll know of anything? Drop a comment!
President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative has sparked so much controversy. The idea is to provide funding and programming to give boys and young men of color an extra push. Many women, including policymakers, celebrities and activists, however, say excluding women from the initiative is a great mistake. I get where they’re coming from, but I say kudos to the MBK initiative! Personally, as parent of both a son and daughter, I do believe that our sons need more mentorship and a program like this is necessary and does not need to be watered down to include the second gender. What I also believe, is that, yes, our daughters, too, need something – unique – and supportive. There are, in fact, great programs like iGlow Mentoring, Saving Our Lives, Hearing Our Truths, National Cares Mentoring, the The National Council of Negro Women’s Bethune Program Development Center in Los Angeles and there’s now a host of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs focused solely on girls and teens. But yes, a federally funded initiative is necessary, too.
According to a recent article entitled “Time to break the cycle of absent fathers” published in The District Chronicles, “Fathers also need to recognize their value in their kids’ lives … benefits of having a biological father in a child’s life, includ[e] providing the child with a sense of family and self (73 percent), enhancing the child’s self-esteem (70 percent) and offering the child with a masculine parental figure (69 percent). According to Fatherhood.org, children who do not have a father figure in their life are more likely to endure financial hardship, use drugs, quit school or engage in criminal behavior.”
In another article, “A broken home doesn’t mean I’m broken,” it was reported that growing up in fatherless homes can lead to an increased chance that the child will face mental health issues like depression and anxiety, according to Common Sense & Domestic Violence newsletter. The newsletter also notes that children who live in fatherless homes are likely to develop dysfunctional behavior and are:
- 4.6 times more likely to commit suicide;
- 6.6 times more likely to become teenaged mothers;
- 24.3 times more likely to run away;
- 15.3 times more likely to have behavioral disorders;
- 15.3 times more likely to end up in prison while a teenager.
So… what say you? Who’s ready to brainstorm on a fatherhood-for-girls program? I think my friend is on to something!