by George R. Williams, Ph.D.
The African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child” reflects the truth that many lives shape and mold the life of a child. But no stronger impact is made on any child greater or more permanent than the impact of that child’s father and mother, regardless of whether that influence is good or bad or whether that parent is present or absent in the home.
It is clear that parents in the village are vital to the children, but how important are the children to the village? Children are a village’s most natural resource paramount to its survival. They are a gift from God. If the village fails the children then the village fails to forge it’s own future. This makes the issue of parental impact crucial.
Warriors are Missing From the Village
Sadly, today as you look around the village you will find that there is an element of major importance absent. It is nationally estimated that tonight 40% (25 million) of the children will go to bed without a father present in the home. In Black America that statistic rises to over 50% and in some urban settings it rises as high as 90%. The repercussion of this absence should concern us. The children remain the victims.
To understand the impact of this absence on the children requires an understanding of the role of the father in the village. By our Creator’s design, fathers have long been given the responsibility as primary protectors, providers, blessers and leaders of the family. They are the warriors, the ones engaged and experienced in battles against anything that seeks to harm or divide their families.
What happens when the warriors are missing? The enemies of the village come in to steal, to kill and to destroy. When we look around our black villages we see the aftermath of destruction upon our children and families. We see record levels of poverty, violence, low educational achievement, teenage pregnancy, crime, substance abuse and suicide. According to current research most of these outcomes are strongly related to father absent homes.
Why do Warriors Leave?
Warriors leave for many reasons. Some leave to fight other battles, some flee for fear, some have become wounded and some are driven away by enemies or more often than not by supposed friendly “fire”, and still others by simple apathy and ignorance.
Fathers also leave for similar reasons. They pursue other interest or work, run for fear of not being prepared, have emotional wounds from the past, driven away by relational conflict (baby momma drama), are lured away by other women to “greener” pastures and some don’t care or are ignorant. Other contributors for father absence date back as far to the days of slavery, legalized discrimination and welfare while others are more recent and relate to educational access and economic disparities.
These reasons can influence a father to “run away” or ignore the responsibilities to the children of the village. They can also be pushed away by societal influences. Regardless of whether they run away or are pushed away the results for the children are the same; they are more vulnerable and provided less direction to lead physically, psychologically, socially, emotionally, morally and spiritually healthy lives.
Village Warriors Return
It is time for the fathers to return. Rather than run away or be pushed away we must be determined to be here to stay. We must return to the responsibility of leadership of our families and stand as those who protect, provide and bless.
During this past week we have celebrated the cultural reaffirmation of Kwanzaa. This is a time for African-Americans to reflect upon our rich cultural heritage, as the products of two worlds still at war. We must reconcile. One of the Nguzo Saba (Seven Principles) Umoja (Unity) best describes what we must reach for, the striving and maintaining of unity in the family, community, nation and race.
God has created us for unity, first with Him and then with one another. Our enemy objective is to gain victory through division. Fathers have been separated from their children, families and community. It is time for the Warriors to return to the village and fight the battles for their families. Let the hearts of the father be turn toward their children and let them go home!