There is a toxic mindset in many black children because of what their fathers did or didn’t do. We can’t move forward as a people until we heal these broken hearts and fractured relationships. The anger and disappointment leaves an open wound which affects us significantly. Some of us talk about this but it’s in the form of a lament or a complain. But some never talk about it. Instead there is a pent-up set of feelings that have been sustained and nourished by our thoughts and meditation over the years.
It’s a difficult conversation to have because there’s so much pain involved. For some individuals your father is still alive and there are things you’d like to say to him but you can’t bring yourself to do so. Some of you have never met your father but you hear he’s alive. Still, for others, your father is missing or worse, dead and buried, you never got to say what you feel. Might I also mention, some brothers have a difficulty discussing and communicating emotions. A man might not even be able to identify, let alone share how he feels.
These thoughts and feelings shape our character and conversations.
We, men, become our fathers or do everything to not become our fathers. Still we can not escape the genetics, a part of him is in us. The truth is, fatherhood doesn’t come with a printed manual. There is no school or course or textbook on being a father. You do what you learned; what you saw, heard and read about. Yes there’s room for improvisation, you make up some of it as you go along.
Now, if the aforementioned is true for us, then it is true also for our fathers. They too are the product of their father’s genetics and the environment in which they grew up. So maybe they didn’t do all that they were supposed to because they were ignorant. It could be that simple, he did not know he was supposed to hug you. He certainly did not experience that with his father and no one showed him otherwise.
Then we come to those who choose not to stand up to their responsibilities. Either they were completely missing or they were present just in a material form. The excuses for such behaviour are many and varied. Time would fail to enumerate them all. The consequences however, are far reaching and multifaceted. There’s economic, academic, emotional and spiritual harm done to us. Importantly, this damage means that we become damaged parents too!
“I can’t breathe!” The words of George Floyd as that officer pinned him down with his knee on his neck. Many of us have been unable to breathe properly because the weight of what your father did or didn’t do is pinning your neck to the ground. The feeling remains with us because we keep it. Stress is defined as an adverse response to a situation. Stress is made by us. The weight or pressure we feel is self-made. This is OUR response to what he did.
“Forgiveness does not wipe out your memory, nor is it a delete key for reality. The test of genuine forgiveness is not whether you remember the event, but how you remember it.”
Dr.Dick Tibbits describes the situation this way, someone is living in your head rent-free. The ill-feeling, hatred or whatever negative emotion is toxic to you who harbour them. The offender is not affected in the least. Walking around with all this poison slowly kills you. “If you want to move from a bitter life toward a better life, you need to understand that the past exists only in your memory.” Dr. Tibbits