Absent, Part 3 – Children Having Children

Four month old gripping father's finger, Author Clarence Goss, Flickr

Four month old gripping father’s finger, Author Clarence Goss, Source Flickr “Got You Daddy” (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

  • “Black Man Fathers 34 Children With 17 Different Women”
  • “Man who fathered THIRTY kids with 11 different women says he needs a break from child support”
  • “Man who fathered 23 children with 14 women sent to prison after missing more than $500,000 in child support payments”

Tragically, these headlines are not fictional [1][2][3].  The problem of absent fathers is caused not only by the sexual mores now prevalent and the vanishing nuclear family, but by children having children.

Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart” (Col. 3: 21).

Contraception

The availability of contraception increased the number of teenage girls having sex, and pushed back the age at which girls became sexually active.

Lack of information about sex and birth control became less an issue, as high schools worked the subjects into their curriculum.  Unfortunately, that did not address the real obstacle.

Condoms are readily available for purchase.  But girls can be dissuaded from insisting they be used.  The next girl will not be so difficult, they are told by their partners.  In a world where sexting is a casual pastime, that argument carries some weight.

Needless to say, inner city high schools now come equipped with nurseries, while not books.

AIDS

If nothing else, the AIDS epidemic should have frightened men into using condoms.  Instead, in the inner city they began having sex with girls as young as 9 or 10 years of age.  Since these girls were virgins (unlikely to be infected by HIV), the dilemma was neatly, if callously, resolved.

The well-being of the young girls in question did not enter the picture.  Their desire to be loved actually set the trap into which they fell.

Statutory Rape

Impoverished, overlooked, and neglected, these girls suddenly basked in the attention of men anywhere from 5 to 20 years their senior.  Willing victims of statutory rape join their numbers everyday.

Unprotected sex is the passport to gifts and status.  Pregnancy is an achievement.  A baby will provide unconditional love.  So these children think, assuming they think at all.

Their naïve hopes are soon enough dashed.  Rarely does the “honeymoon” period last beyond the pregnancy.  Babies cry.  They have to be fed, have to be changed.  And diapers cost money.  So do cribs, strollers, car seats, safety gates, and the rest.

Abortion is often used as a belated form of birth control, when romance sours.  Grandmothers (when they are available) can wind up raising these babies [4].

Serial Exclusivity

Meanwhile, “fathers” who may be 15 y.o., themselves, move on to the next girl.  She has to promise to be sexually exclusive, at least while he remains interested — the inner city version of faithful.  That he might be faithful does not even cross his mind.

The babies that result may never know all their siblings.  The girls left behind retain the honorific of “baby mama”.

Baby Daddy

And the baby daddies?  A surprising 2015 study found that disadvantaged fathers who do not pay child support may still contribute as much as $60 per month to a child’s upkeep via food, clothing, baby supplies, and school expenses [5].

Men prefer buying tangible things for their children.  Such provision strengthens the bond between father and child.

According to sociologist Kathryn Edin, who has done extensive research on deadbeat dads:  “We need to respect what these guys are doing, linking love and provision in a way that’s meaningful to the child [6].”

A Legacy of Slavery?  Not Likely

The impact of slavery on the black family has been hotly disputed over the years.

Some have argued that slavery gave rise to a matriarchal family structure, with feckless males on the periphery.  This view has been challenged, both as racist and unfounded [7][8].

After the Civil War, the legal right to marry was among the rights granted to (and cherished by) former slaves [9].  A variety of laws were passed during Reconstruction legitimizing slave marriages, and the children born to enslaved parents.

Unknown numbers of newly freed slaves sought to locate the family members sold away from them during decades of bondage.  Some trekked the backroads, in their effort to do this.  Others ran newspaper “Information Wanted” ads.

A trove of such ads has recently been discovered in the archives of Philadelphia’s historic Bethel AME Church, testimony to the strength of family bonds, despite the ravages of slavery [10].

When these efforts failed, freed slaves established kinship bonds where no blood relationships existed.  Children were passed from household to household of an extended family, as economic pressures dictated.

Purpose

Self-centered as the men fathering children without means of support may seem, these men desperately want to leave evidence of their existence.

They want to be more than a stain on the sidewalk after a shooting, but see no other way of making their mark.  No other way of giving purpose to their lives.

That desire is as much the force driving them as self-indulgence.

[1]  Downtrend, “Black Man Fathers 34 Children With 17 Different Women” by Brian Anderson, 9/6/14, http://downtrend.com/71superb/black-man-fathers-34-children-with-17-different-women.

[2]  Daily Mail, “Man who fathered THIRTY kids with 11 different women says he needs a break from child support”, 5/18/12, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2146545/Man-fathered-30-kids-11-different-women-says-needs-break–child-support.html.

[3]  Michigan News (MLive), “Man who fathered 23 children with 14 women sent to prison after missing more than $500,000 in child support payments” by Barton Deiters, 9/24/10,  http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2010/09/man_who_fathered_23_children_w.html.

[4]  National Center for Biotechnology Information, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, “ ‘Children’ Having Children” by Stefanie Mollborn, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3219505/.

[5]  Wiley Online LibraryJournal of  Marriage and Family, “How Much In-Kind Support Do Low-Income Nonresident Fathers Provide?  A Mixed Method Analysis” by Jennifer Kane, Timothy Nelson, and Kathryn Edin, 2/28/15, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jomf.12188/abstract.

[6]  Time, “How Deadbeat are Deadbeat Dads, Really?” by Belinda Luscombe, 6/15/15,  http://time.com/3921605/deadbeat-dads/.

[7]   New York Times, “The Black Family in Slavery And Freedom, 1750‐1925; Were black families split and demoralized by slavery? No, says a new and crucial study” by Richard Sennett, 10/17/76,  http://www.nytimes.com/1976/10/17/archives/the-black-family-in-slavery-and-freedom-17501925-were-black.html?_r=0.

[8]  Kansas University ScholarWorks, Mid-American Review of Sociology, Vol. VIII, No. 2: 23-41, “The Myth of the Black Matriarchy Under Slavery” by Mike Meacham (1983),  https://kuscholarworks.ku.edu/bitstream/handle/1808/4950/MARSV8N2A2.pdf;jsessionid=6FCCA302BEF039077B310DDEA0B00A7A?sequence=.

[9]  Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities, “Becoming a Citizen:  Reconstruction Era Regulation of African American Marriages” by Katherine Franke (Summer 1999).

[10]  CBS News, “ ‘Information Wanted’:  Freed slaves’ heartbreaking ads tell personal stories of slavery” by Vladimir Duthiers, 4/18/17,  http://www.cbsnews.com/news/information-wanted-freed-slaves-heartbreaking-ads-tell-personal-stories-of-slavery/.

This series will conclude next week with Absent, Part 4 – “Gangsta” Culture

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: http://www.alawyersprayers.com

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12 Comments

Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Poverty, Religion, Sexual Abuse

12 responses to “Absent, Part 3 – Children Having Children

  1. Great points Anna.. They could help by teaching abstinence, morals, or self respect in the schools.. many do not receive teaching at home.. But schools refuse to teach morality.. it is not “politically correct”

    • I’ve written this whole series in the hope readers might be motivated to engage w/ the problem. There are so many ways Christians could make a difference. Too often we simply circle the wagons.

      Thank you for commenting, Mary. God bless you and your own efforts worldwide. ❤

  2. This is such a huge subject Anna, that I think it is really difficult to come up with answers for the reason so many fathers are absent. We have all the statistics and yet this doesn’t necessarily translate to the reasons why. From a biological point of view it is women who bear children and therefore the finger is always pointed at women. Men on the other hand do not bear children and it isn’t always obvious who the father of a child is. It is therefore easy for men to shirk responsibility or deny fatherhood until proven.

    We all know what a good father is and equally we know what a bad father is. I don’t think that good fathers are instinctively good fathers – this is something that has to be taught or learned. It stands to reason that if we are parented by good parents, we will inevitably be good parents ourselves having learned by example. Unfortunately this is not the case for a huge majority. So many of us have suffered at the hands of parents who have suffered at the hands of their parents and so on and so forth. But whilst saying that, many who have suffered at the hands of a bad parent do not necessarily go on to be bad parents themselves. This is one of the great mysteries of life.

    To be a good and present father, children (who in turn become parents) need to experience loving care and attention and an appreciation of their worth and value. If this is absent in their lives then depending on their character they will probably go on to be uncaring, inattentive, unloving and absent with no sense of responsibility for their offspring.

    The easy answer to the problem is to lead by example and set up and create homes in which children experience a loving home. This is easier said than done. How does one teach others to love? We humans are such complex beings with all sorts of problems – inherited as well as learned. How on earth do we concoct a ‘one-size fits all’ solution to parenting? How do we deal with dysfunctional families? Parenting classes are one way of dealing with absentee fathers/children having children – but as we know from ‘life’ not all people are good students and achieve the necessary qualifications.

    Sorry to have been so long-winded and probably not even begun to address your very informative post, but I feel as if for me personally it threw up more questions than answers.

    • You weren’t long-winded at all, Marie. I’m glad the post raised questions for you. If I had the answers, believe me I’d share them. I do think Christians need to start a dialog on this important topic.

      • Thank you Anna. My questions were rhetorical in nature and I know that we don’t have the answers because if we did, posts like this would not be necessary. But important posts such as this do make us think about what we can do to make lives better for our children in terms of parenting.

  3. My 3 littles ones got some time last Christmas to serve the homeless at a local soup kitchen.

    Over and over my two boys (6 and 5) would ask me to come pray for a man “who is sad Daddy.”

    The theme throughout the entire night was one of men whose eyes were searching ours for signs that they themselves mattered in any way. They all came from fractured, broken homes.

    One of the great travesties of our times is that we have so much love inside us… love from the Lord; that we keep locked up as if we need bells and lighting to confirm His heart is breaking for those who have never been told they are loved by Jesus.

    That night, (as many other times with my kids) I allowed the love of God that flows so easily through my children to actually touch my heart and see some things I did not want to look at. This was very convicting for me, as I realized I was not so willing to step into the heart of the Lord on their behalf.

    It is not so difficult for us to offer a cup of water to those who are in pain. I just need to let His love out some more.

    Thank you for these challenges. And some reminders of how important family is to our Heavenly-Dad.

    David

  4. thank you for good sharing dear
    have a very nice day
    kisses

  5. Anna I broke down when I read about the Slaves losing their Children, how heartbreaking for them and their Children.

    I also can identify with desperately wanting to be Loved and saying yes to any boy or any Man when I was older who claimed they Loved me, what happened is all too familiar and was as you shared.

    I will leave a link Anna to save detail here in case you have time to read my Appeal to those who consider a unborn Babies life expendable.

    Link- https://freedomborn.wordpress.com/2011/11/25/mommy-please-love-me/

    Christian Love Always – Anne.

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