King James, Miami’s revered icon, just wrote an open letter to thank his father for being absent from his life. He believes that opting out of the two parent household, sisters, a dog and the home with the picket fence was instrumental in forming who he is today. He has beaten the odds and I don’t take that away from him. Yet this is where we part ways.
For every apparently successful adult who was raised by a young inexperienced single mother, there are three more who are doomed to become statistics in crime, poverty, and lack of education. An overburdened community with sparse resources is expected to step in and fill in the gaps. This social worker knows what it is to try and patch up preventative care to stem the loss that our children feel. And I think of how much more impactful it would be to have two emotionally and physically involved and invested parents to partner with me in the work that is yet to be done with young people. Please note that having two parents isn’t the cure all especially if techy toys and money replace quality time and family connection. My parents were emotionally distant for years but they CHOSE to remain together and I’m eternally grateful. I had a head start in life and that sense of stability was key in keeping me emotionally balanced.
I would have liked to meet the younger Lebron, the one who yearned for a father to be in the stands cheering him on. To pat him on the back for making good grades. To sit him down and teach him the ways of manhood. I have yet to see a child whose eyes doesn’t cloud over in pain at the mention of an absent dad.
The lies we tell ourselves eventually become our truths.