Having the pain of losing my father at his prime age, I often care much about those children who are growing up without a father figure. Unfortunately, that group of children has been increasing every year somehow. One year, more than half of my students came from single parent families. I don’t blame those parents who sought divorce as the resolution for their family because, in truth, there are too many reasons for a marriage not to work out. Unhappy marriages would lead to unhappy families. It is certainly not a great idea for children to grow up in an unhappy family with two miserable parents or in a conflicting environment anyway. It is just sad that those children can only live with one parent at any given time.
I am in touch with so many wonderful divorced parents who are trying their best to provide the best opportunities they could offer to their children. More and more parents would share the custody of their children and work out a schedule for their children to live with both parents in two different households. I have to give them credits for trying hard; however, there is a group of parents whose behaviour really irks me! The other day one child was acting up in class because his father never showed up for his weekend visit. It reminded me of another boy and his story a while ago. Here is the little story to give you an idea about this group of absent parents.
JD was not a student of mine but he was in a class next to me. I knew his older brother because he was in trouble a lot ever since Grade One. The older brother was later identified with special needs and got a lot of extra help at school. (Apparently, he is doing better now.) JD was different from his older brother though. He was a gentle child but also required remedial academic support.
One day JD was very excited and announced to his teacher that it was his birthday that day and his father was coming after school to take him out. That was such big news to him because his father did not usually have spare time for him and his siblings according to JD. It turned out that JD’s father had more than five wives and was unmarried to all of them. He had at least fathered 18 children with those mothers but he did not live with any of the women. He simply just slept around! (Talk about irresponsible! I am fuming.)
The day after JD’s birthday, he looked unusually quiet like a deflated balloon, which did not sound like a boy who just had his birthday party. His teacher asked him what he did for his birthday. He replied that he waited and waited all afternoon for his father to come but his dad never showed up to take him out for his birthday. He told his teacher, “My dad is too busy. He has too many wives and kids. He does not have time for us.”
It broke my heart just listening to that comment from an 8-year-old boy! JD is not alone though. How sad! Nowadays, we have so many children growing up in dysfunctional families such as this one. I know JD’s mother is trying her best to care for them, but how about the other absent parent who only shows up once in a while like a travelling magician and has no responsibility to care for any of his own kids, all 18 of them? (Who knows? Maybe he has more children out there.)
I have a lot of parents/friends who are single dads or single moms who care so much about their children. They would kill to have more time with their children. I also have many other friends who could not successfully bear children and have taken so many attempts to conceive, to the point that their health is ruined. Meanwhile, I look at these children such as JD and his siblings, who desperately yearn for love and attention from their absent parents. What is going on in this world? I feel very sad for those parents-want-to-be but also upset with this type of irresponsible “occasional” parents.
I called JD to me at recess when he passed by my classroom a few days later. I asked him if he finally had his birthday party with his dad. The answer was till negative. I did not make any comment but told him to pick out a birthday toy from my red Rubbermaid prize box. He did, with joy, and that was the least I could do for him.