Father's Day is upon us and as this day approaches, many thoughts flood my mind as I begin to focus on the "fatherhood" situation in our communities, neighborhoods, cities and our nation; especially the African-American community across this nation. I can't help but recognize the changes that have taken place between my generation, my son's generation and my son's son's generation. Fathers of my generation were generally either an at-home father or an absentee father. The fathers of my son's generation were more of the around the home fathers with a custody battle ongoing between their child's mother. The fathers of my son's son's generation are generally single parents with the child being shared between mother and father in separate homes. Now this gets even more convoluted for the children, as too many fathers are absent due to incarceration, and far too many young fathers experiencing untimely deaths due to violence and disease. All of this takes a heavy toll on the children who seek and need the father's love and affirmation.
My father was an at home father and at the time of his passing 3 ½ years ago, had been married to my mother for 63 years. He worked several jobs to make a living for our family, but there were some "inter-generational" things about the way he chose to father me that I could not understand as a child. There were ways about him that I did not like and attempted to change in the raising of my children as I became a father. My sons both have been good fathers to their children, but again, I still see generational challenges affecting them. I lost one of my two sons three years ago to an accident and now I find myself filling in the role and helping to raise his two children as both a grandparent and as a father.
As I have contemplated it, prayed about it, and studied it, I am coming into a much better understanding of the inter-generational effects that fatherhood has passed on to sons and daughters. At one time in my life, I had no understanding of inter-generational trauma, nor did I care to know about it. You could not have convinced me that it was a real thing, but now that I am older, I see clearly what it has done to our communities and families; I know it is a real thing and something that cannot be ignored.
Inter-generational trauma is real and it is having devastating effects on our community. Education, prayer, and activism by the help of God, and well-meaning men are what it takes to fix this problem and reverse this trend. This work must take place in public forums, private meetings, men's gatherings, family gatherings, seminars, across pulpits, in houses of faith, the media and other means of information dissimulation, and social exchange. In other words, this is something that none of us can afford to ignore, but everyone must engage.
Father's Day is coming up this weekend. St. Johns All Nations Church of God in Christ is having a special Father's Day Program that is open to, and welcomes the community at large. In this special program, in addition to celebrating Fathers and Fatherhood, there will also be special emphasis placed on those who are Fatherless. We have found through our work as activists in Domestic Violence Intervention, and through "Man-Up" that many men; both young and old have been traumatized to some degree due to their father or fatherless experience. This special program will shed light on the problem of Fatherlessness in our country and start the healing process for those without fathers or father-figures in their lives.
Pastor Cliff Chappell, M.Div.
St. Johns All Nations Church of God in Christ, 9486 N. Buchanan Ave., Portland, Oregon 97203 Contact the church at 360-281-5205
ManUp Huddles: Men-Only Huddle is scheduled for 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. June 14 at St. Johns All Nations Church Of God In Christ