FRIDAY, MAY 4: One of my guests on last Monday’s radio show shared a story which pulled at the heart strings of our listeners.
Her 14-year-old son had always had a somewhat lukewarm relationship with his father which then regressed to turn even more when his father married seven years ago. From this marriage, he and the new wife had two children together and the father’s firstborn became a sideline object.
Mom shared her heartfelt expressions of how she wanted her son to have an interactive relationship with his father and had been forcing him to foster a relationship with his father by at least making phone calls to him, but to no avail.
Now he refuses to call anymore and yet when his mother made a statement to him that she’s sure his father loves him anyway, the young man replied, “How do you know?” How do children of single parent homes know that the absent parent loves them? How does the child interpret the full meaning of love as it is to be shared with others if the picture of love as presented to him by this parent is one which clearly misses pieces like that of a jig saw puzzle?
Conversely, another male guest, now in his early twenties, spoke of those missing pieces and the challenges he now has filling the gaps in his deliberate attempts to foster a relationship with his father. It’s a struggle — for the child.
Why should children of single parent homes be the ones to make the uphill efforts to reach out to the other parent? It just doesn’t seem fair.
While all kinds of excuses can be offered by the negligent parent, at the end of the list remains a child who, as I’ve said in the past, did not ask to come here. The long-term effects of this negligence can wreak havoc on the wider community.
An excerpt from an article to be found on animalfactguide.com reads as follows and offers food for thought: “Communication is vital to elephants, who rely on a social network for survival.
“The sustaining social unit is a herd of mothers and their young, sisters, and female cousins, led by an older matriarch. Male elephants will leave the herd at around 14 years old when they hit puberty. They then join a loose-knit band of other bull elephants, leaving the bachelor herd at will to search for potential mates. Upon successful mating, the male elephant will move on to other herds, and the female will start a 22-month gestation period. When the calf is born, aunts, sisters, and cousins all help care for the newborn. In this way, all the elephants of the herd learn essential lessons in rearing a baby. And since elephants only give birth once every five years, successfully raising their offspring is critical to their survival.
Aside from their ability to learn through watching and mimicking, African elephants also possess other very human qualities. Their great capacity for compassion is demonstrated as they care for the wounded and grieve the deceased. Their developed sense of memory allows them not only to remember lost loved ones, but also to harbor grudges, and recognize long-lost friends. Upon the return of a friend, elephants take part in a joyous greeting ceremony where they spin in circles, flap their ears, and trumpet.”
The analogy is clear: without proper and full support, the struggle continues, albeit not impossible, to raise a child to his fullest potential. On my radio show on Monday, May 7, the discussion on single parenting will continue.
• Shawnette Somner is the host of Generations, which airs on DeFontes’ Broadcasting Company’s MIX106 FM. 7.30pm-9pm every Monday. Call in live during the show on 295-1061. Send comments and show ideas to email@example.com