Absent fathers have become a hot topic in the news these days. Lebron James proclaimed feeling happy his father never was a part of his life. A statement easily to be taken out of context and twisted in ways to paint the basketball phenom in many different ways. I don’t know Lebron James personally so I cant begin to comment on who he is as a person. I have no insight on his daily struggles as a man, a father, a spouse or who he knows himself to be in the quietness of his spirit. I cant even begin to imagine the reality of a young man, 6’8, 240 lbs of pure and gifted athleticism. I don’t have enough in all my life’s experience to empathize with a boy whose physical gifts have been honed like the strongest double-edge sword or a diamond created from the pressures of the earth, then cut to become the rarest of jewels.
I do, however, know the struggles of all boys raised without knowledge of or relationship with their fathers. I wont offer statistics, they don’t tell the whole story. I wont be one to promote the ideal that mothers cant raised boys without fathers present, too many have done so.
I can speak to the implications and realities of boys raised in the mindset of absence. “Youre just like your father” is rarely used as a positive statement and typically offered by a mother in her own struggle to understand the depth of hurt in a boy not fathered. First, it is an impossibility of nature a child is without a father, so the notion of an un-fathered boy is an inconceivability, it cant happen. The boy may experience a father not present, a father present but emotionally disconnected, or a father who may not have been fathered himself. All very possible in the realm of father-son relationships. Even in absence to a boys life the father has presence, or at least a place in the boys development only a growing boy can determine. Fathers often unknowingly offer a blueprint to becoming a man for boys seeking guidance. In father’s absence a growing boy’s blueprint is adapted to include many men with a social personality showing one side of who that individual is. Rarely do we witness the internal conflicts befitting a professional athlete, a movie star, a recording artist or any number of high profile lawyers, doctors or business professionals raised without their fathers. Success, featured as monetary reward, glosses over the pain and struggle of father’s absence. A case can be made that often the driving force behind a young mans ascension to his greatness is fueled by a desire to be found worthy by his father. A boy use’s as a secret motivator their particular skill-set to fill the hole of abandonment left by his father, and for many the hole is deep and wont be satisfied with trinkets and baubles despite the efforts to try. More and more the emptiness always begs for more. It is usually this need that drives abandoned boys to success and then ruin. We see it every day as our heroes fall from greatness and we wonder “what happened?” There are far too many examples of those that seemingly had it all then to become known as one who squandered their success in poor relationships, self-destructive behaviors and social suicides unimagined by regular folk.
As grown men, usually hurt boys masquerading as grown men, we replicate our version of reality. We recreate the hurt to bring awareness that despite our successes we still have unfinished business that began when our fathers became absent. Be it divorce, jail, no relationship with our mothers or even no desire to even be a father. When our fathers leave us, reject us, throw us away and move on with their lives, boys suffer unimaginable hurt. An unrequited pain exists we hide or work tirelessly to overcome. Many manage this pain well. Often so well those around him cant believe he even contends with. Contend he does. For boys raised without their fathers presence there is an emotional retardation to their being. Stuck in the midst of emotional immaturity disguised by the bigness of their personality men will never admit to.
Truth be told there is no hole. It feels real. Surely the feelings surrounding abandonment are real. The hole acts as a catalyst to what appears real. Reality is a personal creation. Feelings fuel the creations we make real. Abandonment and the holes we attempt to fill with trinkets and baubles, successes and notoriety are metaphorical and only as deep as we perceive. Even in the wake of pain abandonment creates, looking a life time of hurt directly in the eye takes real courage, a man’s courage to do.
Another truth to ponder, there are no holes in the whole of the Universe. No absent and darkened spaces needing filled. The Universe is complete and every experience an opportunity to grow and embrace the completedness of a man’s being. Blame and fault have no place, there is no redeeming value to its existence. There is accountability to the creations of our realities and reaching back to the little boy twisted in his development. Again courage is required. A man’s courage.
Lebron James is a great basketball player. Arguably the greatest to ever play the game of basketball. Gifted with physical attributes begotten, at least in part, from his father. Lebron James cant imagine himself a better basketball player were his father present in his life so he relegates his father’s absence as unimportant. Let us not forget those motivators, the catalysts that spurn us forward.
I will give Lebron James credit for being present in his son’s lives. Credit for his boys not to know the feelings surrounding abandonment. The commercials aired depicting his father-sons relationship must be real, right?
But besides basketball what will he bestow upon his sons? Will he be relegated to the position of unimportant to his boys development and feelings of wholeness? There is no desire or need on my part to prognosticate upon these questions, time will tell and I wish Lebron James and his sons nothing but the best.
This wasn’t really about Lebron James anyway.