The country is full of children and adults dealing with the disease I aptly named PTFD(Post Traumatic Fatherless Disorder). It’s an ever-increasing epidemic with catastrophic effects. By no fault of their own, thousands of children, more specifically boys, have become victims or statistics of this mental illness. PTFD is a rampant, undiagnosed mental illness which you will not find in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), but it’s as real as the day is long and is highly prevalent in communities of color from Boston, Massachusetts to Oakland, California. There are hundreds of thousands of poor and minority boys and men dealing every day with the effects of this disorder. The amazing thing about this disease is that it’s 100% curable. See, we are not talking about fathers missing because of death or some family trauma. PTFD is the result of men making a conscious effort to leave, abandon or desert their families. Whatever justification they convince themselves of is absolutely irrelevant. They chose to leave. Leaving, in itself, it is terrible but not communicating and providing for? borders on criminal.

The traditional family paradigm, which was established thousands of years ago, has been fatally altered over generations and led to what we have this present day. Which, in turn, has set off a continuum of events and episodes that have created deficits and hurdles that must be overcome in order for children to become successful, functional individuals, who are prepared to survive in today’s society. Many will make the transition successfully and flourish into successful functional adults. However, some will not and may languish in poverty, depression and/or lack of hope, by no fault of their own. I know many may disagree with my hypothesis, but believe it or not, some people don’t possess the will or power to alter their circumstances. Some people need the help of others to make it through tragedy or loss. That’s why society has “haves” and “have nots.”

I can hear the cries of the self-righteous, championing how they pulled themselves up by their boot straps. And to those who stand proudly on that declaration to you, I say bravo, congratulations and a job well done. You deserve to be acknowledged for your triumph. However, for those who have not fared as well, I say keep trying and hang in there. Many of you didn’t have boots, never mind boot straps, to pull up. I know what it’s like to feel hopeless and want to give up. I’ve been to the place where it is just easy to go along. I know what it is like to be knocked down and be scared to dream and terrified to set goals because so many others never came to pass. You are not alone and you are not worthless, and I caution anyone to label them as weak, lazy and lacking in discipline. The majority of us are on the verge of losing our sanity. All it takes is the right set of circumstances or enough bad things to happen in our lives; and the one proclaiming all the strength and perseverance will be in a corner somewhere drowning in a puddle of tears, paralyzed by life’s circumstances. I read somewhere that 70% percent of us are four pay checks away from poverty and six checks away from homelessness. So, I caution you not to think more highly of yourself than you should. Instead, be an up-lifter or up-builder and let’s extend compassion to those weaker than us and meet them where they are and encourage them. Let us take no honor in being our brother’s keeper. Furthermore, let us mentor them and those coming after them, who are victims of the same vicious paradigm.

A couple of positive affirmations and telling them education is the way out is not the panacea. Fancy slogans and superficial encouragement is not going to alter lives, neither is the “I did it and so can you,” especially if you don’t have a relationship with those suffering. However, with relationships, those same personal stories provide strength and help prepare those to take the proper steps needed to survive and excel, but your hands will get a little dirty. I have very successful people in my circle, and many of them didn’t have a father growing up, but yet they made it. Nonetheless, some of my friends still carry scars and hurt on the inside as a result of unresolved feelings from the lack of a father. They may choose not to dwell on it, but it does affect them. Others have yet to get beyond it and choose to bury or mask their trauma or hurt in various ways—some through self-medication with drugs and alcohol, others through misogynistic and promiscuous behaviors and others with different anti-social behaviors. Sometimes we act in appalling behaviors and engage in risky behaviors that we know are detrimental to our well-being. However, some are able to channel that hurt and pain into positive outlets, such as exercise, meditation and other coping skills. Yet, those negative effects can still remain dormant or actively waiting to rise up.