In Assignment, I Saw Myself and My Son
I'm always up for helping out a colleague, but I hesitated when asked to help produce a story on teenagers growing up without their fathers - afraid the story was too personal to cover. I haven't lived with my 5-year-old son in three years. He currently lives in Italy, so we don't see each other as much as I would like. There's one long stint - about two months - in summer, two weeks for Christmas, and around 10 days for his birthday in March.
I ended up doing the story. To my surprise, the kids actually lined up to talk about a subject that most hadn't even discussed with their mothers. They needed to talk about how it felt to grow up without a father, and I needed to hear what they had to say.
Most of the kids were angry because their fathers never followed up on their promises. Some fathers never called their children; some forgot their birthdays. All the kids wanted, it seems, was to spend some quality time with their dads. I got the impression that although they were managing very well, the teenagers had a gaping hole where their fathers were supposed to be.
The assignment forced me to reflect on my situation. It was definitely therapeutic for me and, I think, for the kids, too.
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