A father does not necessarily need to be physically absent for the feeling of a father-void to exist. A father may be present and simply ill……but, still…..the same feelings of stress, insecurity, and vulnerability may exist for the youth as if his or her father was physically absent. Someone’s father may have a chronic illness or disease that makes him unable and unavailable to fulfill his paternal duties on a day-to day basis.
A father who is battling disease or illness may be limited in his ability to play with his kids, help out with sports practice, attend school functions, or be emotionally available to his children when needed. A child in this position carries the burden of worrying about his father’s health, the suffering of paternal absence and the feelings of discomfort or sadness when he or she sees other kids enjoying time with a present family unit. Further, a child may consciously or subconsciously worry about what the near and long term future will hold for him or her if his or her father should die. The child and the parent both suffer from the frustration of the situation.
For someone seeking to help a youth in need, this is a delicate scenario, as you don’t want to insult a family by offering help, and, thus, insinuating that a father is not adequately executing his paternal duties. You may be pointing out a lapse that he does not himself consider to exist or want to admit. This could potentially create feelings of resentment by a father whom you seek to support and towards whom you have nothing but the best of intentions. On the other hand, if handled with sensitivity and respect, an entire family may appreciate your attempt to lend a hand where needed.