I first learned about the importance of having a father, and the pain of not, in second grade.
We had reading groups that would meet in the back of the classroom and each group would have it’s own book to read and discuss. In one of my group’s books, a child of about 9 or 10 years of age had an absent father, but had a male adult in his life who kept telling him what to do. I honestly do not remember if the male adult was a teacher, a neighbor or a family friend, but, regardless, he had taken an interest in the child’s life. The child, at one point, became frustrated by the pattern of unexpected concern and advice offered by this adult, and spontaneously exclaimed, “Stop fathering me……I mean, stop bothering me”. It was then, in Mrs. Glass’s 2nd grade class, that I first encountered the dreaded (and all-revealing) “Freudian Slip” (also called “parapraxis”).
Kids say all kinds of things. They say all kinds of things without the aforethought or deliberation exercised by adults. Thus, they say many self-revealing things. If you listen to the kids around you, you will hear their most inner-thoughts and feelings. Kids are inherently honest and can only hold in so much of their feelings before releasing or exposing them through words or deeds. Kids who are in pain or who have sadness may reveal such emotions through their use of words in a “Freudian” manner.
If you know of a child who may be missing his or her father, or missing-out on the role of a father in his or her life, listen to the child for a while and see what you can glean from his or her intentional statements- and from the “Freudian” ones. Like the child in my second grade book, children’s words may reveal how they really feel about what they are experiencing. So take some time to make a child bothered….into a child fathered.