Sunday, June 18, 2006

Father's Day in the Shelters

Homeless Dads

Today is Father's Day, and it is very hard to find the Hallmark card for the Dad in the shelter. Why? Because society does not often think about the lives behind the stereotypes. We do not consider the depression guys face while staying in the shelters during most holidays, but especially Father's Day. Many of the men at 2100 Lakeside are in fact Dads and some are Grandfathers. They get to watch the NBA Finals, but otherwise it is not much different than any other Sunday. No breakfast in bed, no mail delivery so no homemade cards from the kids, and no possibility of lying in the hammock watching the grass grow with a beer. Father's Day in the shelters.

Yes, Dad made some mistakes and wound up in the shelter. This could be because of health issues like alcohol, drugs or some brain issues or it could be pride or stupid decisions, but most of the guys are still a Dad. These men in the shelter really get the shaft when it comes to being a Dad. Society has made it difficult to be a Dad and to be poor. There is no doubt men have not set very good examples and for years tried to skate on responsibility, but our public policy assumes the worst for every guy. There is no forgiveness in the system, but instead years of heartache, debt, and resentment. I mean the whole child support system often makes it better to not work than to even try. It takes so long to try to get an adjustment in the payments that the Dad is so far in the hole they will never get out and they give up.

For many of the Dads that I have met, they want to have a relationship with their kids. They want to give advise and to teach the importance of the finger roll in a three point shot, but have a hard time. They want to give money to support their kids, but want some equality in the relationship. They want someone to listen to their side and not assume that they are looking for ways to be a deadbeat. It is very difficult to be a Dad without a lot of money.

Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.

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