I know a lot of adults, men and women, who are struggling with feeling like the black sheep. Black sheep is an idiom used to describe an odd or disreputable member of a group. In this case, let's call said group family. And the black sheep would be the child that feels like they have the weakest relationship with their biological father. Take me as an example: I did not grow-up with my father; my father grew up in jail. I met my father at age 12. At that time, he replaced his presence with presents and taught me that was the way to show others you care. He got caught up in the street life after being newly released and spending his entire teenage and part of his adult life in jail. Eventually, he got a second chance to be a father after marrying his wife. I will never know my father in the same manner in which my young brother does. I never lived in my father's home, he didn't tuck me in at night, he did not visit colleges with me, he did not meet my first boyfriend, he did not help me open my first bank account, he did not buy me my first car, he did not attend my wedding, he never helped me move, etc. I could go on, but I'm not typing this out of anger, only to make a point. (Side-note: quite frankly, my dad and I are good, HONESTLY! My dad and I spent time mending our relationship and we gave each other something we both never had: honesty. That has made all the difference). We are great friends! My maternal brother, my cousin, my husband, and many more can all speak to their black sheep experience: Their fathers were/are/have been present in their siblings lives, but not theirs. And if you let the siblings tell it, they are GREAT fathers. How is this possible? What factors are at play? How can a dad be a GREAT dad to one kid, but not all? I think there are several reasons why.
Reason 1: Repeated generational patterns
My paternal great-grandfather was absent, my paternal grandfather was absent, so how could my father, at 16 years old, know how to show up as a father? This does not have to be anyone’s story. You can use your life story as a springboard to another path. If your own father has left you, then you know that repeating that pattern is not the best choice.
Reason 2: He's a loser
Let me be very specific here. Even a father that's physically present can be emotionally absent or absent in other ways. Sometimes, dad has no desire to take on the responsibility, needs time to grow up and mature, and/or is taking his own abandonment issues out on his child. He's probably completely clueless to the impact his absence will have. And maybe, he just doesn't care. He's ice cold.
Reason 3: Paternity issues
My maternal brother had a baby, or so we thought. I suggested he get a paternity test because he was in prison for a period during the conception. He refused because he was very stubborn. With every argument, the young lady would sling insults that included telling him he wasn't the father. At this time, my grandmother and great-grandmother attached and were in the life of the child for 5 years. My brother finally gets a test in year 5. He's not the father. The tumultuous nature of the relationship during the 5 years where paternity was in question couldn't have possibly created stability for the child. Poor kid.
Reason 4: Your mom was a side chick
The kid should not suffer because he/she was born out of adultery, one-night stands, or otherwise, but the fact remains that the depth and length of the parents relationship usually impacts the relationship with the child. It's a sad reality!
Reason 5: Parental alienation tactics
There are custodial parents that refuse to allow 'their' kid to see their father because he does not have a relationship with the parent, or he left her, or he her hurt emotionally. Or she speaks horribly of the father in front of the child. Your child is half of the person you speak badly of. Can you imagine what that does to a child? I have a family member who admitted (decades later) that she purposely kept her sons from their real father because she couldn't resist the father's charm and she always ended up hurt. Her kids didn't meet their real father until their early twenties. Sad.
Reason 6: Change and favoritism (YES, parents have favorites, I do NOT care what you say)
My mom and dad had me when they were both sixteen years old. Since that age, I know for a fact, my dad has met many women who were more important/special than my mom. After all, he had his entire life to live. I am the first paternal grandchild and his first born. That's special, right!?! Sure, it is in his own right, but people grow. And life changes. What's special to my dad now is actually attending my little brother's football games and learning how to be a good dad. And that's beautiful to watch. My mother has never been all that important to him. And that's ok!
Often times, you see a kid as a part of a blended family who is begging to be noticed (by the way, begging to be noticed is unhealthy). This kid notices that the other kid, the non-black sheep kid, gets more, brags more and seems happier. Black sheep wants that, desires that, and yearns for that. Although, you as a parent may say there aren't favorites amongst your kids, have you ever asked them their opinion? There are lots of black sheep kids out here who dislike their siblings....simply because their siblings have the semblance of a two parent home.
Reason 7: All the responsibility and none of the rights
When you live in the same household as your kids and are married to their mother, that is very different than playing daddy two Saturdays a month. A dad that lives in-home, can determine discipline, knows what happened in school every day, knows when the next dance competition is, teaches you to tie a tie, etc and is therefore, more involved. Isn't this why God intended for procreation and sex to happen inside of marriage? I'm assuming he knew broken homes are labeled as such for a reason. Of course, life isn't about extremes. There are good fathers that don't live in the same house as their kid; notwithstanding, there are special moments he'll miss on a daily basis.