“Permission to Feel the Loss”-By Wayne A. Young – Port of Harlem Magazine

Barras used a personal story to suggest that is possible to find a surrogate to fill the void left by an absent or disconnected biological father.

Unlovable, promiscuous, and over compensating are three of the many feelings that the mostly female group expressed as they talked with Jonetta Rose Barras about growing up without a meaningful connection with their biological father, or a relative who grew up without such a relationship.

Barras, the author of “Whatever Happened to Daddy’s Little Girl: The Impact of Fatherlessness on Black Women,” opened the 90-minute Fatherless Daughter Reconciliation discussion with a game of charades. During the brief activity, the participants then acted out such feelings often expressed during her workshops by women who feel the loss.

As part of A Port Of Harlem Spring at the Alexandria Black History Museum, the noted periodical writer continued to share the story of her mother having had multiple mates and how even her siblings who had a different biological father sometimes inadvertently “made me feel so different.”

Ironically, it was Barras’ grandfather, maybe feeling disconnected from a biological child with whom he was not raising, urged her mother to connect Barras with her biological father. She met him for the first time when she was 36 and did not warm up to him or feel welcomed by his other children. “I felt rejected twice,” she continued.

“You have to give yourself permission to say this situation matters to me without receiving any judgment from others,” she said with strong conviction. “You have to make a consistent effort to deal with the loss.” She then recalled, as her eyes became wet, the daddy-daughter love she had with one of her mother’s mates. Later Barras used the story to suggest that is possible to find a surrogate to fill the void left by an absent or disconnected biological father.

Some of the participants expressed the resentment others often share when they attempt to connect them with their biological father. Another participant shared how her relative would not attend the event because she felt no need to connect with her father. Dr. Tracie Robinson, who works with Barras’ Esther Productions to conduct similar workshops, explained, “every one processes the loss and the reconciliation in their own time, she just has not yet recognized the lost.”

However, Robinson says that after processing the situation some, like herself, decide they don’t want to have a relationship with their biological father. Robinson, whose doctorate is in Transpersonal Psychology, says her biological father was around for special occasions, but the father who raised her, “was there all the time.”

After the smiles, laughter, and wet eyes, the participants were not in a rush to leave. Many continued to chat and some exchanged numbers after the event that Port Of Harlem purposefully held the Saturday before Father’s Day. Father’s Day, says Barras, “can be like a jolt or an electric reminder that ‘I don’t have that.’ It can be a painful time.”

NOTE: Barras will conduct a free and similar program with Robinson, THE GIFT: An Interactive Arts Healing and Reconciliation Experience, October 21, 9:30a to 2:30p at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, 1313 New York Ave NW, in Washington. For information, contact her at Esther Productions 202-829-0591.

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NBC4 Kristin Wright Speaks to Moms & Empowering Our Young Girls

Kristin Wright,  is a general assignment reporter and fill-in anchor for News4. She joined the station in 2013. Kristin received an Emmy nomination for Best Feature. She has also been honored by the National Association of Black Journalists, the Associated Press, and the American Literacy Corporation for her volunteer work. Kristin earned a political science degree from University of Michigan. She lives in Montgomery County, Maryland with her husband and two daughters.

Who in your life would you say has contributed to your level of self-esteem and or self-confidence?  How? My mom.  She has always believed in me.  Whenever I question myself, it doesn’t even compute in her mind.  She’s all about knowing you can do it, no if, ands, or buts about it.  I work on that same confidence-building with my two daughters.

As a mom, do you foresee parenting challenges when it comes to self-esteem and body image issues for young girls?  Absolutely.  As a mom, it’s important to recognize early on the self- esteem and body image challenges that exist in our society.  It’s difficult for parents to always control our children’s exposure to certain messages and images.  That means we have to constantly re-enforce a healthy self-image and the importance of good, inner, core values.

If you could lead a workshop on empowering girls, what ideas or suggestions would you recommend to moms to help empower their daughters? I would recommend starting the conversation on being empowered early, before they can even talk!  I constantly encourage my one-year-old daughter, from feeding herself to throwing a ball.

Also, I would tell moms to encourage their daughters to be different.  As my girls get older, I teach them that they don’t always have to take the path that’s right in front of them.  If they want to study archeology and discover ancient ruins, go for it!!  If they want to sing country music in a band, wonderful!!

What’s the hardest thing about being a mom? What’s the best thing? The hardest thing about being a mom is the worry.  I love my girls more than words can possibly say.  As moms, we always worry about our kids’ happiness, their health, and their safety.

The best thing is watching them grow and develop by leaps and bounds!

If you could give teach moms and young women how to bring about bringing more happiness into their everyday lives. What would you teach them? I believe that appreciating all that you have can help bring happiness.  It can be easy to get bogged down in life’s complications and what you don’t have, but being thankful feels much better.

Also, take time to enjoy nature.  Spending time outside on a beautiful day does wonders for the soul.  I’ve started gardening and it makes me very happy!  I highly recommend it.

What words of advice to moms of this generation as we try to grow closer to guide our children?  Be present.  Put down your phone.  Look up from social media and enjoy your children.  Take their pictures to cherish the time and the memory, not just to post.  Time is too precious and moves way too fast.

#Motherdaughterinitiative #WeLoveOurDaughters