• Dedan K. Bruner

A Tribute to the Role of Father


Still married to his wife at the time of my conception, I don’t remember one visit, phone call, or card from my biological father growing up - definitely no financial support. Despite the absence, my mother’s gentle pressure to meet him began in late elementary school and intensified around middle school, but I was a self-aware child – I knew that navigating the world as a Black, bi femme adolescent at the intersections was more than enough on my plate. Patrilineal grand reveals would need to wait until I had a better sense of what for.⁣

A peaked interest in genealogy pushed me to reach out during my sophomore year of college. The road was rocky – his approach to parenting was worlds away from my mother’s inclusive pedagogy. We communicated for some years, but I eventually discovered that we were each unwilling to provide the desires of the other – I was unwilling to have a relationship without certain baseline manifestations of accountability and he was unwilling to be accountable in that way. The initial feelings of anger and resentment boiled over until I prioritized my peace of mind and stepped away, even as others - including my mother - disagreed with my choice.⁣

Healing is deeply personal. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. We have to learn to heal in the way that best serves us.⁣

I am eternally grateful for the lessons and blessings my time with him provided. If nothing else, the experience crystallized that I had a father all along – my mother’s dearest friend and law school sweetheart who was with me from the time I was born: helping me pick weeds out of his mother’s garden as a toddler, goofing off with me at my high school graduation celebration, attending all my life events through law school until cancer took him from us two years ago. I am more recently blessed with a stepfather who engages in fatherhood with me beautifully. The father/child dynamic can be multifaceted, painful, and magical, but it is for each of us to build upon and lift up the importance of positive fatherhood as we live our own, sometimes difficult truths.⁣

It is ok to mourn biological disconnect. It’s also ok to let go and let God. ⁣

Find your peace. Live your truth.

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