Our food pantries help all kinds of families, including single parents raising children. Most of those single parents are women, but a small percentage are men. This summer we've helped two of these men, and both families were abandoned by the mothers.
The first was a father of four, with children ranging in age from eight to twelve. They were living in their car, and the father did odd jobs to earn money for gas and food. At the time they walked into our facility, the Dad had found a permanent job, and a church was providing six months of housing so he could save his money. We helped with food, clothing, and personal hygiene items. This father has a college degree, but his wife walking out was the tipping point in the family's overall well-being.
The other father was also deserted by his wife, leaving him as the sole provider and nurturer of six children. His wife had stayed home to care for the children, which meant when she left, his modest income had to be stretched to provide for child care expenses. This father also came for food and clothes, and we enrolled the children in our Back To School program.
The women and men who are single parents have it tough enough just parenting alone. Tossing in financial insecurity and spousal abandonment (as well as helping your children cope with the abandonment), seems like a heavy burden to bear.
I did not meet these men, so their stories were shared with me. When I take in all the volunteers told me, I imagine both men as quietly sad but resolute in doing right by their children. I imagine their children as adults, reflecting back, and seeing their fathers as men of steel: men who could keep the family marching forward until the road of life softened a bit. I'm glad CCSC was there for them.