Absent Fathers: An Absentee Dad Explains Why Men Leave Their Children (VIDEO)

05/08/2013 09:47 am ET | Updated May 10, 2013
  • OWN

For the one in three children growing up in homes without their biological fathers, there is one critical question they can't seem to silence: "Why did my dad leave?" How can a man just walk away from his family? Is there even an answer?

Yes, says one absent father. In this clip from a special two-hour episode of "Oprah's Lifeclass" on fatherless sons, an absentee dad named Dwayne reveals exactly why he left his children and his family -- and his reasoning is more prevalent among absent fathers than their children might think.

"The reason I walked away is because, at the moment, I wasn't the man that I wanted to be for [my kids]," Dwayne says in the video. "I put them on a higher pedestal than I put myself. So, at a point, I wasn't worthy to be in their life because I wasn't the man that I would want for them."

According to Roland Warren of the National Fatherhood Initiative, Dwayne's perspective is one shared by many absent fathers. "I see that quite a bit," Roland says. However, he also notes that men not feeling like the "perfect" dad stems from a gross misunderstanding about the real role of fathers.

Good fathers, Roland says, do three things: provide, nurture and guide. Yet, too many men have warped ideas of what this means, and it sets them up for feeling unworthy. "The 'provide' part, a lot of times, guys will make that economics," says Roland. "But it's not just about presents… but presence... You create this script of what this ideal father is supposed to be, and then you try to live up to a script that's not reality... And then when you don't [live up to it], you feel, 'I'm not worthy,' and you pull away."

Iyanla Vanzant, who, like Roland, has also worked with fatherless children and families in crisis, puts it another way. "I have found [that] the kryptonite for men is inadequacy," she says.

The conversation continues: Tune in to "Oprah's Lifeclass" for an episode on single mothers raising sons, airing Sunday, May 12, at 9 p.m. ET on OWN.

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