By Chet Yarbrough
Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls
By: T Kira Madden
Narrated by T Kira Madden
T. Kira Madden, Author
T Kira Madden’s memoir is a non-fiction account of her life. This memoir may reach beyond America. It rings true for many children wherever they are raised. Madden is the child of a philandering father; mostly raised by her mother, but deeply connected to her father.
Madden’s father is never far from her thoughts but frequently gone from her presence.
Her journey to adulthood is difficult. Children can love their parents with “Leave it to Beaver” ideals, but in the midst of a chaotic family life, Madden shows children’s lives are scarred. Many American children are affected by parental absence, and conflict. In childhood’s journey, physical and mental abuse between parents affects a child’s view of the world. Their place in it is confused, indeterminate, and seriously affected by the way parents behave. Madden tells the story of those conflicts in her memoir.
Sometimes parental absence is because of working parents. Other times, it is because of the personal lives’ parents live. In Madden’s case it is more of the former than the latter. Madden’s father works in an undisclosed profession and makes a good deal of money but is absent for long periods of time. As Madden finds later, part of her father’s absence is because of another family. He is the husband and father of a different wife and children.
Both of Madden’s parents are recovering addicts. Madden’s parents fall into what she calls “sleepy time” when they over-indulge. At times, her father physically abuses her mother. Her father’s other family may suffer some of the same effects but that is not the focus of Madden’s memoir. This is Madden’s life story; not her father’s, and not the family she had yet to meet. Madden recounts meeting with her father’s other family as an epilogue at the end of her story.
Madden’s story begins with the purchase of a male mannequin as a substitute father. The mannequin is a symbol of male presence. It offers a kind of security when mother and child are at home alone. It is something more to Madden. That “more” is a reflection on the title of her book.
To a father, Madden’s memoir is heart breaking. Men are frequently indiscriminate in their relationships. Often, they have little concern for the consequences of their action.
Men spread their seed and can walk away. Women are stuck with the most difficult question of being–life or death.
One might argue that women have a choice but that ignores history’s male domination and world paternalism.
Women are always left with the major decisions of life when they become pregnant. Fathers can leave or stay. Women can never leave. Women stay with a decision to abort, adopt, or single-parent a yet to be born child. The reality of staying is a physical and mental trial for women; pending a life sentence. For men, if there is a sentence, it is limited to guilt and an uncertain, and frequently ignored, financial penalty.
“Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls” implies an abusive or profligate father is a bump in the road; rather than a tragedy.
Madden shows a child can survive the worst a broken family can do and become something better. Madden’s story begs the question of how many children of single parents are unable to meet the challenges of a neglectful father, and how many of those children are life’s casualties?