While enjoying the gift of boredom one weekend, I read Mr. Gunderson’s Home Economics: Facing the Father Factor. A colleague had asked me to read it to hear my thoughts on the topic. If I had had my own way, I would not have chosen to read a book about teenagers because during the week I am a clinical therapist. I regularly treat teenagers who struggle to make meaning of their lives. Therefore, on weekends, I try to escape from such reality-oriented searches. Being a woman who honors her commitments, I picked up the book with a forced open mind.
Reading Rodney E. Walker’s 114-page novel was an interesting experience. The storyline explores issues related to adolescents struggling with the typical challenges of ditching school, seeking ways of shirking responsibilities, and trying to determine who they really are. I thus found myself thinking, “So what’s new?”
Then something caught my eye. Mr. Gunderson, a retired military officer, entered the story. He was being contracted to teach a new type of high school course targeting teens with the highest rates of acting out. “Oh” I thought, “NOW things are going to get interesting. Let’s see how long it’ll take before Mr. G. starts packing his bags.” However, my interest gravitated from curious to dismay when I read that Mr. G’s new course was to be Biblically-based. Now, I could not wait to until Monday—I was going to give my colleague hell for setting me up to read a book designed to preach to me—or so I thought.
As I began to read Mr. G’s Bible-based teachings, my heart begun pounding with indignation. How dare he mix church and state? However, the more I read, the more I became entrenched by Mr. G.’s Christian-based explanation about the purpose of each family member. Mr. G’s description of the value and role of each family member seemed to make so much sense. The better I understood his explanation, the calmer my heart began to beat. My head began to nod in agreement with the significance of having a father in the home and the impact of one missing. Mr. G’s responses to his students’ questions and comments about the family and its members, particularly the father, were constructively woven as not to preach, but teach.
When I reflected on the issues regarding the teens whom I regularly counsel, the one consistent missing entity in most of their lives has been an involved father who lived with his children and served as a productive role model. It seems that Mr. G. and Mr. Walker have stumbled onto something most of us have forgotten.
The book proceeds to share stories of teens using their wits to exist without family support and/or paternal guidance and protection. These struggles are amplified in a formula the author has printed on the cover of his book:
If young girls (A) ÷ by broken homes (C) missing fathers (D) = Human Trafficking (B).
Read Mr. Gunderson’s Home Economics: Facing the Father Factor to see how you can prevent someone you love from having such a gap.
For more information about Mr. Walker’s book or to read his blog about missing girls from Hampton Roads, visit www.blogdestinysspear.com/humantrafficking.
Linda Horsey, Ed.D. is a former Norfolk Public School Board member and past Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority Commissioner. She taught at ODU from 2006-2012, and is the executive director of The Therapy Center.