Thursday, January 12th, 2012
By Janie Southard
Mercer Dads push involvement
Role of father seen as essential in child's emotional development
  Absent fathers? Disengaged fathers? Not a big deal here - maybe in other places.
Not so! The problem is right here, right now, according to Mercer Dads.
Members of Mercer Dads, an organization putting a face on the fatherless problem in the county, say they've been "astounded" to learn local statistics on fatherless families easily meet the average of much bigger cities.
Mercer County Mercer Dads is asking area absent or disengaged fathers, as well as community members, to change the landscape and step up to change everything negative for kids in fatherless homes. The group is sponsoring a public view of the documentary "Absent" about fatherlessness and it's devastating impact on society at 7 p.m Tuesday at the Celina Fieldhouse.
"It (the absent father problem) is here and has been for some time," member Ted Goodwin, director of men's ministry at St. Paul's United Methodist Church, Celina, said. "I meet with people frequently who grew up without a positive relationship with their father. It's amazing how that impacts their entire lives, and the community, and our entire society."
Goodwin often meets men from 19 to 60-plus years old who have never addressed that they grew up with an absent or disengaged father. In counseling sessions, those men have made comments that they've never really known where they are in life. They haven't seen their role as a father, husband, community member and on and on. Their lives feel misfit.
"If they don't address the issue, never address the hurt, they will never get out of the emotional ruts they're in ... But, it does not have to be that way. They can be healed of the father wounds. They can move on in life, out of the ruts, and good things will happen," Goodwin said.
He added that many people can't get past their inner child.
"They just stay at that point of hurt, still longing for the love/guidance of their father. That's arrested development and that's why we see so many adult men acting like little boys, rejecting responsibility," he said.
"Absent" is a full-length documentary by Justin Hunt of Albuquerque, N.M, featuring interviews with James Hetfield, lead singer of Metallica; author John Eldredge, who wrote "Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secrets of a Man's Soul"; boxer Johnny Tapia; and street people, runaways and many experts on the topic of fatherlessness.
Hunt, who has won numerous awards for his work in journalism, television and film, has been recognized extensively for his first documentary film, "American Meth." That film, narrated by actor Val Kilmer and completed in 2007, won at several film festivals including the Cinema City International Film Festival at Universal Studios. In 2010 it was picked up by Cox, Comcast and Time Warner networks. Last year he won the National Media Award for his film work.
Hunt won his first national award - the United States Journalism Association for "the best high school newspaper story in the nation" - when he was a senior in high school. He then went on to college, and at 23 years old, he became the youngest news director in the county at KOBR in Roswell, N.M.
Hunt, a single father of two, has received awards for "Absent" in three international film festivals.
He will present the film at the Celina Fieldhouse and will be available following the performance for a question/answer period.
Tickets are $10 each, available at the door or in advance at Kozy Marina and the Celina Area Chamber of Commerce. Check mercerdads.org for other ticket locations.

Area residents may view film:
The following was posted by Justin Hunt, director of the documentary "Absent," on the film website, www.absentmovie.com.
"The father wound is so deep and so all-pervasive in so many parts of the world that it's healing could well be the most radical social reform conceivable." My friend, Father Richard Rohr, wrote that.
"Not only here in the West, but across the globe, disengaged fathers are leaving a mark that will forever reshape the future of our planet. You show me a person that is angry, violent, depressed, selfish, sexually immoral, hyper-driven, or one of several other personality types, and I'll show you a father wound.
"Nothing is more important to a young man, or a young woman, than a father's love, respect and acceptance. And nothing is more damaging than when the question 'Am I good enough?' is asked of the father by the child, and the answer is silence."
"Absent," about the devastating impact of fatherlessness on society, is being shown at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Celina Fieldhouse, 585 E. Livingston St.
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