In his new book, Voices of the Fatherless, Percy Kennedy shares eye-opening letters from incarcerated fathers and thought-leaders in the field of fatherlessness that shine a light on the gaping wounds that a father’s absence leaves in the hearts of his children. Kennedy is the founder of Voices of the Fatherless, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization designed to teach, equip, affirm, and mentor those impacted by fatherlessness.
In his debut book, he gives readers a poignant look at the heartbreak and feelings of abandonment that nearly 40 percent of children in the U.S. under the age of eighteen face growing up in single-family homes without a father.
The idea for his book derived from time spent with men at the Wallace Pack Unit prison in Texas as a facilitator of the InsideOut Dad program, a national initiative designed to bridge the gap between the incarcerated father and his children and provide a road map to successful re-entry into society.
A graduate of Lamar University and a single parent, Kennedy has poured his personal knowledge and empathy into combating fatherlessness for the past decade. As an administrator of the InsideOut Dad program for WoodsEdge Community Church, where he is a member, Kennedy invited program participants to write letters to their children; their younger selves; and to school groups. Children were also given the chance to pen letters to their fathers.
With permission of participating inmates, Kennedy curated and compiled poignant and, at times, emotionally raw letters in the book to give readers a sobering look at the collateral damage left in the hearts of absent fathers (many who also grew up without a consistent father figure) and their children as well as the hard-learned lessons to provide guidance for the next generation.
“Their testimonies, their transparency, and their love for their children have inspired the basis for what you will read,” said Kennedy. “This book is intended to give fatherless children insight into why they think, feel, and act the way they do and also to connect that with their father’s experiences, with the ultimate goal to help lift the veil, heal the heart, and break the cycle.”
Kennedy credits his church for helping to make Voices of the Fatherless a reality. “Through its Outside the Wallsministries, WoodsEdge has cared for orphans, those in foster care, and men and women who have been incarcerated. These groups are examples of how fatherlessness has negatively impacted our community,” said Kennedy. Volunteers from his church have run fatherhood training programs like InsideOut Dad and The World Needs a Fatherand provided much-needed financial support and encouragement for these programs since 2016.
Ken R. Canfield, PhD., founder of the National Center for Fathering, lauds Kennedy for his efforts to respond to the negative impact of fatherlessness. In the book’s foreword, Canfield points to the many negative consequences of children growing up without a father in the home but says that no statistic can adequately measure the amount of pain caused by an absent father.
“You see, it’s actually impossible for a father to be truly absent; part of him is always there. But in the fatherless home, he has given up his right to represent himself, and he often gets referred to as a ghost, or a haunting spirit, or some would say a demon,” said Canfield. “Percy Kennedy has collected riveting testimonies from men in a most unlikely place, prison. You’ll be challenged by these essays to reflect on the power of fathering. I heartily recommend his book, Voices of the Fatherless.”
Voices of the Fatherless provides insight on the impact of fatherlessness as well as inspiration to provide a pathway forward for change. The book is available via Amazon (Kindle eBook edition) and in paperback via Walmart, Books-a-Million, BookBaby Book Shop, and leading online booksellers nationwide. For more information, or to set up a youth program for your school or group, visit voicesofthefatherless.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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