The Next 400: Creating change through example in fight to solve ‘father absence’ crisis

Published: Sep. 24, 2022 at 7:29 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - American children are facing a crisis: Too many kids are growing up without a father.

Little gestures can make a big difference, like a dad walking his student to school everyday or helping them start a business.

That’s why Adam D. Jackson Sr. goes the extra mile for his son, who doubles as an entrepreneur and 7th grader here in Northeast Ohio.

“For me, it’s fun,” Jackson Sr. said about investing in and loving his son. “It’s challenging, some tired nights, but it’s an amazing ride.”

Adam D. Jackson Jr. always has something brewing, whether it’s items on his school supplies’ list or from the menu at Jr.’s Café.

It’s the business owned and operated by Adam Jr. with the help of his dad.

”My father is a busy man,” Adam Jr. told 19 News, adding a message for his dad: “Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to be able to be like ‘Man, I want my son to be something great, so I’m going to start him off where he should start off.’”

Jackson Sr. wants Adam Jr. to have a different kind of upbringing.

He said “father absence” is a real crisis in America, and he’s working to break that barrier, especially for Black and Browns kids.

”I don’t know my biological father. I have an amazing stepfather. But, I don’t know my biological father, so I’m a part of that statistic,” he said.

In 2020, 18.3 million children were living without a biological, step, or adoptive father in the home, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“My story is like a lot of other Black kids and how their story and how they came up,” Jackson Sr. said. “It was all about surviving. I don’t want my son to feel like he has to survive. I want him to do everything that he wants to do and to keep that smile on his face.”

According to the Ohio Department of Health, approximately two out of five children in this state live in homes without fathers.

“I feel like it’s just great having both my dad and my mother in the picture, being able to support me, give me advice and all that good stuff,” Adam Jr. said.

In addition to being a single-father, Jackson Sr. wears many other hats, one being the official barber for Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb.

He owns Brilliant Cuts Barber Studio on St. Clair Avenue in Cleveland.

“Being a Black entrepreneur is definitely tough,” he said. “I have great clients. I’m always busy. And my son, he’s seeing that. I’m the mirror to entrepreneurship.”

Jackson Sr. received his barber’s license when he was in the military, and he’s been cutting hair for about 22 years.

“The responsibility is huge,” Jackson Sr. admits. “But the reward is big.”

Jackson Sr. said he hopes his example shows how intentional engagement and involvement in a child’s life pays off in the end.

”We have a beautiful bond because there’s trust and instead of just hearing me, he understands me,” he said.