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The Power to Break the Cycle: ‘Talk to Her’

Growing up wasn’t easy for Kevin not knowing who his father was. In fact, he never met anyone from his father’s side of the family. “My father left my mom and me shortly after I was born and, gradually, the rest of his family did too. By the time I was old enough to comprehend the idea of what a father was, I already had it engrained into my mind that he never existed.”

When it comes to talking about feelings, most men have great difficulty voicing their emotions. Whether it is about relationships or growing up without a father, it takes a lot for them to speak up. However, at some point in their lives, men feel like they need to lift a weight off their shoulders and start talking.

A feature length film explores the intimate journey that a group of men took when they decided to open up and share with the world their experience on being raised by single mothers in a documentary called Talk to Her.

Nine volunteers from 15 to 60 year-old men from diverse ethnic backgrounds participated in this film. Kevin Keenan, a 23-year old New Yorker, was one of them.

Despite growing up without his father, Kevin found a silver lining in an unexpected place. During a career day in his junior year of high school, he met Peter Dowling, a retired special agent in charge of the U.S. Secret Service D.C. Field Office. Kevin didn’t know it at that time but Peter was the man who would become the father figure he never had up to that point. “He is honest to God the man that helped me become one.”

As the years went by, Kevin says Peter helped him embrace his situation and was the one who helped him figure out where he wanted to go. To this day, Kevin and Peter still speak almost every day. “I consider him nothing short of a father and can say with confidence that I would not be where I am today without him.”

Numerous expert studies indicate how fathers play a pivotal role in the development and growth of children, especially young boys. However, U.S. Census Bureau statistics from the Current Population Survey, confirm that an increasing number of 16.2 million mothers raise their children without a partner by their side. As a matter of fact, Kevin mentions that his mother essentially shaped his life. 

Daphne McWilliams, the Emmy-nominated producer and director of the Talk to Her, the documentary, reiterates her main goal about creating this film: “Talk to Her is to give these men an opportunity and a space to share and speak openly about their stories and experiences on being raised by single mothers. Nevertheless, even though there is a lot of anger and bitterness, these men all have sought role models in their lives.”

Daphne and Kevin met at an elementary school graduation, and stayed in touch over the years. Daphne, also a single mother, came up with the idea for Talk to Her, and pitched the story to Kevin, offering him a chance to speak out about his experience.

Clinical psychologist and relationship therapist Claudia Campos, M.D., tells Her Campus UPR, that a child raised without a father translates into a traumatic experience. “The child will constantly feel like he/she was rejected by the person who biologically was supposed to love him/her the most. In this case, men don’t usually express what they feel and that’s why they tend to hide when they are in pain.”

Campos adds: “To break the cycle, it is necessary to teach our children that a paternal figure is of great importance for their development. Studies confirm how indispensable it is for a child to have both parents present in their lives.”

To learn more about how to raise awareness about the film and how to break the cycle, you can reach out to Daphne McWilliams at talktoherdoc@gmail.com or click on the website of the documentary Talk to Her . The Talk to Her KickStarter ends today, April 3, 2014.

You can also follow @TalktoHertheDocumentary on Instagram and like the Talk to Her Facebook Page!

Spanish Version

El poder de romper el ciclo: Talk to Her

Existe un puñado de personas que conocen sobre la triste realidad que vivimos hoy día, en donde los núcleos familiares se transforman y cuentan con la presencia de solo madre e hijo. Ciertamente, este es el caso de millones de mujeres en Estados Unidos, que por diversas razones, tienen que criar a sus hijos sin contar con el apoyo del padre del menor.

Mientras las cifras revelan un aumento en las madres solteras, la radiografía del conteo, que lleva por nombre “Current Population Survey” realizado por la Oficina del Censo, reflejó que 16.2 millones de madres solteras viven con sus hijos sin pareja.

El documental Talk to Her explora la trayectoria íntima que un grupo de hombres tuvieron cuando, por primera vez en años, decidieron compartir su sentir de haber crecido con un padre ausente. Nueve voluntarios de entre las edades de 15 a 60 años participaron de este filme. Kevin Keenan, 23 años, fue uno de ellos.

Talk to Her muestra los conflictos internos que tuvieron estos hombres al conocer la importancia que tiene una figura paternal en sus vidas. Mucho se ha investigado sobre el efecto que tiene la ausencia de los padres en los hijos, pero se pasa por desapercibido las implicaciones psicológicas y emocionales que los hombres han sufrido por haberse criado con un padre ausente.

El documental estrenará a finales de 2014. Si les gustaría cooperar con la campaña de Talk to Her pueden entrar a la página para conocer sobre cómo se pueden involucrar.




Suzzette Martinez Malavet is a senior at the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras studying Information and Journalism. She loves photography, shoes, fashion, social media, traveling and exercising outdoors. She has interned at the Capitol of Puerto Rico, Diálogo Digital, Wapa TV, Telemundo Network, U.S. Census Bureau's Center for New Media and Promotions and the Corporate Communication/Sales & Marketing Department of the U.S. Mint in DC, but her proudest accomplishment was in Spring 2013 when she founded the very first HC Chapter in Puerto Rico, Her Campus UPR. Suzzette is currently the Chapter Advisor of Her Campus American University, Marymount, William & Mary, and GW. She is also a returning intern this semester at the U.S. Census Bureau's Center for New Media and Promotions. This 22-year-old woman is the most career-driven individual you will ever meet. If you want to know a little more about her...if you want to know what makes her tick and what inspires her the most...Unlock the mystery by reading some of her awesome articles!
Ana Maria Baez is a senior at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras and is Her Campus UPR's Campus Correspondent. Pursuing a major in Political Science, she enjoys reading, writing, Sunday brunch, traveling overseas, springtime and playing with her miniature schnauzer. She has interned on Capitol Hill for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the Hispanic Press Office, and since joining the Her Campus UPR team in May 2013, she has been working hard towards promoting the first-ever chapter established in Puerto Rico. 
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