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Father's Day: Celebrate big brothers who support younger siblings

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Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor

(Read caption) In this 2003 file photo, Big Brother Kevin Burke, an attorney, has been a mentor to his new Little Brother, Javon Chapman, 8, for several months now. Although the Big Brother/Big Sister program provides mentors for children, real big brothers do a lot to care for younger siblings and deserve to be celebrated on Father's Day.

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There are many fortunate youngsters who have a father available and able to provide the support and guidance that is part of that role. There are other children whose fathers are either unavailable or unable to provide that support.

For years I worked in a community where the presence of a father in the family was not common. For reasons of health, incarceration or economics many children did not have the luxury of that guidance. This role was sometimes filled in part by pastors, coaches, teachers and grandparents.

But in other families, big brothers served that role with amazing love and maturity.

I have watched with admiration as big brothers escort little siblings to school, checking their backpacks, adjusting their jackets and then going off to their middle schools. I’ve watched them pick the younger ones up from school and walk them home, often holding the tiny hands. These little fathers have risked appearing uncool, as they pass through their neighborhood with younger ones in tow. Some do it with such a sense of responsibility and dignity that they rise above any peer judgment.

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