Homes Without Dads -- The Hurt That Will Not Heal []


It’s the week before Christmas and the Brighthaupt family is in its weekly therapy session. Kecia Brighthaupt, 37, grabs a piece of paper from the center of the dining room table in her apartment and reads the word on it.

“Hopeful,” Kecia Brighthaupt says. “I feel hopeful that Jamari is going to graduate.”

She, her 15-year-old son Jamari, and their counselor, Ayize Ma’at, sit at one end of the glass rectangular table. A tan carpet covers the floor. Photos of relatives, including Kecia’s deceased grandfather, cover the white walls. A picture of the Obama family hangs there, too, in this cozy two-bedroom in Southeast Washington, D.C.

“Why do you feel hopeful?” Ma’at asks.

“He’s turned around tremendously in school,” Kecia says. “Jamari is now taking his education seriously. He comes home and does homework. He knows there are certain things he has to do to meet the criteria to graduate.”

Kecia is a petite woman with a warm demeanor. Her black hair is pulled up into a loose bun. And after a long day, she sits comfortably in black spandex pants and a black T-shirt with the words “Bye Felecia.”

It’s Jamari’s turn to pull a word.

“Hurt,” he says.

“When one of my friends died, that’s when I felt hurt.”

“How did he die?” Ma’at asks.

“Shot. Killed,” Jamari answers.

Kecia and Jamari continue pulling words — angry, comfortable, disrespected, understood, ashamed, neglected, comfortable and loved.

They have been in court-ordered family counseling for two years. Jamari has been in and out of the criminal justice system since the age of 10. He has been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and an emotional disorder, his mother says.

[For more of this story, written by Lottie L. Joiner, go to]

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