Hell’s Kitchen resident Daphne McWilliams, who previously produced videos for the Notorious B.I.G. and Queen Latifah, couldn’t find helpful resource materials on solo parenting when her son, Chase, hit the stormy years of adolescence, so she decided to make a film about issues confronting fatherless boys.
The result is “In a Perfect World,” a documentary that explores, through Chase’s experience and that of other men who were raised without fathers, how they filled the holes in their hearts and prevailed over their feelings of anger, sadness and abandonment.
The documentary debuts on Showtime June 15 and begins streaming June 16 — just in time for Father’s Day.
About one in three children in America live in a home without their biological dad, according to the National Fatherhood Initiative, and sociologists say they are at higher risk for everything from higher rates of infant mortality and promiscuity to delinquency and incarceration.
But boys raised sans dads are not doomed to become grim statistics — or even to repeat the behavior of their own absent dads, McWilliams said. (Just look at a certain president of the United States.)
“The most important thing is for them to have role models,” McWilliams said. Her own male relatives, friends, her son’s coaches and violin teacher stepped in to provide Chase, now 17, models of healthy masculinity. While Daphne and Chase’s father split shortly before Chase turned two, her son now “has some really good, strong males in his life. I have to believe he feels [his dad’s] absence, but I’ve told him that’s not a crutch and no excuse for him not to succeed,” she said.
McWilliams found that some father-free men, determined not to repeat mistakes, become super dads. “I’m really inspired by those guys who go the extra mile to see their kids,” she said.
McWilliams began the film feeling guilty that she could not give Chase the intact family experience she had growing up on Staten Island with her mom and dad and seven brothers and sisters.
“I don’t feel that way anymore,” the filmmaker said. McWilliams stopped, she said, “being so obsessed” with the relationship Chase had or didn’t have with his dad and resolved to focus on being the best parent she could be. “At the end of the day, it’s about parenting, and finding ways to nurture yourself as a parent. That goes for couples, too.”
Her own son, who has participated in screenings for the documentary, is getting used to seeing “his whole life revealed” in the film, but heartened to see that people’s reactions have been positive, said McWilliams. “He’s proud,” of the movie, she said.