Iyanla Vanzant On The Fatherless: 'It's An Epidemic In This Country'

After watching an episode of "Oprah's Lifeclass," a 48-year-old photographer named Steve wrote to the show's producers for help making it through a troubling time in his life. He shared his story with them, and then relationship expert Iyanla Vanzant stepped in during a taping in St. Louis to help Steve identify the root of his anguish and start living.

Steve says he used drugs and alcohol for more than 20 years and lost everything. He didn't have a steady job, a car or a home of his own. Now 10 years sober and living with his daughter, Steve felt like his pain was holding him back. One day while on a walk in the desert, he came across an old mattress and a television. He took a picture of it, saying it represented the pain he felt inside.

Steve's pain, Iyanla says in this clip, stemmed from the fact that he is a fatherless son. Steve says his father is dead. His mother was a domestic worker, and Steve says he grew up on welfare.

"Where's your daddy? Not your father," Iyanla asks him. "Where's your daddy? That man who touched you and said, 'You're a man now'? That man that put tapes in your head about what it means to be a man?"

"I never had that," Steve says.

Iyanla says Steve is not alone. "The fatherless son... there are hundreds of thousands of them all over the world," she says. "Fatherless sons who never had a man affirm you. Never had a man ackowledge [you]. Never had a man accept you as you are."

Iyanla says that to move forward, Steve must confront his past. She stands with him face to face and speaks words that bring Steve to tears. "Your mother loved you unconditionally," she says. "And she asks your forgivness for not being who you wanted her to be. And your father is proud of you. He doesn't judge you. He doesn't question you."

Want to watch new episodes of "Oprah's Lifeclass" before they air? Visit Oprah.com Thursday, Jan. 17, at 1:30 p.m. ET to watch Iyanla Vanzant discuss more about fatherless sons during two live tapings. At 4:30 p.m. ET, watch a live taping with Dr. Gary Chapman about the five languages of love.

Click through the slideshow below for more great wisdom from Iyanla Vanzant.



Iyanla Vanzant's Quotes On Love And Life