Of all the responsibilities a person will take on throughout their life, there is no denying parenthood is the most important. In the documentary “Daddy Don’t Go,” director Emily Abt follows four New York fathers struggling to provide a decent life for their children. Filmed over the course of two years, Abt’s film shows the unconditional love these fathers have for their children, but their past misdeeds put roadblocks in the positive role they play in their children’s lives.
Over the course of the documentary we meet 26 year-old Bronx native Nelson, who used to be an active member of the Latin Kings gang; he has one child with his girlfriend, and has assumed responsibility of her two other children. We meet 34 year-old Omar, another Bronx resident who struggles with holding down a steady job because of his learning disabilities. The third father is an ex-con, named Roy, who lives with his parents in Long Island while raising his son. The final father of the documentary is 26 year-old Alex, who is raising his 2 year-old son, Alex Jr; he awaits trial for an assault that could put him behind bars for years. Throughout the film, we see the constant struggles that these four men deal with outside of parenthood: substance abuse, problems with the law, and friends and family members who negatively impact their lives. In the end, the men make decisions that they think will prove to be beneficial to their children; Nelson moves to Florida in hopes of getting a job, Roy needs to learn to maintain a healthy relationship with his father even though they have a rocky past and Alex ends up accepting a plea deal and serving jail time, looking to his mother to continue to raise his son while he’s gone.
“Daddy Don’t Go” is a movie that has a big impact on viewers, especially those with children. Abt offers some unfortunate statistical insights on the high numbers of children in low-income areas who grow up without a father figure. The camera captures all the pain, sadness and disappointment that all four of these men experience and the viewer can’t help but hope that their children can find a way to prosper when all the odds seem stacked against their success. “Daddy Don’t Go” is an eye-opening documentary that reveals just how important it is to have a father figure while growing up in today’s world.