I remember never feeling like I looked like my father, but I never understood why. My home life was rocky. I would wake up to my parents arguing and occasionally sending each other to the hospital. When my parents divorced, my world became even more intense. I learned the person I grew up believing was my father wasn’t my biological father.
When I learned I had another father, I was almost happy. I knew there was some reason I didn’t 100% fit in with my family. I remember being nervous and happy to meet my biological father, asking questions in my mind like, “What does he look like?” and “How is he going to be?” After we met, I remember thinking it was strange he was so short, and I wasn’t.
I found out I had two sisters through my biological dad, and I was his only boy. My dad didn’t show much emotion at our visit. It wasn’t a joyous occasion for him, but it also wasn’t a sad one.
I continued to live with my mother and between ages 15 and 17, I attended three different high schools and struggled through them. At 17, I dropped out. I had two children to support.
My girlfriend was pregnant with another man’s baby and I took her child in as my own. We stayed together and had another son. I needed to be working and paying bills -- I didn’t have time for high school. But things didn’t work out with my girl.
By 18, I was a single dad with my own place in a crime-ridden area struggling to make money to support my family.
I thought I would be managing fast food restaurants for the rest of my life. One day, I woke up and I said “no.” I decided to get my life back on track. I found a job I enjoyed and excelled in the position. That was the first time I realized I had real potential. A few years later, I went back to school and earned my GED.
Today, I tell people I have two fathers. But back then, I still needed to learn to become a dad to my children because they weren’t examples of how to be a father. It was difficult for me to be a father until I began having children for the second time, later in life. At 17, I was young and reckless at times.
Stand for Children Indiana has taught me how to step up and get involved in my children’s education. Before Stand Indiana, I didn’t always know what was happening at their school. Now I’m connected and involved.
Since graduating from Stand University for Parents in 2015, I’ve helped bring positive change to my children’s school. I learned how to work with their teachers, and even helped double the number of student-teacher conferences during the school year.
As a Stand for Children Indiana member, I have higher expectations for my children and the quality of education they receive. I know more about preparing them for college or a career after high school. I’ve met a lot of other parents just like myself. Stand Indiana has given me guidance, support and the tools I needed to make changes for my children.
The best thing to me about being a father is being a great role model for my children. They will make their own choices, but I’m glad I get the chance to be there for them and be the one they look up to, even when it is hard as a single dad.
I am now informed as a parent. I also have a voice and the power to make changes for my children. You do too.