Kids Fathering Kids

It’s something you hope never happens. Your son, too young, too inexperienced, too unprepared, becomes a father. What now?

A report from the Guttmacher Institute shows a pregnancy rate of 7% among teens for 2006. While attention has focused on teen mothers, there are few resources for the teen dad. Yet, Prudence Brown of the Ford Foundation notes that many teen fathers want to participate in the parenting of their children but “they need a lot of help and support to help them assume a responsible father role.”

How do boys get that support, become responsible for another life and deal with this new relationship with the baby’s mother?

The Teenage Pregnancy and Parenting Project in San Francisco has found that teenage fathers usually have lower incomes, less education and more children than do men who wait until age 20 to have children. They often remain poor because they drop out of school to work, solving an immediate need (income) but locking in a long-term difficulty (lack of education and limited job skills).

Parenthood is an equal opportunity prospect. It is provided to the prepared and unprepared alike, the rich and the poor, the educated and the uninformed. Our value as parents is what we make of the opportunity.

It is fair to say that a teen boy who becomes a father is unprepared. Caught between adolescence and adulthood, he falls into a bigger role than he has ever experienced. Or he runs irresponsibly from the challenge.

Rights and Responsibilities

It is our feeling that babies should be born to parents who are mature and effectively prepared. But if that is not the case, we still believe the teen father has a responsibility to care for that child, be a part of the baby’s life, and participate in important decisions.

A few things for the teen dad to keep in mind:

  • Sort out issues through honest dialogue with the baby’s mother.
  • Be certain you are the father.
  • Be aware of custody or visitation rights.
  • Get the legal, medical or spiritual help you need.

Reach Out

You can be a partner for a few moments; you’re a parent for the rest of your life. There may be few family or community role models. Television shows too often reflect what has been called a universal television network allergy to responsible dads. But teens need to find behaviors they can model. The public library or local church are good places to start. Programs such as Teen Fathers (http://www.gbapp.org) offer a chance for boys to share feelings, build skills, serve as role models to each other, deepen the relationship with the child’s mother and find resources for improving fathering skills and continuing an education.

If you are a father of a teen who is now a dad, you can support your son with love and help him find resources to improve his parenting skills. Dad, you can encourage your son to be a full partner in raising his child.

 

 

 

By dads2dads

When Does a Dad Stop Being a Dad?

When does water cease being wet? When does time stand still? When will Tom disavow a Fat Mo’s burger?

As dads of young adults, sons and daughters who have graduated from their teens, we easily acknowledge that parenthood never ends. Perhaps the style of parenting changes, the gap of life experience narrows, and parenthood becomes more of a partnership. But no matter how old your children are, you never stop being a dad.

When your son or daughter is a teenager, that experiential gap is more like a chasm. When they move into their early to mid-20s, there is still a gap but there is some evidence that they have matured thanks to your “wisdom” and “sage advice.”

Forever daddy’s little girl

A father placed a call to his high-school daughter’s boyfriend because, according to his daughter, the boy lost his temper and came within an inch of planting a backhand on her face. Even though they had dated for some time and seemingly enjoyed each other’s company, something snapped and the boy revealed a dark side to his character. For the first time ever, the young girl felt genuinely scared in her boyfriend’s company. That was all dad had to know. On the phone dad promised the young man that he would call the police if he ever went near his daughter again. That was the end of it.

Once a dad, always a dad

Another father answered his phone to his tearful 30-year-old daughter on the other end. She was frightened by her abusive husband and didn’t know what to do to extricate herself from what had disintegrated into a disastrous marriage. That day the angry husband had locked the doors and gone to work. She was calling from someone else’s phone because she could not get in her own house. Dad didn’t hesitate. He drove an hour to where his daughter was and together they “gained entrance” to her house. Dad helped his daughter pack her things, loaded the car and whisked her away. Because of her hasty departure, she left some of her treasured furnishings. At that point, she didn’t care. She left her home, and she left her marriage.

Dad against all odds

There will never come a day when you won’t worry about your kids no matter what their age. You will always want to fix their leaky faucet or patch up a relationship, rescue them from harm. You will forever be tempted to go to any lengths to spare them hurt or anguish. You will run to their aid even when you don’t know what you might find when you get there. You will worry about them, defend them, soothe them, run interference for them. You’ll run through fire and slay dragons—against all odds and contrary to common sense—to keep them safe. You’ll sometimes poke your nose into matters where you have no business because when it comes to family, the role of dad is played for life.

 

By dads2dads