Dear Young Fathers
I am 22 years old and am waiting for the birth of my second daughter, due to be born in September
I live a very happy and positive life at the moment, I don't have many worries chasing me down daily.
However, this wasn't always the case. Any young man becoming a parent is a big thing. There are lots of sacriﬁces to be made and you have to take on responsibilities to be a good enough parent for your child. We all think that we will be able to naturally do this.
I believe that the hardest thing about becoming a parent isn't about the things you have to give up on, but the things you have to realise about yourself
Until that point, you live your entire life understanding your personality, your qualities and traits. You know how you respond to situations, your likes and dislikes as well as your attitude to things. You know you, good or bad, and you accept who you are.
But what happens when you behave in the way that you have learnt or believe is "just you" and then someone comes along and tells you that your behaviour is seen as negative, and they feel that you are not appropriate to be around children, especially your own child?
I found myself in this situation when I had my first child. It was supposed to be the happiest time of my life and so in the beginning I refused to believe it. I told myself that there's nothing wrong with the way I behave and it shouldn't be a concern to anyone what I do to my partner. How could anyone say that it could affect my child? However, I was being blind and selﬁsh about my behaviour and how it really could have an impact on how my child grows up to behave.
I believe at ﬁrst I didn't want to accept it because of the way social workers bought it up with me. It felt like I was a horrible person and someone not ready or even worthy of being a father. It was a very hurtful feeling. Thinking about it today really does remind me about how depressing it felt feeling that way.
But I loved my child and was prepared, no matter how hard it was, to find a way to make a difference to myself, my behaviour, anything in my life as long as I could be a good father.
When my social worker recommended that I work with a different service called St Michael's Fellowship, I said yes. I did not know about this service and how they would change my life.
The workers there had a much nicer way of telling me that yes, I had some things to work on but yes, it was possible to change and they supported me to do that work. To this day I can't say thank you enough to all the people that helped me realise, confront and make changes to myself in order for me to become a good enough parent to my child.
It was different working with someone who advocated for me and supported me that was not from Children's Services. It almost felt like I wasn't even working with them to make a change but was spending time with friends and family, who really cared about my well- being and the well-being of my child's future.
To any of you reading this I want to say that making a change can take time and is very hard, but it is possible and it is worth it for your children's future, your partner and for you too.
I understand you might be impatient as I once was, but take my word that you will not regret it. I encourage you to make a change and be open to take any support you can get to do this as I did.
Keep up-to-date with news from Family Rights Group
Established in 1974, Family Rights Group is the charity that works with parents in England and Wales whose children are in need, at risk or are in the care system and with members of the wider family who are raising children who are unable to remain at home. You can find more information about the projects and initiatives led by Family Rights Group on the Get involved pages on this website.