Young Dads' Experience Freedom in Healthy Self-Image Through Story-Listening at 25th Celebration
Shared by Robert Gin, Outreach Worker of Young Parents team.
Our recent Young Parents 25th anniversary celebration was such a memorable evening that really highlighted the goodness of God. One of them was a coffee-table book with stories of our young parents, that came from transcribed interviews we did with them. But to help put a face to the name, we invited a few youth to read their interviews Joe* was one of them. He was nervous doing the interview, much like he was leading up to reading his part. In spite of this, and with some personal issues that were making him second guess and wanting to cancel, he firmly pressed on. He knew that telling his story (along with another dad who shared) would impact the way some view young men like him.
Sadly, dads like Joe* are stigmatized and categorized with other dads who neglect their parental responsibilities. So, like him and the other young dads we have known, are seen as 'bad dads' and not given equal opportunities for employment, health care, or legal support. It's because of this uphill battle, that giving up and giving into what people want to think of them sometimes seems more simple. I'm so proud of him and the other dad - they showed great courage to push beyond all the stereotypes, proving they have potential and genuinely love their kids. They really do back up their words with their actions!
As the evening came to a close, both dads were overwhelmed as many impacted came up to them to share their appreciation. Both of them, especially Joe, experienced what my supervisor (Loreli Cockram) would recently describe as 'story-listening', where both dads, in listening to their stories again and receiving appreciation, were more deeply impacted. So in a simple, yet profound statement - rounded with a firm handshake and shoulder tap - Joe said, "Thanks for bringing me out".
Maybe, it was the handshake that did it for me, but simple expressions of (brotherly) love are ones we misunderstand and take for granted - but they are part of God's beautiful mosaic work.
- Name changed to protect the individual's identity.