“Roberto” was surprised when he found out his girlfriend was having a baby. They had not planned on having children. But when his baby boy, “Remi,” was born, it was love at first sight.
Roberto signed up for Parenting Now!’s Program for Young Parents (PYP) to connect with other young parents and gain some parenting skills.
Roberto’s group first met around Halloween last year. Roberto talked about cute costumes that might be appropriate for his son, who had just turned one. During his son’s first year of life, Roberto didn’t get many chances to see his son, as the child’s mother had moved to Washington. Nevertheless, the idea of what costume his son would wear for the fun night was all he could talk about.
When Roberto talks about his son, you can see the love in Roberto’s eyes. Even though Roberto and Remi’s mother do not live together, Roberto thinks about his son all the time. He wants his son to grow up to be charismatic, handsome, and interested in music—just like him; a chip off the not-so-old block. Roberto is 19.
As a parenting educator, what stands out in my mind about Roberto was how he took care of his son when he was allowed visitation. He traveled halfway to Washington State, without a car, to meet the boy’s mother and arrange the transfer. Then, with his young son, he rode the Greyhound bus back to Eugene. When he brought Remi to the group, we were all smitten. The little boy’s big brown eyes and gorgeous black curly hair were nothing compared to his big grin. We all fell in love.
Even though Roberto does not see his son very often, his commitment to being a good dad is obvious. He thinks about how to raise Remi with love and confidence. Roberto shares his appreciation of rap music with his son, and now that Remi is walking, the two dance all over his apartment together. Remi likes when his dad dresses him up like a rapper, with a big gold chain and a cool hat.
Another sign of this young dad’s devotion is the way he attends our PYP group each week without fail.
There have been new families who have joined the group, and some who fade away after a couple of visits. But the veteran is Roberto. He helps keep the group energized when he tells stories about what he did with Remi over the weekend, or when he brings in pictures to show us how much Remi has grown. One thing the baby and the young father have in common: they both have radiant smiles.
It is clear that Roberto is a strong, loving father. The stress of having a young son, as well as employment and legal struggles, is moderated by the fact that he can share his stories and struggles with other young parents in our group. The families who attend our PYP groups all have similar circumstances—it’s a great place to give and receive support.
If you or someone you know is pregnant or parenting between the ages of 12-21, and are interested in joining our Program for Young Parents, please fill out the form here.
Author Hali Burley is a parenting educator for the Program for Young Parents.