"A knight in shining armor, is a man who has never had his metal truely tested" - Unknown
A Knights tale
In our lives we all have been told a story. And when we hear stories we often feel compelled to give a response. Unfortunately the response I always get when I tell mine is something along the lines of, “Good job, I am so proud of you.” Or “That is really commendable.” Every time I hear this response I just have to shake my head.
Here is my story:
My name is Shanne Sowards. On April 9th, 1992 I became a teen parent. I was 15 years, 8 months, and 27 days old when my daughter Kendra was born. I was not even old enough to work without a workers permit. This time of my life was filled with a lot of doubt, shame, and lack of know how. My name was often associated with the term “loser”. It was used not only by people I didn’t know, but by my friends and family as well.
Over the next few years my life changed a lot. Kendra’s mother and I broke-up. And although I was fortunate enough to continue attending school full time, I also needed to work. So I worked full time at a restaurant and began paying child support. Before I was 17 I had made arrangements to live with a friend’s family and to pay room and board. This was a result of my family’s inability to provide a stable shelter for me. As I became more stable, I began to see Kendra more often. Soon I was seeing her on a regular schedule keeping her every other weekend.
In the middle of my senior year of high school my guidance counselor introduced me to Ben Root ,who worked at a local home for troubled youth (The Inn). He had recently written a grant to assist homeless parenting youth in navigating life. And because I was not living with my family and staying in a camping trailer behind a house, I qualified (not because I was a teen father). Ben offered to mentor me and see if he could help me on my path. I figured I had nothing to lose so I agreed to meet with Ben once a week for thirty minutes to an hour. Ben listened and took time to get to know me and my interests. Once we had a trust established, he came alongside me and gave me tools on how to better support Kendra and myself. He suggested thinking about the bigger picture of being a father. Most importantly he cared about me. I wasn’t a loser to him and he not only wanted me to succeed in all aspects of my life. That was his expectation.
Throughout the years I have played a very active role in Kendra’s life. And I am proud that I have been a good father to Kendra. But I also know I don’t deserve any “special” praise because I started my journey as a teen. It’s very sad to me that as a culture we expect a teen father to run. I believe it’s time that as society we change our expectations. No matter the age of the father, he is to stick around. It’s time to create and support programs that help young dads learn just how valuable they are. These programs should also give young dads the tools to succeed in being an active father and provider.
This is what Squires was created to do.
Squires is dedicated to empowering, encouraging, and supporting teen dads to provide long term emotional, physical, and financial support for their child. Our goal is to change the culture of expecting fathers to run away from responsibility.