Regular readers of The Father Factor know that this blog is a great source of helpful tips for dads and funny/inspiring stories from fathers and dadbloggers about their experiences in fathering.
But perhaps you’ve wondered what else National Fatherhood Initiative does to fulfill our mission of improving child well-being by increasing the proportion of children who grow up with involved, responsible, and committed children.
Since 2004, NFI has distributed 6.3 million fatherhood resources to dads to help them be the best dads they can be. Troy is one of those dads. His story of connection with his son Xavier, despite the challenges of incarceration and loss, is an inspiration to those of us who work here at NFI. We hope it inspires and encourages you, too.
The story below is reprinted from NFI’s Executive Quarterly newsletter. Please consider supporting NFI financially with a gift of $25, $50, $100 or more to help us reach more dads and kids like Troy and Xavier.
Troy Gaines knows firsthand the pain of wondering why his dad didn’t care enough about him to be part of his life. But thanks to NFI – and the support of people like you – his son Xavier doesn’t have to ask those questions.
“My father, as far as I was concerned, didn’t have any kind of role.” Troy’s dad never said anything of substance to him, offer guidance, or even show up to watch Troy’s football games. Troy felt like he had done something wrong to make his father not want to see him. The pain made him want to lash out.
Troy looked for other people to fill that void and teach him things about life. Unfortunately, the people he turned to were the guys in his neighborhood who were doing “all the bad stuff.” Eventually, Troy ended up in prison.
One week prior to landing in prison, Troy became a father to Xavier. “I remember thinking that Xavier would feel the same way about me as I felt about my father. I’m not going to be able to connect with him and show him the path to growing as a man.”
One day, some men looking for drugs came to the wrong house and shot and killed Troy’s girlfriend, the mother of Xavier. This tragic event was a pivotal moment in changing Troy’s outlook on life. “I had to make a serious, serious change in me, my mind, the way I did things, and the way I presented myself to my community. I didn’t have all the answers and I needed to go to someone or go somewhere where I could find some guidance on fatherhood and being a better man.”
Thankfully, his facility offered National Fatherhood Initiative’s InsideOut Dad® program. InsideOut Dad® gave Troy the inspiration to make a better life for himself and the skills to connect with his son. Troy is now committed to being an involved, responsible, and committed dad. He helps Xavier with homework and goes to his football practices – the very things he craved so much from his dad.
“The [National] Fatherhood Initiative program helped me realize that you have to make some changes in your life because what you’re doing is going to affect your boy. Kids do exactly what they see their parents do. If I didn’t straighten up how I did, he would probably follow in my footsteps because he wanted to be like me. I tell my son at least five times a day that I love him. We love each other. I think he understands and believes that my focus is to be the best man in this world that I can.”
The positive impact that Troy is making in his son’s life is obvious. Xavier told us, “With my dad at my games, I feel better and I care more. I love him a lot because he is a very good dad. If you make a mistake, he’ll make you keep going and going and… make you lift your head up. My dad loves me and would do anything for me.”
These kinds of changes are only possible because of the financial support of people like you. NFI depends on the generosity of donors to make our programs available to dads like Troy. Ultimately, it’s kids like Xavier who really reap the benefits of your support. Please donate today to help us give more kids like Xavier a brighter future.