I’m not a dad, so I can’t be sure of this, but I suspect that if you’re a young man of 17 and your girlfriend tells you she’s pregnant, you might be a bit scared. More so, if you’re already struggling at school and unsure what the future holds.
The other day I met a young dad who had experienced precisely that moment. It was the end of my Employability Express workshop with the Heathfield Works! charity, where I was leading a small group of young adults who had left school at the first possible opportunity.
David was the pupil who took up my final challenge: to be interviewed, on camera, unrehearsed, in front of the rest of the group. I asked him to give me an actual example of when he had shown courage. “When my daughter was born”, he said. I caught me breath. I hadn’t seen that one ahead. “I wanted to faint, but I had to keep strong — I had to catch her with a towel.” The room was silent. “Fatherhood is hard” he went on — “but you’ve just got to cope. It’s not your life anymore. It’s someone else’s. I’ve got a responsibility to make it the best I can for her.”
Until that moment, I’d never thought of fatherhood as a job qualification, but what a glorious example David had just provided us all. Young man or young woman, when you’re 18 and need to demonstrate responsibility, stamina and courage, you may not have to look further than the toddler at your feet.