Blake wanted to be a great dad, but would his own childhood experiences hold him back?
When Blake was just two months old, his parents realized they would be happier apart than together. While his mom battled addiction issues, Blake lived with his father. “I felt safe and cared for,” says Blake.
But at age 6, a new step-mother changed everything for Blake.
“Power-based parenting led to angry outbursts and before long I was living with my mom, who was now clean,” says Blake. But that reunion was bitter-sweet. His mom’s fiancé made Blake feel like extra baggage. When Blake was told he was a ‘waste of money’, a fist fight ensued, and Blake was kicked to the curb.
For a few years Blake shuffled between extended family members. Each home carried its own stress and tension. “I didn’t fit anywhere,” says Blake. “I had no-one to talk to….nowhere to let my feelings out. I craved stability and security and had no idea how to achieve it.”
When Blake met Amber he began to trust again. He moved into her family home but it, too, was plagued by unpredictability and chaos. When the 18-year-old’s learned of Amber’s pregnancy they began to formulate plans to secure an apartment of their own. “I was determined to provide a two-parent home for my child,” says Blake.
In his efforts to support his young family Blake secured employment as a construction worker. But it wasn’t long before a wrist injury left them applying for social assistance.
Receiving assistance meant Blake had to develop a plan for moving toward employment. He was well aware that his decision to drop out of school after Grade 11 would make it harder for him to find a job. He was dedicated to completing high school.
Super Dad’s Super Kid’s Program
Located in Ottawa, The Salvation Army Bethany Hope Centre for Young Parents continues nearly a century’s tradition of providing a wide-range of services to pregnant and parenting youth and their children.
In 2011 Blake, who struggled with human interaction and was extremely shy, completed the centre’s high-school correspondence course and a life skills course. “The Army’s caring, supportive environment restored my self-worth and helped me to move forward,” says Blake.
Then Blake heard about the centre’s new program designed especially for dads. “Having my daughter was a life-changing event for me,” says Blake. “Being a parent is rewarding, yet complex and challenging. I welcomed the extra help, guidance, support and reinforcement the program offered.”
David Milnes, fathering worker at the centre, says good kids don’t just happen—they are nurtured by caring, involved, and responsible adults. “Our program focuses on young men who make the conscious choice to be the solid role models their children long for and need today. And what better way to learn than from other dads who share their experiences of struggle and joy along the journey.”
Today 21-year-old Blake is hopeful about the future. He is studying police foundations—growing and learning all the time. His feelings of emptiness and pain have been replaced by passion and the drive to build a strong, healthy family.
But when he feels overwhelmed, and tormented by emotional overload, he knows who to call. At the Army he’ll find his village of supporters.