By Alan Turner
Amigos de Jesús Hogar Co-Coordinator
Being a father at Amigos de Jesús is certainly different than being a father in a small family. Our very large family now has over 130 children living in more than 10 different houses, with many fathers to go around. But our job is the same as that of any good father: to love our kids, to take care of them now and to prepare them for the future.
At Amigos, we really are a family. When my younger brother visited Amigos a few weeks ago, I heard a seven-year-old girl introduce herself by saying “your brother is my daddy.” When I walk by our youngest boy and hear him happily scream “papi Alan!” it is one of the best moments of my day. But our goal isn’t just for kids to say that we are their fathers, it’s to actually be their fathers. I try to emulate now many of the things that my dad did with me when I was a kid, like spending one-on-one time with them when possible, and making sure to play and laugh with them as well as being there to enforce rules and give advice when needed.
Sadly, much of the country is accustomed to a culture where women are the only ones who take care of kids. Many of our children have not ever had a real father figure in their lives before arriving at Amigos de Jesús. And many of those who have known their dads have still not experienced what a father should really be. At Amigos, the dads do a lot of things that are uncommon for our area: they cook, they clean, they help wash clothes. Most importantly, however, they actually spend time with the children. We want our boys to grow up knowing that to be a real father means that you help raise your own children, and we want our girls to understand that a good husband will be with them as they raise their family.
We send our kids to school to learn math and we let them loose on the field to learn soccer, but we know that they will learn what a father is by watching our example. And at the end of the day, we are at Amigos de Jesús not only for the present, but for the future of our children. We want them to have good fathers so that they can be good fathers (and mothers) when the time comes.
As much as Father’s Day is a celebration of the men, I think that at Amigos we really should celebrate the children as well. Because almost all of our children when they arrive have perfectly good reasons to never trust an adult again, and in many cases especially a man. And yet they find ways to not only tolerate us, but to form strong relationships with us. And once they do, then our work is the easy part. So Happy Father’s Day to all of you dads reading this, and especially to the Padrinos, Padres and children of Amigos de Jesús!