Fatherless teens share their experience growing up without a dad


Due to the sensitivity of this topic, names have been changed to protect the identity of the interviewee. 

Most students grow up with mom and dad there to support them and guide them through their lives. But for these students, a big part of that was missing. Growing up, these students didn’t have a father.

For Jane Hernandez, the visit she got weeks ago from her father was the first she got in fourteen years. Much wasn’t discussed, as her main feelings toward him were anger.

“We didn’t talk about anything because I was mad at him. I didn’t want to talk to him” she said. “He was crazy back then, now he said he changed but I don’t believe him …maybe he did but I don’t care.”

Her parents had a toxic and abusive relationship. But her brother and stepdad stepped in to fill the role of a father.

“They fed me and paid the bills,” Hernandez said.

Most dads have the freedom to visit theirs kids and choose not to. For Micheal Smith, his dad’s incarceration took a part of his childhood that he can barely describe.

 “He went to jail for as long as I can remember and he’s still in there. He tried to be in our lives but I just told him to not to come around me,’’ Micheal said. “I already told (my dad) I didn’t want a relationship with him. He would try to call us from jail and my brothers didn’t really know anything.”

You don’t need a father as long as you have people that love you.”

— Jane Hernandez

Micheal wants nothing to do with his father. 

“He was trying to have to have a relationship with them but he wasn’t trying to do nothing with his life, so I told him that he wasn’t going to benefit my brothers so why are you still coming around,” he said.

Micheal avoids talking about his biological father with his mother as they both try to push the negativity out of their life. 

“I don’t really like talking about it to my mama because she had to go it through it. I tell her I don’t like that side of that family. I have a sister but she’s just like him, doing the wrong things and we try our best stay away from them; they bring nothing but negativity,” he said.

Micheal says this abnormal reality has been his normal life since as long as he can remember.

“It didn’t really affect me since I didn’t know him my whole life so I grew up thinking it was normal not having a father because I didn’t really remember how I felt when I was little and he was around,” he said.

For his future kids, Micheal wants better.

“I’m going to be in their lives for sure because my dad wasn’t in mine and I know how that feels,” Michael said.

For Isaac Jackson, his father visits occasionally but ignores him the entire time. 

“Naturally, my dad would come back to back to the house but not give me any attention,” Jackson said.

Jackson describes his relationship with his father as “in and out.”

“My mom didn’t like how he didn’t get me anything, like food and baby treatment so my mother put him on child support,” Jackson added.

Growing up, Jackson describes his childhood as incomplete.

“It felt incomplete because it was supposed to be a full family but it’s not,” Jackson said. “You got one half but you don’t have another.’’

To be a man is to be a father, but a mother became Jackson’s father figure.

“My mom and my grandma are my dad,” Jackson said. “My mom is everything.”

Despite having grown up without a father, these students were able to overcome these hardships.

“You don’t need a father as long as you have people that love you,” she said.