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Filed under Features, Student Life

Untold perspective on teen fathers

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All too frequently in teenage pregnancies, the father’s side of the story is belittled to that of the mother.  Television shows such as “16 and Pregnant” often condemn or even glamorize the mother’s perspective of unplanned teenage pregnancies, but all too often the father’s perspective is ignored, untold and unaccounted for.  Pregnancies in high school alter the lives of more than just the mother, and often high school fathers get a bad reputation.  While they may have chosen to make decisions that most students are warned about from an early age, many teen fathers are unfairly attributed traits that they do not possess; such as laziness, apathy, and even abandonment when it comes to their children.  Often their attitudes are entirely different than those of the stereotypes they are cast into.

Studies reported in the New York Times have disproven the common “hit and run” ideology associated with teenage fathers.  Over the years, teen fathers have actually begun to step up to the plate, and Chapin can attest to that.

Daniel “Daddy Dan” Hayes, as he has been dubbed by some, has worked tirelessly to support his now thirteen month old daughter Marley.  As all teen pregnancies go, Daniel was shocked to learn that he would be a father during his sophomore year of high school.  But now that Marley is here, he’s not about to quit working until she’s taken care of.

Only being able to see Marley several times a week, Daniel (now a junior) always makes sure that his schedule is cleared for her visits.  “She is great.  Nothing could make me happier than her.” 

Over the summer, he worked several jobs, and continues to work nearly twenty hours a week.  Giving up much of what made him teenage Daniel in the past, he has now begun the transition into early fatherhood.  “I just don’t have the social life like I used to, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.”

As much of the attention falls on the glowing mother in a typical teen pregnancy, the fathers should not be forgotten.  Facing equally challenging but totally different problems of their own, teen fathers are to expect things such as higher risk of dropping out, an expected 10-15% lower annual salary than those who had children later in life, an increase in likelihood of expressing criminal behavior, and nearly two decades of mandatory child support.  Chapin’s own Daniel Hayes has been doing a very successful job of taking on his role as “Daddy Dan” so far, and Marley seems to enjoy the spotlight.  “As for my plans for the future, nothing much has changed.  I still plan on attending college and proceeding forward with as normal a life as possible.”

It seems as if when bad luck comes his way and the cards are not dealt in Hayes’ favor, he works that much harder to turn the tables around and make his own luck.

It takes two halves to make a whole, so let us not ignore the second half, and the fact that it also has a voice of its own.  Teen fathers have their own story, their own perspective in the controversial issue of teen pregnancy.  And more often than not it can be found that teen dads actually work hard to support their kids.  Not to right a wrong, but to ensure a secure future for their own children.

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