The Power of Fatherhood

FOTY website3There stands a young teen at the podium, a 6th grade boy. The ballroom is filled – over 700 people are here. On the dais next to him sits Mathew Knowles, Beyoncé’s dad, and, so close they could brush arms, is poet and rapper Common. The teen reads the first sentence of his essay, then stops. Silence. He struggles to compose himself and a few seconds later, voices from the audience call out.

“You’ve got this.”

“You can do it.”

“Take your time, son.”


Words of encouragement from a roomful of fathers spoken to this teen, a fatherless son. A powerful, unscripted moment in the 2017 Fatherhood Conference and the strongest reminder of what a father can do.

The teen’s name is Demittarus. For the past eight months, he’s been a resident at our Hertford multipurpose home. A few weeks earlier Demittarus had written an essay describing the relationship he has with his mentor, Kris Conn. The essay, What My Father Figure Means to Me, had been selected as the winning entry in an annual contest sponsored by the Family Resource Center South Atlantic. Which brings us back to the podium and this moment. Demittarus is standing in front of a record-setting crowd at the conference; he is here to read his essay.

After his moment of silence and the encouragement of the group, Demittarus looks up and reads:

What My Father Figure Means to Me

He means a lot to me. He helped me to realize that every action doesn’t need a reaction and that every reaction doesn’t need a response. Because of his leadership and guidance I now think before I act or react to anything.

I always tell him things before I tell anyone else. He made me kind of wise because I usually turn the tables on people when they make me angry. Before he started mentoring me I was off the wall. That’s because I never had a male like him in my life to guide me through things like he does. Well, I have had males to help me but I never really felt a father-son connection. He taught me that people will talk about me until the day I die. He has one on one time with me. I think it’s because most of the things I do are rather absurd. He knows when I’m going to do something crazy by the look in my eyes.

In summary, I lost my biological father at an early age. Growing up without my biological father has been hard. There have even been nights when I have cried myself to sleep wishing he was still alive. Having my father figure around has evaporated the feeling of me needing my biological father. I am the person I am today because of him. I am thankful for my father figure and his name is Kris Conn.