By Mariah Hicks, Brothers United Coach
Special to The Truth
“I was 25 when I had my first child. Pretty much at that point, it was no longer about me. It was about him. I went through a situation with his mom. She was on drugs so I had to take my son. I had to be a father.”
When Curtis Strode became a father, selflessness was a trait that he had to adopt and practice daily in order to be engaged in his children’s lives. Though he had complications with his first son’s mother, Strode was married to his now wife by the time his son was two years old.
“That’s who he knows as mom. He didn’t have motherly love right away growing up.”
Strode’s son’s birth mom passed away when he was 10 years old.
“That void was kind of filled, not having his biological mom, but having a woman that was strong enough to be there for him as a mom.”
Strode heard about Brothers United from his brother-in-law who advised him to join. The program gave him an opportunity to get involved and hear other men’s stories and troubles about being a father. He joined because he wanted to know that he wasn’t the only father going through things he was dealing with.
Initially, he was only interested in attending the group for job opportunities, but Brothers United soon became something more for Strode.
“When I got there and was going through the classes, it was more to it. It was more like a brotherhood at the time to help you talk about issues and deal with things.”
While in Brothers United, Strode learned a lot of information, especially practices for how to be a better co-parent.
“Sometimes you have to let things be what they are and come to a mutual ground even though things may not be perfect between you and your co-parent. I do have a daughter outside of my home and co-parenting was very hard. I even had to go to court. BU Nation showed up to let them know that I was trying to be a father.”
To this day, Strode still struggles with co-parenting with his daughter’s mother. Due to attempting to go for full custody of his daughter, which Strode believed was the right thing to do at the moment, their relationship is now strained. Even though his daughter and his co-parent seemingly don’t want him in their lives, he continues to try to communicate and show that he’s there for them.
Brothers United reminded Strode of his strength, which encouraged him to continue pressing on.
“Brothers United taught me that pretty much you have to stand up. You have to own up to your discretions, whatever it is that’s standing in your way. You have to stand up and fight for it to do what you need to do. And that goes back to my childhood, what I was taught as a child.”
Mr. Strode continues to carry what he learned from the program and apply it to his life, thankful that he had an opportunity to be part of a program dedicated to the betterment of fathers.
“Brothers United is a good program for young black men who are struggling with how to be a father or how to get a job or how to get through the system of being a father. They’re a good program for young men that are growing up. At this point I’m 38. I’ve been through a lot that taught me how to be a father a long time ago. I understand what the program stands for. It’s still men my age who didn’t have that growing up, so they wouldn’t know. Some of us didn’t have fathers growing up, so we were never taught how to be a father. This program came along for a lot of us.”
If you are interested in joining The Brothers United Program or have someone you want to refer : Call us at (419) 279-6297 or www.pathwaytoledo.org