Programs for young fathers are lacking. So one man made his own. And now it's thriving.

When Barry McIntosh used to give presentations about young fathers, he'd open with a straightforward question: "Are moms important?"

The response is pretty obvious. "What a stupid question to ask! Of course they’re important!" McIntosh says with a chuckle. So he follows up with another. "But, you know, are fathers important then? And the subtext of that is, well, maybe there’s a question around that."

Barry McIntosh (right) with bilingual case manager Gabriel Ortega. All images via Barry McIntosh, used with permission.


McIntosh is the founder and former director of the program Young Fathers of Santa Fe, which helps coach and support teen dads.

He's retired now and has turned over the directorship to his close friend and colleague Johnny Wilson but McIntosh still stays very much involved with the cause. "There are so many programs for mothers, and there’s very few programs for fathers," says McIntosh. "They want to be great dads, but they don’t know how."

He has a point. When it comes to teenage parents, most national programs do focus on the needs of the teen mother, often leaving young fathers overlooked. So when they want to play an active role in their kid's life, it can be hard for them to know how — and the long list of daddy duties can be intimidating and confusing.

That's why Young Fathers of Santa Fe provides guidance and assistance for every step a father might take — from helping obtain visitation rights to talking to their kid about the birds and the bees.

"We had a guy come in and he said: 'I've gotten a letter from the state that I owe child support. I didn’t even know I had a kid!'" McIntosh recalls. But they took a breath and came up with a plan of action to help him become the father his kid needed.

"Eventually, he was getting overnights and he was being part of his kid’s life as any other dad would be."

Gabriel Ortega (second from left) with three young fathers graduating from Capital High School.

"It could be getting a job, finding housing, could be raising the kid, taking the kid into child care, getting a good babysitter that you can trust," enumerates McIntosh. "We’re not necessarily gonna tell them what to do, but we’re gonna help them come up with solutions to their own problems."

Of course, the young moms are very much welcome to be part of the process. "They love it, but there’s usually a little trepidation at first," says McIntosh. "They think it’s a bunch of guys talking about their girlfriends." On the contrary, it's a bunch of guys talking about how they want to build a family.

Young Fathers of Santa Fe also does a lot of work around reducing teen pregnancy through their other program, the Future Men Project.

"It's working with seventh- and eighth-graders, sometimes sixth-graders," adds McIntosh. "Trying to help them realize what it means to be a man and a responsible man, so that when they’re ready to become a father, this is a planned child."

Considering New Mexico has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the country, a program like this has the power to change a lot of lives.

Advisory board member Marcus Vigil and his son Marcus Jr.

"It's helped me out a bunch because I didn't know any information about being a father," says Marcus Vigil. Vigil is one of the young fathers in the program; he entered in 2010 and is now on the advisory board, helping educate other young fathers on the responsibilities of parenthood and how to prevent early pregnancies.

Vigil's advice to other would-be fathers? "Don’t be scared. Don’t get afraid," he says. "Just work at being a father because you can do it and it could be the best thing that could happen in your life."

When these young fathers start paying it forward and mentoring the future generation, that's when you know the program has done something special.

"I continue to go back, and I stay engaged," says Vigil. "Just try to participate so that I can make a difference in someone else's life."

"This is the exceptionally cool part," adds McIntosh. In fact, one of the young fathers he worked with, Richard "Vivo" Cornejo, started his own program in Texas focusing on the same cause.

Richard "Vivo" Cornejo (left) snapping a selfie with his son.

Truly amazing things can happen now that these men know they have the support they need to be the best dads they can be. "There is always somebody that will help, that wants you to be a great dad," says McIntosh.

"If you want to be a great dad, you can do it. You may have to do it yourself, but you don’t have to do it alone."

More
True
Dignity Health 2017
The Guardian / YouTube

Earlier this month, a beluga whale caught the world's attention by playing fetch with a rugby ball thrown by South African researchers off the waters of Norway.

The adorable video has been watched over 20 million times, promoting people across the globe to wonder how the whale became so comfortable around humans.

It's believed that the whale, known as Hvaldimir, was at some point, trained by the Russian military and was either released or escaped.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Facebook / Maverick Austin

Your first period is always a weird one. You know it's going to happen eventually, but you're not always expecting it. One day, everything is normal, then BAM. Puberty hits you in a way you can't ignore.

One dad is getting attention for the incredibly supportive way he handled his daughter's first period. "So today I got 'The Call,'" Maverick Austin started out a Facebook post that has now gone viral.

The only thing is, Austin didn't know he got "the call." His 13-year-old thought she pooped her pants. At that age, your body makes no sense whatsoever. It's a miracle every time you even think you know what's going on.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Instagram / Katie Sturino

Plus-size women are in the majority. In America, 68% of women wear a size 14 or higher. Yet many plus-sized are ignored by the fashion industry. Plus-sized clothing is a $21 billion industry, however only one-fifth of clothing sales are plus-sized. On top of that, plus-sized women are often body shamed, further reinforcing that bigger body types are not mainstream despite the fact that it is common.

Plus-size fashion blogger Katie Sturino recently called out her body shamers. Sturino runs the blog, The 12ish Style, showing that plus-sized fashion isn't – and shouldn't be – limited to clothes that hide the body.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via Twitter / Soraya

There is a strange right-wing logic that suggests when minorities fight for equal rights it's somehow a threat to the rights already held by those in the majority or who hold power.

Like when the Black Lives Matter movement started, many on the right claimed that fighting for black people to be treated equally somehow meant that other people's lives were not as valuable, leading to the short-lived All Lives Matter movement.

This same "oppressed majority" logic is behind the new Straight Pride movement which made headlines in August after its march through the streets of Boston.

Keep Reading Show less
popular