When Fatherhood Looks Different
A few years ago, Juan Saez got a call that would forever change his life when he learned that his brother, Eduardo, and Eduardo’s wife, Priscilla, were killed in a car accident. “The world just stops. It’s so emotional, but you just stop and you go into family mode,” Juan says.
“It was never even a question—I knew I would accept his children as my own.”
Juan and his wife Christina have three children of their own—Tomiko, 21; Juan Jr., 20; and Keila, 18. He is now the guardian for Eduardo Jr., 17; and Daniel, 13; and serves as a home base for their older sister, Shanel, a University of Delaware graduate currently working on her Master's.
“Eduardo’s kids and my kids grew up very similarly. We focus on manners and respect,” Juan says. “It has been a good transition—not always easy—but we all love each other.”
Juan says having six children has taught him to be patient, and more than ever, he values the family support system.
“We keep the conversation going … they know they can come to me to talk about anything. And, they have a great support system of family in the area to help them.”
Always be proud of your kids and keep encouraging them, and always pray for them and give them all your love.
“Life hasn’t turned out how I expected, but often life does that to you,” Juan says.
After his divorce and coming out, Dan Mapes, father of two, wasn’t sure what to expect. “My daughters were in their teens and I just talked openly to them. They were completely accepting right from the beginning,” Dan says.
More than 15 years later, Dan and his husband Jaison, agree that open communication is key when it comes to parenting. It hasn’t always been easy having a blended family, however.
“Teenage girls can be difficult, as I am sure anyone with teenage girls will tell you,” Dan says. “When my daughter lived with us, I would notice that she was distant … more quiet than usual … and that’s when I would know that something was up.”
Dan says he always tried to keep the lines of communication open, but when one of his daughters was having an issue, he often tried to meet her in her territory.
“I found it worked better if I went to them—whether it was their room, or just somewhere they felt comfortable,” he says. “When they feel comfortable, it can be easier to tease out what is going on and then we can talk it out and work on it together.”