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Young Father Turns Terrible Choice into a Life-Changing Opportunity

James with his daughter Kimi.

Getting married and having a child at a young age brings a unique set of challenges and stress to a couple’s life.

For James, being a young father was a joy. But he was unprepared for the tremendous responsibilities of caring for a family of his own.

One day, in one terrible moment, his frustration boiled over. His wife stormed out of the house after an argument, and James was left to care for the couple’s infant daughter, Kimi.

Angry and stressed over the argument, James was not in the proper state of mind to care for the baby. When Kimi wouldn’t stop crying, he shook her.

When his wife came home, James immediately told her what had happened. He called the police himself and told them what he had done. Devastated by his behavior, he took full responsibility for it and accepted the consequences that were to come.

Fortunately, the baby was not badly injured. But James was arrested on child endangerment charges and spent the night in jail. A judge later sentenced him to probation and ordered him not to have contact with Kimi or his wife until he completed counseling.

James moved in with his parents. Then his case was referred to Boys Town Iowa’s In- Home Family Services ®, and he began working with Family Consultant Jennifer Everman-Kelley.

“At the time, James didn’t have the parenting skills to deal with an infant or the skills to control his anger during stressful situations like that,” said Everman-Kelley. “He had no idea of the dangers that can happen when shaking a baby.”

Everman-Kelley helped James learn about developmental milestones for infants and how to keep a child safe. He also learned healthy, effective ways to manage stress and anger, and the budgeting skills he needed to better manage his finances.

During the six months he received Boys Town services, James was able to get an apartment, purchase a vehicle and begin working a full-time and a part-time job.

Once he had satisfied all the court-ordered requirements, James was allowed to begin supervised visits with Kimi.

Unfortunately, James and his wife separated and decided to divorce. But they both completed Boys Town’s Common Sense Parenting ® classes so they could effectively co-parent Kimi. Now, even though Kimi lives with her mother, James is able to spend time with his daughter and be a part of her life.

With Boys Town’s help, James turned an awful choice into an opportunity to change his life for the better — both as a person and as a father.

“James really soaked up all the information he ​learned during services,” Everman-Kelley said. “And he understood he needed to change, especially his stress management issues, and he’s really worked hard on that. He took all the resources and tools we provided him and is really applying and using them in his life today. And now he’s got a much brighter future for himself and for Kimi.”