Bridges are rarely built overnight. For both physical and emotional ones, it takes time, patience, and skill. Though Fortune participant Terrance Jones has only been a part of our programs for a few months, he’s prepared to invest the time and energy it takes to build a solid line of communication between himself and the mother of his four-year-old son. In particular, he’s hoping to form a “bridge of understanding” in this relationship, while also realizing that it’s a process: “six months, one year, five years, and then 10 years,” he says, “hopefully [this will] actually pan out the way I expect it.”
However, this slow-building bridge isn’t just exclusive to a single relationship. It’s also important to the bond between Terrance and his son. Though still young, his little four-year-old is in a key stage of development where consistent communication is essential. “He’s starting to learn things, and can speak to me directly,” Terrance notes, “…and I’m learning to [understand] the certain things he likes, doesn’t like, his behaviors, and how to discipline him from a long distance.”
Terrance experienced incarceration when his son was around two years old. Up until that time, he was present throughout those formative years, “bonding, doing things that most fathers can do with their child.” But maintaining those bonds proved difficult during his period of justice involvement. Visits and phone calls were limited. Though pictures were sent, it simply wasn’t the same. Now, as he reenters back into the community, Terrance is making efforts to piece together the disrupted threads of connection time has taken away. “It’s been kind of difficult for me, just because of the distance. I’m never there with him physically anymore, and…the amount of time I’ve spent away from him really kind of hurt our bond…,” he shares.
Nevertheless, Fortune’s Family Services program is helping him find hope. Here, with the support of individuals like Family Services Counselor Julio Vasquez, he’s learning how to properly deal with parenting disagreements, and take part in important decisions like school choices, in spite of the distance. “What we need to do is maintain the responsibility of two parents raising a child, because that’s what it’s really going to come down to,” he notes, “Right now, I’m just dealing with that the best I can.”
It isn’t easy, but Terrance’s relentless spirit ensures a positive future– for him and his family: “I think that your past makes you who you are…,” he says, “So, if you’ve gone through lots of struggling and you’ve had dozens of downfalls, but you’ve learned from those experience to get yourself back up and continue moving [toward your goals,] I think that’s definitely a plus.”
*Written by David Leon Morgan