Ed. Note: This post first appeared on the Administration for Children and Families Office of Family Assistance website. Read the original story here.
The Johnson family had been going through an ordeal. Mr. Johnson was serving time while his wife and two sons had to deal with humiliation, shame and social stigma after newspapers flashed their story into thousands of homes.
When the RIDGE Project conducted a presentation at the institution where Mr. Johnson was incarcerated, he decided to participate. Mr. Johnson admits that he was not initially interested in the program, but he did want more contact with his family, and he had heard that phone calls and visits could be paid for through this program.
Not long after the first presentation, his wife called the RIDGE project office. Poignantly, she related how the Keeping Faith program had changed their lives through that one presentation.
In the 20 years that she and her husband have been together, Mrs. Johnson explained, she had never seen or heard him cry. The first Keeping Faith presentation included a young man who had grown up visiting his father in prison. After returning to his unit, Mr. Johnson called his wife in tears. He told her he had become emotional when he heard that young man say through his own tears: “No matter what, you cannot give up on your children. You have to tell them all the time that you are there for them and that you love them. You have to give them a tangible reason to love you when the world hates you. You have to help them be strong enough not to give in to the despair they fight every day.”
That day, Mr. Johnson suddenly saw his own sons’ pain and wanted more than anything to make things right for them. For the first time in their relationship, he apologized for the suffering he had caused and began thinking of them instead of himself.
Mr. and Mrs. Johnson have now completed every phase of the Keeping Faith program. Program staff have had the privilege of watching their relationship evolve and thrive through some very challenging times. The couple’s communication skills and ability to interact more effectively with each other and with their sons have noticeably improved. They and their children are sharing more quality time together as a family. The bond of closeness and caring within the family has grown stronger. And this father has learned the vital importance of being “a man worth following,” a man of honor and integrity, ready to lead his family. Today, he is at home, deeply grateful for the opportunity to be the father and husband he has longed to be, and his family is overjoyed to have him.
Learn more about the RIDGE Project at http://www.theridgeproject.com