Teaching Young Fathers the Ropes

Long neglected and stigmatized, unwed dads learn how to cope with kids -- and life

Two years ago, Paul Smalley found himself getting sucked into a stereotype. At 21 he returned home from military prison a frustrated, unemployed young black man who also happened to be a brand-new unmarried father. His son and namesake was already four months old, and Smalley was so unfamiliar with his new role that he thought he could not touch the baby without permission. "I was asking if I could pick him up," he says. "I just didn't feel like a father."

Smalley worried because he could see a familiar pattern forming, born of his shame over not being able to...

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