The youth-written stories in Represent give inspiration and information to teens in foster care while offering staff insight into those teens’ struggles.

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Teacher Lesson Return to "Not My Father's Son"
Not My Father's Son
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Transcending Bad Examples

Freewrite and Discussion: 10 minutes
Make sure everyone has paper and a pen or pencil. Then ask the group to think about an adult in their lives who set a negative example for them. Do they remember when they realized that the person was someone they did not want to be like? How did they know? Ask them to write about that situation for a few minutes.

When most people have finished writing, ask the second prompt: Think about an adult you know or used to know who was a better role model for you. What was it about them that you wanted to emulate (be like)?

After a few minutes, ask for volunteers to share their examples (they can choose to share only the positive role model if they wish). Make two columns on the board: Bad Example and Good Example. With the group, brainstorm the kinds of behaviors that might fall under each.

Read the Story: 10 minutes
Have them read “Not My Father’s Son” by V.M. out loud, taking turns. Let them pass if they don’t want to read.

Discussion: 10 minutes
Ask for instances of V.M.’s father’s bad behaviors [had affairs, left V.M.’s mother, molested a child, didn’t like his visits with his son until his son bought him clothes, was mean to his son when his mother was dying, abandoned his son].

Ask the group how V.M. managed to steer himself in a better direction than his father. Whose example did he learn from [his foster father, who taught him adult life skills; Mr. Green who listened to V.M. and who told his son, “I’ll always be there”; his friend Josh who let V.M. express his feelings after his mom died]? What were things he did to help himself? [Asked “Is there something I said that made you angry?”; went to therapy and support groups; supported his little brother].

Ask the group if they think V.M. is succeeding at setting his own goals, rather than following in his father’s footsteps. Why or why not?

Closing: 5 minutes
Ask everyone to think about a time they shaped their behavior or self to try to be a better person. Give them a few minutes to write about this. What improvement were they trying to make? Why? How did they do it?
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