176863500

Blessed with the Gift of Being a Father

Written by Altaf Rahamatulla, Parent Contributor | June 13, 2011

The challenges and sacrifices that come with parenthood provide the foundation for our children’s growth. My children have always been my focus and I look to ensure I leave a legacy of love, compassion, gratitude and unbreakable desire for betterment with them.

I was raised by wonderful grandparents who taught me that education comes in two places: school and life. My grandparents consistently and emphatically stressed the importance of a good education as well as always honoring your parents and elders. I never realized how much energy and work it takes to raise a child, until I was blessed with my own.

The challenges and sacrifices that come with parenthood provide the foundation for our children’s growth. My children have always been my focus and I look to ensure I leave a legacy of love, compassion, gratitude and unbreakable desire for betterment with them.

One of the greatest challenges that I confronted was when I realized one of my children had a learning disability. Throughout my life, I have been strong, resilient, confident, and maintained a “nothing will get the best of me” attitude. The day I understood the extent of my child’s disability, my leg trembled, my heart raced. I initially did not know where to turn or what to do to help my son to achieve a bright future. For the first time, I truly knew what fear was: fear for the future of a child that lives in my heart, my soul, and my being.

I had been challenged years earlier after a serious auto accident, subsequent spinal surgery, and a painful recovery; but, I could never conceive of the challenges my family and I would confront fighting for my son’s education and development.

Since my son was five, I faced immense challenges in getting him services. My cousin, a speech pathologist, performed an assessment and determined that he would need speech language therapy. At that time, my son was living in Canada and it was extremely difficult dealing with his teachers and school administration to ensure that he receive the tools, evaluation, and courses for his unique educational needs. I agonized for over six years, taking my fight from the teachers to the principal to the superintendent and finally to the ministry of education. Finally his mother and I decided that, for his benefit, educational attainment, and future, he would move to this country and live with me in Pennsylvania.

Thankfully, the move has made an immensely significant impact on my son’s learning. When he first moved in with me, I quickly introduced myself to the district special education supervisor, the principal of the school he would be attending, and the superintendent.
Within two months, his evaluation and IEP were completed and put in place. The district was very accommodating and responsive to my son’s need. When the school year began, I contacted all of his teachers to introduce myself. I closely monitored the school website and kept in constant contact with his teachers.

At first I thought the teachers would consider me a pain in the neck, but to my surprise, they welcomed the attention I was giving my son, and thanked me for that. What a surprise! After years of fighting, this was such a welcome change.

I also encouraged my son to participate in extracurricular activities to complement his educational progress. We reviewed several different options, and he decided that he’d like to join a boxing class. I was a little hesitant at first, but he has truly excelled since joining the class. I have found that combining a positive education and academic environment with proactive steps to bolster nutrition, physical fitness, and health, has had an enormously positive impact on my son.

My son is now receiving A’s and B’s when he used to receive C’s, D’s, and F’s a year before. He is beaming with self-confidence, which his teachers additionally notice. I am thankful to his teachers and the school district for their attention to my son’s needs and my concerns.

My son has changed my life as well; Because of my journey with him, I am currently training professional and amateur boxers and mixed martial arts fighters in strength and conditioning at the same gym where my son trains. My son has truly changed my life.

On my son’s journey to become a more intelligent and stronger young man, physically, mentally and spiritually, something changed in me as well. I became a better father, a better man, a better human being. I am blessed with the gift of being a father. I treasure this gift and am forever grateful to my children, my grandparents, my mother, my wife, and my entire family. Above all else, I am grateful for my children’s mothers, for without them, I would not have this day to celebrate as a father.

It has been a wonderful year and I am proud to be a father.

Happy Fathers Day to all.

Those who educate children well are more to be honored than parents, for these only gave life, those the art of living well. – Aristotle

Programs: