A Boy Raises A Man — And Becomes One Himself Colbert Williams was just 16 when he became a father. He raised his son as a single dad. Now Colbert is 30, and his son, Nathan, is a teenager himself. Recently the pair talked about raising children
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A Boy Raises A Man — And Becomes One Himself

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A Boy Raises A Man — And Becomes One Himself

A Boy Raises A Man — And Becomes One Himself

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

It is Friday morning and time for StoryCorps, the project that records conversations between friends and loved ones.

Colbert Williams was just 16 when he became a father. He raised his son as a single dad. His son, Nathan, is now a teenager himself.

Mr. NATHAN WILLIAMS: What were you thinking when I was born?

Mr. COLBERT WILLIAMS: I guess as a 16-year-old who came from a situation where there wasn't a father, you know, my confidence level was probably as low as it possibly could get because I realized that I was going to be responsible for some person. So, I was scared.

I had to start going into parenting groups where they would not normally have a 16-year-old boy. And, you know, I became more confident. I think the more you practice and learn, the more you get better at it.

What's it like growing up with a teenage father?

Mr. N. WILLIAMS: Since you're younger, it's easy for me to, like, speak to you. And we'll be on kind of the same level.

Mr. C. WILLIAMS: Yeah. Is there anything you always wanted to tell me but haven't?

Mr. N. WILLIAMS: I'm proud of you because you're a really good father.

Mr. C. WILLIAMS: Wow.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. C. WILLIAMS: I'm proud of you. See, I ain't trying to get all sentimental.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. C. WILLIAMS: But I'm proud of you. I think the reason why I'm so proud of you is because you've allowed me to be a father. And I'm proud of you for allowing my voice to still have meaning. You know, growing up without a mom, you could've used that as your...

Mr. N. WILLIAMS: Crutch.

Mr. C. WILLIAMS: ...your crutch - to not move and not progress, and you haven't allowed that to happen.

Mr. N. WILLIAMS: What advice would you give me about raising my own kids?

Mr. C. WILLIAMS: Never give up, even when you just don't understand what you're doing. Always listen and never stop holding their hands. It's okay for your son and daughter to be 14 and you decide just to hold their hand. That might be a little corny, I think. I don't know.

Mr. N. WILLIAMS: I know, right?

Mr. C. WILLIAMS: If I held your hand, you'd be cool.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. N. WILLIAMS: Love you, Dad.

Mr. C. WILLIAMS: I love you, too, Nathan.

INSKEEP: I'll give you a few seconds there to dab your eyes. Colbert Williams with his son Nathan at StoryCorps in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Their conversation will be archived along with all the other StoryCorps interviews at the Library of Congress. And you can find the podcast at NPR.org.

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