Spotlight Series: Dylan – Single Dad
TNF: How did you start your family?
DYLAN: I was married to my ex-wife for six years. We had gotten married right after I graduated from boot camp in 2008. A year later my daughter Hayden was born. I separated from my ex-wife during my first deployment to Afghanistan, and then when I got back to the States, I began to fight for custody. In August 2011, after months in court, I was finally awarded full custody of my 1 ½ year old daughter. And that’s when I became a single parent.
TNF: Did you always want to have kids?
DYLAN: I grew up in a large family with five other brothers and sisters, so I was use to the idea of always wanting a big family or a house full of kids, but of course I did not imagine ever raising any on my own; but after being a single dad for four years, I realized that I still have my childhood dream of having a big family.
TNF: Where do you live?
DYLAN: I live in south Florida. I relocated here three years ago.
TNF: What is the greatest (and the toughest) thing about being a single dad?
DYLAN: The toughest thing about being a single dad is raising my daughter the way I know she should be raised, not the way society thinks she should be raised. For instance, because I am bisexual and very much open with it, I am raising my daughter to be very open minded and accepting of others regardless of their sexuality, race, religion, gender or ethnicity. Although I am a Christian, a lot of my morals and ethics are quested by my lifestyle. So as far as caring to much about what the world around me thinks, I pride myself into doing what I know is best for my daughter regardless of what my religion says, or even a friend or family member.
TNF: Does your family feel adversity?
DYLAN: Yes. I always knew it was hard to be a single parent, but I didn’t think people would actually talk to me and treat me the way they did once I became one. Given the fact that I got custody over my daughter at the age of 22, I was still active duty military (U.S. Marines) it was hard trying to be both a parent and Marine at the same time, so I had to choose between my career and my family. I chose my family. But even though I do a good job raising my daughter, I was still discriminated against because the color of my skin. My ex-wife is from Puerto Rican and Caucasian descent and myself, African American, so my daughter has a fairly lighter skin tone than mine. It’s not every day that you see a young black male raising a mixed child on his own; and of course society would never let me forget that. I remember the first time I was accused of kidnapping my daughter, an old man walked up to us in the store, he didn’t even acknowledge my presence, then he knelt down and looked my daughter in the eye and asked her if I was her father. That tore my heart into pieces, because I didn’t realize that stuff like this still goes on, but I also had to realize that this was only the beginning. And from that moment on I knew that I would have to deal with people discriminating against me as a parent because of my sexuality, race, and the simple fact that I am a young single dad.
TNF: Do you have any advice for LGBTQ youth?
DYLAN: “Know your dream. Know your path. Know your friends. Know your self-worth. When you set a goal, make sure you reach it. When you set a standard, make sure you don’t accept nothing less. When people tear you down, use that negativity to build yourself back up; and when you look into the mirror every day, make sure that you are happy with who you are.”
TNF: What’s one life lesson you want to teach your children?
DYLAN: As I stated before, I want to teach my daughter that we are all human, although we may have different attributes and different morals; we still bleed the same blood. I want to teach her to be accepting of other people and to understand that everyone has a different way of life, but that does not mean that we all are not equal.
Thank you Dylan for sharing your beautiful family with us!