Father's Day from Radio Rookies: Trying to Do it Right and Not Repeat a Father's Mistakes

Friday, June 13, 2014


father's day radio rookies Marvin and Hailey (Marvin Ramos/WNYC)

There is less research on adolescent fathers than on mothers — much less  — and most of it focuses on the impact to the child if a dad is not in his or her life. But there are teen dads who are involved in their children's lives. 

Radio Rookie Marvin Ramos is one of them.

Marvin learned he was going to be a dad during a basketball game when his girlfriend Stephanie told him she was pregnant. At the time, she was 19 and he was 16. Since then, he has struggled with being the kind of father he didn't have himself.

Around the time Hailey was born, Marvin’s father left home and did not stay in touch.

Listen to Marvin’s story to hear what happens as he wrestles to understand his own dad’s shortcomings, and tries to become a more capable and present father himself.

Special thanks to West Brooklyn Community High School, Radio Rookies' workshop partner.

WATCH: A video of Stephanie and Hailey celebrating her first birthday.

Marvin Ramos/WNYC
Hailey Bella Ramos
Stephanie Flores/WNYC
Marvin and Hailey at home
Alan Ramos/WNYC
Marvin, Stephanie and Hailey at Hailey's 1st birthday party
Emily Kwong/WNYC
Marvin's recording studio in his bedroom


Kaari Pitkin


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Comments [22]

joy from Tacoma, WA

Marvin's story, in his own voice, was so touching. I recognize in his voice someone who is brave and strong beyond such a tender age. Perhaps telling his story will help him realize his many strengths. You can do all you set your mind to do, Marvin! Don't let anyone here tell you that you can't. It's true, you will have difficulties but keep planning ahead and be the person your daughter can look up to every day!

Jul. 07 2014 11:16 PM
Elizabeth Torres Evans from North Carolina

Part of listening to NPR in my office is a story like this will make my fingers pause on the key board and reach to turn the volume up, so as not to miss one word. I missed the beginning of this story, but heard enough to know that in spite of some of the harsh commentary here, this genuine young man, with his faults and his dreams sounded more mature than some folks twice his age. There are no guarantees in this life, but there is no progress in life without self-awareness and focus. Good luck Marvin with whatever you do and keep telling your story.

Jul. 07 2014 05:02 PM
Jessica Grace from Big Spring, TX

Just heard this story on NPR Texas. Steph my heart dropped listening to you talk about never having a dad to hug after school like your friends did, remember that you always have a father in Jesus. Marvin, your father sounds like underneath it all he is not diappointed in you and your brothers, but he is disappointed with himself. Listen, you spend time with Haley, more and more and you will get to the point where BOTH of you will know you will never want to live without eachother. Ok? You don't need to be rich to be a good daddy, you just need to give your time, energy and heart. And do the best you can. (And ask Jesus for help) God Bless from Texas.

Jul. 07 2014 04:54 PM
Ann from Brooklyn

Marvin, you are brave to be so open about your life in a public forum. It will take bravery to raise your child in a society that can be unsupportive. But you can do it. And so can she. Keep working hard.

Jul. 04 2014 04:16 PM
Randy from Borough Park

This is a great and very motivating story. I’ve known Marvin personally for over a decade, since we were kids at the same public school. It’s inspirational because although many aspects of his life pointed him in the direction of failure, he’s choosing to remain positive and seek success for himself, but more importantly for his family. I see people asking why no one is teaching young teens about contraception, but if those same people grew up in the poorest of environments, and without a parent(s), maybe they’d understand the difficulties surrounding getting an education in those conditions.

Jun. 17 2014 03:17 PM
Nikki McK from Australia

Truly inspirational to hear some one openly express from their heart - this is not a common thing. Neither does he shy away from the responsibilities of life. Yes, he has a hard road but he is not from a privileged background. He has love to give and he is willing to work at giving his love to the world in many different ways. He shows some amazing traits that are really lacking in our world.

Jun. 14 2014 05:14 AM
Jennifer from Manhattan

It took a lot of courage for Marvin to share his story with such honesty. (Thanks Marvin!) Remember what it was like to be 16? Marvin spoke elegantly because he was speaking from experience and the heart. We all have our challenges in life, but Marvin is more aware and working harder to move forward than most.

Jun. 13 2014 09:38 PM
Ina . from Northern NJ

One very sad story.....Marvin and his brothers have all had babies.....all are teenagers.....babies having babies.....what is so noble about this....why aren't these teenagers learning about birth control, about the serious business of bringing a baby into the world....I see no rosy future.

Jun. 13 2014 07:12 PM
Jean from Brooklyn

Some of the comments here are incredibly mean. This was a very moving and beautifully done story. I listened to it in the morning and again in the afternoon. I hope Marvin can follow through on his dreams and goals as a father. I read Ruby Dee's story in today's New York Times and saw that she was the third child of teenage parents and was raised by her father and his second wife. It can happen. But I felt a conflict as I heard both Marvin and the baby's mother talk about how the baby fills a hole in their hearts while knowing that waiting until we are older to have children is almost always better for all concerned. We need to find other ways to fill the holes in the hearts of teens, especially those who often have very little joy in their lives.

Jun. 13 2014 05:18 PM
Jill from Northern New Jersey

It is a very difficult challenge. Some may see a lower class kid whose English is substandard. I see a program that is inspires hope for advancement from a situation that many many young people are in. Marvin may or may not succeed in the business he has in mind, but he will eventually figure out how to do something that will help him fulfill his responsibility. NPR is giving him something that he can put on his resumé! Most importantly, Marvin is seeing that he has a family, and he doesn't want his daughter to experience the feeling of abandonment he and Stephanie both experienced by their dads. That compulsion may be enough to keep him responsible, regardless of what he does to support them. I wish him well, and remind him that starting young, he will have plenty of time for fun later in life when his beautiful daughter is grown. Maybe she will be the real beneficiary of this show, as it may help her parents encourage her to wait until her education is finished before she rushes into parenthood.

Jun. 13 2014 05:17 PM
Alex Stimmel from Brooklyn

Teaching inner city kids, as I do myself, I'm *very* wary of the racism of low expectations. This is pretty much the exact opposite. I don't think anyone has low expectations for Marvin if they are giving him hundreds of dollars worth of gear with an intention for him write, record and produce an 11-minute segment from scratch... and then airing the product in the country's largest public radio market.

Regarding his speaking: after reading one comment, I listened (again, as a teacher) and heard pretty much nothing that could be considered "poor" English - not even much slang - let alone the usual grammatical errors many of our students do, admittedly, routinely make. And of course his hip hop producer's dream is a fantasy, as another commenter observes - that's why Marvin himself refers to it as a "dream"!

Let's remember that Marvin is a radio *rookie*, with time to improve his voicing. Advising him how to fix his mumbling is something that the producers at WNYC should talk to him about; telling him he may as well just give up his dream is something they should not.

Jun. 13 2014 05:17 PM
elaine from Brooklyn

This is a lovely and inspirational story. Marvin has decided to grow as a person and as a man. He gets that he has a responsibility..he is stepping up, learning about who he is and who he wants to become..talking honestly and openly about really tough stuff...he needs support and encouragement..anyone would under the circumstances. This is not easy stuff, and it appears that he has decided to move forward, toward being a good father and a good man. Stick with it, Marvin! You are a real force for change.

Jun. 13 2014 11:28 AM
Nicole DeFino from Sunset Park, Brooklyn

I also know Marvin (and one of his brothers) personally, as the Assistant Principal of the High School he attends. Marvin is a thoughtful young man with warm spirit. His story is REAL and he is learning to face the challenges in his life head on at a young age. He approaches life with an open mind and heart and works hard to make a change in his life and in his daughter's life. Radio Rookies is just the beginning of what Marvin is capable of -- he will keep moving forward.

Jun. 13 2014 10:43 AM
Chris from NJ from NJ

you are praising this kid? really? a father at 16 who cant even speak proper English. music manager? I don't think so, he cant even manage his own life.

Jun. 13 2014 09:14 AM
John from office

Ms. Wallace, you are the problem. You call this "brilliance"?? It is the subtle racism of low expectations. Your expectations of this young man are so low you call it brilliance.

The speaker can bearly speak standard American english and speaks of seeking success in music management. Your praise of such low standars is the problem, resulting in people graduating with minimal language, math and vocational skills.

Lets give him an award, make him feel good.

Jun. 13 2014 09:01 AM
Dave From NorthEast Bronx

It probably would be more realistic if he has his sight set on a technical/vocational program after graduation. He could be supporting his daughter in 1-2 years. This music fantasy is more of a dream. I wish one of the grown ups at Radio Rookies would give him a reality check.

Jun. 13 2014 08:49 AM
Gloria Rosario Wallace from Brooklyn, NY

Love this story and this inspirational young man! I have the privilege of knowing Marvin personally, I am the principal of his high school, and can attest to the brilliance that is Marvin. This story shares a hard truth that many of our teen parents face, however with support, love, and resources we can help our young people do better-- and that is what we are doing. Knowing Marvin as I do, I am confident he will continue to influence and guide those in his community and do great things.

Jun. 13 2014 08:49 AM
John from office

The only voice of reason was the young mother, who matured because of the birth and spoke truthfully about what was ahead. The "father" has his head in the clouds, dreaming of hip hop "mad" Success.

Jun. 13 2014 08:36 AM
Dave From NorthEast Bronx

A sad but hopeful story. On one hand he seems hell bent on bucking the trend started by his father. However, it is hard to see have a seventeen year old kid will be able to handle the massive financial and emotional investment that will be needed to prevent this little girl from following into the footsteps of her parents and grand parents.

Jun. 13 2014 08:32 AM
Mike from Brooklyn

Love this story from Marvin, a bright, ambitious young man who is trying to do the right thing and be the kind of father he never had. His story is an inspiration. Thanks to Radio Rookies for giving these students the tools they need to tell their own stories - the kinds of stories you rarely, if ever, get to hear on the radio. Best of luck Marvin, you've got the makings of a great dad.

Jun. 13 2014 08:30 AM
john from office

Mumbling on the radio is an accomplishment? a Huge accomplishment??

Lets give him the Peabody now!!!

Come on, his child will have a child by the time she is 15. He will never manage "Big" music acts, no matter how much he stares at his computer screen.

This is all feel good nonsense.

Jun. 13 2014 08:28 AM
Jolie from Manhattan

Loved this. Because these young parents are being given a chance to break the cycle they inherited from their parents, reinforced through a program like Radio Rookies where they can share their vulnerability , strengths, and hope. Not always easy when your heart has been neglected as a child. That already is a huge accomplishment.

Jun. 13 2014 08:13 AM

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