Three fathers, three families
by Ernst Lamothe Jr.
LANSING, Ill. (June 3, 2018) – Father’s Day might be considered a forgotten holiday. Flower shops don’t care. No need to make reservations because you can walk into most restaurants that day with no wait time. Amazon barely remembers. But The Lansing Journal recognizes fathers with a special look at three Lansing fathers.
Charles Wynn: giving his kids a role model
Having a blended family has been an incredible experience for Charles and Lanita Wynn, and Charles takes his role as a father seriously.
“A father is important,” he says. “It is part of our responsibility to guide our kids and teach them what is right. There are a lot of positive and negative roads you can take, so you want to do everything you can to keep them on the right track.”
Wynn has nine children, including five step children. He says, “I show all my children the same love and care, so they don’t need to look outside the family for that kind of love.”
He feels a special responsibility raising African-American children because of the challenges they face. “There are a lot of things that are happening in this country, and too often people have stereotypes about young black men and women,” said Wynn. “They have to go through life with that kind of outside perception, so it is important to teach your kids about that and give them the internal love and support they need to get through everything.”
Along with support, Wynn wants to be a role model in his children’s lives. “Children pay attention all the time, and you should be that example that they look up to,” said Wynn. “If they see you working hard and see your dedication, they will follow your lead. We have a lot of good fathers in this world that don’t get the attention they deserve.”
Kevin Ziemkowski: “These moments are important”
Kevin Ziemkowski says fatherhood changed him as a man, elevating his belief in relationship and family.
“It’s cliché when everyone says they grow up fast, but it is incredibly true,” said Ziemkowski, father of Korey, 14, and Cody, 12. “Time goes by so fast. I joke that one day they are kids, and the next week I will be taking them to college!”
“Family has always been important to us,” said Ziemkowski, whose own father died when he was 25 years old. “We grew up with a strong, loving family and we want to give that to our kids.”
He understands the bonds that are created early in life. “Having a father or a father figure in a child’s life is so important and can’t be underestimated,” said Ziemkowski. “That is taking nothing away from the incredible work that mothers do every day. I just believe a child can have great value in having both a male and female influence in their lives, because no one person has all the answers.”
His advice for fathers? Take in everything. “Appreciate the horrible, appreciate the good, appreciate the unpredictable and appreciate the incredible,” said Ziemkowski. “It is absolutely a blessing to be around your family. You don’t want to miss anything in life. These moments are important.”
Miguel Gutierrez: Challenging and rewarding
Having multiple children means dealing with multiple personalities, says Miguel Gutierrez, father of three. His oldest, Angel, 14, reminds him of himself as a young boy—very calm, relaxed, smart, and generous. His middle child, John Paul, 11, is incredibly happy, playful, and social. His youngest, Victoria, 3, has a strong personality and knows what she wants—and won’t stop until she gets it.
“Being a father is challenging, but incredibly rewarding,” said Gutierrez. “You have to make time for each of them, and treat them all fairly while they all have different personalities and needs.”
Whether it’s helping Angel with his homework, jumping on the trampoline with John Paul, or pretending to eat food with Victoria in her play kitchen set, it’s all about being together.
“I’m getting my associates degree in computer information systems, so it’s like we are all going to school. But anything I can do to spend quality time with them makes me happy,” said Gutierrez. “I didn’t get a chance to spend as much time as I wanted with my father because he was working in the United States while I lived in Mexico. I wish I would have been able to spend more time with him.”
Miguel and his wife Martha enjoy family vacations together in Mexico and elsewhere. Those are times when they can stop life and truly bond. “We all have so many things going on our lives that we really get a chance to catch up and take a breath on vacation,” he added.
Gutierrez said Father’s Day is considered an important holiday in the Latino community. “We celebrate it just as much as Mother’s Day. Being a Hispanic father, we know the hard work and dedication it takes, so our families tend to show us how much they appreciate us.”