Author Antwone Fisher on finding fatherhood

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Author, film maker And child abuse survivor Antwone Fisher speaks about what parenthood means to him.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Director, screenwriter in town to celebrate Montgomery County fatherhood event Saturday

Antwone Fisher never wanted to have children.

After what he described as a childhood in a foster home filled with verbal, sexual and physical abuse, the soft-spoken and surprisingly funny Ohio native felt he had good reason.

“There was nothing good about being a kid, so I said I would never have any kids,” the author and filmmaker told the crowd assembled at a private reception Wednesday, June 11, at Wright State University.

That changed after Fisher met his wife, LaNette. They married in 1996.

The Cleveland native had his first child when he was 37 and his second when he was 43. His children are now ages 12 and 16.

“And I am still standing up without moving,” Fisher joked.

He encouraged the foster children who attended reception not to rush into parenthood.

“Sometimes it is best to get yourself together first,” the Los Angeles resident said. “I had a lot of help, and I think you can help yourself a lot by being frank with yourself.”

Fisher talks about how he “got himself together” in the 2001 New York Times best-selling book “Finding Fish.”

He turned his journey from brutality, homelessness and stress to stability and support after joining the Navy into the 2002 often heart-breaking film “Antwone Fisher.”

It starred Denzel Washington and Derek Luke.

Fisher spoke to current and former foster children as part of the Montgomery County’s Children Services and Workforce division’s second annual Connecting The Dots Conference on Thursday.

The seminar aimed to help foster children successfully transition into adulthood after aging out of foster care.

Better support of emancipated foster children would save more than $5.7 billion over their lifetime by reducing demand for public assistance and criminal justice, according to information from the National Governors Association provided by the county.

Fisher’s visit also came just ahead of Father’s Day Sunday.

Celebrate Fatherhood Montgomery County 2014 kicked off Friday at Vineyard Church. There will be free events, entertainment and food from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at Island Park, 101 E. Helena St. in Dayton.

Fisher didn’t have a role model for fatherhood.

Fisher’s father was shot dead two months before Fisher was born to the 17-year-old girl who gave birth to him in prison.

He spent two years in a loving foster home and 12 in one described as “hellish” in his book.

After a fight with his foster mother, Fisher was sent to George Junior Republic, a reform institution in western Pennsylvania. He stayed there until he was 17.

Emancipated, Fisher found himself homeless in Cleveland until joining the military.

He looked like a man, but was far from ready for adulthood.

Fisher told me he didn’t have the life skills many who grow up in stable environments think about.

He didn’t even know how to introduce himself causally to peers.

“People guess you are of age. The expect you to know everything about life, but you are still a kid. You don’t know anything,” he told me at the reception. “Young people need to have someone in their life to help show them the way.”

As a child who grew up in an abusive home, Fisher said he knew what not to do as a father.

“A lot of being a parent is kind of common sense. If you love your kids, you work hard to take care of them and give your kids everything that you can give them — love and everything they would need in a childhood,” he said. “You just treat your wife and your children the way you want to be treated. You want to be treated with respect.”

Contact this blogger at arobinson@DaytonDailyNews.com or Twitter.com/DDNSmartMouth

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