The forgotten holiday. Flower shops don’t care. No need to make reservations because you can walk into most restaurants that day with little to no wait time. Amazon barely remembers. People remember the first official day of summer (June 20) easily over this holiday that typically is a week people before. Father’s Day often sneaks up on suspecting family members. But the Lansing Journal has your backs fathers and we appreciate you. Here are some local Lansing fathers we are celebrating.
Charles Wynn, 44,
Having a blended family has been an incredible experience for Charles Wynn. It shows there are many types of fathers in this world providing nurturing devotion and wisdom.
“A father is important because it is part of our responsibility to guide our kids and teach them what is right,” said Wynn. “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. 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.”
Wynn, who has nine children, which includes five step children, feels a special responsibility raising African American children. He believes there are challenges in this world that could affect each of them.
“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. You 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.”
But along with support, he views a father’s role as providing the best role model in their children’s lives.
“Children pay attention all the time and you should be that example that they look up to,” said Wynn, whose family includes his wife, Lanita. “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.”
There is one piece of advice that he wishes someone told him before he became a father that he gives to others.
“Even when things aren’t going perfect you have to keep trying your best and eventually it will all work out. It is easy to get frustrated, but you must just consistently stay on top of your kids. They might not always appreciate it at first, but they will understand it all later,” added Wynn.
Great events in life always change you and becoming a father is no different. For Kevin Ziemkowski, he said it changed him greatly as a man. Being responsible for the upbringing of children elevates your belief in relationship and family. You have difficult conversations that are expected and unexpected and give them the tools to navigate life.
“It’s cliché when everyone says they grow up fast, but the fact is that is incredibly true,” said Ziemkowski, father of Korey, 14 and Cody, 12. “Time goes by so fast. I joke one day they are kids and the next week I will be taking them to college. Family has always been important to us. We grew up with a strong, loving family and we want to give that to our kids.
His own father died when he was 25-years-old. 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.”
He has some interesting yet sincere and meaningful 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. We love being the popular house in the neighborhood where our kids’ friends come over. We have Scout meetings at our house and I like being around for that.”
Miguel Gutierrez, 43,
When you have multiple children, you know that comes with multiple personalities. For Miguel Gutierrez, his three children are no different. 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 incredible happy, playful and loves to socialize. 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, 43. “You have to make time for each of them and they all have different personalities and needs while all treating them fairly.”
Whether it’s helping Angel with his homework or playing video games, 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 know I didn’t get a chance to spend as much time as I wanted with my father because he was always working in the United States while I lived in Mexico. I wish I would have been able to spend more time with him.”
The family, which includes his wife, XXX, goes on vacation together to places like Mexico. It’s those times when you 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. “And as difficult as it can be, try to be prepared for the unexpected. What I mean by that is just know there are so many unexpected things that will happen when you are raising kids, so you have to handle all the rollercoasters in life”
Being patience remains the best advice he was given that he passes on to other fathers. “There will be times when your patience gets tested, but you can’t let it overcome you,” said Gutierrez.
He said Father’s Day is considered an important holiday in the Latino community.
“We celebrate it just as much as Mother’s Day because 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.”