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Stephanie, 21, Houston, Texas

I've never experienced anything very traumatic in my life. I've never been shot, robbed or anything of that nature. My story is a typical one of the absent father. Like many other African-American [children], I was raised by a single mother. My story of forgiveness comes when I became old enough to realize that being bitter towards my father for the rest of my life would only allow the cycle of single women in my family to continue.

In my family, there were no positive male role models, and for a young woman that can be devastating. I had to work through the hate and confusion to realize that if my father didn't have someone to show him how to play the role, how could I fault him?

Instead of bashing my father when the issue of dads comes up, I speak of the good my dad has taught me. In order to break the cycle, I have made it my [goal] to marry a responsible man who will be the father of my son, and we will work together to ensure he grows to be a responsible man, thus the cycle I start will continue.

Forgiving my father allows me to break the cycle. The only way to make the past worthwhile is to use it to make your future better. That's my promise to my future offspring.
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