I was the youngest and only male in my family. I had a loving mother, who gave me the world, and two older sisters. I have a father, but he was never around, so I didn't have a male role model in the household.

I grew up barely knowing my father. He would pop in and out from time to time for about five years.I had to teach myself -- with the help of my mother -- how to become a man. Basically, I learned by watching the big boys play sports. Although my father encouraged me to play, he never took the time to help me improve. He never took me to see any sporting events or to do any fatherly things. I even had to go to career week at school in order to learn how to tie a tie. He wasn't there to help me along through puberty. When I started to take an interest in the opposite sex, I didn't have anyone to turn to. I didn't have anyone to ask questions of; I just had to "wing it."

I remember a scenario that happened time after time. My father would call and tell me he was going to keep me for the weekend. I'd pack my bags and wait at the window. I would sit in this spot for hours. My mother would tell me to go out and play because my father wasn't going to show up. I would get furious at my mother and start to cry. But she was always right, because he never showed up.

I don't blame my father for not being a good father figure, because he does have an excuse. When he was a little boy, his father died. I guess he didn't know how to be a father. This isn't a good excuse, but it's something that helps me to understand the situation better. If I were my father and I were in his situation, I would want to spend more time with my children. I wouldn't want to have them go through the pain of not having a father around.

I don't hate my father, but I realize that I don't want to make the same mistake. When I do have kids I will spend every spare moment with them. I will show them that I love them and want to care for them. I will always be there for my kids, and I will let them know that I'm their daddy. I never had a daddy; I only had a father.

Corey Smedley is a student at the University of the District of Columbia.