As a juvenile court judge in Cleveland, Ohio, Judge Michael Ryan encounters many children who have had a tough start in life. At StoryCorps, Ryan explains to his 19-year-old son — also named Michael — that he knows where these kids are coming from.
During his own childhood in Cleveland during the 1970s, Ryan lived in a violent household where he often witnessed his heroin-addicted mother endure beatings from his stepfather.
He sought refuge in books, went on to study law, and eventually gained a seat on the bench at Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court. But Ryan’s difficult childhood didn’t just motivate him to better his own life — it shaped who he is as a dad and what he wants for his own children.
Originally aired February 24, 2017, on NPR’s Morning Edition.