I’ll admit it; I’m not a father. At least, no one has told me that I have sired any offspring with them. I’m just saying I had some wild nights in my Navy days. What am I? I am a man, an uncle, a son, a brother, and a husband. Dad isn’t one of the titles I can claim yet, but I have thoughts on fatherhood. I have plenty of family members, close friends, and colleagues who are not only dads but are great dads. Here are three big thoughts I believe it takes to be a great father.
In my lifetime, I have changed plenty of diapers, rocked babies to sleep, been pooped on, and puked on by adorable leaky babies. These were my nieces, nephews, little brother, and sisters. Raising a human baby to adulthood requires a lot of patience and understanding, something I think a good dad should have in spades.
Your kids aren’t gonna stay babies forever. The mythology around men being the nonemotional strong, and silent type is slowly and thankfully fading away. It’s okay to tell your kids you love them or give them a hug. Affection is good for the soul. All people wanted to feel cared for and loved. So keep showing your child affection even when they reach adulthood. It doesn’t matter if you have a son, daughter, or a child that is trans or nonbinary. No matter their gender or sex showing them love is a great way to raise a well-balanced human. It doesn’t make you weak or less of a man. So it warms my heart when I see Hollywood tough guys like Dwayne Johnson and Jason Momoa having make-believe tea parties with their little ones.
Admit to Your Mistakes
Everyone screws up. That’s life. In fatherhood, there’s no universal guidebook. You’ll make mistakes. Sometimes relationships with your partner fail, divorces happen, you’ll yell sometimes, or miss a significant life event of your kid growing up. Please don’t beat yourself up over it. We can learn from our failures. It teaches your children a valuable lesson. That is, everyone makes mistakes, and that’s okay. It’s all part of the human experience.
My final thoughts on fatherhood concern the never-ending mythology of the ‘missing‘ black father. As a black man, most of the fathers I know are also black men. They make time for their children. They love their children and cherish them too. I know former President Barack Obama loved to tell black men to take care of their kids. Well, were are taking care of kids and have been for a long time.
We can not equate the number of unmarried dads to the number of “fatherless” children. First of all, marriage rates don’t necessarily reflect the number of Black fathers living with their children; as writer Josh Levs points out, the majority of Black dads (2.5 million of around 4.2 million) do live with their kids, even if they’re not married to their partner.”
The report also reveals that, among dads who don’t live with their children, Black dads are more likely to be involved in care, including reading to their children, helping them with homework, talking to them about their days, and taking them to activities, than Hispanic or white dads who live apart from their kids.
I’ve seen this reality with my own eyes. I have a dad. My brothers are fathers, my nephews, and my friends are dads too. They take care of their kids. And unfortunately, there are plenty of bad and absent fathers out there. And sorry, Mr. Obama, shitty fathers come in all races and backgrounds. So cheers to all the good dads out there. Maybe one day, I’ll join you in this journey called fatherhood.