Men on Fatherhood

I know that I am on break from blogging but I just wanted to take a minute to say Happy Father's Day to the men out there. This is an old post but I think many of the comments are worth reading again.

Please, feel free to add something new to the conversation.

~~~~o0O Originally posted on March 21, 2006 O0o~~~~

The question is simple: How do I become a better father?

Generally speaking, men don’t talk to one another. We don’t seek the wisdom of our brothers when we have questions. We internalize, sleep on it, mediate on it and then make a decision. But the truth is, there are times when I just can’t come up with the answer. When I was young I would go to my uncles or older cousins and ask them. At times they would just pull me to the side and tell me what they thought I needed to know.

But if men had a place to go to seek and give advice, would they? We’re going to find out this week. For the rest of the week it’s all about the men in the world. I’m looking for men to step up and provide their wisdom to other men on a host of topics. Ladies feel free to interject, but I really want to men to speak out on these issues.

First Topic: Fatherhood

As a black man, I am well aware of the lack of black men taking their proper roles as fathers. My father was a weekend father until my teenage years. I had a lot of other men around me, but I still lacked the day-to-day interaction with a man. So now that I am a father (I know I didn’t make Mini-mom, but she’s still mine) I now have to navigate this thing called fatherhood with only limited experience and thoughts of what I think a father ought to be.

But how do I know if it is working? How do I know if I’m saying and doing the right thing? I searched the Internet and came found a list: How To Do You Know You’re Being A Good Father?

· When you help your kids with their schoolwork
· When you take an interest in their hobbies
· When you show affection to your wife in front of them
· When you advocate that they speak to you and each other respectfully
· When you just enjoy being with your children and them with you
· When your son or daughter comes running to you when they get hurt
· When your calendar is full of things to do with your children
· When you calmly and gently discipline your children without yelling or screaming
· When you tuck your children into bed at night and tell them "I love you" and pray with them
· When you drive your kids to school in the morning
· When you make Saturday morning breakfast for them
· When you give your children responsibilities and chores

That’s what an “expert” said, but men in the trenches, what say you?

1. How do you know if you’re being a good father?
2. What advice would you give to other fathers?
3. What's the best advice you ever received on fatherhood?

New Question:
1. How has fatherhood changed you?


21 Responses to Men on Fatherhood

  1. Bullfrog Says:
    1. You don't. In fact, I am always insecure about doing the "right thing". There are scores of books that all claim to have the answer to good parenting but they differ in their approach so who is to say?

    I do the best I can for my family knowing in my heart that I truly love them and hope that is enough.

    The best guide to fatherhood I have is the Bible. Sacrificial love, putting your wife and kids before yourself.

    2. You used to be mostly concerned with your own personal comfort and convenience. You are a father now, those days are behind you. It's all about preparing this new person for the world.

    3. The dad on 7th Heaven. Although I am not a big fan of the show, he is portrayed as a man of character and principle.

    4. A close friend told me once that being a dad makes a man out of you. At the time I was like, "Oh yeah.." as if I had any clue what he meant. Now I do know, and he was right. Fatherhood will show you what you are made of. Dying to self can be painful.

    I would also add, do NOT be your kid's "friend" or "buddy", be their father, they will find lots of friends in life, but there is only one dad.
  2. Johnnie Says:
    I don't think you know definitively know in real-time that you're being a "good" father. I think the way your children treat others, especially when there's no parental unit present (and after they're on their own) is the true test. Also, whether they hold others in higher esteem than themselves, and whether they truly fear and love the Lord, I think, are measures of the type of influence we fathers have on our children. I don't think it's up to us to judge whether we're "good," though.

    The advice I would give to other fathers is that it's all wasted if you and your children don't make it into heaven. Otherwise, it was all for naught.

    Celeb? Hmmmmm. That's a very difficult one because, short of them being featured on a hidden-camera celebrity reality TV show, we never get to see the real them, in my estimation. Are they praying with their children? Are they wrestling with them and reading to them and making fools of themselves for their children's amusement when they don't think cameras are rolling? (Or did you mean what character, or role, e.g., Cosby on his show, meets this ideal? I liked the short-lived Gregory Hines Show dad that he portrayed.)

    Most of the advice I've received with regard to how to be a "good" dad has been through example more so than spoken word (like you said, we don’t talk). There have been 5 or 6 men whom I've watched (actually watched their children more than the men themselves) whose fathering style and demeanor I've tried to emulate with my three rugrats. The children have led me back to the dad. One of the most poignant lessons I’ve learned has been to admit and apologize to my children when it turns out that Daddy was the one in the wrong. Receiving your child’s forgiveness is a wonderfully liberating sensation, and I think it helps set the example that owning up to your mistakes and suffering the consequences bravely is the best path.
  3. James Manning Says:
    Good points gentlemen. This is what I was looking for.

    1. Sometimes I have no idea if I'm doing the right thing. I've had to learn that there are times when mini-mom hurts herself that she needs me to cuddle her and not just tell her to "take it". I've also had to learn that my grandmother's ways weren't perfect - or were perfect for me but may not be perfect for my own children. Adjust.

    2. I would advise every father to truly engage your child's world. Be a part of the fantasy and don't be afraid to make a fool out of yourself for their entertainment purpose. The aloof father that stands on the mountain top as the protector is cool - but he's not much fun. b) Allow them to say what they feel. I believe if kids feel no subject if off limit, they'll tell you anything that is on their minds.

    3. I thin I'm like Cosby but with an inner Bernie Mac working.

    4. I've never gotten any advice. Which is the reason for this post.
  4. Id it is Says:
    I know you meant for men who are fathers to comment on this post, and I am not one. However, I couldn't resist putting down my thoughts about my own father. He really does 'fatherhood' proud!
    This is a part of my post on his last birthday :

    How do I thank someone who has always been my benefactor, but unacknowledged to date? A one man cheer leading squad who didn't tire applauding my meanest achievement; be it my first step as a one year old, getting a driving license at seventeen, or then reaching an academic milestone along the way. One who kept giving at his end, regardless of my response; kept forgiving me my selfish and callous acts while rendering unconditional love and support. My all-time security net that took the brunt of my rash doings. Pulled, ripped,and beaten, yet always resilient, despite its wear and tear, to bounce me back one more time to put me back on track.

    Unfortunately, this net is mortal and it's this reality that has shocked me out of my complacency that now makes me want to say,'Thank you for being there for me'.
  5. James Manning Says:
    good post, id. But I do welcome the ladies to respond to this post.
  6. Sharon Says:
    Kudos to you for conceiving this post! I don't know you personally, but I think Mini-Mom is one lucky little girl.

    You know my Daddy died when I was still a little girl, but I am fascinated by Fathers and the impact they have on the development of their children, especially their daughters. I agree that the most important thing is for any parent [male or female] to be engaged in their children's world. I'm constantly amazed by how freely my son and his friends tell me things. I understand it though because they know I am interested in it all, the good, bad, and ugly; just as I knew was the case with my Mom.

    I will be monitoring this post and the ones to come very closely b/c I think you've hit upon a much needed dialogue: Getting men to dialogue!
  7. bold as love Says:
    I had my Father and my Mothers Father examples- In my case if I simply raised my two children like they did me, with a few modifications due to the problems that exist now in our society, i could not go wrong. Mainly you have to want to assume the role of Father, in other words you have to want to be daddy. Most Fathers end up that way by default- not by design or choice. Hence all the sorry-assed fathers out there.
    Observing how I was raised and how Iam raising my 2 chiuldren here are some thoughts.
    1- Being a Father is a full time job with the ultimate reward - your children will love and trust you.
    2- being a Father means putting that sports car or high ticket item on hold because the kids need to go to tennis camp, ballet and baton classes, little league practice, live in a great school district, have their own back yard, ect..
    3- being a father means coaching your son's little league football team, and practically living at the ball park during the spring and early summer.
    4- Fatherhood means you are the first up in the morning and the last to bed at night- and staying up all night if a sick child is in the house(why mothers are expected to shoulder this alone is beyond me, especially since most work outside the household also)
    Fatherhood is the best job i ever had. As a matter of fact it really isn't a job- it's a blessed priviledge.
  8. James Manning Says:
    Thanks for the input Bold. I expected as much from you. Good advice.
  9. DJ Diva Says:
    keep up the good work gentlemen!
  10. MEP Says:
    I agree that fathers should make a conscious effort to show affection towards their wives in front of their children and ALWAYS be respectful towards women. The way children see their father treat women is the formative means for developing their own views towards women.
  11. Sherril Says:
    Here is what I've learned. In order to be the best father or mother you can be, you must first have your own "issues" clarified and to the greatest extent possible worked through. What I have learned is that the main reason a parent is not "present" for their child is because he/she is too busy with his/her own demons. When you know your demons and you've worked on them to your best ability, then, and only then will you be available to meet, greet and effectively deal with the demons and the angels your child will present you with. If you are relatively OK with you, then you can be great with them. I liked what id had to say. Being your child's greatest fan, being able to hear her problems and not always have to fix them, but just HEAR them, being the person she can tell her meanness to and she knows you'll still love her and NEVER, ever shame her.

    Truth be told, I've learned this not from my parents and not exactly from my own parenting of my two children, but from years of therapy with someone who practices what she preaches (though she never preaches and let's me lead the way).

    The fact that you are asking the questions, James, speaks volumes that you have or are on your way to have the answers.
  12. Outside the Box Says:
    Hey James, as someone whose profession is in childhood development, particularly early childhood, I feel confident that you're on the right track. The reason is that you are doing what few parents do, which is to honestly wonder if they're doing a good job and then to ask for help. It's more significant than most people realize.

    As for your questions,

    1. How Do You Know If You're Being a Good Father?

    By questioning yourself and by comparing yourself to others. Not in a judgemental way though, and it's important to be fair in the comparisons, but it helps in getting an insight to yourself. Also, by asking others what they think about your fathering techniques. Of course, the difficult part there is finding someone who will be honest with you. It's the same as anything else in your life that you want to be as good as you can be at. You need to find out your mistakes, what you're doing wrong, and figure out a way to change or stop them.

    2. What Advice Would You Give to Other Fathers?

    For your son, you are the example for the type of man he will eventually be, and for your daughter, you are the example for the type of man she will eventually marry. If that doesn't inspire you the next time you feel yourself losing your temper or the next time you feel too tired to spend time with your kids, then I don't know what will.

    3. What Celebrity Dad Would Best Represent Your Fathering Style?

    No one comes to mind.

    4. What's the Best Advice You Ever Received On Fatherhood?

    I've never given any advice. Being raised by a single mother taught me enough though.
  13. The Best [ Ghostface ] Says:
    To Jay (James)

    I have no kids and no wife I will have to learn from listening to you and the commenters on this one.
  14. The Best [ Ghostface ] Says:
    To Jay (James)

    Boxing Duran & Hearns

    Hey if you go by he has the video of the Roberto Duran and Thomas Hearns fight up. It only went two rounds. The first round was brutal the second round was devastating check it outif you have not already.
  15. stuffle Says:
    Question 1 - I have no idea. It has been obvious to me when I have not been a good father, though.

    Question 2 -

    mep - that is great advice for both fathers and mothers. Both parents showing affection and respect for each other and for others makes them excellent role models.

    bullfrog is also on the right track w/ saying the Bible is the best guide.

    One other thing I would add is praise your kids when they achive something. On the flip side, punish them in a fair and consistent manner when they need it.

    I think two of the most damaging things that parents do to kids is: offering hollow praise when the kid hasn't actually managed to accomplish squat (basically over-inflating their self-esteme when they have not done anything to deserve it), or unduley punishing a kid just because you have had a bad day or whatever (basically resulting in lower self esteme, and in the children not being able to determine just what is expected, and what is propper).

    Also, let your kids be who they are. There is no harm in them getting their hair dyed, dressing all in black, listening to different music, whatever. There are things that can harm them. Look out for those things, not the superficial crap that is just a kid being a kid.

    My last hunk of advice would be that you are not your kids friend, you are your kid's parent. There is a difference.

    Question 3 - I don't really know. At times, I feel like it would be Ozzy Osbourne... :)

    I don't really watch enough TV to answer that.

    Question 4 - I don't recall getting any. I had to learn as I went, and am hopefully still learning...
  16. SRH Says:
    Interesting and thought provoking post.

    1. How do you know you are beinga good father?

    You can't know. There are always things that need to be done differently and ways that I can grow in my parenting. I hope I am doing well, and I honestly feel I am doing well, but there are many many ways I can make myself better

    2. What advice would you give other fathers?

    My advice would be two-fold
    Firstly, make time to be a dad on your own. Too many of the dads I work with realy on mom to do all the dirty work. Get in the trenches, change the diapers, rock your kids to sleep when they are sick. etc... Try top get 1 day alone with your kid at least every 2 weeks. I work 4 10's, so I get fridays with my boy fairly often. The relationship I have built with Little Man in that time frame has been absolutely magical. On my own, I had to find ways of getting things done for my kid. To the moms out there reading this, just cause he doesn't do things the way you do, doesn't mean he cannot parent.

    Secondly, allow yourself to be silly. Kids don't want serious dads who scowl all the time. They want dads who will be silly with them. Let go of the machismo, and have silly fun with your kids.

    3. What celebrity dad would best represent your fathering style?

    None really. One should not look to tv for role models for parenting, in my opinion.

    4. What is the best advice you ever recieved on fatherhood?

    Get some sleep.
  17. Outside the Box Says:
    First of all, I agree with Sherril completely. That's where it has to start.

    Secondly, I would like to offer an opposing "guide" to fatherhood or parenthood. Not for debate, just for another perspective.

    My biggest help in being a good father has been nature. I was watching a show on meerkats and how much constant attention their kittens need. That made me think about how children are raised nowadays, with so very little attention.

    That, naturally, made me realize how much attention my children need (which has got to be a lot more than a meerkat kitten!) and that I need to start planning now on having the necessary time available for them.

    That's a common mistake among parents, to wait until the moment something is needed or necessary to do it instead of planning ahead. Anticipating is crucial. Once you're "behind" in parenting, it's near impossible to catch up.

    And one other thing, James. While the word "adjust" is fine, I think of it as "adapting", then you throw is "improvising" and we're ready for Heartbreak Ridge!
  18. James Manning Says:
    Good points Robert.
  19. Malik Says:
    1. How do you know if you're being a good father?

    Only the man in the mirror can answer that. I guess the question I would ask myself is: "Is this want I want God to see when I give an accounting for my life?"

    2. What advice would you give to other fathers? Being a leader in your home means more than exercising authority. You have to be a mentor and guide as well. In other words, a dad is more than an enforcer, he's a teacher and comforter too.

    What celebrity dad would best represent your fathering style?

    That's tough. I don't really know

    What's the best advice you ever received on fatherhood

    My brother once told me, "your children will be your greatest joy and your greatest pain." That's more of an observation than advice, but it's a good truth to reflect on.
  20. Diane S. Says:
    James, I can only say that I can't imagine you being anything but a great father, and the fact that you worry about doing it well only confirms that.
  21. mark Says:
    Yo James I am not a father either, but I want to give you major Kudos. First because I beleive that you are sincere in your search for knowledge or in simpler words you are looking for the truth. Secondly because you are a brother who is trying to do the right thing, now I know that there are lots of brothers ( black men) out their who are trying to improve themeselves and do right for themselves and thier family. Although I dont have kids I would like to say one thing about fatherhood, common from a leadership perspective. I think you are already doing the most important that any parent can do that is honestly reflecting on how to be a good parent and how to improve on being a good parent. Mark