When it comes to nurturing children, there is no question that a mother’s love is unparalleled. After Deena and I had SJ, I quickly learned that I wasn’t even close to showing my mom the amount of appreciation she deserved. There is nothing like a mother’s love. But as the old adage says, “100 praises from a mom, equals to one fathers “at-a-boy”. Fatherhood is so important in every child’s life.
In celebration of the seldomly represented story of good dads, we thought it would be monumental to highlight fathers for Father’s Day. We’ve included dads from various backgrounds, experiences, and ages to reinforce that the notion of a good father is not cookie-cutter. It is not always simple, and that great dads exist.
This month, we constructed a Q&A from five fathers who were able to share their perspective on their experience as a father. Parents, I hope you are just as encouraged by these words as we were.
Name: Seth S.
Profession: Investment Advisor
Child’s Name: Noah* (name changed for privacy)
What does fatherhood mean to you? It may sound like a cliché, but fatherhood is truly like having a piece of your heart walk around outside of your body. I never knew that my heart could grow, but I am amazed each day at how much my love grows for my son. I am the happiest when I am with him and hearing him laugh or see him learning or experiencing something new with me.
Is there anything you would change in your parenting style? Why or why not? Yes, I do wish that I would disconnect more from technology, devices, and social media when home with him. We recently went on a family camping trip together where there was no cell service, television, or wifi. I’ll admit, I was a bit anxious going into the weekend, but we created more memories, played outside, explored nature—and I actually found that his vocabulary had grown during the trip! This made me realize that I do need to interact more and talk more with him, and try to bring some of that lifestyle home versus saving it for camping trips away.
How would you like your child to remember you? I want him to look back and have wonderful memories of his childhood and want to recreate that for himself and his family some day. I want him to think that I am his best friend who is always there for him.
Name: Milton Harrison Boyd
Profession: Vice President & Chief Operating Officer of ADC Management Solutions
Location: Washington, DC
Children’s Names: Milton Harrison Boyd Jr., Lauren M. Boyd, Stephen Sengstacke, Keenan Towns, Laz Alonzo, and Cristina Perez
What does fatherhood mean to you? It’s a gift from God, a blessing and privilege, a unique opportunity to give and grow through a lifelong relationship in which you take on a paternal responsibility to nurture, educate and provide unconditional love.
Why is it so important that you be an active father in the life of your children? As human being we learn from our life experience, when fathers take active roles in the lives of their children they provide a foundation (nuclear family structure) and a risk free environment where learning and values are developed. Children gain their perspectives on life and social interaction from their primary relationships. Through their healthy continuous interaction with their father, son and daughter can learn how to interact with others and their greater community.
What is your message to children struggling with fatherlessness? Fatherlessness is not just tied to parenthood, God is our father and mother through your faith you can quench that thirst for fatherlessness, and in addition, if you open yourself up and trust there are other men in your community that will embrace the opportunity to share and provide that leadership in your life.
Name: Braxton M. Henderson
Profession: Dentist Anesthesiologist
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Child’s Name: Silas Maxwell Henderson
What does fatherhood mean to you? Fatherhood means being the shepherd, the pastor, the example in your home. Fatherhood means being the overseer, yet still involved in the growth and development of your child(ren).
What do you do to maintain/foster a healthy relationship with the mother of your child(ren)? What advice would you give to fathers who aren’t co-parenting successfully? We have regular date nights and we often take time to unplug from the rest of the world to just talk to each other. We have dinner together, we go on walks together, etc. Some advice that I’d give to fathers who aren’t having the best of luck would be to try to understand what she is going through. Life has changed for them as well. Their bodies are different. They’re often sleep-deprived. I have spent time reading about many of the post-partum changes in women and I have gained more appreciation for her daily sacrifices as a mother. Now that I kinda have an idea of her experience, I try to be helpful and supportive.
What is your message to men struggling with fatherhood? I know that it is hard work, but we have been given a special responsibility to raise our children. There is no cookie-cutter way to raise your family. Your child looks up to you and is always watching. I know that many of my behaviors and ideologies have been modeled after my father’s. Your involvement will change the course of your child’s life.
Profession: Social Services
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Children’s Names: Michael, Malcolm, Maya and McKenzie
What does fatherhood mean to you? Other than being a husband to my wife, fatherhood is the greatest experience in life to embrace and live. From the moment of conception to seeing the birth and hearing the sound of life, there has not been a moment in my life that I didn’t want to be in their present. That doesn’t mean that I am a helicopter parent, because I believe in their independence and expanding life on their own. To explain the question is as challenging as being a father is a challenge.
Is there anything you would change in your parenting style? Why or why not? No, since there is no manual, all I was able to do was to do my best. In doing so, I’ve learned to lean on God and introduce them to God, as a foundation, hoping that they will embrace the presence and authority that comes from Him.
What’s the biggest lesson you’d like to impart on your children? Life is not easy, build a foundation early, and find God as soon as possible. Trust yourself, more than others, follow God more than man. Love life, and the people God placed in it. Hold on, but never to tight. Everything got to be how does God see me because He is the only one who is and remain the same everyday.
Name: Q. Bagley
Profession: Account Manager
Location: Washington, DC
Child’s Name: Kaden
What does fatherhood mean to you? Before my son was born, fatherhood simply meant protecting and providing for my family. As a first time father, however, the definition of what it means to be a father has certainly changed. Fatherhood to me means, being hands on. I do not look to my child’s mother to attend parent/teacher conferences, take my son to school, or to prepare dinner. Fatherhood is protecting, guiding, participating, and providing for your child.
What do you do to maintain/foster a healthy relationship with the mother of your child? I approach the relationship with the understanding that the best thing I can do for my son is to love his mother, regardless of relationship status. By love I mean respect, support, and co-parent with his mother.
What is your message to men struggling with fatherhood? Man up. The child needs you. Especially as a Black father – you have to stay regularly involved. Find a support group (meet up or your buddy who is also a father).