Feeling Unequipped

Have you mastered fatherhood?… Do you even know anyone who has? Shoot him my number so he can help a brotha out! As a fairly new father (6 years as of this writing), I frequently find myself ill-equipped in parenting. I find myself improvising without a strategy when dealing with toddlers flailing on the ground, building character in them, or talking to sons about what it means “to be a man”.

I initially thought this was a byproduct of the distant relationship with my father, or the much closer but challenging relationship with my stepfather. I searched for features to model from elders all around me. However, it just recently dawned on me that most dads were still trying to figure it out as well.

These Uncharted Waters

The more I grew into parenthood and met more dad peers, I came to the realization that most people are I’ll prepared. What it means to be a man and a dad today are much different than American society 35 years ago. 

Gender roles in parenting

“Dads or Moms: Everyone works. Everyone cleans. Everyone does laundry. And yes, everyone changes diapers…”

Dual income households have changed the game! The logistics of how gender roles are playing out in the household has us rethinking everything. Dad or Mom: Everyone works. Everyone cleans. Everyone does laundry. And yes, everyone changes diapers and takes care of the kids. Not to say this didn’t exist in the past, but it wasn’t as prominent and necessary as it is today. 
Dual incomes seem like the only way to pay for the bloated real estate prices, college priced childcare and a neverending list of baby gear to keep these kids alive. 

Confident or not, I’ll just keep caring and seeking advice

With all that said, talking to older mentors and my two dads about these struggles are foreign to them. These realizations have reinforced my passion for this group of dads networking. This passion was actually the driver behind the start of Howard County Dads, Inc. What it has become today is really due to the supportive response and advice that was our community’s reaction to me calling out this void in support.
Since being in this group, I have become less worried about “doing fatherhood correctly”. I’ve found confidence in the knowledge that I’m not alone in this struggle. Being concerned and acknowledging what you don’t know is a sign that you care. Keep seeking ways to learn, improve and give your kid the best chance at living a successful and loving life. 

1 Comment

Reggie · August 8, 2019 at 1:04 pm

I agree on struggling to figure out parenting! And, as you shared, my wife and I have had some challenges with co-parenting and non-traditional roles; namely, with school staff. Our kids are now in high school but throughout elementary and middle, teachers, school secretaries, and school principals have presented our kids with versions of “take this to your mom”, “ask your mom”, or “I will call your mom.” This all while I as dad was doing some of the parenting as mom travelled for work. I tried not to make it about bias (we’re POC and most educators are not) but the visible reaction we get at parent/teacher conferences or when I visit the school was clearly obvious. Still, I showed up for everything (and still do!), sat in the front row, and spoke up anyway.

I am hoping we can get some kind of supports going for parents of teens because THAT is proving to be a challenge! I have leaned on my older brother who has 4 grown boys and our kids godparents whose own children are grown. But in spite of ALL my missteps, I keep showing up and being present without any excuse or explanation.

Be strong, and be seen!

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