By Serrano, The Dad Squad
Fatherhood is weird bruh. It’s like the greatest worst situation to be in. Like I love my sons, but I also like to kick it with my bro’s every once in a while til’ 3 a.m. That means nothing to my 4 and 15 month old. They still will mosey in at 6:30 like, “Good morning Daddy”and “gshems dayde!” Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Yea I’m tired, but I also am aware of the mistakes my dad made with me and that’s why I’m doing my best to work some reverse psychology in to my parenting mode.
To my knowledge, I cannot remember a day where I have seen or heard I love you come from the mouth of my father. We had an ill falling out before I went to Howard University and he was fatally shot before we could make amends. I live with that every day. So I try to make sure I tell my sons I love them at least, seventy-seven times a day, and I love on them to the point where they have no doubt that they’re loved.
My pops did a lot of wild things. I try to do my best to look at what he has done and make a conscious effort to either not do those thing or to do those things better. We as people inherit traits that aren’t always that great. It’s being cognitive of what those things are though so you’re able to navigate the waters of fatherhood without as much turbulence. It’s difficult yes, and you will mess up but that’s life. It’s how you make up for it that changes the dynamic.
Here are some of the reversals I’ve made: I let my sons see me cry, I allow them to feel and hurt, I yell a lot less and actually hold meaningful conversations with them (at least the oldest). I listen, ask vs. telling, I give options and set clear expectations (well, at least try). When I do have to lay the dad paws upon them I always explain to them why and then I hug them and tell them I love them afterwards. I feel that’s important, and I never understood the saying, “This is gonna hurt me more than it will hurt you!” until becoming a parent and that shit is real. It does hurt, and you need your own moment of clarity after it goes down. It hurts everyone involved.
I noticed that I am more present than my father. I’m at Dr. appointments, parent teacher conferences, recitals, plays, talent shows. I gotta let these folks know, dads are in the game. I spent a lot of my childhood with it being drilled into me that dads ain’t shit, don’t take care of their kids and the like. You know, you heard it too. Some of what I’m doing as a father isn’t just because of my dad, but because of the stigma placed on fathers in the black community. We’re here to change that narrative, provide some additional supports and squad up on things we may not have any idea on how to handle.
I look at my uncles and the other fathers I know and recognize they had no clue what was happening or how to grasp it. No handbook, no real conversation. They just modeled what was done for them growing up. I’m doing my best to dig deeper and not just copy and paste, but also delete things that are misogynistic. Delete things that play into gender roles, delete things that are not progressive. I’m here to add inquisitive dialogue, breakdown norms and give unconditional love. No one fights every day because they’ve been loved too hard. I’m trying to love them up so no one can tear them down.
This is my reverse psychology.