Should #BlackLivesMatter change my parenting as a Dad?

Career Slay Mama Blog is being taken over by our very own Career Slay Papa a.k.a my hubby. I have been sharing my thoughts on parenting in this season so I thought it would be fitting that he should share some thoughts on being a Dad in the current anti-racism uprising. I DID NOT spoon-feed him these ideas - I am actually quite impressed with his thoughts - but then I did say yes to him. Read on!

There are a lot of children who are asking questions about the current global uprising against racism.

Recently my son asked me:

Dad what is a race?

I struggled to find the words to respond to him and concluded by saying that I would find the time to explain it to him. The current situation, makes it difficult for me as a Father when it comes to educating our children particularly about racism and discrimination: on one hand you cannot be blind to the reality, on the other hand you want to protect your children. Our character and personality develop from childhood. These years are critical in determining who my children will be when they grow up.

As a father, I am preparing my children for a lifetime war against all the issues of life: injustice, inequity, mental health, discrimination and racism - Career Slay Papa

Rather than focussing on sharing with them my own ugly and difficult experiences at the hand of injustice and discrimination that I have faced in this society, I have instead chosen to focus on building their confidence to know that nothing is impossible to them if they are willing to work hard for it. Being aware that my children may face obstacles and cultural barriers due to their background, I have made up my mind to pour my whole life into teaching them their limitless potential. I have decided to teach my children how to thrive in this society in every area of their lives, not only soccer and basketball but also skiing, skating, swimming, science, IT - everything. It will help them to not be left by the roadside, an avenue that can lead to discrimination or exclusion.

Growing up, I was fortunate to have a dad who spent his time pouring into educating and teaching me and my brothers all the skills that we needed to navigate the world and how to break life obstacles in order to make it - Career Slay Papa

Building my children's confidence, self-esteem and letting them know their identity not only based on their background, but also their environment is the most important thing. Moreover, as a father, this will also be the time to help them uphold their dignity. I do so by investing in my time and energy, my resources and being a role model.

My time and energy

When my first born son was just 2 years old, we met an old man in the hallway and the only thing he had to say was that he will be a great basketball player. While I have nothing against basketball, I could see how the society was already boxing my young child into what they think a young black boy should become. I responded by saying he will be an engineer or a medical doctor. From this point on, I realized that I had to be proactive in spending my time with my children. Moreover, I realized that I needed to be more involved in their education, school meetings, daycare board etc. As a father, the only way I can be a protector-in-chief is by being their voice. I can say that my son is ready to talk to me when there is a problem knowing that I can fix it or deal with it. While this is time-consuming, nothing is more important to me than my children's wellbeing.

My resources

Despite the fact that as a Dad I have not yet learned to ski nor to skate, my children are part of these sports. I may not have grown up with snow, but that does not prevent me from allowing my children to be a part of this culture, their culture. Investing in resources is also investing in their passions. The one who likes music has had almost every instrument under the sun. Even though he changes his mind often, we go along with it. The one who likes to wear a suit everyday goes along with it, even though it means that he is changing clothes 5 times a day and I am doing multiple loads of laundry a day. The one who loves puzzles goes along with it, and I help her build and take them down several times a day.

Being a role model

To my daughter, I have learned to manage my male privileges and teach her to define her own femininity and identity. Being the only girl among her brothers, I don't only focus on developing the brother's based on my male-role model, but also investing my time in building her confidence as a girl who can also compete with men. There is a tendency in thinking that girls or women are only made to be taking care of people. I am changing this narrative by modelling behaviour at home. Her mother will not always be doing things that have been taught to be "women's duties" such as laundry, cleaning - but my being involved in helping with these duties or tasks provides her with a tangible example of what it looks like when there is a partnership at home. This goes to my boys too - their expectations of what a home looks like are influenced by the model they see at home.

Last but not least, before being a father, I was and I am still a husband. I continue to learn to manage my male privileges by create room. I am learning to enable my wife to pursue and develop her career, her dreams and her goals. By building a partnership together when it comes to sharing household workloads, helping children, I have realized that supporting my wife has helped us achieve many dreams - not only in her own career development but also in mine and many areas of life.

Although there is war in the world against our children, I prefer to focus my attention on building them from the inside out so they can thrive rather than survive in this society. I also cover them with prayer daily and leave them in the capable hands of the Lord.