The Miseducation: Be A Father To Your Child

Posted On Saturday, March 1, 2014

When I first started my job working with teens in the Wellington Park section of SE Washington D.C. I had the bright idea that one of my first assignments for them to do was to complete a family tree. Welp…that idea blew up in my face when the majority of them started saying stuff to me like “I don’t know my dad” or “I never met his side of the family! Mr. Kil, how you gonna make me find out stuff from people I don’t know?” And those statements totally floored me. Yeah, me and my dad have had our ups and but at least I knew I could always reach him if I needed him. But to not know who your dad is or where he is or have absolutely no contact with him...I just don’t understand that. Even when I think back on some of my close friendships that I’ve had for 30+ years, I realized I’ve never met or even heard some of them talk about their dads. And when I think about that, in the immortal words of KRS One I gotta ask myself, why is that?

I’ve racked my brain over and over about why a man wouldn’t want to be in their child’s life. Maybe because they never wanted the kid in the first place. Maybe because the relationship with the child’s mom didn’t work out. Or have ya’ll heard the one about they didn’t have a father growing up? If it seems like I’m making a joke about these reasons (or excuses – is there a difference between the two?) why men aren’t in their kid’s life, it’s because I kinda am. Why? Because to be honest, I could care less WHY you’re not in your kid’s life. What I do care about is these men getting back into their kid’s lives. See, one of the most beautifulest (in the words of Mr. Keith Murray) things in the world about being above ground, is that no matter how much wrong we’ve done, we’re always given a chance to change. And that’s EXACTLY what I’m challenging these absentee fathers to do…change.

Men, we have to step up to the plate and do what we’re called to do and that’s to be fathers to our children. Not to just be the dad who teaches his son how to throw a football or who takes his daughter to the park but to be the FATHERS who has conversations with their sons about how to pray and how to treat women. To be the FATHERS who have conversations with their daughters about how men are suppose to treat them and what a godly man looks like. To be the FATHERS, who share their mistakes with their sons and daughters so that they’re able to see that dads make mistakes too. Yeah, THOSE are the fathers I’m challenging all of us to be.

I’m blessed that folk see me as not only a good father but as a good man in general so much that I have 9 god children with my 9th being born just a week ago. I’m also blessed that some of my peoples (who’s history of being a great dad might not be the best) have pulled me to the side to get in my ear about how they can step their game up. And these next six steps I give ‘em are far from being the handbook on how to be a good father but they’re mos def good starting point.

#1 Pray for your children and teach them how to pray.

I don't think a day goes by when Tee and I don't pray for Naomi. For her well being, that she will be everything God wants her to be and that we're doing a good job being her parents. We also taught her at a very early age how to talk to God and to share with HIM what she wants and needs. Now that she’s older, the majority of the time, Tee and I can fall back and let Naomi lead the prayer.

#2 Talk to your kids.

It amazes me how many parents don't talk to their kids. It seems so obvious but a lot of parents don't do it. Everyday when I pick Naomi up from school I ask her what was the best part and worst parts of her day and why. You may be surprised at some of the things you may find out that your kids are going through.

#3. Share with your kids.

And what I mean by "share with your kids" is let them know that you have struggles too. Too many times as fathers we just talk "at" our kids and not "with" them. For example, Nay is VERY impatient...but so am I! So if I'm getting on Nay about being impatient, I gotta throw myself in the mix and say "well, you know daddy needs to learn to be more patient too.” We've gotta let our kids know that we're human too and that we've messed up in the past & will continue to mess up and that none of us are perfect.

#4. Tell your kids you're proud of them. 

The #1 rule in our home is to simply "try.” I know Naomi is not gonna be perfect and get an A+ on every test but I do expect her to try. And not a day goes by when I don't tell Nay that I'm proud of her. One day Nay didn't do her homework right and she said "I didn't do it right, I know you're not proud of me" and I was like "I'm ALWAYS proud of you...even when you don't get it right.

#5 Tell your kids you love them. 

I must tell Naomi I love her 1,000,000 times a day! Everyday when I drop her off at school I ask her "how much do I love you?" And she stretches her arms wide and grunts trying to reach for something (I told her I love her SO much she'll never be able to reach it) and says "that much". It's important that our kids know that we love them no matter what.

#6. Teach your kids to give back. 

When Naomi was 3 we volunteered at our church for Thanksgiving helping to make plates for the homeless and everyone was shocked that we dragged a 3 year old with us. But it was important to us that Naomi saw first hand what giving back looks like. Now when Naomi can't fit something, she'll come to us and say "can I give this to someone who may need it?" I seriously can’t stress how important it is that we teach our kids about helping others.

I remember when I first heard Ed O.G.'s 1st single "I Gotta Have It" was blown. That beat?!?!? And these dudes were from Boston??!?! Word?!?!? But I guess with NYC's finest Teddy Ted and Speciak K producing money, he couldn't lose. It's funny when "Be A Father..." first dropped, I thought it was wack...too soft. Which actually now makes me respect Ed O.G. THAT much more that he dropped this around the same time N.W.A. had all of us singing "I' Rather F-ck You" and made this his signature song. #Salute

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