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Becoming The Father I Never Had: A Journey of Redemption.

Becoming The Father I Never Had: A Journey of Redemption.

Growing up with male role models is completely different than having a father. Not having a present father was a defining aspect of my life. Yet, as I embarked on my journey into fatherhood, I made a conscious decision: I would break the cycle of absence, indifference, and missed opportunities that characterized my own upbringing as I work every day to become the father I never had.
As I reflect on my childhood, some of my immediate thoughts are the emotional factors of having a revolving door dad. Growing up with a father who made the choice to not be present and yet, has other children he actively raised, is truly disheartening for any child, however for me, was the root cause of the desire for acceptance and approval that I was unable to break free from until recently. The need for acceptance and approval played a critical role in my development and decision making and I did not understand the depths until I started to unpack Genai. Unpacking Genai allowed me to look at the who, what, when, where, why and how.

The Who
Who is Genai? I only knew who I was from a maternal point of view until I was gifted an ancestry test at the age of 32 years old. It wasn’t until that time I was introduced to the rest of me that I created.

The What
What do I want for my life? Not what gives me the acceptance and approval I have yearned for since my childhood.

The When
When did I lose sight of me? or did I Because I didn’t truly know who I was.

The Where
Where do I go from this point with the understanding I now have?

The Why
Why am I here? What is my purpose?

The How
How do I take what I now know and be better, do better and lastly be the father my daughter deserves, the father I never had?

The emotional impact of paternal absence on my childhood is one of the key factors, among others, which played an important role in my development emotionally. It created a feeling of jealousy toward other children who had present fathers and made me ask the question at a young age, “Am I not good enough? “My mind started to wonder why I am not good enough to have a father that loves me, wants to teach me to ride a bike and take me to get haircuts. I love my uncles and godfather, but they were not my dad. They were not the man who created me with my mother. When I look at them, I don’t see myself and to be honest I didn’t see myself until I saw my grandfather in a picture at 33 years old. The more I think about life and my choices, my dating habits were affected. I was in toxic situations stemming from both parties and because there were children involved, I stayed, because I understood abandonment and although I wasn’t the paternal father, I took on that responsibility.

As a father I am breaking the cycle, I have vowed to always be present for my daughter and give her all the hugs and kisses I did not receive. I vowed to support her however I can and sometimes that will mean saying “no”. I vowed to give her the guidance I did not have. I understand that can mean listening even when I don’t want to. The reality is I can’t guide her without all the information, and I never want her to feel like I’m barking orders and expectations, or that my reasoning is “because I said so”. I want her to understand why I said so and agreeing is not a requirement.
Parenting feels like on the job training. Beyond being a father, I am also a partner. I have never witnessed two people parenting a child, nor am I the product of such a relationship. I am not redefining fatherhood; I am literally writing the book as I go, and every page is rooted in choosing to make my priority being actively involved and present in my child's life.
Adapting and learning as I go has not been extremely difficult, however as my young child is starting to develop a personality of her own, I am sure I am going to be tested. My 4-month-old is not asking for things and having to process being told no and she doesn’t have outside influences from normal childhood interactions that are challenging my views or beliefs. When those situations arise, I don’t want to rely on my stature or what has been called intense verbal delivery because intimidation is not a tool I want to use while parenting. However, I do believe there should be a level of healthy fear and that can look different based on the child and the way that child needs to parented.

From an early age, I have always assisted with the caretaking of children, starting with my younger brother, and as I got older, I assisted day cares and continued on to group homes and sleep away camps prior to and during college, where I studied child development and education. Once I completed my degree, I worked in higher education overseeing housing and disciplinary actions. I believe all these positions will play a critical role in my parenting style. Working with children and young adults from single parent homes, dual family homes, foster homes, group homes and a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds, I believe all of these experiences will help guild me through the journey of parenting and the development of my child.
Ultimately as a father my goal is to create a different narrative. I want to nurture a strong bond based on love, communication, understanding and emotional security. I think it’s important that children understand they can make mistakes and they will make mistakes because perfection is a title no person holds. My love is NOT conditional, and my child(ren) can tell me anything because it’s always us against the world and to understand they can always come back home and no matter how embarrassed, broken, or hurt they are. There will always be a safe space with me and as I write this, I wish someone would have said those very words to me and their actions said the same.

Along with the fostering of love, communication, understanding and emotional security I want to establish traditions and moments that define our unique father-child relationship. I can honestly say the only experiences I have that I can reflect on are with my uncle. Two moments stand out in my mind clear as day. One, listening to Schoolhouse Rock! songs in the car as if they were new hit releases from number 1 artists and the second is my uncle giving us a birthday card and taking it back to use it for the next year and although this only happened for a few years it’s something I still laugh about 20 plus years later. As a parent, I want my daughter to have experiences and moments where she can sit back and laugh at memories we created and traditions she can share with her own children.

Every objective I have as a father I know is tangible because of the gift of healing and forgiveness. Healing for me started once I took an honest look at me and within me, without the thoughts, views, and options of other people. Self-reflection was important because as much as people think they know me or understand me, they don’t. To truly understand anything, you need to know the origin. Once I took that look inside and started to unpack, I disappeared from everyone for months to ensure I did not have outside influences, and it was the best thing I could have ever done. I started to feel differently about myself in a way I never did before and equally, I started to see people for who they are and what about them is not conducive to me, my growth and well-being. I am happy this happened prior to me finding out I was going to be a father. My growth and healing could not be for anyone else but me.
My healing process is still occurring while nurturing a relationship with my own child. Ultimately, I am giving her everything I wanted and ultimately not having had a negative effect on me. The personal growth and emotional fulfillment derived from being a father leaves me speechless. There is no better feeling than hearing my daughter fussing and I walk in the room, and she looks at me, stops and smiles or when she hears me say “hey boo”, she scans the room to locate me. These moments reassure me that my journey is going in the right direction.

Becoming the father, I never had is not just a personal achievement; it's a testament to the power of breaking negative generational patterns. Through dedication, love, and commitment, I've rewritten the narrative of my own childhood and paved the way for a brighter future for my child. The question I do find myself asking is how anyone father, or mother, can choose not to be a part of their children’s life and to be honest I don’t have respect for anyone who does, especially my father, because I know my mother was not an obstacle.

I want `to conclude with these words. To anyone navigating similar circumstances, know that the power to redefine fatherhood lies within you. Despite the absence of a blueprint, every effort you invest in your child's life carries immeasurable value. Together, let's redefine the story for the next generation, where not be products of a present father but our children don’t have to be.

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