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Twelve Steps of Fatherhood

A couple weeks back I held a poll about the challenges to "What Makes a Successful Father."

Coincidentally enough, my 9-5 life revolves around marketing the aims and goals of a non-profit dedicated to helping teen parents become successful adults, effectively breaking cyclical poverty and raising empowered kids. Part of the equation is educating the little ones in an effort to put them on a path to avoid (through their own informed decision-making) unplanned pregnancy. The other part, for those who are already on the other path, is to make sure both they and their children are successful. Created as an organization for women, many of our clients now are fathers because fathers are that piece of the puzzle that goes missing so often.

As a married man, a relatively new father and guy who is knee deep in parenting issues at work, the following is my take on the steps needed to engage in and practice successful fathering. Are there more than twelve steps? Of course there are. And I'm no expert. But I am a guy that believes my children and my wife need my best. Despite much of mainstream media being fascinated by what many black men don't do, I take no pride in my role as a responsible father. Everyday I see too many dads doing what they're supposed to do to think of myself as something special.

Being a successful father means:

  1. Setting goals for yourself as a man.
  2. Setting goals for yourself as a father.
  3. Being flexible, but never compromising 1 & 2.
  4. Allowing love to be the driving force behind everything you do with your kid(s).
  5. Always telling your kid(s) you love them (even on the rare occurrences when you think you might not and especially when they're not loving you).
  6. Loving your kid(s) even when you know they hate you.
  7. Being protective, but giving your kids room to grow and discover themselves and their strengths and encouraging them through their weaknesses.
  8. CLEARLY understanding that your most precious child is just that --- a child --- and will be until they are grown.
  9. Working with Mom, no matter what your situation with her might be.
  10. Giving kids the presence and confidence to speak to you.
  11. Making yourself available to sit with, laugh with, play with, read with, talk with, eat with, run with, skip with, sing with, count with, build with and be tough with your kid(s).
  12. Doing more than being there --- participating --- no matter how many mistakes you make along the way.
In life there are no guarantees. Challenges will come, temptations will visit, and fear of the unknown may never leave. But I don't believe these are challenges to fatherhood. I believe they make the experience richer.

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