Hi Fourward friends!
It’s me, Linda! I currently serve as an appointed official for a city government. I am a believer in living a balanced life, healing from one’s traumas, and centering joy. I am a lover of dance, film, Pan-African music, and traveling to learn about other cultures.
Today I put the spotlight on parenting and fatherhood.
I intend to celebrate and highlight the journey of fatherhood in general and black fatherhood in particular. As I prepared for this week, I noticed there wasn’t much media on fatherhood, particularly, black fatherhood. I connected with some fathers I highly respect and asked for their reflections and tips. Are you thinking about becoming a father?
Be sure to click on our bio and download the “Am I ready for a baby” tool. It provides some questions you should answer for yourself as you think about fatherhood or parenthood.
Terrance Sims Jr. is a photographer and educator. He made headlines by recreating different presentations of black leaders, black icons, and historical figures. Through that, one of his students was able to meet former first lady Michelle Obama which is truly an experience of a lifetime.
Terrance Sims, Jr. on Fatherhood
As a father of two beautiful children, Terrance considered it as the most rewarding position or role that he ever served or had, and it is also the most difficult. Watching his kids grow, he also sees himself and his fiancee grow. He’s able to recognize his weak points and do something to make them better because now he has other people depending on him.
Terrance realized that his actions are scrutinized, like being under the microscope, and involve a lot of hard work. But his kids are all the motivation he needs to better himself in whatever area of his life. Having children pushes him to be better because he knows they are watching him.
Being Ready for Parenthood
When asked if he did anything in particular when he knew he was about to become a father or if he just learned as he went, Terence said he was prepared. But he pointed out that, “I felt that you can’t fully prepare yourself for what’s about to happen.”
Realization set in and he thought to himself, “if somebody follows my everyday footsteps, is this something that they would want? If they would be 15 or 16 years old would they be proud of my actions? Would they want to be doing what I’m doing?”
Terrance started to think about life differently. For women, parenthood may set in earlier since they carry the baby. Terrance made a conscious effort to understand the current situation they were going through as a couple. It also helped that his fiancee gave him articles to read so he could have a solid foundation on the process. Parenthood stirs up different feelings and emotions as women tend to prepare emotionally; men prepare financially.
From a male perspective, Terrance noted, it is important that fathers or the other parent be supportive to the partner carrying the baby. Everything may be going smoothly for the father-to-be but as Terence came to realize, his partner was going through pregnancy for the first time and was doing all the hard work of carrying their child.
This made Terrance ask himself, “How do I support, not just the kids, but my partner through that process as well?” It is crucial to support your partner as they go through the process.
A Role Model for Fatherhood
Fatherhood is a role that may come naturally for some but our fathers and friends can play a vital role in our journey to parenthood. For Terrance, his role model was his father. He understood a lot of things his father did once he had his own children. Although his father passed away a few years ago, he carries with him all the lessons his father showed him as he goes through his journey of fatherhood. Terrance considers himself lucky to have friends who are fathers and have shared nuggets of information and wisdom with him.
He noted that lessons about fatherhood can come from different sources, but one has to be open and willing to learn and receive guidance.
Parenting During the Pandemic
Like most parents, Terrance is happy he gets to spend time with his kids but notes it can be challenging. During pre-pandemic times, some parents faced limitations in spending time with their kids because of work and the pandemic has allowed more time for them to get to know each other.
To balance parenting and work, Terence tries to schedule things out with his fiancee. Parenting during a pandemic made him more responsible when it’s time to work that he sticks to the schedule and tries to get things done fast. Families have also been incredibly helpful during this time. . He values, now more than ever, the importance of having his family that extends help in raising the kids.
In balancing time between his partner and kids, Terrance was honest that they are still finding their rhythm and is confident they will figure it out. “One thing that is improving with our journey with the kids is our communication”, he said. Another thing that he and his family is working on is being more proactive in what they need from each other. They also try to be more considerate by fitting into the other’s schedule or by helping out in the kitchen. Since they are parents to little kids, simple tasks can be more time-consuming and stressful, so communication and support are essential.
Having time for yourself is also important, and for Terrance, he shared that, “my biggest self-care right now is my music, I’m learning my bass, reacclimate myself with the keyboard, and I play for my church band.”
Terrance still gets excited about his work on black representation that made national headlines catching the attention of former first lady, Michelle Obama. He notes he didn’t get into photography because it was what he always wanted. He just wanted to do some projects with kids in his class and thought it would be easier if he was behind the camera and got things done in his timeline.
He is just thankful every time something gets shared and it gets national attention. “If you asked me years ago, this wouldn’t probably have popped up. I am happy with the outcome so far”, he said. Terrance’s project may be a little different this year due to the pandemic but they are planning on making it more consistent.
With Black representation every year and Black History month, they are now adding video this year and plan to have something for months to come. “My big goal this year is to do my work more consistently and not just pop out”, he said.
Meloni Capria and Parenting Re-Imagined
Meloni Capria is the founder of Parenting Re-imagined and a parent to a 10-year old child. Being a parent for 10 years now she realized that every stage of parenting, every stage of your child’s growth comes with its challenges and changes. In the beginning, she thought that it would get easier as her child grew older. According to Meloni, “It hasn’t gotten easier, it just got different. And that’s made for a continuous learning experience for me.”
It may sound scary for new parents but it’s far from serious, it’s hard but it’s fun. She points out that, “Kids teach you about you, they are a reflection of you. You become a kid again, living and experiencing life through raising your child.”
Inspiration to Start Parenting Re-imagined
More than a business, Parenting Re-imagined is a community mindset. They offer parenting consultations and parenting support services. As Meloni emphasized, “the goal behind it is to create a community of parents who are interested in having a certain type of relationship with their child and instilling a certain type of skill set in their child for adulthood.”
Meloni is committed to helping parents who may want to know how to do parenting right. Some parents may have experiences with their childhood they don’t want to transfer to their own parenting style. And this is where she introduces the re-imaging part, thinking about what is the child or who is the child that you want to raise.
Getting parents to understand that parenting is not one size fits all; it starts with the mindset and keeping their individual and particular child in mind. It comes down to first addressing the mindset and helping parents to understand that the child that you have is not for you.
Meloni explained, “You birthed it, you gave it to the world but really, that child is for the world, that child is for him or herself. Raise a human who is going to be a positive contribution to the world.” Achieving this requires relinquishing a few of our own control and it starts with the mindset.
Age appropriateness is another topic that parents usually raised. Parents want to know if what their child is doing is normal. Parenting Re-imagined has a lot of conversations about what age-appropriate and how to manage that. Meloni stated, “ We are offering advice to parents that might have some experiences with their child. I’d like to categorize them as experiences, not a problem, it’s not an issue. It’s just an experience.”
Parents can talk about the experience they are presently having and the outcome that they would like to have. And then, work on ways to strategize and reach that outcome. Another facet that Meloni has been getting a lot is virtual learning in the pandemic. A lot of parents now became primary educators of their children and they were provided a lot of supplemental support by the community of Parenting Re-imagined.
Building Relationships During Pandemic
Building a relationship with your child is a must especially at this time. In a non-pandemic world, children are usually socializing outside of the house, with their teachers, with their peers, and other community stakeholders who are investing in their lives. But now, being at home they are building relationships with their parents.
Supporting parents on how to build relationships at home while still being productive at work and having time for themself. Meloni emphasizes, “right now, communities are needed more than ever. Parents feel alone and isolated in this new territory with at-home parenting and at-home schooling. We’re here to support and help them navigate through that.”
It is also important to create time for your spouse and yourself. For Meloni, she plans and organizes them. According to her, it helps when you compartmentalize things like having one on one time with your child, family time, couple time, and of course, individual time. She highlights that scheduled time is excellent as it ensures uninterrupted time, creates a routine to avoid missing quality time. Also, kids will have something to look forward to. She adds that having time for yourself is very crucial at this time that mental health should be part of the schedule. Meloni stressed that “It’s hard to support people without first supporting yourself.” She has dedicated me-time in a week where she can be with her therapist online.
Working on a Book about Parenting and Resources
Meloni is currently writing a book titled “Parenting from Scratch”, which she based on her own upbringing. “I was raised without the traditional parental figures. When I got pregnant with my son, I found myself having to parent from scratch”, she explained. She hopes her book will help parents like herself who didn’t have role models on parenting and have to be self-learners. The book, which is targeted to be published in September 2021, is about how to build a relationship you want to have with your child, how you will instill them, and set your child up for success in adulthood. Meloni also has a publishing company called D.O.P.E. Publishing.
On resources, Meloni shared that she doesn’t have specific tools and resources for parenting, and works to develop specialized plans for clients. She added that the bookstore is her go-to for everything because they never run out of books. Youtube is another place you can check if you want visuals.
Parenthood is hard work whether you have a role model or not. It takes a lot of understanding and communication to achieve a healthy relationship with your children. Terence’s advice to future fathers, “Be real with yourself, be open to this experience. You are basically a kid again as a father learning the role. Be okay with failing. Be open in communicating with whatever partner you have. Just love the journey, enjoy the moment that you’re in right now. “
To watch the full live conversation, see below.