Life as Black father has its uniquely ‘Black’ moments, as well as the universal ups and downs every parent goes through. Whether it is sitting down with your children and giving them ‘The talk’ or simply trying to convince your child that homework is work to be done at home, on time and when you say, not when they want to. However, most of all, the moment you realize you and your partner have created another human, another life, another boy or girl and simply another person for you to love, protect and honor; it will change your life as it has mine! Here’s my story of Black fatherhood.

There I was, loathing on social media as you do when not at work (sometimes even when at work *shifty eyes*). When I was asked by @Antoinespeaks to write a quick piece about what it’s like to be a Black father.

Momentarily taken aback, I agreed and then began to ponder what I would even write about. Well for starters it is NOT easy. I have a teenaged step-daughter who is in the I’m-going-to-lock-myself-in-my-room-and-talk-on-the-phone-for-hours-on-end-phase. A 5-year-old boy, just entering the all-I-want-to-do-is-play-Nintendo-and-eat-sweets phase. And a 4-year-old daughter who still thinks she’s in her terrible twos.

At any moment my house can go from tranquillity to a tornado in the time it takes to respond to a group WhatsApp message. 0 to 100 real quick- Black dads stay ‘down with the kids’

I figure for the sake of structure and narrative I should go chronological order of when I met each child.

Firstly my step-daughter whom I call Jay: I was apprehensive about meeting her because I knew if she did not like me that would spell the end for me and her mother’s relationship and having grown up with step parent I know how weird things can get. Luckily for me I was far more nervous than she was and from day 1 we got along just fine (except this one time I was trying to help her with her maths homework that she did not want to do and to be fair I struggling to explain clearly).

She is currently addicted to Anime, which is where we bonded the most. We could happily marathon an entire season of a bizarre Japanese animation and eat popcorn.

My son, whenever someone looks at a picture of him or meets him in person the first thing they say is “Oh my god he looks just like you!” verbatim – every time.

black dad, black sonHe’s small for his age and likes to keep to himself. A little socially awkward at times which reminds me of me and in turn I think makes me a little harder on him to be more out going; rather than away in his own world. Conversely, he has a great sense of humor and once he gets a joke going seems to enjoy the attention of making other people laugh.

I was present at his birth. This was an unforgettable experience. My partner informed me it was the most difficult pregnancy she had ever been through. Apparently, boys are harder to carry, he seemed fine to carry in my arms… I joke.

When he was born, my life was changed instantly. Being a father is weird, things that used to be of the upmost importance to me became trivial. The latest sneakers, the best clothes, not missing the latest parties or even arguing about religion in secret Facebook groups became pointless. All that matters now is my son, daughters and family’s needs; to put it bluntly if I mess up they surfer and once he could die. One of the many Black parent talks most of us grew up hearing and sadly our children will grow hearing too.

To me, nothing is more important than providing a stable home and family life for them to grow up in.

Cameron is my son and my life. Cameron – it took almost 5 months to settle on a name. The moment we knew, we were going to have a boy was the moment the debating started. As a Black couple raising a Black boy in a European country there are some unique hurdles.

  1. Do we go with a traditional African name? Show pride in our African roots?
  2. How about being selected for jobs in the future what kind of name doesn’t give away his ethnicity too soon?
  3. Do we make up a new name like many Caribbean parents do?
  4. What if nobody can pronounce it let alone spell it?
  5. Do we choose a name from the bible? (Well I’m an atheist so that would be a bit weird?)

Just a few of the many questions we asked ourselves.

In the end, I chose Cameron for a first name because simply put, I have always just liked that name. Unfortunately a few months later one of the worst prime ministers in recent memory came to power bearing the surname Cameron; so we had to suffer through a lot of bad jokes for a few years. Happily, he’s gone now. Hopefully, my son can bring prominence and positivity back to the name.

My youngest so far is my daughter Sienna. She is fiercely independent she does not want to help with anything ever she is the exact opposite to my son. Having a daughter that I could watch grow from the beginning gave me a sense of what I can only explain as contentment.

She was born when my son was about 1 years old and I still remember the moment we found out that we were expecting another child. I was filled with a strange combination of fear and carpe diem.

My princess is a diva, I can never stay mad at her. No matter how hard I try, even when she is being supremely naughty, bordering on disrespectful.

black father, black son

Black Father art by Cbabi Bayoc- check out this site and book for new fathers

The greatest thing about being a father for me is the love my kids show for me. The highlight of my day is, whenever I arrive home after a long day at work and they are excited like little puppies to see me, their father. In truth, I am delighted to see them too, even though them running at me full speed towards me, comes at a dangerous height for men.

Watching them play and make each other laugh often has me laughing along with them.

Another bridge we had to cross was whether or not to have the children christened. Me being an atheist I was not particularly fussed as I felt the holy water had no magic power or sway on the course of anybody’s life. So, it would be a big song and dance for nothing. However, the promise of chicken and cake made the idea worth exploring a little further.

So, we visited the pastor or whoever the head honcho is at whatever church that was (you can tell I was really interested right?)

The main guy refused to perform the christening despite me being on my best behavior as I had promised my partner I would. His reasoning was that it would be hypocritical of him to christen them knowing that I would not be teaching them about Christianity. I suppose his stance was fair enough. However, I was a little disappointing in that if he felt and believed it would help in any way, should it not have been his duty to perform the ritual in that hopeful vain? To this day my children never had a christening and I sometimes wonder if there is an element of resentment amongst our other family members for that.

As for fatherhood

The school runs, packed lunches, homework, sleepless nights, nappy changing, teaching them how to read, write and colour within the lines.

Life for me is about new experiences and having children opens a whole new branch and avenue for experiencing things that I wouldn’t change for the world.

This is my simple but complex story of raising 3 children as a Black father. If you would like to me to speak more on fatherhood, then please comment and share this article. Let me know your thoughts and opinions.

Christians, do you think the pastor should have christened my children anyway?

By Farda Eon
Tweet me at@EonIsTrill
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