This year for Father's Day 2016, we celebrate the new generation of present, active, and involved fathers, and begin a conversation that draws attention to the positve side of single-fatherhood. We sat down with Chauncy J, a young single father determined to be a loving, caring, fun, well rounded father to his daughter.
NHDC: Chauncy, thanks for taking the time to sit down with us! Why is it important for you to be a present father? CJ: You guys know I'm a huge fan of NHDC, thanks for having me! Well it's super important for me to be a present father one, to be a good role model, and two, so that my child will have some qualities, personalities and characteristics that I have. I want to be able to see some of me in my child when she's a grown woman.
NHDC: So you mentioned you wanted to be a good role model is that for your child or is it for other fathers or other men? CJ: Primarily for my child. I don't mind being a role model for other fathers, but I'm learning as I go as well. Fatherhood does not come with a manual. So me being a good role model is more for my child than for anyone else, that’s who I'm responsible for, so that's who I'm focused on.
NHDC: What were you able to bring from your childhood experiences and from the male figures in your life, into your style of parenting? CJ: As I get older and really, really develop more and more into fatherhood, I tend to pull from different male figures that I've seen throughout my life, good or bad. Starting with my grandfather. He's 70-something years old & comes from the old school, so he always made sure the home was good and he took care of his kids and his wife. And he was very involved with the community - I mean everybody knows Floyd Lee! So when it comes to things like being a role model, I pull from him. When it comes to things NOT to do, I pull from my own father, and I don't know him as much. And when it comes to other areas as far as how to be a man, and how to be resourceful I pull from my stepfather.
NHDC: You are representative of a generation of children that grew up fatherless, or didn't grow up with their biological dad in the home, or having sporadic interactions with their dad. Do you think the generation of fathers that you're in are really striving to be more present and active in their child’s life on a daily basis? CJ: Most definitely. I heard somebody make the statement that my generation of fathers made it uncool to not be a present father. And if you think about it that's kind of true because the generation of fathers that came before us, our fathers, it was pretty easy for them to leave. A lot of guys in my generation grew up without their fathers, so a lot of us have that in common. And of course you can see that throughout any generation but definitely in our generation. We are the generation of fatherless children. I guess in that timeframe of life it was kind of not accepted, but it was ok, the mothers did what they had to do and they kept it moving. But in our generation we really made it uncool to not be present in your child’s life. We will call you out on it or frown upon it and really make you feel bad about it, to the point you realize that you need to do something about your kids. You know, I can't even be close friends with a guy that I know for a fact is not doing anything for his child. I can't even hang with you. Because I know we don't live by the same principles, and I know other guys that feel the exact same way. If you're a father and you're not contributing anything to your child’s life, I don't want to be associated with you.
NHDC: That's a commendable position for you to have at such a young age. You became a father at 21. To already know you were going to be present is major. CJ: We also come from the generation where mothers made that a very hard position. Mothers made that a hard task. NHDC: What do you mean? CJ: Well it's the same ole song. For every five guys in my generation, there's one that has a child and he's has child support issue that he’s dealing with or he’s gone through different tense interactions with his child’s mother to get where he is today. So that’s why I say we come from the generation where the mothers didn’t make it easy for us to not be present, and the “system” made it easy for mothers to get so much support. My mother has never seen a child support check in her life but never really ever pursued one either, because her generation of women, that’s just not how you took care of it - you just did what you had to do for you and yours. If he was going to be there, he was going to be there. But my generation of women they didn’t carry it like that, they almost demanded that you contribute in some way, if you weren’t going to be there in the physical. They were going to make sure you were there financially. NHDC: So maybe on the flip side, the women of this generation looked at their mothers and said “I’m going to be the opposite”, just like the young men of this generation looked at their fathers and said they’re going to be different. Maybe that’s where that comes from. CJ: Oh yes definitely.
NHDC: So how do you make sure that you keep your co-parenting relationship consistent? Your child can count on you and know you’ll be there… But how do you make sure the mother of your child knows you’ll be there? CJ: By doing just that – being consistent. The consistency not only plays a role in your child’s life, but it plays a part in her mother life to the point that she’ll realize that you’re here. You’re going to be here and you’re going to do what you have to do. Regardless of what comes your way. Your child’s mother will know you love your child just as much as she does. You have to go the extra mile and prove that you’re there just as much as the mother.
NHDC: How have you been able to establish your strong presence in your child’s life and as a single-father, to your significant other? CJ: Well it depends on the partner that you have. If the partner that you have is already a parent, then it’s not hard for them to pick up it and see that you’re committed in your parenting. So that same consistency that your child’s mother and child sees, your partner will see. If that consistency is something that you’re already doing prior to you being with that significant other, then you let them know from day one, “I have a child, this is how involved I am in my child’s life, I’m a real parent, I’m not a summer parent, I’m not a weekend parent, I’m not a babysitter, I’m here, full-fledged”. And if you can’t deal with it for whatever reason, I can respect that.
NHDC: How have you been able to overcome one of the hardest things to do, which is to be a parent to someone else’s child? And not only be a parent but to be as active and present in that child’s life as you pretty much are in your own child’s life? It can’t be easy so how have you been able to do that? CJ: At some point you have to try to accept another child as your own. These days you see memes that say “step dads are the real dads,” from when someone else steps down. But there’s a lot of truth in that because it is very, very, very hard to love a child that is not yours, the same way you love a child that is yours. It’s just one of those things, you’re just going to be a little more biased towards your own or show a little favoritism. So you really have to humble yourself and figure out how to do that and it may not come exactly the same way it does for your own child. That’s ok, but you have to find that happy medium and know where you stand with your stepchild. It’s a learning process, I’ve been learning and evolving with that for some time being in the relationship I’m in now, this is actually the second time where I’ve had to be that parent for a child that isn’t mine so I learned a lot from the first experience. I took those things and implemented them now, along with my own personal growth and it has helped, but it’s not easy.
NHDC: So if there were things that you want your children to look back on and say, I remember that my father was___________. What would that blank be? CJ: That he was 1. Loving 2. Consistent 3. Persistent in what he wanted us to do and in the direction he wanted us to go. And I was there I was fun, I was loving, I was teaching, educating them, I just want to be that all around dad that when you grow up you think “my dad was there for me in all aspects of life” no matter what it was he was there and if he couldn’t teach me and show me he figured it out. I just want to be that dad.