When I think of my childhood, the 80’s TV show “My Two Dads” comes to mind because it was all about the prevalence of cooperation over competition by two men seeking to be the father to a young girl. Neither of them are sure they are her biological father but after some emotional investment, that really doesn’t matter anymore. They both just want to help raise her and be there for her.
During the climactic scene of “Return of the Jedi,” after beating his father in a light saber duel, Luke Skywalker says to Darth Vader, “I am a Jedi, like my father before me.” I always loved that moment because it was so spot on about the relationships between fathers and sons. The desire to growup and be like your dad but also wanting to be better and accomplish more than he did. The moment you must take a stance that stands apart from a father’s beliefs or actions. The subconscious learning of their tendencies (Luke’s all black ensemble? C’mon son).
My wife gives me books on being a father to help inform my understanding of our children and how to guide them. Admittedly, it’s hard to read them as I learn by seeing and doing. Plus, I think I have great examples of fathers all around me – most importantly my two dads. A long time ago, I decided about what I wanted my life as a father and husband to look like based on them. Both my fathers have other children from previous or subsequent relationships and I noticed the stress they had being apart (but not absent) from their children. The tensions that could arise in co-parenting and the arrival of another person into the picture. Both my Dads did all they could to make the best of those situations, but I didn’t want that for myself. As a young(er..ahem) man, my own relationships reflected that – including my marriage.
It wasn’t a just a list of landmines to avoid – there is plenty good that I took from them both. They each worked very hard to maintain a close relationship and set an example for their sons. Each of them became guardians of children or young people that were not their own who needed the support of a father figure. They mentor or keep an open-door policy as mentors and wise men to nephews, nieces, children of family friends, and kids in passing. They have big hearts. I find myself doing the same kinds of things – almost like a reflex. I’m sure it’s because of them.
As a black youth I remember vividly the world telling us that an absence of the fathers in our lives was to blame for where we were headed. While that was true to some extent for some of my friends and family, it wasn’t for me. Yet I still felt as doomed by association unless something changed. I wanted to play a role in that as a father – I see a lot of others black fathers around me going the same route, changing that narrative. It’s amazing to be a part of. We call each other and support each other directly. It’s not the same as the Moms blog, but it’s there and needed. The thing I love the best about my Dads is that they get along. I’ve never really told them how it makes me happy to see them share a dap, a good laugh, or checking in on each other’s kids. In a way they are part of each other’s network – it’s a beautiful thing to see.
No disrespect to the books in the world, but I really think the best way to train and maintain great fathers is by example. Young men seeing older men being great fathers in as many ways as possible for as long as possible. I know it certainly helped me.
Eddie D. Holman IV was born in Indiana, but completed all of his schooling right here in St. Louis. He is a graduate of St. Louis University and member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated. Eddie currently works as the Missouri Multicultural Marketing Manager for Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits where he handles key accounts, supplier sponsored programs across the state. Eddie is the current President of the St. Louis Chapter of National Sales Network, a non-profit organization designed to meet the networking and developmental needs of sales professionals. Eddie is happily married to his wife of ten years, Aliah. They have two sons, Quinn (EDH V) and Brooklyn.