Fatherhood is the most beautiful experience any man could encounter. There are many ups and downs that come with parenthood, but it is extremely important to be open minded, patient, loving, caring and non-judgmental. One thing I've grown to understand as a father is how to communicate individually with my children. They all have different personalities, different perspectives of life. For example, my youngest son (David) has a very strong willed personality and requires a firm hand of structure and discipline. If you give him an inch he'll do his best to take two miles--that's just his personality. So, I'm always monitoring him more closely than my son Adam, who is much more mild tempered and does not require a strict environment. He usually does what he's supposed to do, unless of course he's distracted by video games. I was a soft spoken kid and wasn't too much trouble for my parents, but a few of my older brothers were the total opposite. I enjoy being a father and I embrace all the challenges that come with it.
I grew up in the deep south of Louisiana where I had to learn how to be a hard worker in order to survive. Growing up on a farm was a lot of work, but my father taught us to be strong and self-sustaining in life. Raising and feeding chickens, taking care of cattle, horses, dogs and everything else was real work and I can honestly say that I have a very strong work ethic because of the way my father raised my siblings and I.
I'm a bit old school when it comes to raising my kids. I believe in children doing chores to help develop them into responsible adults. My wife, Heidi and I started teaching them to clean up behind themselves at a young age. Simple things like picking up their toys when they're done with them, getting a napkin or paper towel if they accidentally spill something, etc. These are important traits that will help them become great husbands and a great wife. You'll be surprised how many marriages fall apart because one spouse never had the responsibility of cleaning, learning to cook a very basic meal, doing laundry without turning the white clothes blue and pink, or just simply taking out the trash when it's running over. I've taught my children to clean, they know how to cook, and my boys even know how to do the lawn.
Now that I have children of my own (five boys and one girl) I'm constantly pushing them to be the best they can be. Patience, love, humility, hard work, education, knowledge, wisdom and a relationship with God are key ingredients for a blessed and successful life. And no matter what they decide to do in life as an occupation, I try to teach my children that good character is vital when you need to develop solid relationships. A good name is better than riches and gold, and I truly believe we can be blessed with both.
I've learned to be attentive to each child. My kids love spending time with their Dad. I'm very honest about that. All my children want their individual day to hang out with me, without their siblings. So, I literally block out the time to give all of them what they need from me. My daughter loves going out on dates with me because she get to dress up and pick her restaurant. She's the only girl, so I wholeheartedly admit that she is spoiled. Micah isn't particularly picky when it's his turn. He likes a movie, lunch or someplace where he can just simply talk and express himself. He's a thinker and a great conversationalist. Brandon usually wants to do a movie and afterwards dissect it down to the thread. Desmond doesn't care where we go. He just wants to hang out with Dad. I'm a very happy father and it makes things even better when they feel good about spending time with me.
"Fatherhood is the most beautiful experience any man could encounter."
You know, life can become a huge problem when being a parent is more of a duty than it is an honor. The fact that God gave me these little lives to look after, nurture, cultivate and be a good steward over helps me to see how much He trusts my judgment and commitment to what He's given me to do on earth. I am humbled at the responsibility.
It's extremely important for us as black men to be in the lives of our children. Sometimes the mothers of their child/children resent the relationship with the father so much that the child can never experience the joy of having a Dad in their lives. At times we find that some fathers, for whatever reason, chose to not be a responsible person and help raise the child that they helped bring into this world. Some fathers are more career driven and could care less about their offspring. But I can't even imagine not being a Dad. Seeing Brandon graduate from high school and get a full scholarship to Louisiana State University was extremely rewarding to me as a Dad. Being in the delivery room when my daughter was coming into this world and having the distinct honor of delivering her myself; courtesy of the doctor and midwife. Being a Dad is absolutely amazing. It's rewarding in every way imaginable.
If there's one thing I would say to fathers is this. Be approachable. Don't make your children feel horrible about their mistakes in life. Be a parent that listens. Girls need protection and affection. They need a constant flow of admiration, compliments and quality time, just to name a few. Boys need quality time, instructions, discipline, love and minimal amounts of affection. Most of the time a hug every now and then is efficient for them. They just want to know that you care and you understand where they're coming from. So, as a Dad I do my best to give myself to all of them to the specific needs they all require. It's not easy. I pray that my children will someday be able to write about me and tell others of our close relationship.
Micah Stampley is an international recording artist and well-renowned worship leader.