I know I often discuss what it is like to be a mother (especially a black mother) in today’s age, but what about being a father? Why are there so many so called “mom blogs”, but not as many “dad blogs”? Maybe it is because of how fatherhood is portrayed in society.
The role of “father” in society and media is often portrayed as someone who supports the family financially, is a workaholic, doesn’t know what’s going on with the kids, maybe enforces the discipline, maybe completely ignores discipline, or (more frequently in portrayals of minority fathers) is just straight up absent from the household. Hmm…this list is sounding very negative.
Why is being a father associated with negative/disengaged behavior? What would it be like to see a positive image of what a father is?
That is why I wanted to interview a [minority] father that plays a big role in his family and displays as close to perfect (in my image) of what a dad should be. Ernesto Camacho, full-time father, full-time therapist, and a full-time spouse (my spouse specifically). How does he do it all? I’m not quite sure. So let’s ask him!
Q: How are you so successful in every role you play in your life??
A: There are two main reasons why I believe I am successful…I invest in my relationships with others and I pay attention to the minute details. So, I think of the roles you described, as all relationships in which the worth of those relationships or the success of those relationships are dependent upon my deposits. By deposits, I’m referring to those check-ins to see how the other person is doing, by educating myself when I don’t know something, by being aware of my shortcomings and by constantly improving on them, and having open communication with the people I’m in relationships with.
Q: What’s it like being a minority father in your community? Are there any extra pressures?
A: I think there are extra pressures on myself because there were no good role models. Like you mentioned, there are negative representations of a father when you look at movies or media in general, you see “abusive fathers” or the “deadbeat dad”. You also see the polar opposite of this in the “workhorse father” who provides financially, but is never around. It was hard in the beginning trying to figure out what type of father I wanted to be, but once I figured it out, it was easy.
Q: Out of the various roles you play, which is your favorite?
A: Being a dad. It’s the most emotionally fulfilling relationship I’ve ever had. No offense.
Q: What was on your mind when you found out you were going to be a father…truthfully?
A: Ah, sh*t. Thinking of finances, what kind of father I wanted to be, and how I was going to manage a full time job, being a full time student, and a full time family. When I found out it was a girl, I started crying. I remember that. I wanted to make sure she knew how a man should treat her and the fact that she shouldn’t feel less than in this world. I knew I would play a role in how she viewed herself in society. I was really honored and appreciative to play that role.
“It’s amazing how your involvement is tied in with their growth.”
Q: What has been the biggest surprise in your first year of fatherhood?
A: How quickly your child learns from you. I’ve taught her many things like how to brush her teeth, and I wasn’t sure how quickly she would pick it up, but now she says, “brush teeth”. It’s amazing how your involvement is tied in with their growth.
Q: What has been the biggest reward of becoming a father?
A: It’s gonna sound cheesy, but just being her dad. I’m really happy to be her dad and be the person she plays with and hugs and kisses. She is very glued to me and looks for me all the time. It’s a lot of unconditional love.
Q: How do you practice #SimpleSelfCare as a dad?
A: I practice it often. Having a developing toddler you definitely need to. Some of my go-to’s are asking [mom] for a break from the kiddo. Having hobbies. Coffee. And exercising. And not skipping meals because parents do that all the time. Feed yourself first then feed your kids.
Q: What’s your advice to new mothers on how to support their “baby daddies”?
A: Let him know what your expectations are because a lot of times we get lost. We want to help, but we just don’t know in what way we can. New moms should also practice #SimpleSelfCare so it can lower the overall stress at home. And don’t criticize them if they are doing something wrong. It might take more time now to teach the things like how to swaddle or bathe the child or change a diaper. But in the long run you’re making deposits to your relationship and increasing the value and connection.
Q: Would you recommend therapy for soon-to-be dads or new fathers? Or even couples who are expecting?
A: I think it would be unfair to just single out the fathers and it would also be unfair to the relationship because both partners could learn about each other’s parenting styles during therapy. Therapy can provide soon to be parents with a safe space to communicate their concerns, explore their parenting values, and prepare them for the new and difficult transition.
Q: What is your advice to new fathers or soon-to-be fathers?
A: It will be alright. You don’t have to be perfect. It’s going to be stressful, but it will be worth it. Make sure to take care of yourself and lean into the discomfort.
Lots of take-a-ways for you dads out there (and moms). You learn some new things when you interview your spouse. Here’s your homework for this week, ask some of these questions to YOUR “baby daddy” or modify them and ask them to your “baby mama” and maybe you’ll learn something new about how you interact as parents.
All the thanks to Mr. Ernesto Camacho, IMF #100564 for cooperating with me, and for really speaking from the heart! I couldn’t appreciate you more for all the hard work you put into being a fantastic father and spouse! Love you!
And Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there! May this be a special one!