Name: Michael Gardner | City: Philadelphia, PA | IG: @daddydressedmebymg
What does being a father mean to you?
I absolutely love being a father. It’s my first priority and my bond with my daughter means everything to me. I have been blessed to parent an amazing human being and I don’t take my responsibility for granted. I appreciate the opportunity to teach, lead and assist in my child growing, learning and becoming her best self.
Describe your experience with your father growing up and how that impacted you today.
My father did not raise me. I knew who he was but he refused to acknowledge me and that crushed me. I struggled growing up understanding who I was and how to feel good about myself having been abandoned. I turned that pain from my experience to fuel me to be the best father I can be today. I would never allow a child I fathered to be without me in their life. I have a very special relationship with my daughter and I focused on communication, love and encouragement to build our bond.
What things did you take from your experience growing up into your own fatherhood journey?
I focus on being present, participating daily and showing her love and affection. These were things I wished for from my father. I never want my daughter to experience the pain that I did, so I give her what I longed for. I had to heal the pain of my past to show up for her.
Have you had any obstacles on your fatherhood journey?
Yes, I was married to my daughters mom and when we divorced the dynamic had to change. We went from one household to two and split equal time with our child. It was a process to work through the change but I focused on my role as her Dad to begin a new journey. I had to have some serious conversations with my daughter to help her understand why we were no longer together and figure out the best way to work through her emotions.
What advice would you give others new on their fatherhood journey?
Be consistent, communicate and never give up. Fatherhood is a marathon, not a sprint. You won’t always know what to do in every moment but if you show up and put forth the effort your kids will be thankful. It’s ok to make mistakes, be open to apologize and grow. Stay the course and set a goal for your part in your kid(s) life.
If you could write a quick letter to your father, starting with “Dear Father,” what would you say?
Thank You for giving me life. I am grateful for the characteristics you passed down to me. Your absence caused me pain and made me question my existence, however today I am blessed to be a father myself and utilize my experience to be the loving and present father I wish I had. I empathize with the struggles you experienced and just want you to know I forgive you.
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