Name: Rahsaan Turpin | City: Philadelphia, PA | IG: DejaVu1914
What does being a father mean to you?
To me, being a father means giving my children everything I never had from my own father. I can teach them lessons that I’d rather them learn the right way from me than someone in the world. I take my role and responsibility as a father very serious. I believe I can be nurturing, caring, loving, and affectionate while holding high expectations for their personal conduct. Being a father also means protecting them when necessary but also letting them branch out and learn some lessons naturally.
Describe your experience with your father growing up and how that impacted you today.
My father was mostly out of the picture when I was an adolescent. When he was around, he was abusive to my mother and allowed me to do things I would not allow my son to do at the age of 15/16. The only lessons my father taught me was that men don’t cry and if you disappoint me, I will beat any unacceptable behavior out of you. This impacted me by promising myself at the age of ten if I ever had children of my own I would be a better father to them than he was to me. To this day, I am my toughest critic when it comes to doing for my children, being there for them, and showing them love. My daughter who is 20 often says I’m her best friend. I believe this is result of the relationship we established during her formative years. This happened even though her mother and I separated when she was five. My son is five now and he and I are just as close as myself and my daughter.
What things did you take from your experience growing up into your own fatherhood journey?
The things I despised about my own father are the pitfalls I work to avoid taking with me now and with my children. i.e. being absent, choosing substances over family, forcing my dreams on my children, not listening, etc. Any positive experiences I have, I got from TV dad’s and the voids from my own experience. I’ve always been the type of person that can seek the good in people and try to apply those things to myself. So the James Evans’s, Cliff Huxtables, and positive men I have met so far in my journey have afforded me opportunities to pull positive traits and behaviors from them and apply to my tool bank of fathering. i.e. working hard, setting a high standard, being spiritually grounded, tough love, etc. . I hope to publish a book in the coming years that will help other men on similar journeys.
Have you had any obstacles on your fatherhood journey?
The greatest obstacle I had was my relationship with my daughter’s mother. Long story. She did everything in her power to manipulate me with her before we married and after the marriage fell apart. I did not let that deter me from staying put in her life.
What advice would you give others new on their fatherhood journey?
There are no excuses to being a stand up man for your child. If you want to do it, you can and you will. Connect yourself with other positive males who you can pull from and lean on.
If you could write a quick letter to your father, starting with “Dear Father,” what would you say?
This was an exercise I did in counseling years ago. I found that letter recently. It was six pages long. I read it to him at his gravesite this past summer. In short:
I wish our story was much different from its reality. But I do understand you could only be who you were because of what you were and were not taught. There are no do overs in life. Only opportunities to make up for wrongs. If you were here today, my only ask of you would be to be a better grandfather to my children than you were a father to yours.
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