Kern Carter Says Don’t measure your value by how much money you can provide your child.

Name: Kern Carter : Toronto, Ontario, Canada | @kerncarter

What does being a father mean to you?

It means friendship and responsibility. I know many parents don’t like the idea of being friends with their kids, but I had my daughter when I was still a teenager. We grew up together. She literally was witness to every part of my adult life so our bond is unique.

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Describe your experience with your father growing up and how that impacted you today.

My father wasn’t around since I left Trinidad and moved to Canada at the age of 6. Part of the reason I decided to drop out of high school and raise my daughter was because I didn’t want to be absent like my father.

What things did you take from your experience growing up into your own fatherhood journey?

The only things I took from my father is what not to do. He was never present. He never made an effort to be in our lives. We haven’t seen each other in over a decade and have spoken maybe twice during that time period.

Have you had any obstacles on your fatherhood journey?

Yes. Being a teenage parent who dropped out of high school and moved into a basement apartment with my child’s mother was an obstacle. Not having family support (at least initially) was an obstacle. I wanted to do better for myself, and so I eventually graduated from high school and accepted a full scholarship to a private university. Problem was that university was in New York and I lived in Toronto. I’d have to leave my daughter for four years. It was one of the most difficult decisions of my life but has certainly paid off.

What advice would you give others new on their fatherhood journey?

Your presence is a gift. Don’t measure your value by how much money you can provide your child. Keep them fed and clothed, of course, but you are worth far more than a paycheck. Always remember that.

If you could write a quick letter to your father, starting with “Dear Father,” what would you say?

Dear father, look at me now.

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