Gregory Shirley Says “It’s good to be involved in your child’s life but be “present” as well”

Name: Gregory Shirley City: MONO, Ontario, Canada | Instagram: @bean_of_the_north

What does being a father mean to you?

It means being able to mold, guide , and shape my children in a positive light . As well, to set good examples and assist them in anyway possible as they journey through life.
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Describe your experience with your father growing up and how that impacted you today.

My father was always around but not “present”. As a young child , my father wasn’t involved and did what most west Indian fathers did. They worked hard, made sure bills were paid and food was on the table. There were no daddy play time, very little teaching moments, ie riding a bike, climbing a tree etc. Basically, you were left to learn on your own or from the older kids in the neighborhood. When I became a young adult , my dad offered more guidance and our relationship blossomed. My dad’s true value came into play later on in life as a young man.

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

I think both my dad and I missed out on a lot of “first”. I wanted my children and I to share those special first moments. First day of school, first time learning to ride a bike, driving , just those momentous first.

Have you had any obstacles on your fatherhood journey?

The only obstacle I have faced is not having my oldest son under one roof 24/7. I missed being there for those special first moments and not being able to share the closeness one would feel when your children are under one roof. Missed out on bedtime and morning routines. Often the other party doesn’t realize how important those moments are in both a child’s life an the fathers life.

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

I was say be “present” . It’s good to be involved in your child’s life but be “present” as well . Meaning physically being there isn’t enough. Talk to your children, be open and transparent with them . Let any conversation you have with them be a “judge free zone” . Show them you are vulnerable as a parent. Talk openly about your fears of raising them and not wanting to disappoint them. Let them see that this journey through life is a partnership with them.

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

Dear Father … Even though you don’t say much, the little you do say means the world to me. I love where our relationship is currently. Although we didn’t have the same type of relationship I now have with my children, I understand you did the best you could at that time . You have your old school ways but I love that I can always come to you with my new school problems. The advice you give is truly appreciated beyond words. I LOVE YOU!!

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