Listen on Apple Podcasts

This is the final episode of a 3-part series titled, ‘Paternal’. It is honest, funny and heartfelt. If you haven’t listened to the previous episodes, then I’d recommend you click the links below to do so now:

  1. In the Beginning
  2. The Beginning of the End

Last year I wrote a blog post titled Am I Enough… It was my attempt to articulate more than 20 years of hurt and anger for what I perceived as my father’s unwillingness to fight hard enough to keep me in his life.

Maybe it’s unfair to have placed all of that at his feet. Maybe in some situations, regardless of best efforts or honest intentions, collateral damage is just an unavoidable consequence of relationship breakdowns. Maybe there are innumerable shades of grey that I had never been able to consider before.

Whatever the reality of the situation, it was my commitment to breaking the cycle. And I think the conversation you’re about to hear is our commitment to each other. A commitment to be better men.

On this episode, my father and I talk about the impact of our family’s breakdown and our struggles in forging our own identities in manhood.

If you like the podcast and want to give us some feedback, or if you want to be featured on the show, please use the contact form in the ‘About’ section.

In the meantime, click the link above to start the episode now and thank you for listening.

NEW EPIOSODE OUT NOW: Paternal - The Beginning of the End.

This is the second episode of a 3-part series titled, ‘Paternal’. It is honest, funny and heartfelt. If you haven’t listened to part 1, In the Beginning, then I’d recommend you click the link to do so now.

When I was 9 years old, I had a teacher called Miss Bryant. In class one day, she noticed I had become withdrawn and subdued. She took me aside to ask what was wrong and after some prodding, I explained that things at home between my parents weren’t great. It wasn’t long afterwards that I moved to a different school, largely owing to the financial pressures under which my newly single mom now found herself.

A couple years later and entirely by chance, mine and Miss Bryant’s paths crossed again. We talked for a little while, and she asked whether things had improved at home. It was difficult to find an answer. I mean, things were certainly different; my father was no longer living with us and the volatility of my parents’ relationship had now moved into a space far less accessible to me. But I couldn’t honestly say things had improved. We just had different challenges now.

For me, chief among them was trying to help mom pick up the pieces of our broken home.

On this episode, my father and I talk about the circumstances that led to the breakdown of our family and our father-son relationship.

If you like the podcast and want to give us some feedback, or if you want to be featured on the show, please use the contact form in the ‘About’ section.

In the meantime, click the link above to start the episode now and thank you for listening.

Listen on Apple Podcasts

My parents split up when I was about 10 years old. The last eighteen months of their relationship was, as I perceived it, a traumatic, disruptive and chaotic mess.

In the years that followed, my relationship with my father broke down. There were many reasons for this, but it mainly boiled down to the fact that I didn’t feel emotionally secure in the situation to continue loving him as I did before, and I didn’t feel like he put enough effort into providing that security for me.

On this episode, my father and I have a direct, real-time conversation with each other for the first time in over 20 years.

We talk about his childhood, the abuse he suffered at home and the circumstances under which I came into this world. This is the first episode of a 3-part series titled Paternal. It is honest, funny and heartfelt.  

If you like the podcast and want to give us some feedback, or if you want to be featured on the show, please use the contact form in the ‘About’ section.

In the meantime, click the link above to start the episode now and thank you for listening.

Dads play a pivotal role in our lives. Children learn how to temper their emotions and physicality through rough play with dad, and they learn how to form secure and healthy relationships through the influence of their dads.

Children often idealise their dads, but as we get older, we realise their fallibility and their humanity.

As black men, we contend with the stereotypes of the absent father. Some fathers do just up and leave, but the reality is a lot more nuanced than that.

Most ‘absent’ dads don’t just decide to go absent from their children’s lives, sometimes they are constrained by circumstance, unwittingly repeat the traumas of their own progenitors, and lack the emotional intelligence to adequately respond to the crises in their relationships with their partners and children.

The men you’ll hear on this episode have all, in some way, had to navigate parts of their lives where their dads were either physically or emotionally unavailable. We talk about how these moments and experiences shaped us for better or worse, and what we want to take from them to use in our own journeys through manhood.

If you like the podcast and want to give us some feedback, or if you want to be featured on the show, please use the contact form in the ‘About’ section.

In the meantime click the link above to start the episode now and thank you for listening.

What is it like becoming a dad? A question I used to get asked all the time when the Halfling was born. I didn’t really know how to answer it then, and to some degree even now I still don’t. I think maybe a reason for that is that my role as a father in the short time I have been one, has been constantly evolving alongside the needs of my developing family at any given stage.

While I can’t say with any certainty what it means to be a father, I can tell you what I didn’t expect it would bring – my own daddy issues.

When my daughter was born, feelings about my father which I thought I had long ago resolved and put to rest suddenly and inexplicably resurfaced. There were moments where I felt an intense anger towards him, and other moments where I got angry with myself for being upset in the first place. I spent a large chunk of my childhood without a present and active father in my life. I’m sure there are many reasons for why that was the case. Among them, and not insignificantly, were the thousands of miles which separated us.

Children are emotionally hardwired to seek out and respond to parental approval. “Am I enough?” The three-word question that establishes the basis for all attachment and the framework through which their confidence in the relationships and world around them is explored. It was also a question I wrestled with a lot during my early adolescence and whether fairly or unfairly, through the lens of our estrangement, I sensed I was not.

I cannot speak to his intentions. Maybe circumstances I don’t understand or cannot appreciate were too insurmountable for him to bridge the gap to a 10-year old me. What I can say though is that I didn’t feel like he fought hard enough for me when he should have. Now here I was looking at my own child, I couldn’t understand how any father wouldn’t. He left our home, but it also felt like he left me.

These were thoughts and feelings I hadn’t given much attention to for 15 – 20 years. It was both confusing and saddening. Here I was, a grown man and now a father myself, suddenly consumed by feelings of rejection and insecurities that hadn’t featured in my adult life until now. My mind suddenly went back to that one time I asked a friend to recommend a good driving school and he responded that he didn’t know of any. When I asked how it possible that he learned to drive and got a license without taking lessons, he told me his dad had taught him. It dawned on me that fathers do these kinds of things with their children.

Up until now, I hadn’t really spent much time dwelling on the father-son experiences I may have missed out on let alone having the opportunity to become embittered by them. But now I looked back and wondered, would he have helped me choose which college to enrol at, or figure out which subjects to study? Would he have taught me how to talk to girls, bought me my first razor, or helped me choose an effective brand of deodorant to use? Would we have developed a shared love for the same sports teams, or had similar hobbies? Would I have had in him an example of fatherhood to emulate rather than the consolation of perceived and conceptual ideals I was left piece together on my own?

My manager at work sometimes talks about his weekends with his sons, scouting for universities or attending regattas together. Another colleague of mine, a regular at our weekly Thursday night football sessions, brings his dad along to play. They happen to be one of two father-son combos there. There’s an entire world of paternal experiences which, prior to the birth of my daughter, were unbeknownst and unfathomable to me. Experiences I am now acutely aware exist as I try to navigate my own path through fatherhood unguided.

Maybe ‘unguided’ isn’t completely accurate. I have friends who are fathers, and friends who, for better or worse, have had present fathers in their own lives. I have received counsel from older men with children who are now grown up themselves, and I am also a part of several amazing dad groups online where dads can seek and offer support to other dads about the challenges of fatherhood. I’m not bereft of inspiration or lacking in resources, but I can’t help but wonder if there is a difference between drawing on second and third-hand sources, or having lived it through my formative years.

I sometimes listen to a podcast by Dope Black Dads, a group of dads who explore the highs and lows of fatherhood and seek to change the narrative of black dads. My experiences are by no means unique, but I am encouraged that there are so many dads out there who recognise the emotional baggage they carry and are committed to breaking the cycle.

Fatherhood is full of mistakes and I’m sure I’ll make plenty of them, I’ll mess up and disappoint the people around me from time to time. Maybe I will never be able to give a complete answer to what it is it like being a dad, but for now however, I think this one comes pretty close: being a dad is my daughter knowing that she is enough, because she is my all.

She’s too young to understand that now but one day she will, and when she does, I’ll never let her forget it.