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.

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.

Isaac is one of 7 children and the youngest boy. He grew up in a house full of love and was extremely close with his dad. He’s also a dad himself. In this episode, we talked about the influences that shaped his journey into manhood, the lessons he’s taken from his upbringing and some of the struggles which challenged his very will to live.

There’s a text in the bible I think appropriately describes Isaac’s Story. It reads:

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”

2 Corinthians 4:8 & 9.

Parts of this conversation features topics which some may find difficult to listen to. Isaac and I talk about his spiral into depression, but as you’ll hear, we also talk about his journey out of it. I think that message of hope is an important one to share.

If you are listening to this and are struggling with thoughts of suicide or self-harm, please reach out to someone. You can contact the Samaritans any time, day or night for free on 116 123 or book an appointment with your GP who can signpost you to other organisations which can provide help.

The struggle may be difficult, but the struggle itself is a sign of life and where there is life, a new story can still be written. A better story.

Jonathan Gardner grew up as a devout Christian. His upbringing at times put him at odds with the desire to fit in with his friends, sharing in their experiences and figuring out adolescence without much of a guidebook to follow.

In this episode, Jonathan recounts some of his experiences growing up, being raised by a single mother and also how the devastating news of a sudden diagnosis changed the course of his life.

As we face a global health crisis, more so now than ever, we reflect on having taken relationships for granted but also the importance of being intentional about remaining connected with the people in our lives.

Jonathan is married and has a young daughter who celebrated her first birthday just this last weekend. We discussed how fatherhood has changed us and the beauty of seeing our daughters come into the world. My conversation with Jonathan lasted well over two hours, and there was much I wasn’t able to include in this episode. One of these was our recognition of the incredible roles the women in our lives have played. This was something Jonathan was keen to express, and I think it’s necessary to mention it here especially as we celebrated Mother’s Day in the UK on yesterday (Sunday 22nd March).

So, to all the mothers out there from those who do it alone to those who share the role of parent with their children’s fathers, a partner or other family members, we see you, we applaud you, and we honour you.

In this episode, Jonathan mentions a video that was sent to him by a couple and which inspired him and his family to move to Scotland. If this is something that interests you or you want to learn more about their story, you can view it on his YouTube channel here.

If you haven’t already listened to the previous episode, Sex in the Church: Part I, then I strongly recommend you do. This episode is a continuation of the conversation I had with Andrew Williams, about how his live changed when he found out at 17 years old that his girlfriend at the time was pregnant with his child.

Andrew and I are both black men, and in addition to his experiences as a co-parent and dating again, we also talk about how our similar cultures have shaped our attitudes towards sex.

Generally speaking, religion (Christianity, in our case) is a significant cultural factor within many Afro-Caribbean communities. Conversations within church about sex, sexuality and sexual conduct are almost always deeply conservative, and often not very open. This, to some extent, influences how open (or not) conversations between parent and child within our communities about sex can be.

As black men, often we learn about sex through our peers, porn and our own experiences, which can be both damaging and unhealthy. And while not explicitly discussed in this episode, there are numerous studies available which show that young black men are disproportionately at high risk of acquiring sexually transmitted infections. Equally, issues such as violence, abuse and a diminished view of the meaningfulness of sex or relationships are outcomes of poor sex education within our homes and the church.

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 button above to start the episode now and thank you for listening.

59% of young Christians disconnect permanently or for an extended period of time from church life after age of 15. A 5-year research project carried out by the Barna Group sought to identify some of the factors which significantly contributed to the attrition rate among teens and young adults.

One of the key reasons highlighted, was that:

“Young Christians’ church experiences related to sexuality are often simplistic, judgmental.”

Six Reasons Young Christians Leave Church, September 27, 2011

The weight of the church’s expectations around chastity and sexual purity, and its response to individuals who do not meet those expectations is an issue that resonates deeply with the guest featured on this episode of Man Ting.

Andrew Williams is 24 years old. He is single, a committed Christian and at one point, harboured a desire to study to become a minister. I’ve known Andrew for something like 18 years – he is the second of three boys and his older brother was one of my best friends throughout secondary school… Oh, and Andrew has a daughter. She’s deeply affectionate, inquisitive and the love of his life.

She’s also 6 years old.

Andrew and his girlfriend at the time found out she was pregnant when he was just 17, and as you’ll hear in this episode, he confessed to me that he was more scared of what he thought his church’s response would be, than he was of his mother’s. His experience with the church in this regard has been one that continues to affect him to this day and very nearly resulted in him leaving it altogether.

At 16 years old, Andrew started preaching in his local church and discovered a passion for ministry. For such a young man at the time, the experience of being entrusted with that responsibility helped him grow immeasurably both personally and spiritually. We start this episode with Andrew talking about his ambition for ministry and his research into universities that could offer him a route towards achieving that goal. But, as you’ll hear, those plans were derailed when his girlfriend fell pregnant with his child and his church took the view that he should be ‘censored’ in response to their indiscretion.

This meant that he was banned from leading or participating in any part of the church service in an official capacity.

For me, the issue of censorship does far more harm than good, and listening to Andrew’s story, you’ll hear why.

This was one of the most riveting conversations I’ve had on the Man Ting podcast so far. So much so that Andrew and I went wildly over time and I’ve had to split this episode into two parts.

Part 2 of this episode will be released on Monday 9th March, so make sure you’re following the show on Spotify so you don’t miss a thing. We delve further into how the church has inadvertently socialised us into believing sex to be dirty or disgusting, and something we certainly can’t have open conversations about. We also talk about growing up as children to Afro-Caribbean parents for whom conversations with their children about sex is not something that was commonplace. We discuss the accessibility of sex, the impact of young people’s exposure to sex is having on them, and the pressures they face from their peer groups.

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 button above to start the episode now and thank you for listening.

If you came here looking for This Dad Life, a blog on delirium and other truths about fatherhood, don’t worry you’re in the right place.

I’ve started a new project, the Man Ting podcast.

The blog will remain active, but in a slightly different format and with the focus on supplementing the podcast content.

New podcast episodes will be released every two weeks featuring all different kinds of men; dads, husbands, singletons, professionals etc. We’ll talk about a variety of topics such as dating, money, sex and of course, fatherhood.

To learn more about the podcast, or if you just want to jump straight in, click the icon below to listen to the introductory episode or to access previous episodes. If you enjoy the podcast and want to hear more, like, comment and follow us on Spotify.

Kenneth Barish Ph.D, author of Pride and Joy: A Guide to Understanding Your Child’s Emotions and Solving Family Problems, wrote that “As parents, we are, unwittingly, too critical of our children.”

Courtney Hoilett and Maurice Reid return to the podcast in this episode to share their experiences on how their their family context and their parental relationships impacted on them. We also talk about the power of encouragement and affirmation from other men who have had a positive influence on our lives, the importance of role models, and figuring out how we want to be viewed by the world around us.

Joining the conversation in addition to Courtney and Maurice, you will also hear from Lee White-Samuels.

Lee has been married for 9 months, and works as a teaching assistant in a school and as a freelance graphic designer. He talks about some of the key ‘coming-of-age’ experiences which helped him develop his confidence as a young black man.

Fundamentally, this episode is about identity and trying to reconcile who we are becoming on our journey through manhood with the stereotypes and labels the world has placed upon us.

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 button above to start the episode now and thank you for listening.

We live in an age where there is certainly a recognition that men and women are entitled to equal opportunities, and rightfully so. But despite the shift towards more women becoming leaders in the workplace and other areas of life, men still feel under a lot of pressure to be financially successful. How do we resolve the internal conflict between the intrinsic need to be capable providers and the reality that our value as men doesn’t need to be centred on our ability to accumulate resources?

How transparent should we be with our partners about money, and how do we share the responsibilities for managing finances within our relationships?

This episode features a new addition to the Man Ting podcast, Chukwudi Ugbomah.

Chukwudi is a teacher in a secondary school, a musician and he’s currently engaged to be married. In this episode, we talk about the complex minefield that is dating for marriage, knowing when you’ve found ‘the one’, and resolving conflicts within our relationships when they arise.

Both myself and Chukwudi are massive sports fans, and in the week where Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash along with his 13 year old daughter and 7 other victims, it was impossible not to talk about his legacy as a supreme athlete on the court, and a doting dad off it. We explore what the concept of legacy means for us, and how we as men create something of value for those who come after to emulate and surpass.

Rest in Peace:
Kobe Bryan, age 41
Gianna Bryant, age 13
John Altobelli, age 56
Kerri Altobelli, age 46
Alyssa Altobelli, age 13
Sarah Payton, age 45
Payton Chester, age 13
Christina Mauser, age 38
Ara Zobayan, age 50

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 button above to start the episode now and thank you for listening.