It’s no secret that Father’s Day, especially in Jamaica, is greeted with very little fanfare and celebration, if any at all. The reason for this is pretty clear: most of us (myself included) grew up in single parent homes with mothers who played the role of our fathers. I have shared my experience of growing up without a father in a previous post, and like I said then, it’s only now as an adult, as I take on the role of a wife and witness men who really champion the role of fathers that I’ve truly come to realize that I really missed out.
And so, this week I want to turn the focus on men who are great fathers. I will be showcasing men who fully embrace fatherhood and everything that comes with being a supportive husband and a great father.
Starting with Stephen Price.
Most likely you already know of Stephen. He is undoubtedly one of Jamaica’s most successful business executive who wears multiple hats. You may have interacted with Stephen as one of the directors of Dream Entertainment Limited or Chow Society Limited, two of Jamaica’s premier entertainment event companies. Or you may know him as the VP of Retail Sales & Distribution at Flow Jamaica where his achievements are too many to list.
But, Stephen’s professional career (as impressive as it is) isn’t the focus of this post. We are celebrating Stephen for his role as an amazing husband and a super dad. Thankfully, Stephen was able to carve out some time to share with us in a very candid and meaningful way.
(To my male readers, this post may be a bit long, but I promise you, it’s worth the read.)
Read on and be inspired.
How has having a child changed your life?
Fatherhood has been an amazing journey for me. It has impacted me in many ways and has allowed me to evolve or grow into the person I am today. You see, I didn’t have the typical father-son relationship, which is not uncommon for most Jamaican men. My Dad migrated when I was six years old for a better life, which was the dream of any parent at that time. Things didn’t work out as they should, and being the typical proud Jamaican male, he was unable to recover from this failure to return to his family. So, I had no father around for most of my life.
In 2007 when my father had a week to live from terminal cancer, I began to undergo the process of letting go of the resentment I felt towards my father for not being there. Most importantly, I accepted the fact that there was actually nothing he could do to give me back those lost years.
We spoke amicably at his bedside, as there just were no words that could change what had happened, only words of care, understanding and consolation. I spoke to him more in those last seven days than I ever remember all my life. His son, with whom he had no relationship, became the person that had to bury him.
It was in setting aside decades of hate that I realized the one way to bury the demons of the past was to embrace a decision to be better than my father. This gave me the drive and commitment to become the best father that I could be, even before experiencing this role. As a result of this journey, my heart has been opened fully to the miracles of childbirth and I now love totally and unconditionally, without self-interest or preservation, and I wake-up each day and go to sleep knowing that I live for my family and nothing else.
So in answering, both death and childbirth have created a whole new renewal in my life. Each birth has made me a better father with the guidance of a loving wife. I’m no expert, but I’ve seen quite a bit in these five years.
What did you panic about as a first time father?
I really didn’t panic at all, especially at the delivery. I believe I was actually born for this. I took to it like a fish to water. What I do remember is that I morphed into the “Germ Guardian” barking instructions at everyone who would touch or come close to the baby.
But, if I remember well, my first bit of panic was the first time I was home alone with Aidan. This was two days after he was born. In fact, Aidan was born on my birthday on Friday, February 25th 2011 at 7:10 PM. He had arrived a week early and Imani’s friends had planned a baby shower for her on the Sunday and she still wanted to go as she had a great birth. I said to her, “No problem hon, I’ll take care of him.” Those were the most dreaded four hours of parenthood. Imagine a baby only used to breastfeeding, having to be fed slowly by spoon at two days old, by an inexperienced ‘virgin’ parent like myself. I survived, but you wouldn’t believe my elation at the sound of the knock on the door by Imani! I will live with that badge of honour for those fearless four hours.
You know how women share parenting tips with each other, do men do this?
Not often, but for my friends with newborns, I now share and roll-out my super arsenal which helped me to survive the newborn trepidation. After that, you’re typically on your own. Some may feel it’s not manly, but it’s important to read… read… read.
I suggest the following:
- DadLabs: Pregnancy and Year One Clay Nichols;
- Your Pregnancy for the Father-to-Be: Everything Dads Need to Know about Pregnancy, Childbirth and Getting Ready for a New Baby (Your Pregnancy Series) Glade B. Curtis, Judith Schuler;
- Watch this DVD!!! Best thing you can do to look like an expert… The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Baby Sleep Longer Dr. Harvey Karp; and finally
- Sign-up to Babycenter.com. They give you weekly updates of the growth of your baby through pregnancy and the first couple years of their lives.
What’s more nerve-racking? Making a new business pitch to your bosses or heading to the delivery room?
I think the business pitch is more nerve-racking. I’m a little different with my approach to delivery so I wasn’t scared at all, in the sense that my wife and I chose Hypnobirthing as our method for childbirth.
Wow. Hypnobirthing, this does sound like an intriguing process.
That’s a whole different topic on its own as I know questions are going to be asked by the readers. “Hypnobirthing” is a childbirth technique which basic premise is the removal of fear. The removal of fear considerably reduces or even eliminates pain, which is thought to be caused or exacerbated by fear. Hypnobirthing allowed me to understand the birthing process and engage in a role that was both supportive and enabling of that space for my wife to have the most natural and amazing birthing experiences possible.
Men often complain about how hormonal and emotional women get during pregnancy. How did you handle this and how do you offer support?
Take deep breaths. Smile. Keep calm. Say lots of, “Yes honey”, “Certainly dear”, “I will get that for you”, “You're so gorgeous” and “You're glowing”. Those responses will keep you out of trouble.
Remember it’s not about you. She will tell you it’s your fault. I remember an argument I had to endure about my selfishness in buying a book of baby names and not considering her in the process. I had to take deep breaths in order to rationally discuss that one.
A few other tips I will offer are:
- Keep communicating with her throughout this period.
- Remember pregnancy is not a death sentence to the house aand she can still go out with you on dates, etc.
- Compliments are essential. Insecurity creeps in as her body starts to change. So you must reinforce this.
- Learn about her cravings. If you get what she wants, before she asks… you're a winner!
All the women I interviewed have agreed children can put a damper on sex. How much dent does having a child put in your sex life?
It certainly does, but you have to remember that you aren’t together because of kids. So if it means scheduling sex, then I guess you have to do it. I’m a living mess at this as I have three young kids and both my wife and I have busy careers. The important thing is to recognize when you’re slipping and take the steps to correct that immediately. Take weekends away and send the kids to their grandparents. Trust me on this.
In today’s crime ridden society, with the abuse and increased violence against children, what measures do you put in place to protect your children? This question is from Garfield (obviously).
I ensure that my home is protected by alarms and by a recognized armed response unit. My kids also know who the safe persons in their lives are. As they get older, I recommend wearables for kids with tracking devices (where you can geo-fence and be alerted if your child goes outside of a boundary). You never know in these times.
Parents are always competing for their children’s affection. What’s the biggest bribe/gift you’ve given?
I don’t think bribes work. Kids are smart; they learn what to exploit over time. An occasional Lego toy or reward or a simple high-five for doing good things promote the right behaviours.
What is your biggest fear as a dad? (Another Garfield question)
My biggest fear is not being around to experience them until I’m old. Sometimes I regret leaving it to my later 30s to have kids. If you want kids, do it early. The waiting on career, etc. is over-rated. There’s never a perfect time to have them. You just have to create the space when they arrive.
Are you the disciplinarian in your household or are you easily worked over by the puppy-dog eyes?
Mom’s the better disciplinarian, even though I recognize the coarse stern fatherly tone goes a long way. Puppy-dog eyes from my girls Marley and Selah will always get me. My son Aidan doesn’t necessarily get away with anything.
What is the most uncomfortable topic you’ve had to discuss with your children or do you anticipate discussing?
None, really. I think it’s better to be up front and answer the questions in the best age-appropriate way possible. There are going to be tons of influences and sources of information. It’s best that the right information comes from you as parents. I’m sure the sex question with my daughters will be the one that bowls me over, but it’s important to keep that trust because if you lose it, you won’t get it back easily.
What’s your favourite father/daughter, father/son bonding activity?
Trips to the swimming pool are always great. They’re fearless when it comes to the water, so seeing them and playing with them is always loads of fun. Other than that, my daughter Marley snuggles up to me to watch television which is always an awesome experience for a dad, and of course, I love when Selah smiles and falls asleep on my chest.
I think we are all so unaccustomed to seeing men play an active role in their children’s life that we shower praises on men for doing things that, in truth, moms routinely do and are expected to do. For example, nobody bats an eye at a mom changing a diaper but we are in awe of fathers who do. Do you think fathers should be held to same parenting standards as mothers?
Yes, I do think so. It’s a partnership, so I believe both parties should be held to account equally. Especially in these times where both parents are likely to be working, it’s essential that all responsibilities are shared.
A slightly different question, there is a wide perception that men are the breadwinners of the family which means they are expected to spend more time working as they focus on building their career or businesses. Many children of hugely successful men admit that they had very little interaction with their fathers. How difficult is it to balance your professional life and your role as a dad?
It is extremely difficult, but I always remember that one story about the jar of life and that keeps me grounded. I try to ensure that the large stones (My health, family, friends and goals) are placed in the jar first. If I fill the jar with pebbles and sand (the small stuff in life), there won’t be space for the important things. It’s about recognizing what’s important, and that’s what I’ve tried to teach anyone on the teams that I’ve managed.
What’s the best advice that you’ve received as a father?
I've been told that I’m the only one that can be the best father for my children. So, I just try to live up to the responsibility of ensuring that I provide that moral compass and upbringing to my kids so that they know what’s right and wrong and equip them with the tools that will help them make the best decisions for themselves as they get older.
What the most important advice would you give to a new father?
There’s no manual to fatherhood. Equip yourself with as much information as possible, but hang on for the ride. It’s an eye-opening experience that will challenge your vision of how children are raised based on how your parents probably raised you. You’ll feel like a huge success… you’ll feel like a huge failure…. all in the space of a couple hours.
Just know that you are the father that was ordained for your child and that this is the child that was perfectly made for you. Listen to advice, but know that in the end you’ll make the decisions that are best for your children.
Finish these sentences.
Being a father means… totally dedicating yourself to the shaping of a life for the rest of your life.
The first time I laid my eyes on my child I thought… this was the most perfect moment in my life. Then I thought the same thing two more times with the birth of my two daughters. It’s almost indescribable, all of the emotion that is summed up in the process of childbirth up to the moment of hearing his or her first cry.
Thank you to Stephen for kicking off our Father's Day feature! Look out for our other incredible dads and if you enjoyed this, please share and tag a great dad!