Great question. There's this story about a guy named Marc who went to the barbershop and had the same question. Where I'm from, barbers are like psychologists. Their advice is real, uncut, and straight to the point.
Marc's a first time father who hadn't been in his 5 year old daughter's life. The conversation went like this:
Marc: Nothing. I mean, nothing besides her moms.
Barber: She won't let you see her?
Marc: Nah she do. But I can't be around that woman for 2 minutes without fussing and getting stressed out. I just be tryna get away from her, but that means getting away from Amiyah(his daughter) too. But don't get it twisted, I take care of her. I just can't deal with her moms and for real for real, it ain't like I can raise no girl to be a woman no way. That's a woman's job.
Barber: You can't be serious. A daughter definitely needs her father.
Marc: Nah I carry my weight and I ain't even on child support. Ain't a week that go by that I don't send money for clothes, food, whatever she need.
Barber: No, I'm not just talking about money. You're the first impression of a man she'll ever have. You keep on thinking that giving her money should compensate for the conversations you're not having with her, and she'll grow up to let those same dollars compensate for the respect she's not getting.
Marc: But it ain't even like that. I gotta grind to make sure she got the stuff she need. If I miss a birthday party, that's better than her missing a meal.
Barber: But those few hours you sacrifice to watch her blow out her birthday candles will mean the world to her. You can't keep saying how much you want to be there for her, while your actions say otherwise. You don't think she'll grow up to meet another dude who'll give her the same lip service to get in her underwear but go missing as soon as her period does?
Marc: Ay that's my baby girl you talking about.
Barber: Which is exactly why you need to hear this. You're only increasing her tolerance for the bullshit that'll come her way from another man who claims to love her. It's on us to define what a real man is so that they won't get it confused with these lame dudes who calling em "bad bitches". You're more than just a provider and a protector, you're a parent.
Marc: I ain't perfect, but I do love her.
Barber: Her abusive boyfriend she'll have one day won't be perfect either. You really wanna teach her to accept that as an excuse?
Marc: No! I couldn't live with myself if I ever let that happen. I just...I don't know man. I feel like, ain't but so much I can do other than make sure she eat. That's what I
thought the role of a dad is 'sposed to be.
The barber stopped his clippers and turned Marc around to look him in the face
Barber: Put it like this. She turns on the radio and rappers are telling her to "drop that ass". She opens a magazine and designers are telling her beauty comes in one size. She turns on the TV and sees women who let plastic surgeons scribble over the masterpiece God painted. You know what they have in common? They all point to her body as the source of her value. It's your role as her father to make sure she redirects the world to what's behind her eyes. Not with your promises you make, but with the ones you keep.
I agree with the barber, but what about you?