MeIt was Father’s Day five years ago, when Marvin Harrison would send a heartfelt message to his friends and change his life forever. At that time, his son was three years old and his daughter was six months old. And he always felt like a fake, spoofing. “I felt like a scam,” he says.
He was experiencing the move to become a loving dad and a supportive husband without feeling the strong emotional bond he had always felt with his children. Looking back now, he said, “I didn’t know how to connect more deeply.”
His job in marketing is to work long hours, and when he is at home, his priority as a father is to promote and support his wife, Nina, in her role as a mother. I thought it should be. But at the same time, he felt something was missing from his relationship with his children.
His father hasn’t been in his life since he was 18 months old. And every time he saw another dad hugging his child, playing games, and having fun with him, he thought of himself. Many of those moments. To the other dad, it all looked so easy and so innate that he thought it must be his fault. “It had to be me. I just had to.”
When her daughter Ocean was born, this feeling that he alone lacked the ability to feel a deep and meaningful connection with the children was strengthened.
Faced with the challenge of raising toddlers and babies, he couldn’t stop looking at himself through his father’s lens of failure. “I was based on my experience with my father, or my feelings about becoming a father, based on my experience, or lack of experience. I was fighting it almost as a devil. I was better than him. , He wanted to be, active and affectionate in a way he wasn’t. “
A week before his life-changing Father’s Day, he remembers trying to take care of Blake and Ocean alone while his wife was absent. “As the sea began to cry, I picked her up and tried to appease her, and it made her cry even more. It was as if she was saying:” Your hand from me Please let go, where is my mother? “
He felt rejected. “Then her cry warned Blake, and he was like,’Yes, I want my mother too.’ “
Inevitably, “Carfaffle” awakened his wife. “And I had to give her her daughter to her, and then my son jumped past me and jumped at her,” Yeah! I want a mummy. “
He felt completely inadequate. “When my wife was sleeping, I thought she couldn’t even support her because she had so much desire.” He wondered what she could do as her father if she couldn’t. I did. “It really affected me. I didn’t feel good.”
He sat down for a week with his own feelings, then it was Father’s Day. “But I didn’t feel like celebrating. I didn’t feel like I had to do it.”
He sent WhatsApp messages to other black fathers he knew (a group of 23 at the time) and considered them role models, hoping they had Happy Father’s Day. I decided to tell. “I write:” I look at you when I’m thinking about how to become a parent, and I find it really difficult, so to everyone here I just want to thank you. “
At that time, he discovered that other black dads felt the same way. “We were all staring at each other without our knowledge.” He became more open about his feelings. “And everyone started talking about how they needed to share their stories and celebrate each other more.”
It was the beginning of a conversation about black paternity that ultimately led to a global movement. Soon, black dads from around the world joined the WhatsApp group and shared their experiences as a father. Harrison is faced with specific challenges and anxieties that are often associated with racism and cultural beliefs peculiar to black fathers, and has the right platform to support each other. I realized it was necessary.
He launched the (currently award-winning) podcast Dope Black Dads and started building an online community of the same name with other fathers.
Today, thousands of blacks around the world use his forums to discuss male parenting, masculinity, and high and low mental health. And this year, Harrison was looking forward to celebrating his Father’s Day.
“Now I feel that parenting is my superpower,” he says. “I enjoy it so much.” He looks back on how broken and helpless he felt five years ago, and his young that you can’t force a connection with a child. I hope I can tell myself. “It happens naturally when you are at work, and in time.”
A breakthrough of his own occurred when he began practicing the affirmation of Break. “I will make him laugh:’I am brave’. And he will shout it at the top of his voice.”
I spend more time alone with my kids, talking to them about Arsenal and other passions, getting things done, going for walks and drives, going to playgroups and cinemas. He learned the true meaning of being his father. “Beautiful. But you have to launch yourself into it. You make a mistake. It’s not easy. There will be days when you won’t sleep. You will be thrown out. You will be thrown somewhere. When you go out and get there, they will tell you that you want to go home now. All of them are personality formation and you will learn to really love your child. “
Looking back on his early days as a father, he wants more skin-to-skin contact with the baby, slings the baby, helps his wife with an evening meal, and discusses something more often. .. Even if it was what they had for breakfast. “Your voice needs to calm your child, it must be something that calms them – and your smell, your touch should also. And it all helps you. Masu – not only about your connection, but also about your connection. “
Knowing this, he now realized that “I just didn’t have the tools” when his baby needed comfort.
After all, his own father wasn’t there to help or guide him. “It wasn’t until I became a dad that I realized the amount of information I didn’t have. He taught me only those who I didn’t want to be.”
Instead, it was empowering to understand that he could get the support and guidance he needed from his peers. He is also grateful for the patience and support of his wife, and his children have taught him a lot.
A loving and current father, he finds it less complicated now. “It’s just time. It’s a quality time with them, doing whatever they do, watching how they observe the world and who they are naturally when they are free. “
Also, as the child gets older, it gets easier. “As they become more agile and more aware of things, I can teach them little things and they want to come back to me and learn to do something. I noticed that. “
One of the reasons He decided to practice his affirmations with his children as he experienced “extreme racism” as a child at a hackney chasing the street, called N-word. He has a positive inner voice to his children and knows what to say to himself in his mind when exposed to racism or ridiculed for something different. I want to get it. “It is very important to tell our children that they are beautiful, powerful, affectionate and kind, because I don’t think society will tell them that.”
Seeing how his children benefited from saying affirmations and how confident they were, he decided to write a picture book of the children listing them. i love me! Featuring Blake and Ocean’s illustrations – was released last month, Harrison wants other black fathers to use it as a way to connect with their children.
“This book does a lot of hard work, but to the kids it feels like you’re talking to them.”
Since he founded Dope Black Dads, the priorities of his life have changed. In the past, he usually worked 13 or 14 hours. “I just keep going, go, go. But I don’t have the desire to do it anymore. I want to be with the kids. I want to experience with them. I take them to the place. I want to go. They are the most important people in my life. “
He no longer realizes that he is wondering what his purpose is or why we are all here. “I have that brilliance I was looking for, lacking-and it’s really powerful.”
i love me! Marvin Harrison, Diane Yuen (McMillan, £ 7.99) Available at guardianbookshop.com for £ 7.43