Black Dad Connection’s core approach is informed by our seven Not Super Powers. These Not Super Powers are the subtle themes derived from the book Not Superdad, the very personal fatherhood book written by the Keith D. Morton. Combined they create the foundation for what we believe helps make good fathers. The 7 Not Super Powers are not tricks, and do not require a dad to be able to fly or lift cars or see though walls. They are things that any dad can do if he wants to and commits to it. We do not cultivate parenting skills per se (there are many wonderful organizations out there doing that work, as well as hundreds of books). This BDC approach is about promoting a lifestyle that can be modified and customized to fit the needs of each dad at every stage of fatherhood. In other words, if you are a father and already incorporate one or two (or more) of these Not Super Powers into your life, then you can continue your personal journey by adding to, and expanding your repertoire. With a co-focus on health and disease prevention and managing existing conditions, Black Dad Connection strives to keep dads alive.
The 7 Not Super Powers are as follows:
There are some diseases that disproportionately affect black men. These diseases include: high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, prostate cancer, colon cancer and others. Many of these ailments have genetic origins and their prevalence is amplified by poor lifestyle choices. Knowing your risk for these life threatening diseases and doing what you can to prevent them does not require super powers, only a commitment to staying alive for as long as you can for the sake of your children. In addition to physical health, mental health and positive thinking is vital to the success of a father. Keeping the mind functioning in a positive and healthy way takes as much effort as lifting weights and eating well and should be acknowledged as such.
Personal growth can happen through learning. Learning and developing knowledge builds confidence, earning potential and a sense of accomplishment. It can come in the form of a college degree, taking continuing education courses, earning certifications, or pursuing independent study. It does not have to happen in the classroom. In fact some of the best learning happens in the real world (and no, we do not mean that long running MTV show). Knowing when and where to find learning opportunities, and welcoming them, is the essential. BDC can help direct a father’s energy toward learning and self improvement.
3. New Dad for Life
One of the myths of fatherhood, and parenthood in general, is that after 18 years of parenting your job is done and you can move on. However, this is obviously not the case. After a child graduates from high school a shift in the parental role does occur, but a dad is still a dad. Hopefully the new role will be that of an advisor, friend, and confidant while continuing the role as cheerleader (pompoms optional) and advocate. That can only happen if it is accepted that there are new roles in the parenting journey at various stages throughout life. Being a dad never comes to an end, it just changes. That’s why BDC supports fatherhood for life. That’s also why we believe you are always a new dad, even when you are an older dad with nothing better to do than harass your kids.
4. Connections Through Effort
From when a baby is first born there are opportunities for a dad to connect. Being present as the baby comes into the world is the first, and there are many to come. Seizing those little opportunities is what solidifies connections throughout life. Everything from taking a few of the late night feedings each week, and diaper changes when they are brand new, to taking a walk to the corner store when they are toddlers, to shopping for a birthday gift for mommy when they are old enough to have an opinion on what mommy would like, to just chatting at the dinner table with your teens are all opportunities to connect.
Sometimes a dad may need to tell himself to do something (like invite his son on a trip to the hardware store even though he’d prefer to go alone so he can grunt and scratch without an eyewitness). Other times it’s natural and spontaneous (like a random conversation about how mommy and daddy met at a bar, or wrestling). Either way making connections is as important as paying the bills, and BDC encourages connecting for life.
Prioritization is doing what’s most important first. Sacrifice, in terms of parenting, is when a parent gives up something they care deeply about for the children they care about more. These are intrinsically joined concepts because to prioritize often means to sacrifice. If a dad’s priority is spending time with his children, then that may mean sacrificing a weekend of sports on TV. Conceivably a parent can spend more than 9 hours in a weekend watching just three football or baseball games. That is a lot of potential connecting time, especially for smaller children who may not want to sit around and watch that many hours of sports.
BDC believes that if dads skip a few games they can add hours of potential family time to their week. The mothers of your children will love this even if you don’t. And doesn’t that make it worth it? The same goes for coming home early from work. If a client can be called the next day or a project can be resumed in the morning without significant loss of productivity, then prioritize the family and go home. These are examples of sacrifices. The concept has to be integrated through practice and prioritization.
6. Take Fun Action
Being an involved dad means taking effective action in the spirit of fun. BDC believes that dynamic actions are those that bring a little more joy, a little more fun, and stronger connections to the father/child relationship. So wear the silly hat that makes your kid laugh, buy the adult sized kick scooter so you can race your kid through the park (and join the BDC scooter crew), learn the pop song that your little princess loves and sing it to her in your best teen idol voice. Repeat a limerick (or not). Be dynamic. Be energetic. Do the little things that get the big rewards.
7. Build Your Instincts.
Understanding the developing child is different for dads. A mother, generally speaking, has natural instincts that kick in though the process of pregnancy and afterward. Mothers can breastfeed. For most men the prevalent instinct is to take care of the family though working and paying for things and protection. To develop the other instincts takes practice. Knowing when a child needs a hug, versus a punishment isn’t as clear as one might think. Paying attention to the moods and needs of a child will develop that gut instinct that will travel with a dad into adolescence when he will really need to “know” what the kid is thinking.
Psychological studies show that by the time a child is six years old they have developed the approximate personality that they will carry with them through life. This gives plenty of time for a dad to study that personality so they can know who their child is when hormones and peer pressure begin to kick up. Unfortunately BDC does not offer mind reading classes at this time and anyone who does is probably a quack.
In conclusion, none of the Not Super Powers can be integrated into a dad’s lifestyle if that dad is dead because of some preventable or manageable disease. Not Super Power number one (Wellness) is the launching pad for all the others. If a dad is not healthy it becomes nearly impossible to be the best dad one can be. He will be distracted, without energy, and maybe depressed. BDC will support prevention and management of disease though its programs, initiatives, partnerships and participation from dads.