Older Dad Gives Advice For Younger Dads

published on July 2, 2020

– She's gonna reach a point

where no matter what you say,

her 16-year old eyes

have seen more than you'll ever know

and she's gonna tell you

she has the world figured out

(organ music)

Hello, I'm Varno Harris

I've been a father for
approximately 30 years

Five children

It has ups, it has its downs

I wouldn't trade it in for the world

Ask A Black Dad was started

so that when you have a question

that no one particular voice
dominates that main stream

or that conversation

Access to different fathers

and the way that they believe

that their children should be brought up,

may be another tool that you
can place in your toolbox,

that can help you along the way

Today, I'll be taking questions
from three young fathers,

and giving them some advice
from an old father like myself

And like they say in Fat Albert,

if you're not careful,

you might just learn something
before this is all over with

– Hey, what's up, my name is Kier

I have been a father for 2 1/2 years now

My daughter Emery will be three soon

She's a superstar, she
don't even know it man

You know, after this
conversation I really hope

to get an idea of how

a man who was once my
age, and in my predicament

kind of navigated through
that difficult situation,

and he came out in one piece

'Cause I don't know how I'ma do that

– I'm Ify, and I'm the father
of Naomi, a 4-year old

I have a dad, and he's
side coaching me already,

but it's always good to, for me I believe,

to get some advice and information

from someone who really doesn't know you,

who doesn't have all this
bias that's coming from you

– All right, getting ready
for this call with Mr Harris

I'm excited, man, 'cause
I got so many questions

I'm a father of 9-year old

Y'all know Lin

We did a couple videos
together, but, amen,

she's about to be a preteen

so I know it's about to get real

So I'm really looking
forward to talking to him

seeing what insights he could give me

(bright music)

– So, you have kids that
are all different ages

Infancy, toddler-hood,
adolescence, teenage years,

adulthood, like, which
stage was your favorite?

Like why did you love that stage?

– Adolescence

I think that's the time
that I love the most,

because now you're letting them go

They're going to school now,
they're just starting school

and they're just,

their water's starting
to open up a little more,

and they're telling you their
friends they're meeting,

and now they're, you know,

you gotta let them go sleep
over somebody's house–

– No, you killin' me

You say something that's good

and then you just let it get back down

– That's the best part

And I think that's my favorite part

is because now I'll be 55 in August

and when I dream now,

and my kids are in my
dreams, they're that age

They're 7, 8, 9, you know so–

– I've heard about that before

If they're frozen in
their time in your dream

– Yeah, they are

They're actually there

That state is what they're in

and I think that's
because that's the state

that I really thought
was the most amazing

– So what you're basically saying

is my best days are yet to come

– [Andrew] Me and my daughter's mom,

we're not together at the moment

So I'm thinking about like,

I'm getting older now,

starting that kind of traditional family

where my new person will be in the house,

and I'll have five kids running around

or something like that

With you having a household full of kids,

'cause, it's what, seven of y'all total?

Y'all could do like a
pickup basketball game,

like y'all got subs and everything, so–

– That's a relief guys

(laughter)

– So just, how did you kind
of handle a household full?

– My oldest son, is
from my first marriage

When I was in the Marine Corps

Then I got married again,

and when me and my wife
started having my other,

my first daughter, the
first thing we did was

when my son came into the house,

sometimes some people in
your family, you know,

cousins and all that
"Oh that's your step–"

I said no he's not a step
brother, he's your brother

Don't put nothing between
you and your brother

And from there about how do we keep

the household together without
losing your head, your mind?

Everybody has responsibilities,

everybody has a chore, and
everybody has to see love

They have to see discipline,

they have to see that they
are expected to read books,

but they expect to see you read a book

And give yourself some time

Every now and then,
have grandma watch 'em

(laughter)

Have auntie watch 'em,

but make sure grandma's a good grandma

and auntie's a good auntie

You know what I'm saying?

Don't let no, don't send your children,

don't send your gems to houses
that are gonna ruin 'em

– So I was wondering,

what was a moment in your daughters youth

that you wish you cherished more?

Something that you think that, you know,

you're like watch out for
that 'cause this is gonna be,

you know, that moment

(laughs)

– For my oldest daughter I would say,

when we first put her in T-Ball

And I was one of the
coaches, and I watched her

She was 4 or 5 something like that

And these herd of kids
were sitting in the ground,

picking daisies and throwing
dirt on each other's hair

And I'm like, "No, no you
gotta stay here you gotta–"

And if you just let,

what we did was, and I
didn't know it till later on,

what we did as parents
was we got in the middle

of just kids being kids

There were at a place where
they were there to play

and they were playing how kids play

But we were gonna tell 'em,

"No, you're gonna play this way,

"this is how you're gonna play"

If I would have just relaxed,

and not been so, you know,

every time she got back on the dirt

I'd pick her back up and you know,

and I shouldn't have did that

You know so if I could go back over things

I would cherish more
while I had a chance to

– The whole dating thing, like, I'm crazy

I'm crazy, at least I think I'm crazy

Because in my head I'm like,

"No, nobody is good
enough for my daughter,

"nobody's gonna date my kid,

"y'all are just gonna
be in this house forever

"one big happy family"

Right?

I know that's not
realistic but let me cook

In terms of dating, how do you set

realistic expectations, for yourself

– She's gonna grow into
a beautiful young woman,

and on her way getting there,

she's gonna be a beautiful girl

And guys are gonna be attracted to her

What me and my wife
did was we made a plan

Okay, what do we think
is the appropriate age

for her to interact as far as you know,

talking to boys, you know,
when that level comes

When our daughters were old enough

and mature enough, we had
conversations with 'em

We didn't just allow the school to have

the birds and the bees
conversation with 'em

And we didn't wait for
somebody in the street

or their friends to tell 'em

the birds and the bees conversation

You wait for little Paul to
tell 'em the birds and the bees,

you don't know exactly
what he's telling them,

and why he's telling them exactly

You know what I'm saying

And then, the way she watches
you interact with mom

– Yeah!

– That's gonna be key

She's gonna see how a
man's supposed to act

A child should see mom and dad disagree

A child needs to see an argument

just like they need to see love,

they need to know how to argue

Because if they don't know how to argue,

when I say argue, that means
constructively disagree

And be able to disagree
and go to the fact of,

"Okay let's go to bed, we
ain't getting over this one

"But we going to bed
and we still together"

If she can't see that,
or he can't see that

what happens is, somebody's
going to show 'em how to argue

They'll go, "Oh this is
how it's supposed to be

"I saw it on TV somebody
said that this is how,"

especially blacks, "this is
how we supposed to do this"

That's not how it happens,

so they need to see us be
loving they need to see us,

you know the whole thing

– I'm seeing a lot of constant just

attack, attack, attack,

especially on like the black man

So a little bit about me I'm
originally from New Jersey,

so I'm kind of moving to
LA, chasing the dream,

I'm raising a daughter,

and then it's like I also
have to lead my house

and deal with just America
on their (beep) again

for lack of a better term

And it's kind of frustrating sometimes

when I see that I have to fight

all these individual battles,

so a lot of times it gets overwhelming

So when I think of, you know, five kids

and coming home, I'm
like, I would love that,

if I lived in a sitcom, but
with the America that I know,

I don't even know if I want that

You know what I mean?

And I kinda start getting
into my head about it

– Remember this,

you're not gonna change
the fact you're black

We're trying to change the
fact of how America sees us,

but you're not gonna
change the fact your black

You're not gonna change the
fact you have black kids,

and we are unapologetic that
they're gonna be beautiful

and they're gonna be rock stars

They're gonna show up and
they're gonna show out,

because we gonna put the work in

But we also have to remember

that we have to give 'em hope,
because right now a child

is watching what's happening on TV

See my children are a little older,

but still I have to give 'em hope

I have to tell them I
remember what I started from

I remember the incidents
that happened to me

And I remembered to not
take all that with me

The scars, my ancestor
carried the scars for me

just told me, "remember that
I took the scar for you"

'Cause the minute we
let somebody defeat us,

it's over, this is just the
way it's gonna always be

Then we lost

– [Kier] You said you grew
up with your dad right?

– My dad was in the household,

he wasn't married to my mom
but he was in the house

– Right and I'm, like I always
try to separate it like,

when you got your father in
the house and he's active,

father in the house but
he's not active at all

Which I recently learned,

is almost as bad if
not worse in some cases

as not having a father at all

And then you have not having a dad at all

So you got these men that come from these

three different family structures

Like for the guys who either
had a kinda not there dad,

or no dad at all

What advice would you give them,

just to keep their head on straight?

You know what I'm saying?

Trying to persevere through
learning how to be a dad,

learning how to be a man,
learning how to be a partner,

like what advice would you give them?

Like a quick endurance

– Quick endurance here you go

Number one, don't lie to
yourself, and be truthful

– Man

– That means that if you
had a dad in the house,

and you gotta know the difference

I had a dad, you know,

okay what was dad in the house doing?

What did he do?

Like, I was diagnosed with
Child of Adult Alcoholic

There was trauma in the house

You understand?

But to get past that you have

to admit there was trauma in the house

You have to admit that that changed some

of the way you think, you thought

So before you can even do that,

you gotta understand that
maybe there's a sickness

You don't have a father in the house

Your father not being there caused you

to have some kind of sickness

You know what I'm saying?

So now you got a kid

If you look around and you got a kid,

and you on YouTube, you on Xbox,

you on the PlayStation,
and your kid is miles away

and you ain't seen that kid in six months,

you got a problem

But if you don't admit you got
a problem you can't fix it

Number two, you have to find
some way to love yourself

Because I don't care who you are,

if you don't love you,

you're not gonna love that child

the way that child needs to be loved

And you definitely ain't
gonna love no woman

or no man the way they wanna be loved

– Yeah

– You can't if you don't love yourself

Then number three, you
have to break that cycle

If you find yourself in a cycle

where you're doing the same
things that grandad did,

the same things that daddy did

You're sitting there and you're doing it

and you know it's wrong

– Yeah

– You have to stop

So that's why I'm saying you
have to learn to fix yourself

and sometimes fixing yourself
means don't be looking

for somebody to love,
because you gotta fix this

It's broke and it's hurt

You have to find a way

If it means opening a
Bible, or Quran, a Torah,

maybe just looking up at the stars,

doing something, you have
to fix that inside yourself

You got to

You got to know the difference
and you have to be honest

You know what I'm saying, be truthful

Sometimes the truth
hurts, the truth is ugly

– Man the truth always hurts

The truth, you know what hurts?

The truth and growth

– What's something that you
think that I should know,

as a father?

– That's a good question

What you should know, you'll be fathering

your child, your daughter,
for the rest of your life

That means that when she gets
50, you're gonna be daddy

But you also have to understand that,

as she's young now,

she's gonna grow into who she's gonna be

Enjoy a moment

Every moment that you
have with a child, enjoy

You know what I'm saying?

Because, I promise you one
day you're gonna sit back

and say, "I remember when"

and it's gonna be those
moments that you cherish

Another thing you have to do,

is you have to remember
that you are raising,

no matter what, black children

And being a black male,
you have to understand that

there's strikes already
gonna be thrown at her

And she has to know that,

and you have to be there to protect her

Protecting her is meaning
make sure she has this,

make sure she has this

You know, because anybody can
run around and throw hands

But who has this to think and this

You're doing good young
man don't worry about it

– All right

– Give your daughter a
hug and a kiss for me

– All right will do,
thank you so much sir

– No, thank you for asking

– I'm gonna be real Mr Harris,

man you gave me some gems today man

I'm taking notes over here
like I feel a lot better

– Man I wanna know, you
got all of this wisdom

and you got this real calm aura about you

Like the young folk, we
used to say unbothered

You look like you don't trip off too much

I'm just trying to get the way you act,

that place you at, enjoy that,

us young dudes are
working to be right there

– You're gonna get there,
you're gonna get there

Trust me

This has been a very heartwarming

and joyful experience to see the future

I think it's beautiful,
I think this is the start

of tearing down some of the stereotypes

And I hope nothing but
the best for all of them

If you enjoyed watching the conversations

I had with these young fathers,

and you wanna learn a
little bit more about me,

please visit my channel Ask A Black Dad

Everybody's welcome

You know and don't let
the work black scare you,

because ask a father
and ask a dad was taken

And to all you fathers out there,

and all you expecting fathers,

from Ask A Black Dad, Happy Father's Day

(peppy music)

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