Title: The Dimensions of Fatherhood
Author: Lauren R.D. Fox
Photographer: Sabree Hill
Fatherhood can be a triggering subject in communities of color. For most first-generation students, their fathers may have only reached a certain level of education or may lack emotional intelligence/support. Whereas some fathers may struggle financially or are more concerned about their next romantic relationship. However, at Dillard University, there are faculty/ staff members who not only raise their own children but serve as father figures for students. In this interview, they give us insight on the advice they've received over the years and why cultural traditions are important to pass on to the next generation.
Featured in this interview:
Marc Barnes, Vice President of Institutional Advancement
William Jones, Assistant Athletics Director
Robert Mitchell, University Registrar
Lieutenant Jose Campuzano, Dillard University Police Commander of Administration, Investigations & Training
Dr. Rolland Bullard, Vice President of Student Engagement
Nick Harris, Community Relations Director
Dillard University (DU): What do you wish your father told you before you became a father?
Marc Barnes (MB): My father was a great example of strong Christian leadership. Most of what I taught my children came from lessons I learned from him. As I think about the fact that my kids are now 20 and 18, the one thing he didn’t tell me is how fast [your children grow].
William Jones (WJ): I wish he would have told me a lot of things, but not in a bad way. It’s just a lot to get use to when it’s your first time being a father. [For example] you don’t know what your bed schedule is going to be from night to night. I didn’t know that I would constantly be adjusting my schedule and that I would become so selfless. Growing up in a house with six brothers and sisters makes you a little selfish, but the day my son (William Brandon Jones II aka BJ) was born it was and is all about him now.
Robert Mitchell (RM): I wish he would have told me that parenting requires a lot of patience.
Jose Campuzano (JC): I come from a large family of Hispanic descent from Central America and the Caribbean. My father, who is 83 years old taught me to be the father that I am today. I can honestly say that my father did not tell me much before I became a young father in 1997. The only thing that he did say to me is that he felt that I would make a great father. He was a proud father of five children (four boys and one girl) and I am a proud father of five myself ( four boys, one girl -- and I have one grandson).
Nick Harris (NH): [To] Stay in prayer. [Laughs]
Roland Bullard (RB): That it is a 24/7 job. That it is a full time responsibility. I am sure he probably did tell me, but it just didn't make sense till now.
DU:Parents often wish for their children to be and do the things they didn’t have the ability or access to do. What does this statement mean to you and your children?
MB: For my children, that means financial stability. I learned a lot from my parents about money management, but I can’t say that I always practiced what I learned. My parents did well financially, but I still had to take out loans for school. I [also] started off with bad credit management. I have been teaching my kids how to do that better and positioning them to get off to a better start.
WJ: I can’t speak for others, but I absolutely feel that way. To me, that statement means utilize all of the resources at your disposal to be successful. Those resources being family, internet, books, libraries, teachers and coaches. We’ve all heard the saying before, ‘knowledge is power,’ and it truly is. I want him to be way more knowledgeable than I ever could dream to be. He is growing up in a much different world than I did and that can be good but also bad. The access to information now is in your pocket as opposed to when I was growing up. I want BJ to utilize things like the internet for good, but I still want him to open a book and not just read from a tablet or iPad and actually take trips to the library. The internet can be distracting and a dangerous place, especially with the evolution of social media, but when used right it can be a wonderful tool. I just want him to always think two/three steps ahead, be resourceful, and always have a hunger to learn.
RM: Honestly my parents just wanted me to take full advantage of all of the opportunities that came my way and I wish the same for my boys. I am a first generation college graduate and although it's a cliché to say that I want my children to be college graduates, I just want them to be successful in whatever their hearts desire. Success will be defined by them and not by their mother and I.
NH: To be adventurous. Always think outside the box and follow through with your desires with wisdom.
RB: I think my parents always taught me I could go anywhere or be anything if I worked hard. Anything that I don't have right now (that I want) is because I didn’t work hard enough to get it, or it wasn't God’s will for me to have it. So for me it’s about teaching my guys to be courageous enough or work hard enough to get what they want or be who they want to be. Also, I would want them to have a relationship with God where they know to trust him when it isn’t the cards for them to get whatever they want at that time. These are lessons my parents and I still talk about today.
JC: I am a firm believer in giving my children the ability to have the things and opportunities that I did not have. My father was the same way. Being the youngest of 5 and 18 years of difference between my brothers and sisters, I would say that I had it much easier then they did. My father worked 6 days a week to make sure that I had everything I needed and I am the same way with my children. My children are very appreciative of that hard work and have learned to honor me and my sacrifices as I did and still do for my father.
DU:Self-care is a trending topic among mothers but what about fathers? What is your self-care ritual as a father?
MB: Eating right and exercise. My dad passed away due to a heart attack at age 67. Before that, he had a stroke at age 50. His mother passed away because of a heart attack at age 50. I will be 50 in October, so I am keenly aware of my health vulnerabilities. I try to eat right (as much as possible in New Orleans) and exercise. I have found that running is the best me-time that I enjoy. For 30-60 minutes, I’m in my own world attempting to achieve my own goals, while simultaneously taking care of my physical health.
WJ: I like to do several things that puts my mind at rest. I’ve been under a little stress the last few years with all the moving. I left a federal government job in Washington, D.C. to pursue my passion of working in the sports industry, which in itself was a lot to deal with. Left D.C. to go to Dallas to take an internship with an athletic conference and from there I moved to New York for graduate school for two years and then back to Dallas for another two years at SMU before settling here in New Orleans. BJ was born during my second stint in Dallas and he moved here with his mother a year ago. So it’s been a lot, but I try to work out a few times a week and go running to clear my head. I also take BJ to the park and to the lake every week because he loves being outdoors, but it also helps me relax.
RM: Self-care for me is mental, physical, financial and spiritual. Mentally, you must always feed your brain with knowledge because knowledge is power. Physically, we must exercise and eat healthier so that we can live longer to enjoy our children and hopefully grandchildren. Spiritually, God is the nucleus of fatherhood. Ephesians 6:4 says, Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
RB: Self care is something that fathers don't always do. My dad died at an early age from heart disease. When I was 40, I had an ischemic stroke. I was moving, changing jobs—all of the stressors. By God’s grace, I was able to recover but it showed me the importance of self-care. I fly quite a bit and am always struck by the flight attendant’s message “ in case of emergency place the oxygen mask over your face and mouth first before helping others.” I think there is a lesson in that message because you can’t help your family unless your “oxygen” levels are appropriate.
For The Culture
DU:What cultural agency do you want your children to continue in their adulthood?
MB: Since we are natives of New Orleans, culture is extremely important to us. Each generation is increasingly removed from the things our ancestors did. By this I mean, the food that they ate, the way they cooked, the stories they told, the struggles they endured and so on. I have been very intentional about teaching my kids as much as I know about my family’s history and the history of New Orleans. Life may take them anywhere in the world, but I pray that they will always carry their family and city with them.
JC: Being Hispanic, my life is full of culture. I am very proud of the cultural background that I have today which was rooted in me by my parents and I plan on continuing that tradition with my children. My culture, which is not too much different than most others, revolves around strong family values and traditions. I want my children to appreciate the foods that I enjoyed growing up and the respect and courtesies that I learned to have by my father and mother. I want my children to learn and practice our beautiful language which is spoken and by 55% of the world and I want my children to learn about world events that have changed our culture and the reasons why it did.
DU:How are you most different from your parents and grandparents? How are you the same?
MB: Unfortunately, I never got to know my grandparents. Three of them had passed away before I was born. My dad’s father died when I was only 4 years old. So I don’t know how similar or dissimilar I am from them. I always say that whatever smarts I may have, I got from my dad and whatever compassion I have comes from my mom. My dad was one of the smartest people I have ever met. I always try to emulate him. My mom is more generous than she should be. I think I have that same trait. I’m really not sure how I am different from them. People always tell me that I remind them of either my mom or my dad and that is just fine with me.
WJ: I am different in that I speak my mind more than they did. My mom is from Little Rock, Arkansas, and she attended Central High School. She knows some of the ‘Little Rock Nine’ and their families. The point of me bringing this up is that during those times she couldn’t say what she felt all the time because of Jim Crow laws. My mom shared with me all kinds of stories about growing during that time in the South and it was imperative that you acted in a certain manner around white people. My mom and dad met in college at Arkansas AM&N (now known as the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff) but moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin after college. My siblings and I were raised different in that we were taught to speak up for ourselves. My parents did work hard to make a good living for us and that is one of the many things I took from them. We are the same in that we have the same work ethic and that we want the best for our children.
RM: What is different from my parents and grandparents is that I listen to my kids instead of the ole fashion style of do as I say because I say so attitude. My parents never really explained the “why” and I was too afraid to ask in most cases because it was viewed as talking back. On the other hand, my parents were very active with my education and extracurricular activities. My kids know that good grades are a priority and everything else is secondary.
NH: I am not very different from my parents, except I don't usually get upset very often. My parents and grandparents taught my siblings the importance of an education and the appreciation of God's Grace and Mercy.
RB: I would hope to be like my parents and grandparents. They all are/were great people and parents. I am different than my parents in that they are/were introverts. I can be a little crazy (at times), but I like to think God gave me the gift to make people laugh till they feel better---using my extroverted tendencies. That said, all of my parents were/are service oriented professions and had their roots in education. My dad was a teacher before he passed, my mom till this day volunteers and manages a daycare at our family church in Florida; even my stepdad, who is great, is a HS engineering math teacher. There certainly is a common thread, as I am now serving in higher education.
What Makes A “Good Dad”?
DU:Ciara’s husband athlete Russell Wilson is often compared to her son’s father Atlanta Rapper Future. Most believe Russell is emotionally available and aware whereas Future is focused on showcasing his material wealth to his children. As a Black father, are the two mutually exclusive? How is Black fatherhood different within your own inner-circle?
MB: Providing for your children is a multi-faceted proposition. Of course, providing financially is critical. Men must take care of their financial responsibilities to their children. But parenting is so much more than that. Emotional care is just as important as financial care, but they are very different things. Emotional care means being present. Providing support when your children are down, when they need help with school lessons, when they go through their first break-up are all part of the emotional care they need. As a father, I always felt it was my responsibility to demonstrate to my daughter how a man is supposed to treat her and care for her. For my son, I always tried to demonstrate the qualities of manhood. You can only do that if you are present in their lives and doing this doesn’t cost a dime.
My inner-circle consists of fathers unlike what is portrayed in the mainstream. My closest friends are married professional men who take care of their families. Black men are not typically portrayed this way, but for me that is the norm.
WJ: I am not sure. You only see on social media what people want you to see. However,
what you post should not define who you are as a man or as a father. I believe that
one can be emotionally available to their children as well as showcase their material
wealth. It just depends on how you may have grown up and how you analyze things. As
a Black man, if you have never had a strong male role model in your life to love you
and pay attention to you then it is plausible that you may seek that in buying material
things because people treat you differently when you have a nice car, jewels, house,
etc. In my opinion that doesn’t make you wrong, you’re just a product of your environment
and you thought this is how you show them you love them. Within my inner circle it
is a little different. I grew up with both of my parents in my life and so that changes
the landscape for me a bit. My son is only two years old, but what I know now that
he needs more than anything is my time. My close friends, sisters and brothers are
the same way in that no matter what’s going on in your life you have to make time
to spend with your children. It’s okay to buy them things and to give them what you
didn’t have, but I feel like the most important thing right now as a father that I
can do is be there for him and keep him as my main priority.
RM: Yes, there is a possibility that the two can be mutually exclusive but there must
be balance. Fatherhood in my inner-circle is summarized best by Bishop TD Jakes’
Fatherhood 101: the 5 P’s of Great Fathers. As fathers, we must the Protector, Provider,
Priest, Promoter and Prophet for our children. Within my inner-circle, we hold each
other accountable and uplift each as needed so that we can be those 5 P’s for our
RB: Being emotionally available is the cornerstone of fatherhood. This is a lesson that
I take from the “father role models” in my life---my brothers, parents, best friends,
colleagues, even the fathers around the cabinet table at Dillard. That said, I work
in education so I doubt I will ever have Russell and Future’s financial “problems.”
LOL. I will say that there is value in showing my sons that it is ok to want the best
for your family or experience the finer things in life. However, there is a fine line.
I do have to impart the lesson that they can have nice things without letting it consume
them or lose sight of the important things in life like faith, family, friends, and
JC: I strongly believe that they are very different. Mr. Wilson displays characteristics
that I display as a father. If I were a man of wealth, I would still reflect a humbleness
and show that to my children. Wealth is obtained through hard work and prosperity
through that hard work. A level of respect needs to be instilled in our children to
understand that there are many others out there who are not so blessed and have struggles
in life. I want my children to appreciate both the most fortune and the less fortunate.
Being a minority father does have its struggles, but regardless, what you teach your
children will resonate for an eternity and that's what makes being a good father most
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