“I Would Not Run Away”: Single Dad Stefan Malliet Talks Being Present.

Our Affirming Black and Brown Fatherhood Series has gotten such great response this week that we’re adding a second featured unmarried dad today. This is Stefan Malliet, a 32-year-old Brooklyn native and father to three-year-old son Kyle. We were struck by Stefan’s candor and insights, particularly as it relates to his rocky road toward harmonious co-parenting, his thoughts on animus between black unmarried mothers and fathers, and his insights about single mothers raising sons. 

Stefan Malliet, with then-newborn son Kyle
Stefan Malliet, with then-newborn son Kyle

BBM: What’s one specific way in which fatherhood has changed you or your outlook on life?

 

The biggest change that comes to mind is the way that Kyle has become a huge portion of the context for EVERY decision I make. Whereas I used to be a relatively go-with-the-flow person, I now make sure that I take time to consider how any decisions in front of me would affect him; his present and his future. For instance: Who, how and when I date are extremely important now. While I have always (at least casually) considered the potential for positive influence in the women I’ve dealt with, now I specifically think about “is this the kind of person I would want around my son?” I’ve found that there are certain associates who I’ve decided not to deal with any more because of that reason.

BBM: Did you have an immediate idea of the kind of father you’d want to be? 

There was one thing I knew about fatherhood as it pertained to myself: I would not run away. For better or worse, that was about as far as I had thought about it. I knew that I wanted children at some point, but hadn’t necessarily thought about what that actually means in real life terms. Once it came to pass that my turn was coming, I decided that I’d be – at the very least – someone who my son will be able to look up to. That means clearing out a lot of the cobwebs, old hurts, and bad habits that tend to build up over a lifetime of not necessarily dealing with them.

BBM: What is your relationship with your own father like? 

I didn’t have a relationship with my father; I never met him. My “father” was my grandfather (mother’s father) and he is my hero. He passed on when I was just about to turn 16, which was unfortunate because I was just entering into that time where the transition from boy to man should have been starting. Fortunately, I feel as I have remembered enough of his examples and his words that I was able to integrate them into my journey. In short, that relationship was probably one of the most important thus far.

Continue reading ““I Would Not Run Away”: Single Dad Stefan Malliet Talks Being Present.”

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Meet Adam Carnegie, Eight-Week-Old Dad.

We continue our Affirming Black and Brown Fatherhood Series with brand new dad Adam Carnegie. Adam was slated to join a Google+ Hangout discussion yesterday to discuss his first impressions of parenthood, his hopes for his newborn son, and the ways in which his relationship with his own dad has evolved as a result of […]

Fathers Are Not Just Enforcers: David M. Pittman on Raising Sons.

Our Affirming Black and Brown Fatherhood Series continues today with divorced dad, David M. Pittman. We asked David about raising young sons, his relationship with his own father, and building a “parenting village” as an only child. To hear more from David, join us tonight, June 12 at 7 pm EST for our Conversation on […]

Learning Quickly: Single Dad Robert Gillespie on the Best Job He’s Ever Had.

Our Affirming Black and Brown Fatherhood Series continues with today’s profiled father, Robert Gillespie. We asked Robert about becoming an adoptive dad in his 40s, why single dads get treated differently than single moms, and what he’s learned during his parenting journey. We’re proud to share his story. 

Robert Gillespie and son Marco, (c) KLK 2011
Robert Gillespie and son Marco, (c) KLK 2011

Beyond Baby Mamas: How old were you when you became a dad? Where were you in life (fairly established, personally and professionally, or still finding your footing)?

I was 41 when I became a dad. I was established professionally and personally but had a job that required frequent (often at short notice) international travel, so I had to change jobs in order to be a single father.

BBM: How did you become the custodial parent of your son?

Biologically, my son is my nephew but his birth parents are unable to care for a child. I have had him since he was two days old and I have legally adopted him.

BBM: When people find our that you’re raising him on your own, do they make a big deal of it?

Many people do, particularly if they find out he’s adopted.

BBM: What do you think it means, in general, that people tend to compliment single fathers for performing parenting duties on their own?

This is a tough question. In some sense, I understand why people are sometimes so complimentary about single fathers; there are certainly fewer single fathers than single mothers. But sometimes I think the compliments mask the fact that a lot more fathers are raising kids by themselves, that we are becoming more of a norm.

Continue reading “Learning Quickly: Single Dad Robert Gillespie on the Best Job He’s Ever Had.”

The Golden Opportunity: Sexuality & the Deconstruction of the Baby-Mama Mythology.

Acclaimed poet and performing artist Roger Bonair-Agard is the first guest to be featured in Beyond Baby Mama’s Affirming Black Fatherhood Series. Every day this week, as a lead-in to Father’s Day, we’ll be featuring the experiences and insights of unmarried minority fathers. We are proud to present his story. 

Roger Bonair-Agard

Having spent three great (albeit tumultuous, on a personal front) years in Chicago, I was about to return to my beloved Brooklyn. Half of my stuff was packed. My moving date was two weeks away. I was scheduled to attend a wedding the following day with an on again/off again lover, whom I had dated fairly consistently when I first moved to Chicago, but now we saw each other every other week or so after having gone through a stretch of time when we had broken up and didn’t get down at all. It seemed like it’d be a chill enough road trip to go with her to her cousin’s wedding – a six-hour jaunt to Cincinnati. But she wanted to talk to me that night, the night before we left – urgently. I couldn’t understand why because we were going to be sitting in a car for six hours the following day. So I meet with her and she drops The News. I’m stunned. She was on the pill. I ask, “What do you want to do?” She says, “Oh, I’m keeping it…”

Three months later I’m having coffee with a friend I haven’t seen in years in a coffee shop at the corner of Franklin and Fulton in what used to be one of the most gully neighborhoods in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. This woman is a brilliant, thoughtful, sensitive, poet with whom I went to college. We’ve enjoyed a parallel poetic literary evolution in the world, even publishing books with the same press. My time in Brooklyn now is temporary as I make plans to return to Chicago in time for the birth and to figure out how and where I will be a father and co-parent. I tell her the story of how the ‘news’ got dropped on me. She says, “You know… I don’t believe a woman ever traps a man, but you ain’t exactly freed a nigga either. That’s that shit I call The Abstracted Trap.” We bust out laughing over our expensive coffees, can’t stop giggling for five minutes before we return to the morning sport of hipster-watching.

Continue reading “The Golden Opportunity: Sexuality & the Deconstruction of the Baby-Mama Mythology.”