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.
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.