I remember like it was yesterday when I became a father for the first time. November 15, 1997, the day my oldest child came into the world as my first born…. the day that made me have a new perspective on how I looked at life. God blessed me with a baby girl!
I was on a “redeye” flight at 11:08pm Pacific Time, flying back from the West Coast. I had been traded from the Chicago Bulls to the Golden State Warriors, two months before, so I was 15 miles Northeast of Oakland, CA which was over 2,000 miles away from my pregnant wife, while she was in Chicago preparing to deliver our first born.
The morning of November 14th, 1997, I went about my normal day of basketball practice in preparation for our game the next day versus the Portland Trailblazers.
The main focus on my mind was whether I jump on a flight or keep waiting until the doctors call and tell me it’s time for my wife to deliver.
What I knew for sure, was that I did not want to miss the birth of my first born.
I had been playing it by ear all day, staying in contact with my wife and the doctor’s on their opinion of when I should jump on a plane to make it back for the birth of our child. They gave me the range of where my wife had dilated, but couldn’t give me the exact time that she would be dilated to the point of having to deliver. It was getting later in the day and as the hours went by, flight options to Chicago were becoming limited. I made the executive decision to catch a flight so I booked the last direct flight of the evening to Chicago.
I landed at Chicago O’Hare in the early morning and had a ride waiting for me so I could be rushed to the hospital. Praying that I make it in time for the delivery of my daughter, because if I didn’t, I feared my wife and daughter would not forgive me.
My daughter waited for me before she decided to come out of the womb. She must have known I was on the way to the hospital. As soon as I got to the hospital and walked into the delivery room, after being prepped for delivery, she started to make her grand entrance… the delivery started. Thank God for making everything work out, so I could be there and experience the life changing moment of my daughter being born.
What’s amazing, is that I experienced almost the same scenario with the birth of my second born. This time I was back playing with the Chicago Bulls and we had a game the night of February 2nd, 2000, in Seattle, WA. I found myself on a “redeye” flight flying back from Seattle after our Bulls team had just beat the Seattle Supersonics in a close game that came down to the final seconds. Happy to be able to jump on a flight after a win but super excited about being able to jump on a flight to try and make it to the hospital in Chicago before my son was born. After experiencing this before with my first born, It was like deja vu.
It is life changing, being able to experience the birth of a child in person. I was able to experience all of my children’s birth moments. God blessed my wife and I with four beautiful children that came in the order of girl, boy, girl and then boy. We have an older pair and a younger pair that bring all different personalities and phases of life. The first pair gave the blueprint for the second pair, LOL!
I always have to be ready to adjust to each child’s personality as well as what phase they are going through in life, at the time. It is challenging, but fun…. It keeps me on my toes.
There are so many things that I have learned from fatherhood that I could share, but I want to give, soon-to-be fathers, as well as current fathers, just a few powerful things that I felt were game changers in my fatherhood journey.
I am going to give the answers to the test and I always say, only a dummy fails the test with the answers.
This is for the soon-to-be, first time fathers or the father’s who haven’t had the chance to cut the umbilical cord yet during their child’s birth, but may have another chance with an upcoming birth.
I always understood that cutting the umbilical cord was a symbolic passage into fatherhood. A very meaningful moment in a father’s life that represents the separation from the birth development process the mother has with the baby in the womb to the father now joining the responsibility of raising, nurturing, developing and protecting a child’s life that you have been blessed to have.
The umbilical cord has a tough texture, so your first thought will be to gently cut the cord in the area where the doctor has designated for you to cut. The doctor told me not to be gentle, but firm with my cut using the medical scissors. I made sure to listen and cut with a firm and strong snip so I could cut all the way through with one motion and not have to do it with multiple snips with the scissors so it just took me one motion.
It was a sign of excitement for being a father, but more importantly, the gentle but firm, one motion snip, was the sign of me having confidence in accepting all the responsibilities that come with being a father and embracing taking care of a life from infant to adulthood.
Everyday I come across parents who are always trying to gain an edge on helping their children progress at a high level in academics and/or sports. When parents find out that my older two children both attend Ivy League Universities, they always ask me, what did my wife and I do to get our children to those schools as if there is some special process or blueprint.
I always explain to the person asking the question that we never said or made it a priority plan, from the day the children were born, to attend Ivy League Universities. I am not able to tell them that there is a known blueprint that will absolutely direct your children to those kinds of colleges.
I answer the question by letting them know, if there was one constant that I believe helped our children want to pursue attending Ivy League colleges, it was READING. I have to admit, I was never a kid who loved reading, but I understood how important the skill of reading was for healthy and stimulating mental growth.
My wife started reading to all of our children when they were in her stomach and then we continued it as soon as they were born. We made it a priority to read to the kids from the first day of their lives and then transitioned that into teaching them how to read on their own, at a very early age.
I believe this early reading process helped our children develop an appetite for reading which created an enjoyment to hearing books read to them. This carried over to them having the same enjoyment with reading books to us, as very young children.
My advice and suggestion would be for fathers to read to your child while they are in their mother’s stomach and continue it on from day one of the child’s life then teach them how to read on their own at an early age. That was the early development constant that I believe led them to pursuing their college academics at Ivy League Universities.
No matter if you have one child or several children, knowing and understanding their personalities helps with your parenting in developing your child.
Having four children with four different personalities makes me have to be ready to flip the switch to each one's developmental stage of life at any particular time. My 22 year old daughter has a different personality and stage of life than my 20 year old son, my 13 year old daughter and soon to be 11 years old son. They are in different phases of life so I know that I have to approach my fatherly advice, direction and development in a different way with each one.
It’s like being a basketball coach and having to know each of your players personalities so you can use the best method for coaching them to reach their potential. It’s also like being a player and knowing each teammates personality so you know how to effectively co-exist on the court together for a common goal.
Know your child’s personality so it can help you raise and develop them in the most effective way towards them reaching their potential in life. I have found, as a father, that this is a big piece towards the father and child connection and bond.
Having created a basketball skills company and travel team program, I come across parents who sell their child short on opportunities that can help with the basketball development process.
I hear all kinds of reasons why they don’t seek or want to invest in a particular opportunity for their child. Investing doesn’t just mean financially, it also can mean with time and non-monetary, fatherly support. If you research an opportunity thoroughly, you will be surprised at information provided on how you can make that opportunity happen for your child.
As a father, I try my hardest to not let anything come between me seeking and being able to provide an opportunity to my children. Sacrifices come with having and raising children and I always have felt that whatever sacrifice is needed for an opportunity to help my children’s development and growth, I’m going to try my hardest to make that opportunity possible.
I suggest, as a father, try to always look for opportunities and provide them for your child’s development.
I have always felt that being a father is a powerful, life changing responsibility as well as God’s gift. Like I said before, there are many fatherly experiences that I could share, but I felt like the umbilical cord, reading, personalities and opportunity were things that stood out as meaningful and important fatherly advice points. These four things have shown to be a major impact on my fatherly experience and development of my children.
There are many things that drive me as a father. One driving force was that I always had one major goal. I had this goal before I became a father, that remained a goal and a promise as a father. That goal and promise was to be in my children’s lives longer and beyond, my own experience growing up in a single parent household without a father which started at five years old, living with only my mother.
I have beyond achieved and exceeded that goal and continue to strive to be the best father I can be.
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