“I would be remiss if I said I raised my daughter alone. I would say I raised my daughter along with a village: friends, colleagues, family, God, etcetera. When she was two years old, I remember having a mattress on the floor and a boom box in a one-bedroom apartment. I thought to myself ‘I don’t have nothing and I am not a good provider.’ But I remember my daughter being joyous, nonjudgmental and too young to know what she was missing out on, considering all she really needed was food, pampers, love, and nurturing,” shares Andre Johnson, the founder and CEO of the Detroit Recovery Project, when asked if he raised his daughter alone.
Here, he offers insight on what it’s like to be a single father rearing a female.
Why did you decide to raise your daughter?
I knew firsthand what it was like to not have a relationship with my father; therefore, by default I new I needed to be a major part of Ayanna’s life.
How have you coached your child about life?
I have been diligent in coaching Ayanna about having a value system of integrity and self-love.
What three emotions best describe your feeling watching her go to the prom and graduate from high school?
Happiness, hopeful, and proud dad.
What principles have you applied in managing the relationship between her mother and raising your daughter?
Being proactive and thinking about Ayanna’s future.
How have your friends created a support network for you being a father?
Many of my colleagues, friends, fathers and/or husbands – we learn from each other. Experience is the best teacher. We give each other hope. We were not given a handbook “on how to be a father”; therefore, we support each other and draw from each other’s experiences as it relates to challenges of our children, ranging from disciplinary, education, sports, spirituality and instilling independence, etcetera.
What advice would you give young fathers who are raising girls?
Being a your father requires putting your child first always and everything will work out. Prayer is power. Monitor her playmates and playgrounds. Expose her to something different; my daughter is an avid equestrian.
How have you developed a communication system with your daughter?
Patience, patience and patience. Listen and talk; don’t be a dictator. Anytime I leave her alone, I tell her to be safe, be responsible and be smart.
How do you and your daughter address issues that come as she has grown more independent?
Keep the communication open. Ask questions daily – not to be intrusive but constant encouragement.
What is your prayer for you and your daughter?
She continues to blossom into a loving, independent, responsible woman.
Name two moments that you hold dear that you use to stay motivated:
Two moments that stand out are the first time I held in her in my hand and the second is watching her walk across the stage receiving her diploma.
The responsibility of raising a child alone is … hope and lots of prayer.
My daughter given me … a sense of being selfless.
Dear child, I love being your father because … of the unconditional love that has been priceless.