Rolling Out

Single dad Robert Shakhan talks spiritual growth and bonding with his daughter

Robert Shakhan and his daughter, May Francis (Courtesy)
Robert Shakhan and his daughter, May Francis (Photo courtesy of Robert Shakhan)

“I raised my baby girl alone,” shares Robert Shakhan, recovery coach for Detroit Recovery Projec, Inc.

“I began raising my daughter solo when she was 10 years old. Having been estranged from her mother for several years and always participating in her life, I wanted to be the responsible parent to care for and nurture her when she suffered a fall while playing that ruptured her spleen. She came home with me and we have become very close.”

Read what else he has to say.

Why did you decide to raise your daughter?
The decision was easy because I was the parent whose schedule best fit her school schedule, and as mentioned above, she needed close care following her accident.

How have you coached your child about life?
My main concentration on coaching her formative years has been to teach her self-awareness.

What three emotions best describe your feelings watching her go to the prom and graduate from high school?
Elated, satisfied and encouraged.

What principles have you applied in managing the relationship between her mother and raising your daughter?
I’ve always applied the principle of honesty with her.

How have your friends created a support network for you as a father?
My best friend, Andre Johnson, created employment opportunities that created the stability needed to raise her responsibly.

What advice would you offer to young fathers who are raising girls?
Though it may sound like a cliché, I would suggest they spend as much quality time with their child as possible. What I definitely would not do is introduce several “potential mates” into the family relationship.

How have you developed a communication system with your daughter?
Total transparency has been our ultimate communicating factor. I do not hide anything from her and in turn she’s entrusted to me a likewise trust.

Robert Shakhan and his daughter (Courtesy)
Robert Shakhan and his daughter, May Francis (Photo courtesy of Robert Shakhan)

How do you and your daughter address issues that have come up as she has grown more independent?
I allow her the freedom to choose her own path, knowing that I’ve instilled [values] that will enable her to make wise decisions. The only independent decision I have not been able to tolerate has been to allow her to get a tattoo. That’s a personal issue but I much prefer she be fully grown and make the decision at that time.

What is your prayer for you and your daughter?
That we both continue to grow spiritually. I’ve been blessed to experience tremendous spiritual growth that I have tried to pass on to her, knowing it will create an everlasting bond and ultimate respect for our beliefs.

Name two moments that you hold dear that you use to stay motivated.
When she was approximately 11 years old, we watched the mini-series “Roots.” We both cried together and talked of the injustices, definitely making it a bonding moment. Huge motivational moments come over certain music that we enjoy together, interact, and talk about — Janet Jackson’s Control album, Cheryl Lynn’s “Star Love” and “You Wear It Well” by DeBarge. These we call “our music/our songs.”

Finish the sentences:

The responsibility of raising a child alone is … God’s greatest gift that he can bestow on anyone.

My daughter has given me … encouragement, growth and inner peace.

Dear child,
I love being your father because … 
I love your beautiful spirit and I love the sense of balance that you have. You never get too high nor too low, you always seem to be just right, making you a joy to be around.

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