After a few minutes of speaking with Sacramento, Ca Father Toby Barringer it was apparent that he was destined not to repeat the same mistakes his father made. In today’s interview, we talk the importance of a two-parent home, what he actually learned from his father and who were his role models growing up.
Tell me a little bit about how you were raised?
I was raised in a two-parent home until I was around seven or eight. I was really close to my dad when I was young. He and my mom got a divorce and he moved to Hawaii for his job. I went out there once a year for the first three years then after that, we really didn’t see each other unless he came to town, so I was pretty much raised by my mom.
In those years that your father wasn’t in the house. How do you think that affected you?
I think it makes you look to your older friends & family members for father figures. My aunt’s boyfriend used to be a major part of my life, he committed suicide, that took a big tole on me. Then, you know living in an apartment complex. I grew up around older guys, I think it makes you look to your friends for that father type of interaction.
Once you became older, how has your relationship with your father evolved?
Well, he moved from Hawaii to Atlanta. I moved out there a little after I graduated high school. We had more of an uncle or cousin type of relationship. I think it was a little too late for him to be a father. He missed the most important years.
Do you have kids?
Yes. My daughter is 13 years old. I also have two boys they are 10 and 4.
Being that your father wasn’t in your home most of your life. How important was it to change that for your kids?
That is very important. I told my dad the biggest lesson he taught me was not to leave your kids because he wasn’t around. I want my kids to always have a father in their life, which is why I try to make my marriage work so they can have two parents in the home at all times. Being a father that just picks up your kids on the weekends or your days off is not the same as being in their life every day.
Do you have brothers and sisters?
Yeah, one brother and one sister. Both are younger than me.
Did you see an effect on them, with it just being your mom raising you guys?
I think that effects every single parent across the world whether it is a single mother or father. Kids need both parents. There is no one there to teach you how to be a man when it’s just your mother.
Since becoming a father, what is something you have learned about yourself?
It’s taught me to not be selfish. I never thought I could love anyone the way I love my kids. It makes you want to be there and teach your kids what you didn’t learn, give them the things you didn’t have when you were growing up. It also gives you a sense of responsibility, knowing that I must take care of these kids and nobody else will do it for me.
It seems like your father not being around, pushed you to be there for your kids?
That’s exactly what it does. Makes you grow up faster, me and my dad are good friends now, he’s in my life now more than he has ever been. However, he can never get back those years. He has two new kids, hopefully, he’s learned from his mistakes and can be in those kid’s life’s until they grow up.
Last question, if you could talk to a teenager who has a baby or possibly thinking about having one. What would you tell them?
Just hang in there. It is going to be hard, your life will never be the same again. Once you have a kid you can’t just up and go whenever you want to. You should put your kids first, make sure they’re taken care of. Basically, tell them to never leave, that’s the biggest thing. Always fight for your children, don’t let the mother keep you away. If you must go through the courts, I would recommend doing so. Make sure you spend time with them and teach them about life because nobody else will do it.
Thank you very much for talking to Melanated Fathers of America!