On Community and Empowerment of Black Fathers, with Matt Prestbury
Dadditude Newsletter #5
In 2008, Matt Prestbury started Black Fathers, a Facebook group aimed at showcasing black fatherhood, unbiased and unfiltered. 12 years later, it’s one of the biggest dad communities on FB with 80,000 members.
We spoke with him recently about his life’s work empowering black dads, supporting his community and the mission of his Black Fathers Foundation.
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Tell us a little about yourself.
I'm a husband, a father, an educator and entrepreneur. I’ve worked in education professionally for roughly the same time I’ve been a father: 22 years. During that time, I have worked to create numerous ways to connect fathers, to bring us together, to provide us with resources and to give each other support and encouragement. Nearly everything I do revolves around fatherhood work.
How did your Black Fathers Foundation come about? What is it focused on?
The foundation came about as a result of years of desiring to have a non-profit organization that served to be an extension of our facebook group, Black Fathers. I was accepted into the Facebook Community Leadership Program, with the idea of getting the foundation started with the grant money I was awarded through that program. We focus on three things:
- Funding other Black-led organizations that serve fathers and their families, as well as providing funding to fathers themselves, and their families, during hardships.
- Creating a network that brings organizations that serve Black men together, and creating opportunities for partnerships with those organizations to emerge.
- Financing, creating and promoting content made by and for Black men, through which they can continue to tell their own stories in their own way.
You spend a lot of time helping other dads through support groups, how has that helped you become a better dad and partners at home?
I’ve learned to appreciate varying perspectives on raising children. I think that’s one of the best parts about what I do. There are so many ways to go about doing this thing, and not all of it is a right vs wrong kind of deal, so it’s great to see what others do and so forth. I’ve also learned how to be patient and slow to react to things people say. I have to craft my language carefully as the face of both the group and the foundation. This has certainly helped me in my relationships with my wife and our children.
Can you tell us about an especially favorite/special moment with your kids recently?
One special moment was finding out how high my oldest two sons’ credit scores are. They’re about to buy a house together, and it’s great to know they’ve been doing so well in that department and are in a position to buy at their ages: 21 and 20.
What do you think is your biggest strength as a parent?
I think my biggest strength is the fact that I work very hard to ensure that open communication is maintained between my wife, myself and our children. They know they can talk to us about anything and we will listen. They can even come with complaints and critiques that help us continue to become even better parents. I really value knowing that they know they don’t have to hide anything from us, and we won’t hide things from them either, or sugarcoat them.
What's the toughest thing for you about being a parent? What stresses you out most?
What stresses me out the most is the fact that these kids don’t recycle, wipe counters or turn lights off, ever.
What's one parenting challenge you've tried to tackle recently, how, and how did it go?
The biggest challenge I’ve had recently was finding a place for us to live when we move out of state that allows the kids to remain in a top tier school, and get an outstanding education. Affordable housing and great schools don’t always go hand-in-hand. In some places they rarely go together, so therein lies the challenge. I had to do my homework for a few days, and eventually I got things lined up, so we are set to move.
What side of parenthood do you wish you had invested more time and energy in the past?
I wish I had invested more time with each of my children in a one-on-one environment. I wish I had made every effort to give them those times where all the attention could be on them and they didn’t have to share it with their siblings.
What's the one piece of advice you'd like to give your younger parent-self?
Invest in something other than clothes and sneakers.
Where do you typically go for advice, training, tips about being a parent or partner?
The Black Fathers Facebook group.
Thank you Matt!
You might also enjoy:
Anthony Mackie On Raising Boys and What’s Next for Captain America
Online survey (for new dads) on how emotions & experiences may impact on understanding your child (via Lancaster University)
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Next week, we’ll be featuring our interview with Sergio from Soy Super Papá.
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