Practice makes us better dads

The joy of fatherhood: Helpful tips for fathers and men who want to become fathers

by Morris Turner

Malcolm-Turner-children-Amaya-Marcelo-Isaiah-by-Sandra-Vallecillo-Turner-web-300x225, Practice makes us better dads, Culture Currents
Malcolm Turner shares a birthday cookie with his children, Amaya, Marcelo, the birthday boy, and Isaiah. – Photo: Sandra Vallecillo-Turner

As adults, we know that anything we want to be good at, we have to practice doing. When I was much younger and growing up during the Motown era, I wanted to be a good dancer. I never achieved that goal but I did learn to do the James Brown-inspired “splits,” which did give me a “little” credibility on the dance floor. I am so glad Facebook didn’t exist then.

Just as I practiced the “splits” on a daily basis, we as fathers have to practice connecting with our children with the same effort and focus. I’ve created a fatherhood survey to help men evaluate how they think they are doing as fathers as well as some thoughts and ideas that may help improve areas of weakness.

Remember, dads, we are only human – not robots. We are imperfect and will make mistakes every day. The important thing is that we love our children, learn from the mistakes and continue to practice on the skills that will make us the best fathers possible.

Here are some areas of parenting I’d like you to read, think about and get back to me with your thoughts and observations if you feel like sharing them.

  1. At least once a day I tell my children, “I love you.”
  2. When my children are upset, I try to listen to their feelings and not minimize them by saying things like, “Big boys/girls, don’t cry.”
  3. I don’t lay “adult issues” on my children’s shoulders.
  4. I make sure to connect with my children every day, either by phone or in person when possible.
  5. I try to be patient and encouraging when my children are going through difficult times and challenges.
  6. I tell my children that I love them for “who they are” not for what they do or accomplish.
  7. I make sure my children have at least one chore or job to complete on a daily basis or weekly basis.
  8. I understand that even when I’m angry, yelling at my children is NEVER ok.
  9. I make sure my children know that no one is better than them and they are no better than anyone else.
  10. I give my children a hug every time I see them.

I am hopeful that you will find some of these topics of interest and I look forward to receiving your input and, of course, pictures of you and your children. Stay joyful, thoughtful and patient in your parenting.

Morris Turner is the father of two sons, ages 39 and 35. Over the past 45 years he has worked with children and young people in a variety of settings, including as preschool teacher, career counselor, family mentor and sports coach. He is also an author and recognized researcher in the area of African American settlement in the United States, but his greatest pleasure today is learning to be a good grandpa. He can be reached at or by calling (707) 794-0729.