Influencer dad shares 4 viral tips to live an engaged fatherhood

·4 min read

When Devonte Bennett Bey suddenly became a stay-at-home dad, it was "the best thing that ever happened to me and set me on my path."

He found himself, he told "Good Morning America," unemployed after an illness. Bennett Bey, also a Marine veteran, was also dealing with an injured back.

MORE: How these TikTok parents get their kids to eat dinner in viral hack is pure genius

The dad of three boys drove for a time for Lyft, he said, but he still wasn't getting the quality time he was looking for with his sons. "I just knew I wanted to have a really strong bond with them, " he said. The trouble was he wasn't quite sure how.

So he started doing research on what it meant to be a good father, Bennett Bey told "GMA." He read books and found out engaging with your kids is the "number-one way to stop problems." So, he did that -- and started small.

Today, Bennett Bey's family, he said, has a lot less money than they did when he was working long days. In fact, he said, they are in between places to live. But, even though they are in a transition period, he said his family is the "happiest homeless family ever" because of "living their dream" of a close-knit family and great relationships with his boys.

In a video on his Instagram, Bennett Bey shared his four-step process to becoming an engaged parent. He also shared his plan with "GMA":

1. Start small

Bennett Bey's road to being an involved dad started with taking over the kids' nighttime routine. He told "GMA" one of his children was having a hard time going to sleep. "I started encouraging him with something I called 'Daddy Power' and it worked." Once the Riverside, California, dad realized what an impact he could have on his boys, the wheels started turning.

View this post on Instagram

@theycallmepapabennett 3 Reasons why every parent, who wants to be a better parent, should homeschool! Reason 1, Homeschooling helps you build better bonds with your child. As Cash continues to learn and succeed in his education endeavors it give me such great pride knowing I’m directly responsible for it. Cash and I have formed a “team” that is focused on making him as intelligent as he can be, and successful. We have grown extremely close as we continue to set eduction goals and knock them out the park. He gets a huge smile that warms my heart everytime he learns a new word or we play a new learning game. All of which drive me to be the best educator I can be. Reason 2 Homeschooling helps you learn your child’s strengths and weaknesses. As a father I personally feel its my duty to know my kids better than they know themselves. For the simple fact that I made them lol. That being said homeschooling Cash has afforded me more opportunities to observe him and really get to know him. Ive learned and had a chance to help cultivate so many of his natural skills like reading and gymnastics. But also had the chance to directly influence and adjust his negative traits like his anger issues that come directly from me. Or how he is easily frustrated when an assignment is kicking his butt. Reason 3 Homeschooling allows you to notice traits that come straight from you. Perfect example, like I said earlier Cash gets frustrated easily. He also gets easily distracted when the schoolwork is boring. Because of this Cash and I would butt heads when we first started homeschool. I soon realized that he was displaying traits that I myself had when I was in school. I came to the revelation I was calling the kettle black by being upset with my son and instead made some teaching strategy changes and updates to my parenting style that have since improved Cash and I’s relationship. #homeschooling #blackfatherhood #homeschoolingfathers #fatherhood #fatherhoodfriday

A post shared by Devonte Bennett Bey (@theycallmepapabennett) on Jul 10, 2020 at 5:52pm PDT

MORE:Special education teacher explains why she wants to be called 'accessibility specialist'

2. Grow from there

Building on the success of "Daddy Power," Bennett Bey began to look for more ways to engage with his kids. He didn't have to look far: Bennett Bey said he started thinking about his own childhood. He said thinks of his boys as a "mini version of me" and so, thought back to his own childhood to recall what motivated him.

One of his sons, he said, much like himself, liked to make everything a competition. So whether it was sight words or marital arts, Bennett Bey put a competitive spin on everything they did -- and it worked to bond them closer and push his son to reach his potential.

3. Find the time and make plans

Bennett Bey said actually implementing the plans he had was harder than he thought. Once he was no longer working in a traditional job, he found himself with more time. "I had to set aside the time and plan activities out," he told "GMA." It went from an hour to "Daddy Saturdays/ And now, he said, "whatever I'm doing, they're right there doing it with me."

4. Take care of yourself

The dad of three said self-care is hugely important to staying strongly bonded to your kids. He recalled the weight he put on once he left the military and the back issue that were both keeping him from keeping up with his kids. "You have to think of your body like a car. If you don't put gas in it, if you don't do the maintenance, it's going to fall apart."

The best part of Bennett Bey's change, he said, is the changes he sees in his family. "Just like in the Marines, I think of the family as our unit. And when I see [the kids] succeed, when I see a light bulb go off, I'm so proud. Watching your children grow is outstanding."

Influencer dad shares 4 viral tips to live an engaged fatherhood originally appeared on